Charity auction to raise funds for retiring racers

On Horse Racing

January 24, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The motto of this auction is simple: Bid with your heart.

That has distinguished Ellen and Herb Moelis' charity auction since its inception in 1991, and they hope that will distinguish it again Feb. 6 when an expected 400 guests gather at their CandyLand Farm in Middletown, Del.

Featuring auctions of seasons, or breedings, to more than 200 stallions, the sale will likely raise about $400,000 for numerous equine organizations, primarily ones that provide homes for retired racehorses. The Moelises held their first auction in 1991. It has blossomed into a national event.

"We just decided we had to do something to rescue horses coming off the track," Moelis said. "We wanted to do our part to try to end this slaughter business."

After donating auction proceeds to the New Jersey-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation for seven years, the Moelises formed their own association last year: the all-volunteer Thoroughbred Charities of America. The only national charity focused on equine research, retirement and rescue, their group dispenses auction proceeds to about 20 groups.

"It just grew each year," said Moelis, who with his wife breed and race horses as Candy Stable. "The first year we had 20 people in the house, and my wife cooked all the meatballs."

Now, the auction takes place under two tents at CandyLand Farm, which is just across the Maryland line, and includes a catered dinner. A silent auction of seasons, memorabilia and art takes place under one tent, the live auction of seasons to the most desirable stallions under the other.

"The Maryland stallions are really our base of activity," Moelis said. "The Maryland farms have been marvelous. The Pons family at Country Life Farm is so generous I don't even have to ask them anymore. They say, `Here, you have a season to all our stallions.' "

Moelis also mentioned Allaire duPont, Robert Manfuso and the late Adelaide Close Riggs as Marylanders most helpful in securing seasons.

The Maryland stallions in the live auction are Allen's Prospect, Carnivalay, Citidancer, Not For Love, Partner's Hero, Polish Numbers, Storm Broker and Two Punch.

But take a look at the Kentucky stallions: Capote, Colonial Affair, Devil's Bag, French Deputy, Gulch, Joyeux Danseur, Mt. Livermore, Rahy, Roy, Runaway Groom and Wild Again. The list is so strong it relegates stallions such as Skip Away and Captain Bodgit to the silent auction.

Here's a partial list of the organizations the auction benefits: Days End Farm, Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, Freedom Hills Riding Program, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Marion duPont Scott Equine Research Center, Maryland Horsemen's Assistance Fund, New Bolton Center, United Pegasus Foundation, ReRun and Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

For additional information, call Moelis at 302-378-7192.

Md. loses Derby hopeful

John J. Tammaro III didn't even get a chance this time. He lost Wondertross before he could even plot a path to the Kentucky Derby.

Wondertross was one of Maryland's best hopes for an entrant in the Derby or Preakness. But George Steinbrenner, the colt's owner, sold a controlling interest to Bill Condren, and Condren promptly transferred Wondertross to his trainer, Nick Zito. Condren was part owner of Go for Gin, Strike the Gold and Louis Quatorze.

Wondertross is a full brother to Concerto, whom Tammaro trained for Steinbrenner. Concerto had won five straight, including the Jim Beam Stakes, before running ninth in the 1997 Derby and sixth in the Preakness.

Instead of rewarding Tammaro for a job well done, Steinbrenner took Concerto away and sent him to Bill Mott. Mott didn't do anything with the horse Tammaro couldn't have done.

Under Tammaro's care, Wondertross closed powerfully last fall in the Remsen Stakes to finish third -- without the seasoning or even the fitness of some of the other 2-year-olds in the race. As he watched the replay, Tammaro said: "I sure hope I get to keep him."

On Jan. 4, Wondertross departed Tammaro's barn at Bowie for Zito's in Florida.

"From where I stand, it was all in front of him," Tammaro said. "If everything goes right and he continues to improve, he'll win one of the big ones."

Tracking the governor

If you're a reader who goes straight to the sports section and ventures no farther, you missed this: Gov. Parris N. Glendening still wants to help the horse-racing industry despite his barbed comments about Joe De Francis in Tuesday's Sun.

In Wednesday's Sun, inside the Metro section, there was a story quoting Glendening spokesmen saying he has not abandoned the industry as a whole. Ray Feldmann, his press secretary, said the governor would study the recommendations of the Janney Commission before deciding what assistance to proffer.

We repeat this for those who may have experienced heart palpitations upon reading Glendening's comments. Take solace in this from Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association:

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