The bandwagon behind Dortmund has drawn quite a crowd but the Big Brown youngster wasn’t always so popular.
The 2015 Kentucky Derby winter favourite was passed-in as a foal after failing to reach an $85,000 reserve at the 2012 Keeneland November Sale. Potential buyers would now have to talk telephone numbers after the colt maintained his unbeaten record in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity last Saturday.
Kentucky-based Bona Terra Farms breeder Emilie Fojan remembers the hard time she had trying to sell the oversized colt. “He was so big,” Fojan said. “So many people loved the horse but were afraid of his size.
“At the sales I told them, ‘He’s not one of those heavy horses, he’s very athletic’. I sold him for $90,000 as a yearling and then Don Lanni picked him up for $140,000 as a two year-old.
“Lanni loved his laid-back attitude,” Fojan said. “I knew Dortmund had speed. I have these really long paddocks. When I turned the babies out in the morning, he was already at the top of the hill when everyone else was standing still.”
A few others noticed, too. “I would take him to the pool and the attendant said they didn’t get young ones that could swim like a three or four year-old horse in training.”
The Futurity winner is out of Our Josephina (Tale of the Cat) who was bred by Fojan and the late George Brunacini. She won a Listed race at Mountaineer Park and was Group 3 placed in the 2004 Chicago Breeders’ Cup at Arlington.
“She was so big that I thought we would be in trouble if we sent her off, so I just trained her myself,” Fojan said. “She was a huge mare, even bigger than Dortmund. She could have been anything but had knee issues so I had to be careful.
“I always called the jockeys before a race and asked for an extra large girth. That’s how big she was.
“I’m a huge Big Brown fan and I love inbreeding to Danzig. She’s a huge, heavy mare, and I wanted to refine her baby a little bit, so that is why I went to Big Brown.”
Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Fojan also knows a thing or two about the Run for the Roses. The 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird was raised at Bona Terra.