Stone Farm's '$4-Million Man' Leads Another Seven-Figure Yearling To Fasig-Tipton Saratoga - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Stone Farm’s ‘$4-Million Man’ Leads Another Seven-Figure Yearling To Fasig-Tipton Saratoga

Everett Charles with Monday’s session-topper, an Uncle Mo colt, at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale.

Everett Charles didn't even like horses when he took a job at Stone Farm in 1978.

In the four decades that followed, his ability to develop young horses and show them at auction would become so proven, he'd lead a pair of seven-figure session-toppers to the ring in consecutive editions of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.

In 2019, it was a $1.5-million Curlin colt who'd one day become Grade 3 winner First Captain. On Monday, it was a $1.6-million Uncle Mo colt out of the Grade 1 winner Dame Dorothy who sold to Robert and Lawana Low.

Those two achievements alone reach a stratosphere most in the Thoroughbred industry will never touch, but they both look up to the horse Charles prepared and showed at the 1998 Keeneland July Yearling Sale: the $4-million Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. That crowning achievement earned Charles the “$4-million man” nickname from Stone Farm owner Arthur Hancock III.

Butterfly effects are real in the Thoroughbred industry. A choice or twist of fate decades earlier can influence the present in ways one couldn't possibly predict.

With that in mind, something as simple as a detoured drive to work potentially swung millions of dollars in the auction ring.

“I worked in a factory, and I came out to Stone Farm just to look around,” Charles said about his introduction to the business. “I didn't care about horses. I wouldn't even watch it on TV. I came out to the farm, and the farm manager said, 'Hey young man, would you like to come out here and work?' I said, 'I work in a warm place, and it's cool in the summer. I don't care about working outside.'

“I was leaving my house, driving to Lexington to work, and a snowstorm hit,” he continued. “I got halfway there, turned around, and went back home. Two or three days later, I called the farm, went there and started working.”

Charles worked with Monday's session-topper since the colt was weaned from his dam. Six days a week, he cared for the colt, and prepared him for putting up with the grueling show schedule he'd face as a highly coveted lot at the Saratoga sale. He rode with the colt in the van from central Kentucky to upstate New York, and showed him when his number was called on the sale grounds.

It's the same regimen that he's gone through with any top-dollar horse under his care over the years. That dedication to the animals has earned the respect of the Hancock family that owns and manages Stone Farm.

“He's a key player on our team,” said Lynn Hancock, Stone Farm's director of sales and racing. “He can come to the big dance and get it done.

“He's a good horseman; you have to be to work with them for this long,” she continued. “He's a great showman. He's got a good rapport with the horses, and he's a hard worker. I don't remember a time he's missed a day of work.”

Charles said the Uncle Mo colt's professionalism stood out early on. He quickly figured out the traits that served him well at the sale, and that will serve him equally well on the racetrack: rest at every opportunity presented to you, and fuel up with food and water whenever it's presented.

Though the colt was everything one would expect from a top-level son of Uncle Mo on Monday night, his star quality didn't always shine through. Charles said the colt thrived when he was given a job, even if that job was just to make himself look good.

“At first, we had him in the field with 15 other yearlings, and he didn't really stand out,” he said. “Once he got away from the pack, and we brought him to the training barn and gave him his own paddock, he's got a big paddock full of luscious grass. I call it a 'buffet paddock.' Since then, he just took off and filled out. You couldn't ask for a better colt to take care of. He's done everything I asked him to do.”

Monday's session-topper was bred in Kentucky by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who also campaigned dam Dame Dorothy to a Grade 1-winning career. Hancock said the quality the Bernardini mare impressed onto her foal was evident.

“They look like doppelgängers,” she said. “I've been showing people at the consignment pictures of her as a yearling and him as a yearling up here. They look so much alike, down to their markings. They're both well-balanced, and he's got a lot of Bernardini in him. He's proven he's an excellent broodmare sire.”

Going back to the great butterfly effects of the bloodstock world, Flay actually offered Dame Dorothy up for sale with the Uncle Mo colt in utero at the 2019 Keeneland November sale. She ultimately finished under her reserve with a final bid of $3.1 million and remained in Flay's broodmare band.

Though the Uncle Mo colt displayed a quiet class during his time at the sale, that's not the only road to a seven-figure payday at the auction.

Charles' greatest protege, Fusaichi Pegasus, was quite the opposite, and buyers were clearly undeterred by it. He also spent more time with the Mr. Prospector colt, transferring from the weanling barn to the yearling division as Fusaichi Pegasus graduated.

“FuPeg was a little bit meaner and more aggressive,” he said. “If I bring FuPeg out to show, he's going to rare up, swing his head, or scream out real loud. This (Uncle Mo) colt, he's so quiet. When I come out to walk him, all he does is stand quiet and perk his ears up. He notices everything, even the least little thing.”

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Even though he's brought up bigger sellers, and he's been taking horses to auction with Stone Farm for decades, the thrill of seeing one of his students eclipse seven figures still fills Charles with the same joy.

Monday's session-topper might have sold for $2.4 million less than Fusaichi Pegasus, but in the moment, Charles couldn't tell the difference.

“I was standing up there with my friend, and when he got to $1.2 million, my knees started shaking,” Charles said. “I couldn't control them. Then he went on to $1.3 million, then $1.4 million. Then, he got to five and I went numb. Then, when he hit six, I looked at my friend and said, 'I don't think I can take any more.' It's the greatest feeling in the world.”

Everett Charles might not have been a horse person when he started with Stone Farm, but the love he had for Monday's session-topper clearly went beyond the number he brought in the ring – a love learned over the course of 44 years.

Watching him check on the horse in his stall after the hammer fell, the ticket was signed, and the champagne was popped was a bittersweet moment. He was proud of his charge for what he'd accomplished after months of work, but it also meant the months of work were about to come to an end, and their paths were hours away from splitting.

Departing is a natural by-product of the auction business, but that doesn't mean it has to be easy. As he scratched the colt's neck under the dim light of the stall, Charles didn't tell the colt how much he just sold for. He told him something much more relevant.

“I'll miss you.”

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