Co-Breeders Costello, Caldara Farm Helped Give Prince Of Wales Winner Duke Of Love His Starting Point - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Co-Breeders Costello, Caldara Farm Helped Give Prince Of Wales Winner Duke Of Love His Starting Point

Trainer Josie Carroll leads Prince of Wales winner Duke of Love and jockey Justin Stein into the Fort Erie winner’s enclosure

Pat Costello, Callan Strouss, and Darcia Fantucchio had just finished up day two at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale on Tuesday, and they'd found a corner of the patio bar behind the pavilion's back ring just quiet enough to catch a race on one of their phones.

By the time Duke of Love kicked away from Ironstone down the muddy Fort Erie stretch to secure the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown, that corner of the patio wasn't too quiet anymore.

Costello, along with the husband/wife team of Strouss and Fantucchio doing business as Caldara Farm, were half of the partnership of breeders that brought the Prince of Wales winner into the world, joining David Whitford and Tom Zwiesler, who both have ties to legendary Canadian operation Sam-Son Farm.

“We were cheering and yelling,” Strouss said. “It was great. That track was sloppy as it could be. I knew when they were whipping the leader (Ironstone), and I saw our horse, and he hadn't even asked him, I said, 'We might be okay.'”

The partnership between Duke of Love's breeders is the result of several other professional partnerships amongst each other and the companies they work for.

Whitford is Sam-Son Farm's former general manager, and Zwiesler is the operation's current racing manager. Sam-Son boarded its mares at Lane's End's Oak Tree division, which Strouss manages. The Canadian operation also boarded mares at Costello's former Drumkenny Farm operation, and he consigned horses for Sam-Son under his Paramount Sales shingle.

Costello, Strouss, and Fantucchio have known each other professionally for decades, but they became neighbors about 10 years ago.

“Our working relationship is going to lunch together every Saturday, and having the odd beverage,” Costello said. “We're just great friends.”

All of those connections intertwined with Tell the Duchess, a Sam-Son homebred filly who never made the races, and wasn't deeply entrenched in any taproot Sam-Son bloodlines for farm president Rick Balaz to merit keeping around to join the broodmare band.

However, that didn't mean the mare didn't have broodmare value. The daughter of Smart Strike has a female family deep in black type in North America and Europe, led by winner Humble Eight, winner of the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes.

Tell the Duchess was offered as a broodmare prospect through the Paramount Sales consignment at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale, and she finished under her reserve with a final bid of $14,000.

After the sale, Whitford and Zwiesler approached Costello and the Caldara duo to let them know Tell the Duchess was available for, in Costello's words, “little money.” The four parties bought in, and kept the mare in Canada to produce Ontario-breds.

Commercial breeders will often send unproven young broodmares to first-year stallions for the built-in marketing point the ensuing foals will have at the sales. Many stallions will never cover more mares than they do during their rookie season because breeders know that buyers hold the potential of a new stallion at a premium.

Tell the Duchess wasn't a standout based on her race record or her pedigree, and her new owners represented some of the industry's most prominent breeders and consignors. If the mare's foals were going to attract attention early on, the sire was going to have to do the heavy lifting.

The group sent Tell the Duchess to young shuttle stallion Vancouver for her first mating. The ensuing foal, a colt named Voyant, left the Paramount consignment as a weanling for the minimum bid of $1,000, and he earned his first win in a maiden claiming race at Delta Downs. Voyant is currently competing in the allowance ranks at Fort Erie.

Tell the Duchess visited first-year stallion Cupid for her second mating, which produced Duke of Love.

The colt was offered as a weanling by Paramount Sales at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, and he finished under his reserve in the ring. The colt later sold privately to War Horse Place for $15,000 – less than his initial hammer price.

War Horse Place then turned him around for $40,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. Pinhook buyer Julie Davies secured the colt at that auction, and sold him to current owner MyRacehorse for $85,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

With the benefit of hindsight, Costello admitted he might have let Duke of Love go a little too easily.

“We always knew he'd do this, actually,” the consignor said, his tongue firmly in-cheek. “Obviously, we undersold him.

“I remember saying we were kind of disappointed with the price, because he was a lovely balanced foal,” Costello continued “He was straightforward. It was a bad price at the time for him, we thought, but we were sellers.”

Duke of Love went to the barn of trainer Josie Carroll, and he broke his maiden on debut as a 2-year-old at Woodbine. He returned to Woodbine two starts later to win his 3-year-old bow in May.

It was the last race Duke of Love would win prior to the Prince of Wales. He jumped up to stakes competition at Woodbine after winning his seasonal debut, but despite often putting himself in contention when the chips were down, he couldn't finish the job. His best effort was a runner-up finish to Rondure in the G3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine.

Duke of Love finished fourth in the Plate Trial Stakes, then never found his stride in the Queen's Plate en route to an eighth-place finish.

In the Prince of Wales, Duke of Love tracked post-time favorite Ironstone throughout the 1 3/16-mile race, took command in the stretch, and held off his rival, who refused to go away. Duke of Love crossed the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of Ironstone, who was himself six lengths ahead of third-place Ice Road.

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“He got into so much traffic in the Queen's Plate, and today was such a clean race,” Fantucchio said. “He finds a gear. If you go back and watch his race where he was second to Rondure, he found another gear and got up and got second.”

A Canadian classic victory would be a fine update for any young broodmare with something to prove, but the breeders behind Duke of Love won't be able to benefit from it. They sold the mare privately shortly after Duke of Love went through the ring, and she is now producing foals in Ontario for Krasauskaite Racing Stable.

Since leaving the quartet of breeders that produced Duke of Love, Tell the Duchess has had one foal: Achluophile, a yearling Danish Dynaformer colt. The mare failed to produce a foal in 2022 after being bred to Shaman Ghost and Silent Name, and she was bred back to Shaman Ghost for the 2023 foaling season.

That doesn't mean the band won't get back together to try it again with a different mare, though, whether it's working toward a Canadian classic winner, one in the U.S., or elsewhere on the map.

“We will soon,” Strouss said with certainty. “All four of us will soon.”

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