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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

REEVES EMPIRE STRIKES NYRA

Edited NYRA Staff Release – Just three live race days remain in 2022 to complete a remarkable year of racing action on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit. To celebrate the season, the NYRA Press Office checked in with a selection of racing personalities to get their reflections on a memorable year.

Dean Reeves resides in Suwannee, Georgia, with his wife Patti. Together, their Reeves Thoroughbred Racing burst onto the racing scene as co-owners of two-time Grade 1-winner and multimillionaire Mucho Macho Man, who captured the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Their success in the ownership game has increased exponentially in recent years as the Reeves have been more active at the sales, particularly in purchasing New York-breds, campaigning both City Man and Dakota Gold, who both captured stakes races this summer at Saratoga Race Course. The Reeves are also part of a multiple-partner ownership in 2020 Champion Turf Male Channel Maker.

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing enjoyed a tremendous Saratoga meet with a record of 24-7-3-1 for purse earnings of $701,045, including stakes wins with Big Invasion [G3 Quick Call, Mahony], Dakota Gold [NYSSS Cab Calloway] and Isolate [Tale of the Cat]. They also enjoyed stakes success as part-owners with City Man [G3 Forbidden Apple], who is owned in partnership with Peter and Patty Searles.

Let’s start by talking about what a phenomenal Opening Weekend you enjoyed at Saratoga, winning the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple as co-owners of City Man and taking the Grade 3 Quick Call presented by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation outright with Big Invasion. 

Dean Reeves: “To go out there and win two stakes races on Opening Weekend was like, ‘Wow. Is this it? Are we going to be able to keep going like this?’ And as it turned out, the horses just really performed. It’s a tribute to the folks helping us buy the horses and then the trainers getting them ready for Saratoga and in the right form. We just had a tremendous meet. We were thrilled with it. It sure made going to the racetrack every day a lot of fun.”

You’ve made quite the splash on the New York circuit. What makes racing in New York so appealing for you from an owner’s perspective?

Reeves: “It’s the program they’ve put together and the bonus money that you get, especially when you run in open company. They also have a great racing schedule of stakes races with really good money.

“I just like the way NYRA runs their business. Quite frankly, they do a great job. They’ve got good people running the program, they’ve got good people running all three of the racetracks, and they just do a great job all around. They fill the races more often than some other places, so you can really plan to get a lot of horses racing. The more times you get them out there running, then you’ve got an opportunity to win some purse money and we put it right back into buying yearlings and weanlings. It helps the cash flow.”

It seems like the bulk of your recent success has come with Christophe Clement, but you’ve had several other trainers in your corner, including Danny Gargan, George Weaver and Tom Amoss.

Reeves: “When we looked at it over time, one thing that was important to us was being able to see our horses run. Since we are spending a lot of time in Saratoga – we spent six to eight weeks up there – it’s important the trainers do run in New York and at Saratoga. We felt like it was good to have a variety of trainers. Some of them have strengths in certain areas. They all did a good job for us. It’s just nice to spread the horses out and keep these trainers where you’re learning from each of them all the time on how they handle their barns, their horses, and how approach the business side of it. We’ve been happy with all our trainers.”

Describe your business model as an owner.

Reeves: “Our entire business model changed about five years ago, and I’ve watched closely how we do each year and also how the horses do with certain trainers. I’ll go back and look at what we do for the entire year. We made a concentrated effort to get more involved in the New York program. That was by design, and I think it’s made a tremendous difference. We were also able to go out and purchase weanlings that we felt were some of the best weanlings in the sale and give them the time. I credit Jimmy and Martha Gladwell for helping us get these horses bought, so we can go up and compete in the New York program. From there, it’s a dollars and cents thing. It made a tremendous difference on the bottom line. If you can’t look at it as a business sometimes, you won’t be in it for very long.”

You paid $370,000 for a Good Magic filly at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Yearling Sale in August. What has she been up to and when might we expect to see her in action?

Reeves: “We named her Empire Magic. She is at the training center in Micanopy, Florida. She’s doing some light breezes going an eighth in 15 [seconds]. She’s doing really well. I think she’s going to be a nice addition for us, and we look forward to having her ready for Saratoga. We haven’t made any decisions on any trainers yet. We actually have about 22 horses down there that will be turning two shortly. We’ll start to figure out which ones we think ought to go where.”

Most of the heavy hitters in your starting lineup look poised to return. How is your roster doing heading into 2023?

Reeves: “City Man is doing great. He’s going to run December 30 at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale. Dakota Gold and Big Invasion are down at the farm, but they will go back into training by February. They’re all doing great, just getting a bit of a break. So, we’re going to bring back a pretty good load of horses that we’re really happy about.

“We won a stakes race with Armstrong [the Clarendon at Woodbine], who is a Mucho Macho Man 2-year-old. So, we were thrilled with that and I think we may point to the Holy Bull [Grade 3 on February 4 at Gulfstream] with him because I think he’s ready to stretch out to two turns. We’ll see if we can get something on the Derby trail.

“Big Invasion is doing great and I’m looking for a big year out of him. Big Everest is doing well as well, so I’m looking forward to the upcoming 2023 campaign.”

City Man has become a fan favorite in New York. He even set a course record for nine-furlongs on the Big A outer turf [1:46.95] when he captured the Ashley T. Cole in September. How special is it to be associated with a horse like that, especially considering his sire is Mucho Macho Man?

Reeves: “We just love that horse. He’s a stunning individual to look at and he’s by my favorite stallion. I’ve noticed this year that he seems to have figured it all out. He understands what’s asked of him during a race. He has that nice kick at the end and simply pulls away. He’s accomplished so much. He broke a track record and has won so many stakes races. We’ll be putting him in some graded stakes races, because I think he’s one of the top horses out there for next year.”

Channel Maker is running next year at the ripe age of 9. Where might we see him next?

Reeves: “I don’t know what Bill Mott’s thoughts are on his next race. He’s a Champion who just sticks around. We had talked about it and if we thought for one second that he didn’t want to do this anymore, we would’ve retired him. But the old boy shows that he’s still got it. He still wants to compete. Hopefully, we find some easier things for him to start on and get him to the winner’s circle. What a horse to be a part of. He’s done it all.”

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