VERSAILLES, KY (WAVE) - Congratulations are pouring in at the Kentucky Farm where Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner "I'll Have Another" was born and raised.
The big wins are bringing the farm a feeling of validation. Owner Fred Seitz says they are just a medium sized, hard working farm that operates a little differently and sometimes a little slower than the others. Apparently, those are the right ingredients to create Triple Crown possibilities for a horse that originally sold for $11,000.
Another day at Brookdale Farm---another dream.
"The enormity of it becomes more evident, Seitz told WAVE 3 News as he smiled, "This is a big thing!" Big, doesn't quite describe the feeling these days for Seitz, his sons Freddy and Joe and for every single worker on their 500 acre Versailles farm. Instead, it's a mix of excitement, nerves and anticipation. And, it all hinges on another day, another dream with I'll Have Another.
The horse born and raised at the farm blew away expectations by blowing past a brilliant performance by Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby.
Assistant Farm Manager Victor Espinoza said of watching the race, "People just went crazy and I had a couple of friends with me and it was just unbelievable!"
Freddy Seitz was at Churchill Downs with his brother Joe, "Joe was beating on my rib cage as these horses were coming down the stretch," Freddy said.
Freddy and Joe soaked in the moment, finding it hard to believe they played a part in the in the victorious Run for the Roses.
And then came the Preakness. The family had to do a double take to realize, I'll Have Another caught and clipped Bodemeister for a second time.
Fred Seitz remembered, "I saw him coming and the same sensation came over me, he's going to do it again and it was amazing. I was so proud of him and to have a little attachment to him. I actually started welling up afterwards and it was amazing."
Freddy is modest about his involvement in I'll Have Another. He actually advised Brookdale client Harvey Clarke to put his mare Arch's Gal Edith together with $25,000 stallion Flower Alley.
Arch's Gal Edith---named after the beloved character on the Classic TV Show All in the Family---was a bit of a risk, she was 1 for 1 after being retired with an injury.
"I just kind of liked the way the sire mated with Arch's Gal Edith on paper," Freddy told us.
They had no clue how good I'll Have Another's mama "would have been" and early on that was the case for her boy. I'll Have Another wasn't exactly a big, strapping yearling.
"He was a lean, lanky, mellow little dude," Freddy recalled.
Victor added, "He was kind of small and not a horse you would pick to be a champion."
"The truth is, " Freddy said, " I wish I could say I knew we had a Derby winner from day one but, it's not the truth."
How this farm conducts its business may be another reason for I'll Have Another's success. Fred Seitz, who is also a trainer admits, he's old school about many things on the farm, like leaving the horses outside as much as possible. "They grow up rough and tough like adolescent boys," he laughed. "They're out there wrestling with each other all the time and in the end, it's the right way to do it." I'll Have Another showed his gritty, gutsy ways in his Preakness performance.
If all that wasn't enough, the farm also had the Exacta---the conception of Bodemeister. A Virginia farm sends its mares to Kentucky to get pregnant to by stallions in the Bluegrass, that's how Bode was born. "She came here," Freddy said of the mare, "she got pregnant and she went back."
"How many farms can say that you know," Espinoza asked, "how many farms can say they ran first and second, it's great."
Now, with the Belmont looming, Fred continues to ask himself, what are the chances?
It's been 34 years since horse racing had a Triple Crown winner in Affirmed.
"30,000 foals a year, over 34 years, that's over a million, " Seitz said he scratched the numbers out on paper. "And that makes him, one in a million and I thought wow, how lucky are we!"
The family plans to be on hand at the Belmont to see their big baby hopefully, do it again.
And by the way, Freddy did not bet the exacta. He says he thought it might be bad luck to bet it and he'd rather have the win than the money any day.