Well ensconced as top owners, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld are now making their mark as breeders of outstanding trotters such as All The Time, Ariana G and now Greenshoe.
by Dave Briggs
Less than a year and a half after Torontonians Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld won the 1997 Meadowlands Pace as part-owners of Dream Away (with Sam Goldband), another momentous harness racing moment occurred for them at the Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s yearling auction in Harrisburg, PA. On Nov. 3, 1998, late pedigree guru Bart Glass bought a Balanced Image filly named Soulful Hanover for $50,000 on behalf of Katz and Libfeld.
“The family is what we call a classic, old Hanover family,” Katz said.
More than 20 years later, that purchase has paid off in an incredible specimen named Greenshoe that is the pinnacle of the Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership. Soulful Hanover not only earned over $430,000 on the track, more importantly, she is Greenshoe’s great granddam.
Soulful Hanover only had five foals before foundering and dying in 2009, but her first foal, a Yankee Glide filly named Sheer Soul, would go on to produce the Donato Hanover mare Designed To Be in 2011. Designed To Be finished second to Lifetime Pursuit in the 2014 Hambletonian Oaks and earned more than $650,000 before hitting the breeding shed herself.
“That was the year that Father Patrick was being bred on a limited breeding in New Jersey and we were part-owners of Father Patrick as well, so Perry Soderberg recommended the mating as a very attractive one and we bred her to Father Patrick that year he was in New Jersey and that was her first foal,” Katz said of a colt born in 2016 that Libfeld originally named Rifleman after The Rifleman, one of the 1950s westerns he loved watching on TV as a kid.
“He was an outstanding individual from the time he was born,” Katz said. “He was at the head of his class as he was growing up and the market clearly identified the individuality and that he had great athletic ability and pedigree and a dam that was a champion mother. He had the whole package. As someone who appreciates the greatness in the sport, he was a clear example of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best.
“Like all of our colts, he was foaled at Kentuckiana Farm. In the fall of his weanling year he was sent over to the Glass farm and raised under Bobby Brady’s supervision with Jimmy Glass at the Glass farm and then was returned to Kentuckiana in the fall to be prepared for the fall sales.”
Rifleman sold for $330,000 to Sweden’s Courant, Inc. on Oct. 3, 2017 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. He was purchased two days after the infamous Las Vegas shooting in which 58 people were killed, so Courant’s Anders Strom thought a name change would be prudent. In keeping with his tradition of giving all his yearlings born in the same year names that start with the same first letter, Strom picked the “G” name Greenshoe after the financial term “Greenshoe Option” which is the potential extra shares sold if a successful share issue (IPO) is oversubscribed.
Greenshoe, which Courant now co-owns with Swedes Hans Backe and Lars Granqvist and Norwegian Morten Langli, is scheduled to race Sunday at Lexington’s Red Mile, one of a handful of final races before the Marcus Melander trainee becomes a stallion at Hanover Shoe Farms.
Blessed with incredible speed and power, Greenshoe has earned nearly $970,000 on the track, is currently ranked second in the weekly Hambletonian Society / Breeders Crown poll, sports a record of 10-2-0 in 14 career starts, a mark of 1:50.1 and is expected to try to lower that mark significantly in Lexington, all in a bid to further his legacy.
“To have a horse that even gets into the conversation with the types of things that are being said about him, he has to be incredibly exceptional and I think clearly he’s demonstrated that he’s capable of doing things that very few horses have ever been capable of doing,” Katz said. “The question is how far will he go? That remains to be seen, of course. You always need good luck and good fortune and everything to come together for you, but I don’t think anybody questions that this is a very rare trotter and one of the best we may have ever seen.”
For Katz and Libfeld specifically, Greenshoe represents what they started out wanting to accomplish as commercial breeders — produce some of the greatest standardbreds of all time.
“Greenshoe is really the first at the leading edge of a Libfeld-Katz product. We bred the mother, the granddam and we acquired the great granddam, so this is clearly the program we always envisioned developing many years ago and it’s really beginning to bear fruit and reward,” Katz said, adding that superstar sisters and back-to-back Hambletonian Oaks winners All The Time and Ariana G, that he and Libfeld also produced, are also examples of the breeders’ considerable effort and investment coming to fruition.
“Our breeding program continues to develop to be one of the preeminent breeding programs in the business and that was the objective. We wanted to create broodmares and produce great champions and to be able to watch a horse that you bred win a Hambletonian Oaks, that is an exhilarating, exciting feeling… a feeling of satisfaction and gratification. It’s hard to describe.”
Greenshoe’s full-brother, Maverick, is set to sell as hip #44 on Oct. 1, the opening night of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. There is also a weanling half-brother, sired by Muscle Hill, named Bonanza, on the ground.
Katz said he’s looking forward to seeing Maverick sell, but he’s perhaps more excited about the Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership being the corporate sponsor of this year’s Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park and especially the Breeders Crown Charity Challenge that will include an auction on Oct. 2 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale of breedings to some of the sport’s top stallions (full story here).
Twenty-two years ago, the dream of playing in the upper echelon of the sport as owners first came to fruition with Dream Away. Two decades on, Katz and Libfeld are firmly ensconced as top breeders, as well.