Celebrating Notable Fathers in Horse Racing

The Life
Julien Leparoux with his son Mitchell (left) and Gary Stevens with daughter Maddie. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Father’s Day is always an extra meaningful day in horse racing. For so many, myself included, it was our dads who introduced us to the sport of racing, brought us up close to the first horse we saw, or made our first bet for us. If you look around the track today, you’ll find a number of famous fathers and spectacular sires who seem to make noise all year around. We figured we’d go ahead and take a look at some of the most prominent names on that list.

Dale Romans – One of the more gregarious personalities in racing, he was featured back in 2007 in a racing documentary, “The First Saturday in May”, along with his son Jake and daughter Bailey.

Barry Weisbord –The president of the Thoroughbred Daily News has done just about everything in racing – he’s owned, bred, innovated and continues to be one of racing’s most influential personalities. He’s also a father of twin boys, including Bradley, a prominent figure in racing’s bloodstock scene over the past several years.

Tom Morley – The New York-based trainer is celebrating his first Father’s Day. He and his wife Maggie celebrated the birth of their daughter Grace late last year.

Ahmed Zayat – The patriarch of Zayat Stables, owner of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. He’s a father of four children, including Justin, who is extremely active in the family’s racing and breeding operations.

Graham Motion with children Jane and Marcus at the Derby. (Courtesy of Jane Motion)

Graham Motion – The Kentucky Derby-winning trainer recently finished second in the Belmont Stakes with Irish War Cry. He’s a father of two children, Jane and Marcus.Julien Leparoux – Another big racing personality and leading jockey who only recently became a dad. In 2015, he and his wife Shea had their first child together, Mitchell.

Richard Mandella – The Hall of Fame trainer famously won four Breeders’ Cup races in one day back in 2003. He’s the father of two children, including Gary, who has also become a successful trainer.

Mark Casse – The Sovereign Award-winning trainer began working for his father, the late Norman Casse, as a teenager, and in recent years he’s welcomed his own son Norman, one of his seven children, into the family business.

Gary Stevens – One of racing’s greatest jockeys of all time, Stevens is a father to Maddie, a 7-year-old who has served as a roving kids’ reporter for Breeders’ Cup.Tapit – There’s no father in racing that’s been in the headlines recently more than Tapit. He stands at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky and has been the leading American stallion the last three years. Incredibly, he’s fathered three of the last four Belmont Stakes winners: Tapwrit, Creator and Tonalist.

Malibu Moon – In 2013, his son Orb won the Kentucky Derby, and since then Malibu Moon’s progeny have continued to have success. This year, Kentucky Derby runner Gormley and Kentucky Oaks runner Farrell are both by Malibu Moon. The stallion also fathered millionaire Stanford.

Candy Ride – This stallion’s work was on full display just this past Saturday when his son Gun Runner romped to victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. To date, Gun Runner has earned more than $4.5 million. Candy Ride has also sired popular graded stakes winners like Shared Belief, Ascend, Clubhouse Ride, Misremembered, Candy Boy and Mastery.

Curlin (Eclipse Sportswire)

Curlin – The two-time Horse of the Year has sired some of the most prominent graded stakes runners in the past few years, including last year’s Preakness and Haskell winner Exaggerator, Palace Malice, Stellar Wind, Keen Ice and, more recently, the aforementioned Irish War Cry.

Kitten’s Joy – You can call him the daddy of all turf horses. Kitten’s Joy has been the top turf sire in America for the past four years. The horses he’s fathered read like a who’s who of premier turf performers in racing, including Stephanie’s Kitten, Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution, Divisidero, Bobby’s Kitten, Oscar Performance, and so many more.

Ghostzapper – He’s been a stallion since 2006 but is still producing some of racing’s most successful runners. On Saturday night, Ghostzapper’s McCraken won his third graded stakes, the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs — not a bad Father’s Day gift. The stallion’s other famous children include Shaman Ghost, Moreno, Judy the Beauty, Za Approval and Paulassilverlining.

Uncle Mo – One of the younger dads on this list, he’s already fathered some extremely notable horses who’ve made a splash on the Triple Crown scene over the past few years – at the top of the list is last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. His other successful progeny include horses like Outwork, Mo Tom, Unbridled Mo, Laoban and Conquest Mo Money.

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