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Bob Black Jack Benoit Photo

Bob Black Jack - 2008 Cal-bred Horse of the Year

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2009) -- Bob Black Jack ended his 2008 campaign with a victory in the grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park on December 26, opening day of the 2008-2009 winter-spring meet. The triumph in the seven-furlong event ended a demanding race for California-bred Horse of the Year between fellow grade 1 winner Cost of Freedom and the multiple stakes-winning filly Lethal Heat.

It also gave the son of Harris Farms Inc. stallion Stormy Jack a unique triple among Cal-bred champions.

The dark bay or brown colt is the first horse ever to simultaneously be selected the best state-bred three-year-old and best sprinter along with capturing the Horse of the Year title.

Tiznow in 2000, the year he won his first of two straight Breeders’ Cup Classics, was voted Cal-bred Horse of the Year and best three-year-old. Joey Franco, the 2003 state-bred Horse of the Year, also was cited as best older male and top sprinter. Grade 1 winner King Glorious in 1989 was selected the best three-year-old and best sprinter, but was beaten out for the Horse of the Year award by millionaire mare Brown Bess.

Bob Black Jack’s Horse of the Year award was announced February 17 at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach, California.

Out of the Native Prospector mare Molly’s Prospector, Bob Black Jack won two of his six races in 2008, along with one second and one third. His 2008 earnings of $463,500 were the most of any Cal-bred.

His two victories were smashers. In the Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita on January 25, he set the world record for six furlongs, traveling the distance in 1:06.53 to win wire-to-wire by 3 lengths. It was the only triumph by a Cal-bred in the eight Sunshine Millions races of 2008.

In the Malibu, whose field included Georgie Boy and Colonel John, Bob Black Jack won by 2 lengths in 1:20.20, the second fastest time in the history of the race, only to Spectacular Bid’s 1:20 in 1979.

The Malibu score improved Bob Black Jack’s record to 3-for-3 at Santa Anita races of less than a mile. The first came as a two-year-old, in the 2007 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes.

His runner-up finish was to Colonel John in the grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, a performance which led to his being sent to the Kentucky Derby, where he was 16th after taking the early lead.

"Looking back, it seems almost amazing that a son of Stormy Jack would get to the Kentucky Derby," said Gary Howard, who with his wife Marlene and their friend Bruce Dunmore of Albuquerque, New Mexico, bred Bob Black Jack.

The threesome still owns Stormy Jack, a son of multiple graded winner and Eclipse Award champion Bertrando. Now 12 years old, Stormy Jack included four victories in sprint stakes among his eight career triumphs in 21 starts. Bob Black Jack is his sire’s first stakes-winner. Molly’s Prospector, Bob Black Jack’s dam, now 15 years old, won only one of her four starts and earned $19,325.

To say Bob Black Jack’s story is a classic rags-to-riches saga is no exaggeration. At the recommendation of trainer Frank Veiga, Robert Harabedian of Los Alamitos, California, bought him from his breeders for $4,500 as a yearling in the 2006 Barretts January sale.

Harabedian gave the colt his name. "I’ve always been known as ‘ Bob Black’ because I was a pool and bowling hustler," he said.

Bob Black Jack received his early training at Getaway Thoroughbred Farms in Romoland, California. "From the time our exercise rider, Jesus Lopez, first got on him, he looked like he could be a very nice horse," said Nadine Anderson, Getaway’s farm manager. "But nobody could have imagined what he’s become."

Harabedian later sold Bob Black Jack to fledgling trainer Jim Kasparoff for $25,000. "He was a big, good-looking horse," recalled Kasparoff, who bought the colt on behalf of his brother Tim and computer executive Jeff Harmon of Laguna Niguel, California. "We thought he might break his maiden for $40,000."

Bob Black Jack never did run for a tag. In his second start, he beat a field of straight-maiden Cal-breds at Del Mar.

Harabedian sometimes feels a tinge of regret about selling Bob Black Jack. "But I thought at the time $25,000 was a good price for him," he said.

Similarly, the Howards don’t dwell on the past. When Molly’s Prospector foaled Bob Black Jack on March 29, 2005, they were in the process of selling most of the Hideaway Farms property they had owned for two decades.

"The real estate market was going through the roof, just the opposite of now," Gary Howard recalled. "We had a chance to make $10 million, so we took it. We probably could have gotten more than $4,500 for Bob Black Jack. But our partner, Bruce, had just been diagnosed with cancer. It was time to sell."

Ben Warren bought most of the Howards’ property and renamed the facility Warren’s Thoroughbreds. Gary and Marlene, both natives of Utah, operate a nearby training center and have retained the Hideaway name.

After Bob Black Jack won the Malibu, the Kasparoffs and Harmon eyed the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28 as their colt’s next start. But an undisclosed injury will keep him on the sidelines until summer.

There has been speculation that when he does run again, Bob Black Jack will have new owners. Harmon refuted that notion.

"We’ve gotten some great offers," he said, "but we have no interest in selling him."

Gary Howard, Bob Black Jack’s co-breeder, already has planned what he would like as his epitaph.

"I know before Bob Lewis died, he said he wanted to be remembered as a good father and husband and successful businessman, but also as the owner of two Kentucky Derby winners," Howard said.

"I’d like mine to say ‘He bred the fastest horse that ever lived’."
--Larry Bortstein


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Coalinga, CA 93210
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