Anvil And Lace provides a grab bag of goodie yearlings

by Ray Cotolo

He’s the anvil, and she’s the lace.

Because he is Doug Yontz, a blacksmith by trade. Beth Yontz, his wife, is the lace. Together, they ventured on their own with a purchase of acreage in 2015 in Cynthiana, KY, which became Anvil And Lace Farm. They run it as a team with a kind of small-operation care that has persisted through the farm’s quick growth.

“I worked for Schare [Adams at Saga Farm] and she had about a 50-acre farm and that was before the Kentucky program really got going, but when I bought my first farm it was about 50 acres and I thought ‘This is life. This is how it is,’” said Beth, who found some time to talk while busy with a host of visitors perusing their yearling selection. “To me, this business is not work, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just business, I eat, sleep and breathe it. I was in the barn last night at 10 o’clock doing the night chores. I’m the one still clipping. Now, I have a great team around me, but I’m still in the barn every single day.

“My foals are touched, they are let out at 24 hours old, they wear halters. It’s a whole training program that starts from when they are born and it goes along. I feed the best feed; I look for good hay. There’s a foundation on it. I can tell because I have more ship ins this year than normal and, just like blacksmith day, there are things that putting a foundation on them young goes a long way when they get to be yearlings. I haven’t lost that… even in the growing, I haven’t lost that hands-on approach.”

And that growth has been fast. Compare Anvil And Lace Farm in 2017, when they sold for a gross of $350,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling sale. In 2022, with many more yearlings now to offer, they sold for a gross of $2.6 million, putting them within the top-10 consignors of the sale.

That growth, too, continues with the investments Kentucky is making in its breeding programs and the relationships Anvil And Lace has forged. For instance, Anvil And Lace has become the place in Kentucky that raises yearlings from Kountry Lane Standardbreds, an Indiana farm run by cabinet magnate Ola Yoder. Yoder has become a known presence at many mixed sales for putting up top dollar for the best mares, and his Kountry Lane Standardbreds starts with a pair of knockout punches for consignor Anvil And Lace: a Chapter Seven filly named Kountry Meadow, Hip 42 and a Captaintreacherous filly named Caroline Kountry, Hip 61. Kountry Meadow is the first foal out of Ake Svanstedt’s freakishly fast trotting mare Plunge Blue Chip and Caroline Kountry comes from a similarly freakish-fast mare in Jim King Jr.’s star import Shartin N.

“Well, the thing about them both is that they are classy fillies,” Beth said. “[The foal from] Shartin has done everything right from Day 1. You put her in the walker, she gets it. Put her blankets on, she gets it. You can show her… she stands out and she’s patient.

“[The foal from] Plunge is another. They are classy individuals. I think this is somewhere where pedigree really starts to shine. When it gets down to the nitty gritty, those girls just have pure class.”

Sneaking in on Day 3 of the sale for Anvil And Lace is a colt by Captain Crunch named Dancin Commander, Hip #602. To say the dam’s been productive may be an understatement; this yearling is the 10th foal from Dancewiththebest, a Cambest mare who has output champions like double millionaire Dancin Yankee (bred by Yontz) and Breeders Crown winner Dancin Lou. Then on Day 5, Anvil And Lace has another interesting offering from that family in a filly named Lavender Haze, Hip #871. Lavender Haze is out of Dancin In Lace, an Always B Miki mare who is a half-sister to Dancin Yankee and Dancin Lou. The yearling filly is by Yankee Cruiser, the sire of champions Dancin Yankee and Dancin Lou.

And that hopefully captures the point. Anvil And Lace Farm’s offerings are diverse and attention grabbing. They have yearlings from powerpack mares, yearlings from interesting crosses and, perhaps most apparent, yearlings from varying stallions. Indiana, Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey… nearly every state is represented by the Kentucky-based farm.

“That’s what I like about the diversity – I have everything, from every state, some are dual eligible, some aren’t,” Beth said. “[And we have some] in just about every price range, too. We all know that it takes all tiers and, as it’s been shown in the past couple of weeks, it’s not the most expensive that’s always winning the races and it’s not always the best bred. Sometimes you get the diamond in the rough and you’ve got to be openminded about it.

“At the end of the day, I want to make good, honest racehorses. I love watching the horses I’ve bred race. That was what was so fun about Dancin Yankee. I bred Dancin Yankee and he raced year in and year out for years. He set a world record and he was Ohio Horse of the Year – just to watch him race and be good, it’s just one of those fun things.”

With building solid racehorses being Anvil and Lace’s game and purse monies in Kentucky’s program swelling, Beth is optimistic about this year’s sale.

“The Kentucky program is a little later than some, so if the horse needs more time… it helps in those aspects,” she said. “Obviously, the Kentucky program having three tiers, along with a very nice fair program that we don’t need to discount at all because some of those race for $12,000 and then a $50,000 leg. It’s a good program overall and it gets everyone somewhere to race.

“There’s a lot of hype and everyone is happy in the business. The jurisdictions are racing for a lot of money, so that gets you excited. Kentucky’s program is flourishing here and, therefore, people want the dual eligibles and I think they’ll pay a little more.”