In the busy world of Bloodstock Agents few come busier than Newmarket-based KERRI RADCLIFFE Radcliffe who has developed the likeable knack for her clients of possessing the “Midas Touch”, writes Tony Elves.
Already in 2020, Radcliffe’s has proved a smash for American owner George Bolton and his partners in Nadal who now possess one of the favourites for the Kentucky Derby which has now been rescheduled for September 5 but will be looking some early recompense in the Arkansas Derby which fills the original slot of the “Run For The Roses” on May 2.
The Blame colt was acquired by Radclife for $700,000 at the Fasig-Tipton two-year-old Sale in March of last year and has won his three starts to date and could well have made an earlier impact but for a minor injury
Radcliffe said: “Whenever he breezed he was one of the quickest or the quickest and when I went to see him he was absolutely massive and did everything so easily and efficiently. He was a very imposing two-year-old and I was desperate to buy him. George and another client gave me the go ahead to buy him but a month down the line I had to get client together to buy into him when the other person reneged on the deal.”
On looks there was only one destination for Nadal and that was the tried and tested route to Bob Baffert and the prowess he has shown in his breezes was soon being replicated at the Los Alamitos Racecourse in Southern California.
Kerri reflects “He was working the house down and Bob wanted him up at Santa Anita but he injured himself when his hind leg got caught in the horsebox which was taking him there and we had to give him time off but that could well have been a blessing in disguise.”
Just like the Spanish tennis stars after whom he was named, Baffert’s three-year-old was ready to deliver his first ace in a six and a half furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita in the middle of January when, after leading after a furlong, Nadal skipped clear to score by four and a half lengths.
The original plan had been to take in an easier next option in a Grade 3 at Oaklawn Park but the Santa Anita debut had proven a spark to light the flame and there was a quick redraft of intentions.
Radcliffe said: “He was going to go for the Southwest Stakes but Bob worked him and was so impressed he suggested we go for the Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita on February 9 and who was I to argue!”
Once again, Baffert’s expertise proved right on target and Joel Rosario guided Nadal to a three quarter length victory from Ginobili in a race in which his fractions showed him to be a colt that exuded class.
Radcliffe said: “Nadal was only having his second race but his fractions blew you away and the only drawback was that he didn’t gain any qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby in the San Vicente.”
Ever the perfectionist, Baffert rectified that situation in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes run in desperately sloppy at Oaklawn Park on March 14 when Nadal showed the same qualities as his tennis-playing namesake when claiming another three quarter length victory this time at the expense of Excession.
Radcliffe said: “He is a such an incredibly tough and gutsy horse and he showed that in the Rebel Stakes as they went off really fast and the horse that took him in on the early stages were well behind and galloped on strongly all the way to the line in. He back in California now and come out of the race great.
“He has won a $1 million race and he will be going for another one when he contests the Arkansas Derby on May 2 and, hopefully, all roads lead to the Kentucky Derby.”
If Nadal has already proven a major wage earner then even his current bank balance has been dwarfed by another Radcliffe purchase Away Game who has proved a filly in a lifetime for the “Women’s Syndicate” in Australia.
The globetrotting Radclffe bought Away Game at the Gold Coast Magic Million Yearling Sales in January 2019 and, as well well picking up first prize in the $2 million event with a length and three quarter success from Stellar Pauline, the Snitzel filly also collected $325,000 for the Magic Millions Racing Women’s Bonus.
That success was supplemented by another game effort when finishing runner-up, beaten a length and three quarter, to Farnan in the Group 1 Longines Golden Slipper worth $3.5 million at Rosehill on Saturday.
Away Game cost a mere $425,000 as a yearling and her two wins from five starts make her look a bargain after Saturday’s latest money spinning effort.
“I was in Los Angeles looking at horses when she won the Magic Millions and it was a similar story at the weekend but she has made over $2 million for her syndicate that are all women – mostly American but also Mrs L Fung, I am delighted but you are always looking for the next good horse in this game and I was busy at Ocala last week and the Gulfstream Sales has been cancelled so I will going around the Farms like Wavertree, Niall Brennan, Eddie Woods and Randy Bradhaw, who I bought Nadal off, looking for another possible superstar.”
The question is how did Kerri discover this midas touch which hopefully will bring her further reward in 2020.
She explained: “The first thing you must have is good owners with faith in you and if have any doubt about a horse then you must walk away. I have been around horses since I could walk and this is not a guessing game and you get an instinct for them but you also need to have that element of luck too.
“I have some people who I can ask a question of regarding a horse and Paul Shanahan would have been particularly helpful through my career and if I have a query he would invariably have an answer.”
On Radcliffe’s CV are the names of Mourinho, Gronkowski and this year’s contender Nadal and she has had a runner in a traditional Kentucky Derby Trial for the past three years as well as being the purchaser of the filly Dream Tree who landed the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes.
Kerri said: “I must have looked at over 600 horses in the past fortnight but it’s worth it and the last couple of years have been kind to me.”
“I have to say I will be forever indebted to George Bolton for his support and I’m glad I can give him something back.”
Also amongst Bolton’s roster of horse is filly Aurelia Garland who broke the track record when winning at Belmont in May of last year and is currently recovering from injury and he also has some likely types in Tomato Bill with Christophe Clement and a Medaglia D’Oro two-year-old filly who Kerri excitedly says “She was bought in Saratoga and looks an absolute superstar.”
Just for good measure she has a Shalaa filly with Andre Fabre that is owned by Bolton, Peter Liddell and Barry Lipman and a War Front and a Kodiac with Roger Varian.
It looks like a very busy time ahead for Radcliffe and her remaining wish?
“I would be mind blowing to have a runner in the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks and with the race taking place in September now that could be a possibility with Nadal and Aurelia Garland. The Kentucky Derby really is the one race in the world I have a dream to win.”