Meet The Team Behind A Session-Topping Mendelssohn Filly At Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May Sale - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Meet The Team Behind A Session-Topping Mendelssohn Filly At Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May Sale

Daniel Garcia (left) and Skylar Munden, riders for consignor Paul Sharp.

It was easy to understand why Hip 245 of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-Year-Olds in Training sale would have attracted attention.

The daughter of Mendelssohn was a striking shade of gray, harkening back to her near-white broodmare sire, the champion Hansen, and she stood out around the barns in a sea of dark bay juveniles. However, buyers paid attention to her for how she traveled over the track, and when Speedway Stable landed her for $800,000, she got attention for topping Monday's opening session.

Success is a team effort at a 2-year-old sale, and the team that got the Mendelssohn filly to Maryland with consignor Paul Sharp prominently featured riders Daniel Garcia and Skylar Munden.

Garcia, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, was part of the team of riders that prepared the filly in the saddle ahead of  last week's under-tack show, where she clocked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 seconds, tying for the second-fastest time at the distance.

“She's nice, she's easy,” Garcia said. “This filly had class. She did a good job in the work.”

Taking a horse through a breeze at an under-tack show is essentially the pinnacle of speed in the Thoroughbred world. There is practically no scenario where a Thoroughbred would be tasked with covering a furlong in 10 seconds or less in an actual race.

Asking a young horse to achieve those speeds requires a certain degree of expertise in the saddle, to not only urge the horse to give all of themselves in a way that appeals to buyers, but also to hang on for the ride. The same can be said for the prep breezes ahead of time.

Garcia had never ridden a horse before arriving in Central Florida, where he joins brothers Jose and Gio working for Sharp's operation. He was the only one of the brothers with a rider's frame, so when he first arrived at Classic Mile Park Training Center in Ocala, Fla., before working for Sharp, he took lessons aboard a friend's horse and picked up the skills with relative ease.

“I saw everything, and I wanted to ride the horses, so when I had the opportunity, I tried it and liked it,” he said.

Hip 245, 2023 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2 Y-O-in Training Sale

Riding was already in Munden's system by the time she joined Sharp's barn a decade ago at age 15.

A native of Williston, Fla., Munden didn't come from a family with ties to horses, but nonetheless, she first got in the saddle at age five riding jumpers. She took a break from the saddle after breaking her leg at age 12, but when it healed, she decided to shift her focus from jumping to going fast.

“My mom would take me to work every morning, and I would get on two, three, five horses before I had to get off and my friend would take me to school every day,” Munden said. “When I turned 16, I got into the work program where I could work instead of going to school, and I took advantage of it. I loved being at work much more than I enjoyed being at school. After I graduated, this is all there was. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

“It's the thrill,” she continued. “It's something like no other to have an animal that can do anything at once, but you just go together.”

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Compared to Garcia, Munden had only just been introduced to the Mendelssohn filly. She returned to work three weeks ago after having a baby, and her first time aboard the filly came on the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, where she helped make final preparations for her under-tack show performance. Munden was also the showperson for the filly during buyer inspections.

“By the time I got on her, she was strong and ready to go, so I had the pleasure of just sitting there, thank goodness,” Munden said. “I didn't have to go through the hard work everyone else had to, so I got the best parts of her, I think.”

Skylar Munden with Hip 245, 2023 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2 Y-O-in Training Sale

Munden described Sharp's Central Florida training center as an especially quiet setting, which was a stark contrast to the sometimes-hectic atmosphere that an auction can bring. She also noted the differences between the surfaces at Sharp's training track and the oval in Timonium.

“Here, it's not as deep,” she said. “At the farm, it's natural and deep. Here, it's a little bit harder, but it's much easier for them to get across here, because they don't have to work as hard.”

As someone that had been on the Mendelssohn filly on the farm and at the track, Garcia agreed that the faster-paced nature of the sale requires some adjustments as a rider, compared to on their home turf when they can control more aspects of working with the horses.

“The horse sales is more preparation, so it's a little more work,” he said, “and the farm is more relaxed.”

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