By Emily Shields
Nadine Anderson’s journey from the Arabian horse show world into Thoroughbred racing and to then managing Brazeau Thoroughbred Farms is intricate and unfolds like a fairy tale.
The Vancouver, Canada, native began her equine career in the Arabian horse show ring, where she had tremendous success. Now she owns Thoroughbreds, including the multiple stakes-winning California-bred Wild in the Saddle, who races for Anderson and Cheyenne Ortiz.
“I had been a diehard show person, showing at the top national level,” Anderson said. “But really no matter how hard you show and win, you still can’t make money, you only spend it. You can’t eat a trophy or sell your ribbons, so I thought there’s got to be a better way to have my horses earn their own keep.”
Anderson decided to embark on an ambitious campaign of racing her show horses.
“It was unheard of at the time, but I put them in race training, where they did amazingly well,” she said. “I had a stallion, Serazim, that had the right type of pedigree, so, when he was 8, I put him in race training. He won races and was a phenomenal horse, and went on to be one of the top endurance sires in the world.”
The success of Anderson’s Arabians had already drawn the attention of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who invited Anderson to the United Arab Emirates and bought numerous United States-bred Arabians.
“Arabians are in my heart and always will be, but if you go to the track and watch an Arabian race, followed by a Thoroughbred race, it’s night and day,” Anderson said. “I was galloping Thoroughbreds at the track to help pay for my Arabian addiction, but I realized the Thoroughbreds are a completely different level.”
Her competitive nature refused to let Anderson approach the Thoroughbred world in any other fashion than diving in completely. She worked in Washington first, then Oregon, and eventually moved to Northern California to gallop for Jerry Hollendorfer. After taking out her assistant trainer’s license, she married a trainer and helped run a large racing operation.
“I learned a lot, but I always liked the farm and thought one day I’d like to have a farm or manage one,” Anderson said. “Eventually, I got off the track and managed for Getaway Thoroughbred Farms.”
When that farm unexpectedly closed in 2012 and sold, 170 horses were left with nowhere to go. Anderson took it upon herself to find a new home for the horses.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “Trying to find a place was just as difficult as moving them because where do you find a place that big? The days were ticking down, and it wasn’t until three days before they had to be gone that I found a rundown farm with its fencing on the ground. The barns were full of garbage.”
Anderson stayed awake for three days, moving the horses with the help of friends. Right when her finances had run out and she was ready to give up, fate intervened again, in the form of Paul and Aileen Brazeau.
“They showed up and asked if they could buy some horses,” Anderson recalled. “They were my angels.”
From that dilapidated dirt property emerged Brazeau Thoroughbred Farm, a more than 80-acre, full-service equine facility.
“We have a phenomenal new track that was developed by (Santa Anita Racetrack superintendent) Dennis Moore,” Anderson said. “It has a natural footing completely devoid of rocks, and a 19-foot rise from the far turn to the top of the stretch. It really helps the horses’ fitness.”
Other farm improvements include a new training barn with 30 stalls, a newly fenced five-acre pasture, improvements to the existing well and the building of a secondary well, and large amounts of newly planted alfalfa.
“We’re always doing something, constantly,” Anderson said. “Someday I might be done with all the building, but not for a while. I put everything into giving the horses the best lives possible.
“I don’t like box stalls because I think they stand in them too much at the track, so all of our stalls have a common wall where horses can visit. The barns face such so that the afternoon breeze runs through, giving nice airflow. I want to make their lives completely stress free. It’s a spa break to come here.”
Anderson said the farm’s layup and rehabilitation program has increased by 200%. Horses such as the graded stakes-placed Cal-bred My Monet have gone on “holiday” at the farm. Wild in the Saddle’s quality time at the farm has enabled her to make several comebacks. The 6-year-old daughter of Silic—Local Law, by Wild Deputy, won the 2015 Dream of Summer Stakes and Tranquility Lake Stakes and has earned $367,218.
“Paul and Aileen are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Anderson said. “They love horses, are completely vested in California racing, and are all about doing the right thing.”
Five stallions call Brazeau Thoroughbred Farm home, including elder statesman Stormy Jack, who missed the 2015 breeding season but will be back for 2016. The graded stakes-placed stakes winner is one of the few sons of Bertrando standing in the country.
“He is looking fabulous this year,” Anderson said.
Despite being dismissed in the 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as a “mere” stakes winner on grass, Make Music for Me finished fourth and went on to be multiple graded stakes-placed. The son of Bernstein is not only exceptional looking himself, but is stamping his foals.
“The first babies are phenomenal,” Anderson said. “I’ve never had a baby as perfect and beautiful as this one filly by him; she’s everything you could want, friendly and good minded. They have good legs and good hips and a fair amount of moxie.”
One of the better-bred stallions in California is World Renowned, a son of A.P. Indy out of the grade I-winning mare Splendid Blended.
“He was her only foal,” Anderson said. “Every one of his foals is the spitting image of A.P. Indy, little chips off the same block. Splendid Blended was a mare with real heart and desire to win, but World Renowned is a very laid-back stallion.”
The farm’s first stallion, Best Minister, is semi-retired from Thoroughbreds now and mostly sires sport horse offspring. Indian Gods rounds out the stallion roster.
“He only covered eight mares last year,” Anderson said, “because we bought him so late in the season.”
The son of the late California-bred grade I winner Indian Charlie is an outcross to the Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy lines, as well as Storm Cat/Tribal Rule and Bertrando lines that are prominent in California. Another son of Indian Charlie, Uncle Mo, did exceptionally well with his first crop, siring Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Nyquist.
Although Anderson is a full Thoroughbred convert, she still keeps a small contingency of Arabians on the Brazeau property, where she lives.
“I have three mares and one little stallion, who is a great-great-grandson of Serazim,” she said. “He’s our teaser and can bring anything into season. We have a 98% conception rate, and I believe it’s because of him.”
From the Arabian show ring to Brazeau Thoroughbred Farm, Anderson is a welcome fixture in the equine world.