Written by: Jennifer Morrison

Success hasn’t come easily for Nicky and Norman Wylie, but two B.C. champions are putting them on the map.

Thumbnail for White House Stables

Peter Llewellyn photo

Nicky Wylie, part owner and operator of White House Stables, watched with nervous excitement as her handsome yearling colt marched his way into the sales ring.

The British Columbia auction had not started well for Wylie and husband Norman when her first offering, Hip No. 1, brought just $4,000. The couple’s small but select thoroughbred breeding business needed a big boost.

In a matter of minutes, there were some rapid shouts from the bid spotters and the bay son of Second in Command from the Wylie’s top mare, Mascaretta, was the subject of a bidding war. When the fireworks ended, the colt had brought a bid of $102,000 from top owner Glenn Todd.

“In my dreams, I was hoping for $50,000,” says Wylie, who co-owned the colt with Pat Johnson, owner of White House Stables in Saanich, B.C., where the Wylies work and reside. “We were more broke than ever [in 2013]. I didn’t realize how much I was depending on him. It was serendipity.”

The Second in Command colt wound up as the sales topper and capped a ‘mind blowing’ year for the Wylies that included breeding one of the province’s top two-year-olds and raising a Sovereign Award finalist.

Treasure hunting: White House Stables

Nicky and Norman Wylie were teenage sweethearts in England and together they left their homeland in search of a better working opportunity in Canada in 1980. Nicky, a certified riding instructor, sought out a job galloping racehorses, climbing aboard any thoroughbred or Quarter Horse at Sandown Park that needed exercise.

The couple stumbled upon White House Stables while scanning the classifieds for an apartment and after meeting its owner, Pat Johnson, have been renting the property ever since.

Johnson and her family had used the 10-acre spot as a weekend getaway in the 1930s, but since moving there permanently, the property had remained dormant.

That all changed when the Wylies moved in, as Norman built a barn and paddocks, filled the property with animals of every kind, before beginning their own family.

Nicky gravitated from galloping horses to training them for a few years before settling down at the farm in 1993. A feed store was started up and soon there was steady income from a steady stream of customers.

“An opportunity came up to be a dealership for the feed that we were using,” recalls Wylie. “The feed store has allowed us to raise our kids on the farm. And [Pat] was thrilled that the farm was up and running again. We started to breed and race our own horses.”

Wylie prides herself on seeking out bargain mares for sale: in advertisements or by word of mouth. When not one, but two friends each separately recommended she look at a young Regal Remark mare, she took that as a sign and scooped her up.

Mascaretta has made White House Stable into what it is today.

The very first foal she produced was a Millenium Allstar colt named Ookashada, who the Wylies sold for about $14,000 and went on to win five stakes, finish third in the 2007 Canadian Derby (G3) and earn over $400,000.

The mare’s offspring are impressive physically as well: Hello Frankie, the mare’s 2009 gelding by Second in Command is an exceptional-looking colt and ultimately led to Wylie buying a share in that stallion, a speedy stakes winner and track record-setter by Silver Deputy. Second in Command stands at Road’s End Farm in Abbotsford.

Hello Frankie currently competes on the tough southern California circuit while Mascaretta’s 2010 filly, Hollywood Miss (also by Second in Command), placed in allowance races at Golden Gate Fields.

In 2013, Mascaretta’s juvenile colt, Andallthatitmeans, by Cause to Believe, won the prestigious Jack Diamond Futurity and the B.C. Nursery Stakes from five races and earned over $103,000 for owner Peter Redekop.

This year, Mascaretta will have a yearling filly for sale by Quiet Cash and she is due this spring to Second in Command.

“She has been an amazing mare,” said Wylie. “And [her success] has helped us put together a beautiful band of five mares, the most we have ever had.”

Lovin’ Herbie

Another formidable member of the White House broodmare band is Chilli Chines, a Katowice mare who made all of $274 on the track. Co-owned by George Robbins, Chilli Chines’ first foal, Herbie D., was a top two-year-old in 2011 in B.C. and then made a remarkable comeback from suspensory injuries in 2013.

The son of Orchid’s Devil won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile during a campaign that saw him be named Horse of the Year in B.C., Emerald Downs’ Horse of the Meeting and a finalist for champion older male in Canada at the Sovereign Awards.

“Watching him last year was a highlight for sure,” said Wylie. “He has so much heart and desire.”

Chilli Chines has a yearling colt by Second in Command set to go to the sale this fall.

The broodmare band also includes Aces Over Queens, a young Silver Charm mare in foal to Quiet Cash, Serengeti Sunrise, a five-time winner by Dixieland Diamond, whose first foal is a Second in Command yearling and Reinforcement, a six-year-old daughter of Good Reward who has a yearling by Sir Gallovic and is in foal to Second in Command.

“We have had our best success starting with young, new mares,” notes Wylie. “I do not breed to crooked horses and I try to find horses with good brains to breed to. They are the ones that tend to get treated the best when they are young.

“I am pretty confident in our horses once they get to the races,” she continues. “We breed them so they can sell anywhere. That is one of our goals.”

Norman Wylie is the farm farrier and farm property manager who also handles the horses on occasion. There are also plenty of pigs, ducks, Jersey cows, chickens, geese and dogs that keep the family hopping.

There is also the matching Clydesdales, Teagan and Quinn, that are driven to prepare the gardens for planting and then pulling a wagon filled with chemical-free turkey, pork, garlic, feed and hay grown on the farm to market.

“The environment is one of our greatest passions and we try to do as little damage as we can. Herbicides and pesticides have no home at White House Stables, and haven’t for the 29 years we have lived here.”

Wylie is a bubbly and positive-thinking person who takes great pride in all of her animals and food grown on the farm. The thoroughbreds, however, put the spring in her step.

“I watched Hollywood Miss finish a close fourth in an allowance race at Golden Gate [in January]. It was brilliant.”

The ultimate goal for the Wylies is to be able to purchase the White House property at some point and of course, breed a major stakes winner. The odds are good that both can happen. Their family motto says it all: ‘If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.’

“Our dreams are to breed a Derby winner. We’ll start with the B.C. Derby,” says Nicky with a laugh.

WHITE HOUSE STABLES AND FARM

• Saanich, British Columbia

• Operated by Nicky and Norman Wylie

• 10 acres

• Sold 2013 B.C. CTHS sales topper, SECRETARIAN, c. by Second in Command-Mascaretta, $102,000

• Foaled and raised 2013 B.C. Horse of the Year HERBIE D., finalist for champion older male in Canada at Sovereign Awards

• Bred champion 2013 B.C. Two-Year-Old ANDALLTHATITMEANS

• Won Marsh and McLennan trophy breeding 2013 Jack Diamond Futurity winner Andallthatitmeans