By: Hayley Morrison

Cathy and Steen Reggelsen enjoying breeding success in British Columbia.

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He’s a gorgeous horse and he’s got personality plus,” gushed Cathy Reggelsen as she talked about Value Plus, the latest addition to Stride Away Thoroughbreds.

Looming large in the paddock, the 16-year-old grey stallion is enjoying life at the boutique outfit nestled in the countryside of North Okanagan, British Columbia.

Owned by Cathy and Steen Reggelsen, Stride Away is home to approximately 20 horses, including a handful of thoroughbreds, several boarders and personal riding horses.

Breeding thoroughbreds for the last 16 years, the pair is very enthusiastic about their new stud, a spontaneous purchase they didn’t expect to make after a light-hearted conversation with friends.

“We were sitting around with friends and we were talking about horses and I said, ‘We are never getting another stallion. We’re retired,’” said Cathy, who has spent the better part of three decades breeding horses and standing stallions. “Then I said, ‘What am I going to do if I’m retired? I’m too young to be retired!’ A friend told me there was a horse (Value Plus) on Starquine (auction site) that is coming up for sale, it’s by Unbridled Song. I’m like, ‘No.’ We had an Andalusian stallion and a Welsh pony stallion and then the Paint stallion and then the thoroughbred.”

Steadily transitioning into the world of thoroughbred breeding, they bought a stallion from California named Cheroot.

“He was not very successful as a race sire, but has become very well known in the hunter world and actually had one competing last year in Kentucky in the Thoroughbred Challenge and the horse did very well.”

Then came Gottcha Gold.

“We stood him for three years,” said Cathy of the stallion who now resides at Peaceful Valley Farm in Alberta.

Although the Reggelsens initially brushed off the idea of standing a new stallion, they soon found themselves researching Value Plus and his current bloodstock.

Bred by Just the Beginning Farm, Value Plus placed second in both the 2003 Grade 1 Futurity Stakes and the 2004 Grade 1 Florida Derby. The handsome grey horse won three of 15 starts including the 2005 Artax Handicap at Gulfstream Park and banked over $400,000 during his racing career.

Entering stud in 2006, Value Plus sired several successful runners, most notably a graded stakes winning colt named Long On Value. Breaking his maiden first time out, the colt went on to win the 2013 Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs and then the Strike Your Colors Stakes at Delaware Park. In 2014, he captured the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park before landing a Grade 2 win in the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita.

Living up to his name, the colt secured a win in the 2015 Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the 2016 Lucky Coin Stakes at Saratoga. Earlier this year, the son of Value Plus was shipped to Dubai where he ran second to The Right Man in the Grade 1 Al Qzoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse.

Not surprisingly, after reviewing his racing history and Long on Value’s successful career, they found themselves falling for the stallion. Although the stallion was originally for sale via an online auction, it was shutdown in late January.

However, Value Plus remained on the auction block and was shipped from Florida to Kentucky for the Fasig-Tipton winter mixed sale. The Reggelsens made a phone call to their agent Tim McMurry with Fleetwood Bloodstock LLC asking him to go view the horse before the sale.

“He went and looked at the horse and said, ‘You really don’t want this horse. He’s skinny. He’s yucky,’” recalled Cathy.

By no means ‘yucky’ as a yearling, Value Plus sold for $1.1 million at the 2002 Keeneland sale. Not only taking into account his bloodline, his race record, but also his current progeny, Cathy stuck to her guns. “I said, ‘No, I want the horse.’”

The Reggelsens bought the grey stallion for $13,000, a very reasonable price, ‘a screaming deal,’ as Cathy saw it. They smiled a little bit more when they caught wind that his most notable progeny to date had made an exceptional run oversees in Dubai not long after purchasing his sire.

“It wasn’t even a month after that Long On Value ran and was second in the (Grade 1) Al Qzoz Sprint,” said Cathy. “Then our agent phoned us up and said, ‘Oh, you guys are so smart!’”

After the sale, Value Plus was shipped to Walmac Farm in Lexington, KY before traveling north of the border to Toronto. He reached his final destination, Stride Away, at the end of February. Eased into this year’s breeding season in light of his travels, Value Plus stands for $2,500.

