Coolmore: The New York Yankees of Horse Racing

Coolmore associates Michael Tabor (right) and trainer Aidan O'Brien savor their 2017 Breeders' Cup win with Mendelssohn. (Eclipse Sportswire)

To understand the importance of Coolmore’s racing and breeding operation in Europe, just think about the New York Yankees or the Boston Celtics or the New England Patriots … and roll them into one neat, tidy, and utterly spectacular package.

That’s how supremely successful Coolmore has become.

In breeding, Coolmore has world-class farms in Ireland, the United States, and Australia.

Their current roster of stallions includes Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Uncle Mo, Tale of the Cat, Classic Empire, Justify, Lookin At Lucky and Practical Joke among those at their U.S. farm, Coolmore America, in Versailles, Ky. In Europe, at their farm in Fethard, County Tipperary in Ireland, there’s the one and only Galileo.

In the past, Coolmore built its glittering reputation on champion sires such as Sadler’s Wells and Danehill.

Now owned by John Magnier, Coolmore is represented by horses owned by his wife, Susan Magnier, who usually races in a partnership with Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

Susan Magnier has won 14 Breeders’ Cup races with her partners, reaching the winner’s circle with horses such as Highland Reel, Found, Mendelssohn, and High Chaparral while working with legendary European trainer Aidan O’Brien. Their latest came earlier this month, when longshot Order of Australia won the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF for Magnier, Smith, Tabor and Anne O'Brien, who is Aidan O'Brien's wife.

Coolmore's Breeders' Cup Turf winner Found after her Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory.
Coolmore's Breeders' Cup Turf winner Found after her Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory. (Eclipse Sportswire)

She also owns a pair of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victories with Found (2016) and Dylan Thomas (2007).

On every front, Coolmore has been synonymous with the very best the racing industry has to offer.

It all started with a small farm in Ireland that was owned by Tim Vigors, who began to expand it before forming a partnership with trainer Vincent O’Brien and wagering pools magnate Robert Sangster in 1975.

Sangster then became a major force at sales, spending exorbitant amounts to build a racing and breeding empire with horses such as The Minstrel, a $200,000 yearling buy who won the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby, Caerleon, Be My Guest, and El Gran Senor.

Sangster’s breeding program flourished in a short amount of time. In 1984, the homebred Sadler’s Wells became a champion miler in France and then a foundation sire, earning 14 titles as the champion sire in England and Ireland.

John Magnier joined Sangster and O’Brien, who was his father-in-law, as a partner in Coolmore but eventually became the sole owner and took it to new heights.

Under Magnier, Coolmore’s farm in Ireland grew to 7,000 acres and its dominance in the breeding industry was best reflected at the Epsom Derby where a Coolmore stallion sired 11 of the 15 winners of the famed stakes from 1998 through 2012.

Little has changed in more recent years. Galileo, a son of Sadler’s Wells, has been the leading sire in England and Ireland 11 times and perhaps his most famous son is Frankel, who was undefeated in 14 career starts.

Coolmore’s golden touch was also reflected in how it sold its $1 million spot in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup in 2017 to Juddmonte Farms, who entered eventual winner Arrogate in the race.

Maybe it’s time to add the Montreal Canadiens and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team to that list.

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