Seth Rosenfeld has been in the harness game pretty much his entire life. His parents owned some champions in the 1970s and his uncle, Alan Leavitt, ran Lana Lobell Farms, which his family shared ownership in
Rosenfeld learned a lot during those days and scored a major success when he and a couple of buddies purchased Beach Towel as a yearling in 1988. That champion colt, by French Chef, won the 1990 Breeders Crown on his way to U.S. Horse of the Year honours, and pretty much set the tone for Rosenfeld as he embarked on a career building a broodmare band first for his Uptown Stable and now as Birnam Wood Farms.
On Saturday night, two colts Rosenfeld bred, half-brothers Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet, could be major players in the $650,000 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Pace and the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace, respectively. They are both out of the Falcons Future mare Sweet Future.
Rosenfeld's eye for a good horse and incredibly deep knowledge of bloodlines has to be obvious considering few breeders were backing Falcons Future as a stallion prospect.
“I thought he was a great horse that never really got his due,” Rosenfeld said. “He was always racing against two and three-horse entries and was simply outnumbered at times. I loved everything about him and bred Sweet Dahrlin to him.”
The resulting foal was Sweet Future, a classy juvenile in the year 2000 who finished a solid second behind champion Cathedra Dot Com in an elimination of the Lou Babic at Freehold. Sweet Dahrlin had clicked with her first foal when bred to Dragons Lair, producing Sweet Dragon, who finished a nose behind Magical Mike in the 1993 Woodrow Wilson. Ironically, Rosenfeld bred the mare to his own Beach Towel five times in a row and couldn't match the success, eventually switching to Falcons Future and breeding the cornerstone to his broodmare band.
After her racing days were over, Rosenfeld bred Sweet Future to Artiscape.
“The Abercrombie line was very successful,” he said. “He produced very correct horses. But I used to joke with (breeder) George Segal about how he was a rich man's horse. I mean if you had Three Diamonds (Life Sign) or Miss Elvira (Artsplace) you could breed a champion.”
Artiscape was a third-generation Abercrombie stallion and the pairing produced a filly named Sweet Paprika. She earned $211,189 pretty much staying under the stakes radar enough but managing to win 12 races and post a career-best 1:51.1 mile as a four-year-old.
Rosenfeld tried the Cam Fella line with Bettors Delight and the resulting foal is the near-$2-million earner Bettor Sweet. After an abbreviated two-year-old season, Bettor Sweet showed plenty of ability racing in overnights during much of his three-year-old season. Late in the year he pulled off a 32-1 shocker in the Progress Pace at Dover and he's been a staple in the older pacing ranks ever since. Current owner John Cancelliere purchased the now six-year-old gelding midway through his sophomore campaign.
When Rosenfeld elected to breed his mare to Yankee Cruiser, he thought the timing was just right.
“The stallion had done well in Ohio and it was his first year at Hanover. He was from the Abercrombie line and I thought the cross would work well with my mare,” he said.
Indeed Yankee Cruiser's first crop in Pennsylvania has been vintage and there is none better than Breeders Crown elimination winner Sweet Lou.
“You know he's been really impressive,” said the proud breeder. “To race in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program and then go to Indiana to race and then to the Red Mile and back to Mohawk, that's a lot of races and a lot of miles to still be this good.”
The $38,000 yearling has but two narrow blemishes in an otherwise perfect 11-race juvenile campaign. Anyone who watched last week's trial where he won going away in 1:50, knows the colt could be set up for the mile of his life Saturday night in the $650,000 final.
Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Karr and Phillip Collura share ownership in the $361,647 winner.
And while Rosenfeld was not the breeder of Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Pace favourite Drop The Ball, he and his family have owned and raced her dam and seven generations of foals from this family. The grandest-granddam from this family is Pammy Lobell, much like her contemporary Drop The Ball, Pammy routinely raced against and defeated the best aged male pacers on the Yonkers-Roosevelt circuit between 1973-75.
Drop The Ball, is out of Mattcheck Girl, a mare Rosenfeld eventually gave away to the Morrisville College.
“I paid $10,000 for her as a yearling,” Rosenfeld said. “She was out of Pensive Princess (Pammy Lobell's family) and it was worth taking a chance. Did I think she would throw a horse like Drop The Ball? Actually, I told the college that I thought she could be a good broodmare.”
According to Rosenfeld, he believes the key was breeding the family back to a No Nukes-line stallion.
“I've wanted to breed Pensive (a daughter of No Nukes' son Jate Lobell and third dam of Drop The Ball) back to that line but it was always too close,” he said referring to the possibility of having an inbred foal.
Pensive has been a solid producing mare with credits that include the $750,000-plus winning mare Ubetterthink Think.
“We have an American Ideal yearling colt out of her selling at Harrisburg,” he noted. Stay Thirsty, a name borrowed from the Dos Equis commercial, is what the colt is called.
Rosenfeld is looking forward to selling a Well Said half-brother to Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet next year.
“I was really happy with the way this colt looks,” he said. “I wasn't going to breed the mare back to Well Said but with the way the first foal looked I decided to go back to Well Said.”
It took a certain amount of intuition and a certain amount of courage for Seth Rosenfeld to breed to certain unrecognized stallions along the way. But for those lovers of the breed you have to be thankful he stuck with his convictions and we get to enjoy watching horses like Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet in action.
All 12 of the 2011 Breeders Crown finals will take centre stage this Saturday (October 29) at Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto. The program will feature a special first-race post time of 6:30 p.m. (ET).
With more than $6 million in purses money on the line, the racing program will mark the first time in Canada that all 12 of the Breeders Crown championships will be contested on the same card. The Score will be broadcasting the evening live, coast-to-coast in Canada. The broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. and run until 11:15 p.m.