• Canadian Horse of the Year (2006)
• Champion Turf Mare (2006)
• Earnings of $1,129,697
A Tribute by Carolyn Costigan
My company is named after ARRAVALE because she represents everything the company stands for. As an athlete ARRAVALE has competed with distinction in Canada and the United States. Her achievements, versatility and class were recognized in 2006 when she was voted Horse of the Year by the Jockey Club of Canada. She has won stakes races from 6 ½ furlongs to 10 furlongs. She won a Grade l on the rock-hard turf of Del Mar against her own age group, and she won the E.P. Taylor Grade l against older fillies and mares on bottomless ground. In all conditions ARRAVALE showed strength, determination, and brilliance. At Arravale Racing we strive every day to emulate these achievements.
ARRAVALE was purchased from the Claiborne Farm consignment at the Keeneland September sale on the recommendation of John McCormack. Keeneland is the world's largest thoroughbred auction company. Their September yearling sale is the largest sale of thoroughbred yearlings in the world, with over 4,500 horses for sale. Arravale was sold as hip number 2,173 on day seven of the sale and was the sale topper on the day. Full credit to John for finding her so far back in the sale!
ARRAVALE was sent to Windfields Farm where I was working at the time. Her training started under the tutelage of John Neville and Nicola Connolly. I am privileged to say I was the first human to sit on her back and from the outset I knew she was very special. My very good friend Yuto Kondo rode ARRAVALE in her first canters and I remember him telling me she would be a champion on the grass. What foresight!
After her initial training ARRAVALE joined Hall of Fame conditioner Mac Benson and his able assistant Barb Przedrzymirska at his winter base, Payson Park in Florida. She ran her first race on August 13, 2005, at Woodbine, which she won easily under jockey David Clark. Her second start was in the Grade lll Natalma Stakes at Woodbine where, despite being blocked at a crucial point, she accelerated at breathtaking speed to sweep past the field when a gap appeared late in the race, proving to be much the best.
Her final start as a juvenile was in the Grade lll Mazarine Stakes. The filly beside her in the starting gate became fractious and in the melee ARRAVALE received a deep wound just below her knee. Fortunately, jockey David Clark realised the filly was injured and eased her early in the race by slowing her down rather than asking her to run.
ARRAVALE spent her second winter at Payson Park and returned to Woodbine with Mac's and Barb's string in April 2006. We had high hopes and big dreams. She had her first start of the year in the 6 ½ furlong Alywow Stakes with Emma Jane Wilson in the saddle. We held our breath as the filly lost her footing a few strides out of the gate, going to her knees. Emma did very well to stay aboard and horse and jockey settled in at the back of the field. Despite the disadvantage of being wide on the track, the filly was still accelerating when she won in a very fast 1:14.4. I have no doubt that, but for the stumble coming out of the gate, she would have broken the track record of 1:13.97 that day.
The summer of 2006 proved to be a challenging environment in which to train at Woodbine. The forward thinking Woodbine management installed a synthetic track replacing the old dirt main track. Trainers had to use a temporary surface inside the main track while the Polytrack was installed. Any changes in the training routine of a horse can be very challenging-especially the surface on which they train. Everyone pulled together, as horsemen and women do, to make the transition.
ARRAVALE's career moved to the next level when Martin Panza, racing secretary at Hollywood Park, recognizing her talent, extended an invitation to participate in the American Oaks Invitational Grade l at 1 ¼ miles. This was a difficult assignment to give the filly, stretching from 6 ½ furlongs to 10 furlongs, on top of the less than ideal short-term training conditions at Woodbine. Travel arrangements, too, would prove to be a challenge. The filly would have to travel by truck for 14 hours from Toronto to Kentucky, and then fly to Los Angeles-enough to exhaust any human! Nevertheless, in spite of some reservations, Mac Benson decided to accept the invitation and we set off with enthusiasm to experience the thrill of running a horse in an international event.
