Rest assured that the story of a racehorse, almost any racehorse, meanders like an old Adirondack creek. And Gucci Factor’s goes back to a field in Kentucky in 1993 with the purchase of Satin Promise by Jeff Morris from Roy Coffey.
“Roy trades horses for a living all over the phone and he’d called me about her,” said Morris of the then 3-year-old filly bred by Tom Gentry. “She’d run into a tree or something as a foal, had a head tilt and was running with a bunch of Saddlebred 2-year-olds. I went out there in the middle of February with Roy and bought her.”
Morris immediately made the daughter of Dixieland Band a part of the broodmare band at his Highclere Farm, and she had her first foal in 1994 – and produced winners Satinet (by Olympio), Enabru (Roanoke), Promise Of War (Lord At War), Baldwin County (Prized) and Ten Shades (Siphon). Promise Of War sold for $95,000 as a yearling, won 15 races including two stakes and earned $437,030. Baldwin County sold for $77,000 and won eight races (two stakes).
Satin Promise’s last foal Shoo In, born in 2005, never raced but is outdoing them all as the dam of 2019 New York-bred champion turf male Gucci Factor. Bred by Highclere, the son of Gio Ponti won three stakes in 2019 – the Kingston and Mohawk for New York-breds and the Grade 3 Poker in open company for owner Castleton Lyons and trainer Christophe Clement while earning $345,625.
Morris, who has worked with Waldorf Farm’s Jerry Bilinski for several years and sends a mare or two to New York each season, recalled an immature young horse in early days around the farm.
“He was fine to be around, but when we started to prep him and it was time to start behaving like a respectable Thoroughbred he was a total jerk,” Morris said with a laugh. “He was infuriating. He just screwed around the whole time, he was just a clown.”
Highclere’s sales-preppers did their job well enough to get a yearling Gucci Factor to Saratoga for Fasig-Tipton’s New York-bred yearling sale of 2014, where Castleton Lyons spent $150,000 on the colt. The farm campaigned three-time champion Gio Ponti with Clement, stands the $6.1 million earner in Kentucky and supported his first crop.
“Gabriel Duignan purchased Gucci Factor for Castleton,” said farm owner Shane Ryan. “We were very committed to supporting Gio Ponti and the fact that he was a registered New York-bred made sense as we had slated to send him to Christophe Clement. Christophe has done a wonderful job with him, and who better to train a Gio Ponti offspring?”
Ryan and Clement were patient with their new charge.
“Christophe should get all the credit,” said Morris. “We put the package there but it worked because of the care he’s gotten, and their patience.”
Unraced at 2, Gucci Factor lost all three starts as a 3-year-old but dominated his 4-year-old debut with a 16-length romp going a mile on the dirt. He added an allowance turf win that December, and won three more times as a 5-year-old in 2018. After placing in the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont Park in 2018, Gucci Factor headed to stakes company in 2019. The bay gelding opened with a win in the Kingston at Belmont in May, getting a mile in 1:33.51, then won the Poker by a nose – in a five-way photo – in 1:32.54 in June. Off until September, he went to the gate as the favorite in the Cole, only to bang his head coming out of the starting gate, spot the leaders more than 10 lengths and settle for sixth. He rebounded in the Mohawk, again prevailing by a nose, in October. It was his eighth victory in 16 starts, and pushed his career earnings to $555,325.
As for Shoo In, she died in 2015 after producing a Giant’s Causeway colt now named Causeway Runner (a three-time winner). All five of her foals to race are winners.
“It’s fun to see horses go on and do things,” said Morris. “Gucci Factor moves it up year after year and the New York program is a big part of that. We’ve sent a mare up there to foal on a regular basis.”
Gucci Factor had his first published workout of 2020 in March at Payson Park in Florida, and was eyeing a late spring start to his 7-year-old season.
“He has really come on with age and has won seven of this last 10 starts,” said Ryan. “Christophe gave him a break in Florida over the winter and has him back in work now preparing for another New York turf campaign.”
Bg. 2013, Gio Ponti–Shoo In, Dynaformer.
Owner: Castleton Lyons.
Trainer: Christophe Clement.
2019 record: 4-3-0-0. $345,625. 2019 stakes: Kingston, Poker (G3), Mohawk.
Other champion turf male finalists
B.g. 2013, Freud–Aunt Dot Dot, Gulch.
Breeder: Truxton Stable.
Owner: Ten Strike Racing.
Trainer: Brad Cox.
2019 record: 6-2-1-2. $178,436. Six starts came at five racetracks. Won Churchill Downs allowance in May, added Ashley T. Cole Stakes at Belmont Park in September. Also placed in Saratoga’s West Point and Grade 3 Red Smith.
Dk.b./br.h. 2012, Spring At Last–Rosalie Road, Street Cry.
Breeder: C.W. Swann and Cygnet Farm.
Owner: Michael Dubb, Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners, Bethlehem Stable, Gary Aisquith.
Trainer: Chad Brown.
2019 record: 6-1-0-3. $133,150. Always in the mix in New York-bred turf stakes, lifetime earner of $891,573 won West Point at Saratoga in August and placed in Kingston and Ashley T. Cole.
Ch.g. 2014, Pure Prize–Isabel Away, Skip Away.
Breeder/Owner: Trinity Farm.
Trainer: Bill Mott.
2019 record: 7-1-3-0. $187,818. Marathon turf specialist placed in Grade 2 Elkhorn to start year and won Point Of Entry at Belmont in October. Also placed in Grade 3 Red Smith.
B.g. 2016, Posse–Dynamite Cocktail, Dynaformer.
Breeder: Barry Ostrager.
Owner: Bond Racing Stable.
Trainer: H. James Bond.
2019 record: 4-2-0-1. $185,640. Unraced at 2, $5,000 weanling purchase landed New York Stallion Series stakes to break maiden in June, then added another in dominant fashion at Saratoga. Fourth in Grade 3 Saranac in late August.
Ch.g. 2015, Freud–Lady Renaissance, Smart Strike.
Breeder: Oak Bluff Stable and Christophe Clement.
Owner: Oak Bluff Stable.
Trainer: Christophe Clement.
2019 record: 6-1-0-2. $117,545. Opened season with open-company stakes score in the Elusive Quality at Belmont Park. Also placed in West Point at Saratoga.