4-Year-Old Gelding Bred in Maryland by Laurel Park-Based Trainer
LAUREL, MD – Katy Voss watched this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships with great interest. The breeder, owner and Laurel Park-based trainer was cheering on her younger sister, Elizabeth Merryman, who bred and co-owns Turf Sprint (G1) contender Caravel.
Voss also had a rooting interest in seeing Max Player do well in the $6 million Classic (G1), having bred the colt’s dam, stakes winner Fools in Love, with her late life partner, Bob Manfuso, who passed away in March 2020.
But much of Voss’ attention was focused on Aloha West, a 4-year-old son of Hard Spun that she and Manfuso bred and who went into the Sprint (G1) with relative anonymity.
“Well, I had certainly heard of him,” Voss said. “I had been following him, and praying.”
Purchased privately by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners following two starts for Gary and Mary West, Aloha West rallied for his first career stakes victory with an 11-1 upset in the six-furlong Sprint, beating Dr. Schivel by a nose on the wire.
“That was pretty exciting,” Voss said. “I’ve watched every one of his races. I don’t know what they paid, but when Eclipse bought him they were very excited.”
Aloha West is out of the Speightstown mare Island Bound, a member of the broodmare band at 191-acre Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, Md. that was established by Voss and Manfuso in 1987. Island Bound was owned by Manfuso and made the final three starts of her racing career for Voss at Laurel after going 5-for-24 with trainer Ian Wilkes including a win in the 2012 Winning Colors (G3).
Hard Spun, who ran third in the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1) and went on to become a Grade 1-winning sprinter, stands at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky. Aloha West was foaled April 16, 2017.
“I give Bob the credit for that. He always had a great relationship with Darley, and we bred several other mares to Hard Spun so we had been a supporter of Hard Spun from the get-go,” Voss said. “They had sent him to Japan and he had just come back when we sent [Island Bound] down there. We’d always liked Hard Spun. In fact, I just bred Parlay to Hard Spun this year.”
Aloha West went unraced at both 2 and 3, making his debut Feb. 7 at Oaklawn Park for trainer Wayne Catalano, winning the six-furlong maiden special weight by three-quarters of a length over a muddy track.
“I was wondering what happened to him, because he never showed up until last winter as a 4-year-old,” Voss said. “First time out he kind of broke slow, trailed the field and then circled the field and just won going away. That was exciting.”
Aloha West was brought along patiently by the connections, progressing through his conditions that included back-to-back optional claiming allowance victories over the summer at Saratoga. He was beaten a neck in the Phoenix (G2) Oct. 8 at Keeneland in his Sprint prep.
“After Saratoga, they were going in the Ack Ack, which seemed like a natural for him to go a mile off of his two [sprint] races at Saratoga. The Ack Ack was the Saturday before the yearling sale, so I was counting on him getting some black type because I was selling his sister. Then they scratched and went in the Phoenix. It was a ‘Win and You’re In’ and they were going three-quarters instead of a mile. I suspected Life is Good is probably why, and they figured they had a better shot in the Sprint.”
Aloha West got shuffled back at the start and chased the pace racing three wide behind favored Jackie’s Warrior. Tipped out in the stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz, he came with a steady run to catch Dr. Schivel in the final jump.
It was another success story for the Voss-Manfuso partnership, also responsible for breeding such stakes winners as 2016 Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Cathryn Sophia, four-time graded-stakes winner International Star and multiple stakes winners Cordmaker and Las Setas.
“It’s awesome,” Voss said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”
Max Player, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, ran last in the Classic behind Knicks Go, the likely 2021 Horse of the Year that was bred in Maryland by Angie and Samantha Moore.
“Maryland was very well-represented,” Voss said. “Nobody was going to beat Knicks Go. They kept talking about how Max Player developed a better style of running, and I just felt like they were all chasing. He was wide on the first turn and he was digging and trying. I’ve got two half-sisters to his dam, so I’m not complaining.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Katy Voss, (MJC)