Saturday, January 24, 2009

LeComte Runner-up Patena Sold to IEAH

by Steve Haskin

IEAH Stables is back on the Kentucky Derby trail after purchasing majority interest in LeComte Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Patena from John and Glen Sikura and Dominic Dilalla.

Patena, bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm and N.E.T.P., captured the Display Stakes at Woodbine last year after breaking his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths. Making his dirt debut in the LeComte, he split horses on the far turn and rallied through the stretch to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths behind the favorite, Friesan Fire, while conceding six pounds to the winner.

Patena is by Seeking the Gold, out of the A.P. Indy mare Handpainted, a stakes winner of over $435,000. Handpainted’s dam, Daijin, also a stakes winner, is a full-sister to 1997 Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational (both grade I) winner Touch Gold.

“His pedigree was first and foremost in our decision to purchase him,” said IEAH co-president Mike Iavarone. “We know he can run and he’ll get better the farther he goes. The mile of the LeComte was too short for him.”

"IEAH has an uncanny ability to to identify classic horses early in their careers," said John Sikura, owner of Hill 'n' Dale Farms near Lexington. "We have retained an interest in the horse and hope he's the next success story. It was a difficult decision to sell, but IEAH put a substantial value on him."

Sikura owns Handpainted, and is planning to campaign her 2-year-old filly by Distorted Humor. Handpainted also has a yearling colt by that sire, and is in foal to Mr. Greeley.

Iavarone said Patena will be sent to trainer Rick Dutrow in Florida and would point either for the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Florida Derby (gr. I) or the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial (gr. I). Iavarone said he says he’s not crazy about running the colt back at a mile, but has no choice because of the change in distance. The Fountain of Youth was shortened from 1 1/8 miles this year.

IEAH Stables will have a busy spring, with their two grade I-winning 3-year-old fillies Stardom Bound and Laragh, along with the grade I-winning Kip Deville and Court Vision, among others. Court Vision, despite finding a home on grass, is being considered for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).

Stardom Bound is being pointed for the Las Virgenes (gr. I) Feb. 7 before tackling the boys in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Laragh will head for the Santa Anita Oaks (gr.I). Iavarone hasn’t ruled out the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for Stardom Bound, depending on how she performs in the Santa Anita Derby.

IEAH also is expecting big things from Into My Soul, a 3-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect, out of the $864,518 earner Stop Traffic, who is coming off an impressive allowance victory on the turf at Aqueduct in November. Into My Soul, co-owned by Pegasus Holding Group Stables, is being pointed for the $125,000 Hallandale Beach Feb. 14.

IEAH is one of the three finalists for Leading Owner after sending out eight individual grade I winners last year, including Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Florida Derby, and Haskell.

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