Each time they watch it, the furious finish by their 3-year-old is just as exciting as the first.
A 24 to 1 longshot in the first Breeders’ Cup race of the two-day World Championships, Shamrock Rose was last of 14 horses around the turn of the seven-furlong race, while a very hot pace was being set a dozen lengths in front of her.
“I was in shock early because she was in last place,” said Manfred. “Then I saw her move up but, well, I saw the race but I really didn’t see anything after that. I didn’t know until after the race that she had won.”
Taking cues from top U.S. rider Irad Ortiz, Shamrock Rose, trained by Mark Casse, wove her way through some older mares and flew between rivals to win by a nose.
“We were all in awe. I knew she was really good, but you never expect to win,” said Manfred, who had a group of family and friends with him at Churchill, but Penny remained at home recovering from minor surgery.
“I think she had a bigger party at our house than I did at the Breeders’ Cup,” said Manfred.
What made the victory by the Pennsylvania-bred Shamrock Rose more satisfying is that the Conrads had to put up $130,000 to enter the filly.
The daughter of Florida stallion First Dude, who won the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup at 10 furlongs, Shamrock Rose — so named because she was foaled on March 17, 2015 — was not nominated as a foal but when she returned from a summer vacation for the Malvern Stakes at Presque Isle in Erie, PA in August, she was an improved runner.
Shamrock Rose won her career debut in the Ontario Debutante Stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old and finished second in the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes. A brief winter stint in New York and Maryland saw her place in two stakes before she was laid up.
She won the Malvern and then Woodbine’s La Lorgnette Stakes, shipped to Keeneland and won the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at 18 to 1. Two weeks later, she raced to Breeders’ Cup glory.
“Supplementing her was partially a calculated risk,” said Manfred. “She did so well winning that nice race at Keeneland that the money we made there was the money we invested in the supplement.”
The Conrads, who own The Cora Group in Waterloo, a commercial real estate developing company, are also philanthropists who give back to their community in many aspects from music to hospital care.
The couple have had extraordinary success since their first horse purchase less than 10 years ago. The first horse they raced, Honors Best, won the second time out in her career for trainer Andrew Smith.
From 15 starts by a couple of runners and $60,000 in purse earnings, the Conrads have won 11 races from 44 starts by their horses in 2018 for earnings of $1.4 million. They have some 42 wins as owners with sales purchases and homebreds.
Their stars have been stakes winners and stakes placed horses Jennifer Lynette, Leavem in Malibu, State of Honor and Muskoka Wonder.
“We have only been doing this for nine or 10 years and we have been to the Queen’s Plate twice, the Prince of Wales twice, the Kentucky Derby and now we have won a Breeders’ Cup race. It is awesome.”
Casse discusses much of the racing and purchasing with Penny, a horse lover from a young age and the “brains” of the horse business, said her husband.
“Penny talks to Mark quite a bit about what we look for. She takes a lot of Mark’s advice and we go from there.”
Shamrock Rose was a $120,000 (U.S.) purchase at the 2017 April Ocala Two-Year-Old in Training sale. This fall, Penny and Casse selected four yearlings for $1.4 million from the Keeneland September sale.
At the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, the Conrads sold one of their first runners, Theogony, a Curlin mare, for $500,000 through Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Aurora and Jennifer Lynette.
The couple’s small farm, which has housed a couple of horses over the years, is now the main home to their five mares and their foals. They had previously boarded at Mike Carroll’s Grandview Farm which was recently sold.
Also romping the paddocks at the Conrad Farm is State of Honor, who was injured in the 2017 Kentucky Derby and is now retired.
The Conrads will have a handful of runners coming up in 2019 with Casse and have high hopes that Shamrock Rose can continue to be good and lucky.
“Penny and Mark make a good team at picking horses. Penny has a very good nose for it,” Manfred said. “I don’t know if we are going to have a year like this next year but you never know.”