‘Uncomplicated’ Preakness Stakes Winner Rombauer Got His Start At Machmer Hall

Neither Carrie Brogden, nor her Machmer Hall Farm appeared in the track program among the connections for Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer, but her phone messages exploded after the race as if it was.

The Twirling Candy colt was born and raised at Brogden’s Paris, Ky. farm for owner/breeders John and Diane Fradkin, who boarded their modest broodmare band at Machmer Hall until the farm privatized in late 2018.

Rombauer caught the betting public somewhat flat-footed as a winner at odds of 11.80-to-one, but the colt’s classic performance also took Brogden by surprise.

“We never expected what happened,” she said. “We just couldn’t believe it. I am so happy for the Fradkins. They stuck through it all. They had a great mare with a great family, and they believed in her, and that’s what owner-breeders need to do.”

Rombauer’s dam, the fellow Fradkin homebred Cashmere, was hardly a mare slated for classic success on the surface. Her sire, Cowboy Cal, was exported to Korea with little fanfare as a sire of runners or broodmares, and she never made a start before entering production.

Looking at the bottom of her page, though, revealed why Cashmere was kept to extend her bloodline. She is a half-sister to a pair of Grade 3 winners in California Flag and Cambiocorsa, the latter of which is a multiple graded stakes producer and the second dam of the great Roaring Lion.

The part of Cashmere that kept her in the broodmare band – the strong record of production in the female family – is what ultimately rewarded the Fradkins. Her first two foals were stakes-placed runners, and when it came time to plan the mare’s fourth mating, Brogden said John Fradkin paid attention to his surroundings.

“John picked out Twirling Candy himself to breed to Cashmere, and what I think he did was just watch all the 2-year-old sales, and picked what he felt was the best value-for-money sire, and he picked Twirling Candy,” Brogden said. “I don’t want to take any credit for this mating. He already knew we were huge fans of Twirling Candy, and have been featured in all the ads for the stallion. We’ve had unbelievable success with Twirling Candy. We bred (Grade 1 winner) Gift Box, and we had an $825,000 2-year-old by him.”

Rombauer came about on April 17, 2018, and he spent the first eight months of his life at Machmer Hall.

“He was uncomplicated,” Brogden said. “He had no conformational issues, he had no birthing issues, he had no sickness issues. He was just what a lot of people say about top graded stakes winners; they were uncomplicated and they didn’t get in their own way.”

A few months after Rombauer was weaned, the Fradkins moved their breeding interests to Ben Berger’s Woodstock Farm in Lexington, Ky., after the Brogden family decided to privatize their operation and raise only their own foals.

Though they are no longer directly in business together, Brogden maintains a good relationship with the Fradkins, and followed the career of their colt closely.

As a juvenile, Rombauer picked up his first black type with a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, before running fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He clinched an all-expenses-paid trip and more Kentucky Derby qualifying points with a win in the El Camino Real Derby, then ran third in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes.

Brogden, rarely one to mince words, let John know how disappointed she was when he decided to skip the Derby, even though he had enough points to make the field, but she couldn’t argue with the reasoning.

“I felt like he belonged in the race,” Brogden said. “John, in all fairness, said he wanted to do the right thing by the horse, and he didn’t think he was ready for the Derby, and wanted to target the Preakness.”

As it often proves out, doing right by the horse ended up being the right call.

Cashmere continues to reside at Woodstock Farm, where she followed Rombauer with a Strong Mandate filly named Republique who is an unraced 2-year-old of 2021, and a yearling Cairo Prince colt named Alexander Helios. The mare was bred to Kantharos for the 2021 foaling season.

For a horsewoman with so many banners in the rafters tied to Twirling Candy, Brogden said Rombauer’s Preakness win was just the start of something big with the resident of Lane’s End, who was also represented on this year’s Triple Crown trail by G1 Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Dream Shake.

“Twirling Candy – watch out,” she said. “He is going to blow the doors off. When these next few crops hit, watch out. They may be ‘plain Janes,’ but all of them are super walkers, and they are going to blow the doors off as they get older.”

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