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Five years ago Tom Bachman saw an opportunity to focus his business and chased that dream. He went
from a 300-acre facility to 60 and continues to raise crops of pinot noir grapes. Once he reduced the size of his horse operation, Bachman began to enjoy a more pointed breeding enterprise, with success coming quickly in the form of a $300,000 Barretts select yearling sale-topper.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, but she’s probably the best I’ve come forward with,” Bachman said, which is a testament to the dark bay filly by Bodemeister—North Freeway, by Jump Start. Bachman has already bred the likes of graded stakes-placed stakes winner Unusual Way, California Cup Sprint Handicap winner Red, multiple stakes winner Both Ways, and stakes-placed Wavy Lass. Both Unusual Way and Wavy Lass are out of the multiple stakes-placed Great Above mare Way Up.
“I had retired that mare,” Bachman said of 24-year-old Way Up. “But I pulled her out of retirement because she looked so good. Then she got in foal to Grazen on a single cover. I had hoped for a filly, but she had a really nice colt that I will sell next year.”
Way Up, who has produced nine winners from 11 starters, is back in permanent retirement now. Her daughter Unusual Way ultimately earned $716,115 with five wins and seven seconds in 20 starts, and sold for $250,000 to Dixiana Farm at the 2014 Keeneland November mixed sale. Wavy Lass retired from racing with 13 wins in 47 starts for $254,773 in earnings. She produced a Tapizar colt this year named Igota Tangled Mind.
North Freeway may be Way Up’ss replacement in Bachman’s broodmare band. Her first foal, Eighty to Davis, managed to win despite a difficult beginning.
“North Freeway has produced very nice foals time and again,” said Bachman. “Eighty to Davis was born a month a month early and ended up going to U.C. Davis three different times before she went into training. She is named for the freeway.”
Under the tutelage of trainer Steve Specht, a longtime friend of Bachman’s, Eighty to Davis not only made it to the races for Bachman, but won her debut by a head despite rider Abel Cedillo losing his whip.
“Steve said only pure determination got her to win first out,” Bachman explained. “She had everything going against her but was able to get above all that.”
North Freeway’s next foal is Take the One O One, a dark bay colt by Acclamation currently in his first year on the track. The 2-year-old colt brought $47,000 at the 2016 CTBA Northern California Yearling Sale, and after missing by a length in his debut, he won a maiden special weight event at Del Mar Aug. 6 in impressive fashion. After he finished seventh of 14, beaten 23⁄4 lengths, in the $103,105 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes, Take the One O One’s record stands at one win in three starts for earnings of $45,345.
Brian Koriner trains Take the One O One for Jay Em Ess Stable, headed by Samantha Siegel. The team of Siegel and Koriner went to $300,000 for North Freeway’s third foal.
“She’s a beautiful filly,” Siegel said. “We have her half brother that we like a lot.”
Bachman always knew that his sale-topper, who set a record as the highest-priced Barretts yearling in the Aug. 29 sale, was special.
“She was an outstanding filly from day one,” he said. “(The new connections) don’t know it yet, but she’s a gorgeous moving individual. She’s pleasant to be around, a willing learner, born square and pretty. She’s a no-brainer.”
Bachman also credited North Freeway’s contribution.
“The mother is very attractive,” he said. “She was a genuine racehorse from a good family, and with Jump Start being by A.P. Indy, I expected him to be a good broodmare sire. I’ve been working on replacing my band with younger mares, then giving them a good shot to get off the ground by breeding to very good sires.”
Bachman’s theory is to buy exceptional young mares either straight off the racetrack or in Kentucky while in foal to sires with two-turn speed.
“I just bought three young stakes winners,” he said. “They’re in foal to stallions like Goldencents and Palace Malice.”
After they are in foal, Bachman brings the mares back to California to foal and be bred back, making the offspring California-breds.
He lamented the loss of state super-sire Unusual Heat, but said, “I’m a big fan of Nick Alexander’s Grazen. Smiling Tiger is an awfully nice horse, so I have a few mares in foal to him. It’s nice to have a horse like Square Eddie in California, and I have sent three mares to him. Sometimes you are going from a $25,000 stud fee in Kentucky to a $3,500 stud fee in California, but if the horse is producing good-looking individuals that the public wants, then I’m okay.”
The business of raising and selling Cal-breds has become more lucrative.
“If you can produce a Cal-bred that people think could win in open company, well that’s the best of both worlds,” Bachman said, referencing the bonus money eligible to state-bred runners.
Bachman is happy with his smaller, condensed ranch run under the moniker Fairview.
“It’s a real pretty site,” he said. “My wife, Nicole, is a vet tech and works for a veterinary outfit, and other than her and I, there’s just two other men. One has worked for me for 30 years. It’s just the four of us—a small, tight operation.
“They are all my horses with very few boarders. I basically have left the commercial business as far as boarding, although I do keep a couple of horses for CARMA. I get to raise and break my own. I do the best I can, and I hope that the public likes what I raise and sell.”