by Teresa Genaro
After REALM won an allowance race at Aqueduct in November 2016, it took a long time to get back to the winner’s circle…19 months in fact. Fortunately for his connections, they didn’t have to wait another 19 months to get their picture taken, as the horse they bought as a two-year-old made it two straight winning the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on August 5.
In the early stages of the nine-furlong Alydar run on a fast track, Junior Alvarado and Realm tracked leader Outplay, keeping him well within reach. Heading up the backstretch, Realm retreated to fourth place, off the leader by a good three lengths, and as Outplay increased his lead through slow fractions of :24.32 and :47.96. Realm, too, seemed unhurried, falling well behind the pacesetter.
But coming around the final turn, Alvarado took the dark bay gelding off the rail for the first time, going four wide and asking him for run. Initially making up little ground, Realm found another gear and spurted to the wire to just catch Kurilov, winning by a head.
“I thought sure we got beat,” admitted trainer Barclay Tagg, who owns the horse in partnership with Eric Dattner and Harry Astarita.
Alvarado commented, “When I worked him last time, I said, ‘The chance to win a stakes race is right now because he feels like he’s on top of his game.’ We took a chance and tried to pick up a check, and we ended up in the winner’s circle.”
Bred in Virginia by Morgan’s Ford Farm, Realm was selected by Tagg from the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling sale, paying $75,000. The horse had sold in July at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale for $36,000. Out of the Chief’s Crown mare Shawnee County, he’s earned just over $350,000.
“Harry and I have had a couple of horses together,” Dattner said, “but this is the first with Barclay. He said he’d like to own a horse but couldn’t afford one, so I paid for the horse and he paid for the upkeep until he caught up.”
“I thought he was beautiful,” Tagg said. “I don’t have the money behind me to buy on breeding. I buy them on looks and I’ve been very lucky doing it.”
Although placed in three graded stakes races, Realm, who was his sire Haynesfield’s first winner, had yet to earn a stakes win of any kind. It was not exactly what his connections expected, and nor did the public, sending him off as the 12-1 longest shot in the field of five. He paid $27.20 to win.
“He’s been…let’s say ‘steady,’” Dattner said diplomatically. “He’s more of a grinder. After he dropped back to fourth, I said to myself, ‘That’s not his style.’ This was a pleasant surprise.”
“It’s fun until it gets burdensome,” Tagg said of owning a horse. “We went though a couple of dry spells with him, and when you have one that you own part of, it’s tougher sometimes. But it’s better when this happens.”