“Since he’s been here, we closed his book at 12 mares just because he’d been on a long trip,” said Cathy. “He came here a little thin. So we bred the 12 mares, got 12 mares in foal. We bred a Sovereign Award-nominated mare (Classic Alley Kat), we bred stakes mares, and then we said, ‘That’s it.’ He’s had the rest of spring and summer to gain weight. He looks amazing now!”

While the months fly by on the farm, the enthusiasm in Cathy’s voice still rings loud and clear when she talks about her handsome grey.

“He is sound and happy and he’s adapted to being a Canadian. We call him Goose because the night we were talking about buying him, I was drinking Grey Goose and he’s a Canadian goose now.”

While ‘Goose’ has been settling into his new routine, the Reggelsens have been busy prepping several yearlings for sales in both the U.S. and Canada.

“It starts a hundred days before the sale,” said Cathy. “You have to bring them in and teach them how to enjoy grooming, how to enjoy barn life. Our horses live outside, our horses are not box-stalled every night so they live outside. They have to learn to come into the barn, get groomed, go into the horse trailer and all things that are involved in getting them ready.”

In August, the Reggelsens consigned a couple of yearlings both by Gottcha Gold, to the WTBOA Summer Yearling and Mixed sale, but both were RNA.

In September, they also consigned a couple of yearlings to the CTHS Alberta Yearling Sale, including Philly Force, by Gottcha Gold out of Finality Philly and Ninth Line by Gottcha Gold out of Gone to Canada.

“We felt that the horses would run well in Alberta with Gottcha Gold being there, that it would spark some interest,” said Cathy.

Philly Force’s dam, Finality Philly, is one of Stride Away’s success stories and one that Cathy said gave them ‘the bug’ in the breeding game. In 2010, after posting four straight wins at Hastings Racecourse, she went onto finish third in both the 2010 Hong Kong Jockey Club Handicap and the British Columbia Oaks. The dark bay mare won five of 20 starts and earned just shy of $80,000 during her racing career.

While Finality Philly has given them a taste of the limelight and a deeper understanding of what it means to win at this game, they readily admit that the breeding business has been experiment for them.

“We made lots of mistakes. We thought we could just get a mare, any mare, and it would produce a Kentucky Derby winner,” noted Cathy.

Continually working on improving their bloodstock, they bred Value Plus to some good quality mares this season including Starship Sapphire (Any Given Sunday, out of Plaid), a half sibling to graded stakes winner Senior Investment. The chestnut colt and son of Discreetly Mine won this year’s Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes at Keeneland before a game third-place finish in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Additionally, they have also bred Value Plus to Classic Alley Kat, a multiple stakes winner who won four black-type stakes in 2011, including three at Hastings and one at Northlands Park. She banked just north of $200,000 from 23 career starts.

Patiently awaiting Value Plus’ future progeny, the Reggelsens are looking forward to some almost race ready contenders.

“Our first 2-year-olds that show lots of promise — our Gottcha Gold 2-year-olds are just at the track this year. They are just getting going now,” said Cathy.

As the Reggelsens continue to try their luck at the game, they are pleased the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (British Columbia division) has incentives in place to assist breeders.

“We took advantage of BC’s program — that if you bought a mare in foal, BC would reimburse you 50 per cent, up to $10,000 Canadian,” said Cathy. “So in the past two years we’ve bought two mares, one we paid for $23,000 and one we paid $22,000 and that helped us purchase better mares.”

Cathy also shared some thoughts on the state of the industry.

“I wish BC had more programs to encourage more breeding within BC. Ontario will reimburse you the money, but then you have to breed back to an Ontario sire. They do not have that in BC. They do not encourage breeding within BC. I wish there was a little more of that.”

While that remains on the wish list, the Reggelsens know they’ve already been granted one important wish this year — a wish that not only adds value and provides ongoing incentive to keep at the game, but that is within perfect view.

“He lives right outside our house and he stands there and waits for his peppermint every morning… ‘Feed me and behold me,’” Cathy said, laughing.

Close to their home and hearts, Goose may only be a few strides away from creating the next big stakes winner for his Canadian family.