Our experience at the American Oaks was exhilarating. The hospitality was first class, and we met many interesting owners and trainers from Japan, Europe, and all over North America. It was an incredible weekend. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, ARRAVALE stepped up to the plate in a big way and performed beyond our high expectations. After making a strong move to challenge Eclipse Award winner Wait A While she battled home to finish third alongside the Japanese filly Asahi Rising, 6 lengths ahead of the 4 th placed finisher, Galileo's Star. It was our first Grade 1 placing and we were thrilled with our filly's performance and, of course, the overall experience. It was a tremendous training feat by Mac and Barb.
One month later ARRAVALE again ventured forth to participate in the Del Mar Oaks Grade l. We have very fond memories of Del Mar, a spectacular, picturesque venue overlooking the ocean. Ridden for the first time by Jose Valdivia Jr., ARRAVALE ran beautifully throughout the race and burst away from the field to a decisive win providing us with our first Grade1 victory. The pinnacle had been reached and the thrill was addictive!
Returning to home turf at Woodbine, ARRAVALE ran for the first time against older fillies and mares in the Canadian Stakes Grade ll. The filly ran very creditably to finish 2nd by half a length to Ready's Gal, a full year older. She was getting to the winner at the finish! Trainer Mac Benson already had his mind focused on the bigger prize: the E.P. Taylor Stakes Grade l to be held at Woodbine a month later.
The E.P. Taylor Stakes Grade l is named in honour of the late great thoroughbred owner and breeder, Edward Plunket Taylor, founder of Windfields Farm and breeder of the great Northern Dancer. This was a race we dearly hoped to win. At 10 furlongs the race is the highlight of the Canadian Fillies and Mares division and always attracts an international field of world-class athletes. The field of 2006 was particularly strong with no fewer than 5 Grade 1 winners competing in a field of 13 runners. Along with ARRAVALE they included LATICE (IRE), winner of the Prix de Diane Hermes Group l (French Oaks); ANGARA (GB), winner of the Diana Handicap Grade l and Beverly D Stakes Grade l; ALMERLTA (Ger), winner of the Henkel Preis Der Diana Group l (German Oaks) and RED BLOOM (GB), winner of the Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile Group l.
The heavens opened that week at Woodbine leaving the going officially "Soft". By Sunday it was very soft. ARRAVALE had never run in such conditions but it would prove a non-issue for her. Settled nicely, as usual by Jose Valdivia Jr., horse and jockey waited patiently for an opening down the long Woodbine homestretch. When the opening came the filly exploded to the lead. From the moment she accelerated, there was never a doubt that she would win.
For her performances in 2006, ARRAVALE was voted the highest honour in Canadian horse racing: "Horse of the Year". My brother Rob and I had the pleasure of attending the Sovereign Award ceremony in Toronto to accept the award. Bernard and Karen McCormack of Cara Bloodstock and Barb and Dr. Lea Guitard and a multitude of well-wishers celebrated with us into the wee hours.
It is difficult to put into words the thrills, excitements and exhilaration that a champion provides to an owner. The experience must be the same as owning your own sports franchise and winning the world cup of your preferred sport from the Stanley Cup to the World Series! The wonderful thing about these equine star athletes, from an owner's point of view, is that once they reach the top, their contract does not change-they remain satisfied with oats, hay and water! Unlike most other sport superstars who demand higher pay, perks, trade, etc., your equine quarterback will be more than happy to stay with us.
ARRAVALE thrilled us and gave us treasured memories during her career on the track. She started her subsequent career as a broodmare by producing an exceptionally good-looking filly, Nancy O, sired by renowned stallion PIVOTAL and born at Ballylinch Stud in Ireland in 2010. Nancy O is currently in training with us and if all goes well will, like her mother, make her first start at Woodbine.
ARRAVALE returned to Canada in 2009. Sadly, she lost her next foal (by NEW APPROACH) due to a dystocia birth. She now resides at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky and is in foal to QUALITY ROAD for 2012. We are all looking forward to the result.