Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm Runners Find Their Niche On Turf

Meeting Cross Border in the winner’s circle after his successful title defense in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga race course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was a special moment for owner Kirk Wycoff. The long-missed sound of fans cheering, the magnitude of the 7-year-old’s performance on the track, and the ever-significant ability to share the moment with his family; it all played a part in the emotion playing over Wycoff’s face as he gave Cross Border a well-earned pat.

“We didn’t go in thinking we were going to win, and a lot of people had kind of written him off, so for him to give that performance, it was very special,” Wycoff said. “I was glad for him that he got that double under his belt, and to see him win.”

The Mike Maker trainee is also listed as the winner of the 2020 edition of the Bowling Green, though that trip to the winner’s circle came as a result of the disqualification of Sadler’s Joy, who’d crossed the wire in front by a neck after impeding Cross Border at the sixteenth pole.

“Last year he did it with no fans and the disqualification, so it was nice to see him get the win today,” said Wycoff. “This horse has been a project, like so many we buy out of the horses of racing age sales in July.

“My son Jordan picked him out because of a race he ran for $16,000 at Woodbine, and we bought him for $100,000. He had multiple little issues, so we gave him time off like we do with all our horses. It took eight months until he was right. Whenever you own one that long — we bought him when he was four — you get attached to them and so does the whole team.”

Cross Border has been holding his own against some of the top turf horses in the United States for the past year, running second in the G1 Sword Dancer (Aug. 2020) and third in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf (Jan. 2021). 

“I still think we could have won the Pegasus, but we didn’t get the best trip,” Wycoff said. “In high level turf racing around two and three turns, the trip is extremely important; he got a great trip Saturday in the Bowling Green. He’s a very handy horse, likes the tight turns at Saratoga and Gulfstream, so we’ll keep that in mind when pointing him to future races.”

A return trip to the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga is likely the next target for Cross Border.

“It might be a little short for him, but he’s definitely earned the right to run in a Grade 1 again,” said Wycoff.

Cross Border winning the Bowling Green

Meanwhile, Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm (named for his three children: Kirby, Ashley, and Jordan) will have several other runners coming up at Saratoga, including G2 Black-Eyed Susan and G3 Iowa Oaks winner Army Wife pointing to the Grade 1 Alabama. 

Currently residing in Saratoga for the summer, Wycoff spent Monday afternoon at a charity golf event, and planned to accompany his wife Debra to the high-level show jumping competitions at Saugerties (about 1 ½ hours away) on other dark days. They’ll reside in the bucolic horse racing town of upstate New York until it’s time to head south for the Kentucky Downs meet.

Wycoff has loved horses for as long as he can remember, from taking riding lessons as a young man in Pennsylvania to acquiring his training license at Penn National as a hobby during college. He remembers mucking 40 stalls every morning before heading off to class!

Wycoff and his wife met through horse racing 44 years ago, and Debra is still riding today.

“My wife loves the jumpers, and still shows her amateur jumpers,” Wycoff said, referring to a division in which the height of the jumps is up to 1.3 meters, or approximately 4 feet, three inches. “It does make me nervous, certainly, but after 40 years of marriage, what you want as a husband is your wife to have a smile on her face.”

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A managing partner of the Philadelphia-based private equity firm Patriot Financial Partners, Wycoff decided to get back into horse racing in the early 2000s, once he and Debra’s children were old enough. 

The couple ramped up their participation around 2010 when they were first introduced to Maker.

“We wanted to compete, to win, and in studying the business, we realized that we were not in a position then or now to buy very expensive, well-bred dirt yearlings and 2-year-olds,” Wycoff explained.  “We love turf racing because it’s typically very close, so we concentrated on a part of the business where people didn’t want to be. A lot of thought has to go into the horses you buy and where you race them, and we had to find trainers who could train two-turn turf horses. 

“It was apparent to us six years ago, when we claimed Bigger Picture, that horses that were middle level claiming horses at 1 1/16 miles could be stakes horses at 1 ¼, 1 ½ miles, if they were bred appropriately. According to my bloodstock advisers, I’ve unfortunately now made that obvious to everyone else!”

The Wycoffs and Maker have had significant success claiming horses and turning them into stakes competitors. Bigger Picture is at the top of that list: a $32,000 claim in November of 2015, he went on to win the G3 Red Smith in 2016, and the G3 John B. Connally Turf Cup and G1 United Nations in 2017.

Other claimers-turned-graded-stakes-competitors for the Wycoffs include Gianna’s Dream and Roman Approval. 

The Wycoffs have also found success with purchases from the sales rings including: G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Fire At Will, G1 winner Next Question, multiple G3 winner Field Pass, and G2 winner Hembree.

One of the benefits of having turf horses that run long, Wycoff explained, is being able to have sound horses into their 6- and 7-year-old seasons who often go on to have successful second careers. While his son Jordan particularly enjoys the racing aspect of the family business, Wycoff’s eldest daughter prefers the aftercare side, and now has a four-stall barn of her own in Chester County.

Bringing the Wycoffs full circle is the fact that they just closed on a horse farm of their own in Lexington, Ky. It’s a combination show jumping/Thoroughbred facility just a few miles away from the Kentucky Horse Park, and it’s the first farm the couple has owned in over 40 years.

“Today the fence man sent me the bill to repair the fencing,” Wycoff quipped. “You know, whatever you plan for, it might not be what’s next, but there’s always something to be grateful for.”

The post Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm Runners Find Their Niche On Turf appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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