By Jessica Martini
Randy Hartley and Dean DeRenzo, who have made a name for themselves in the pinhooking game, have been steadily improving their broodmare band in partnership with Breeze Easy, but it was a holdover from their Florida breeding operation that led to homebred Mobeautiful (Uncle Mo)’s debut win at Gulfstream Sunday.
“We loved this filly all along,” Hartley said of Mobeautiful. “She’s been a superstar. [Trainer] Joe Orseno just loves her. He has been ranting and raving about this filly. He called and told me he wasn’t letting me take her home.”
Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds purchased Mobeautiful’s dam Switchboard (Bernardini) for $160,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale with the intention of reoffering her the following spring.
“I bought the mare to pinhook her,” Hartley said. “We don’t know how, but she somehow fractured her coffin bone in her foot and we ended up just having to keep her. We bred her and this is her first baby.”
Mobeautiful herself was entered in the 2016 Keeneland September sale and in the 2017 OBS April sale, but was withdrawn from both.
“She just got really big as a 2-year-old and we took our time with her,” Hartley said. “Then she pulled a muscle about three months ago, so we had to give her some more time.”
Switchboard produced fillies by Rattlesnake Bridge in 2016 and 2017 and went through the ring at Keeneland last November while in foal to Bodemeister. She RNA’d for $37,000, but was subsequently sold privately.
“At the time we were selling some mares and trying to regroup with a different group of mares with Breeze Easy,” Hartley said. “We were kind of just cleaning up everything. I wish I hadn’t sold her now, but it’s one of those things that I was trying to move everything to make room for our new partnership to start over fresh.”
Hartley/DeRenzo has had a broodmare band of as many as 30 head based in Florida, but market conditions have led to a change of direction.
“We pretty much now have gotten to breeding just in Kentucky,” Hartley said. “We love breeding in Florida and we’ve done well in years past, but it’s just gotten a little tough right now. Dean and I were feeding about 30 mares and it was just a big feed bill when you’re carrying the whole thing. We used to be able to sell some of our homebreds for decent money, $100,000, and we’ve gotten upwards of $600,000, but in the past few years, it’s like you bring some of your best ones over there and you’re getting $50,000-$60,000. It’s hard to put that much into it and barely break even.”
Over the last two years, Breeze Easy and Hartley/DeRenzo have teamed up in an attempt to put together a top-class broodmare band.
“We have 24 mares that we have now with Breeze Easy and they are all War Front, Tapits,” Hartley said. “That’s the market that is good and you kind of have to be there. It’s not easy, I wouldn’t say, but it seems like that is where the market is right now. It’s all at the upper end and it’s very polarized. You have to play in that market and we have an opportunity to do so. It’s going to be exciting.”
Breeze Easy burst onto the sales scene two years ago with the $1.2-million purchase of a Broken Vow colt at OBS April and has partnered with Hartley/DeRenzo on several pinhooking prospects. The two operations teamed up to purchase a $475,000 sale-topping son of Curlin at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale and the colt returned to bring $1.5 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Timonium sale. Breeze Easy partnered with John Oxley to purchase the colt, a debut winner at Keeneland now named Curlin’s Honor.
Mobeautiful is currently the only horse Hartley and DeRenzo have in training.
“Dean and I just have her now,” Hartley said. “We sold everything we had at the 2-year-old sales last year. We had a couple little partnerships with Breeze Easy and they took over all of the racing stuff. We don’t want to be in racing–that’s an expensive game. We got lucky breeding this one, we paid maybe $20,000 for the stud fee because Uncle Mo hadn’t quite gotten going like he is now. But we’re going to leave the racing up to Breeze Easy.”
Hartley missed Mobeautiful’s debut as he is busy preparing for the upcoming juvenile sales and, like with the breeding operation, his focus on pinhooking prospects has become all about quality over quantity.
“We don’t have many 2-year-olds,” he said. “I think we have maybe 20 and we’ll look to have four or five at each one of the sales. We spent a lot of money on yearlings to get that appeal of the upper market. I have a couple of superstars–a couple of them the word’s already out around town. We paid $500,000, $475,000, $300,000 to buy the top, the Scat Daddys and the Medaglias, horses that if it does work, you can hit a home run. It’s riskier and it certainly is a little scarier getting them ready, but we’ve always done better with the top-end market.”
Eventually, the commercial breeding operation will overtake Hartley/DeRenzo’s pinhooking ventures.
“We’re going to start having as many homebred babies selling as we’re selling 2-year-olds,” Hartley said. “If it’s a nice-looking War Front baby and we can sell it as a weanling, sometimes they can bring yearling prices. So we are going to try to sell the best, whether it be a weanling or a yearling. We’ve kind of slowly decreased the pinhooks. I have one barn and we’re just focusing on just my top horses and a couple for outside people, but not many. We’ve been trying to slowly trickle down because it’s just getting tougher and tougher. We’re going to have a few nice ones for each sale and not so many numbers, but more quality.”
As for the star of the one-horse racing stable, Hartley is leaving Mobeautiful’s future in the capable hands of her trainer.
“I’m going to let Joe develop her,” Hartley said. “That’s part of the reason that I sent her to him because I knew he wouldn’t rush her. She got really big and he really takes his time with her. I’m sure he’ll come up with a plan.”