Toronto Ont.October 5, 2014.Woodbine Racetrack.Grey Stakes International Star Jockey Rafael Hernandez.WEG/michael burns photo

International Star (at left) wins the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine under jockey Rafael Hernandez. Photo by WEG/michael burns.

by Ted Black

Each fall trainer Katy Voss and thoroughbred breeding partner Robert Manfuso head to the Breeders’ Cup.  Many years, it’s a business trip; Manfuso served on the Breeders’ Cup board until this year.  But this year, as was the case in 2009, they will have a rooting interest in the championship races.

International Star, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of the French Deputy mare Parlez, that Voss and Manfuso bred in New York, will be among the contenders for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday afternoon at Santa Anita. Purchased for $85,000 by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey as a yearling last September, International Star has already made good on his original price thanks to a recent win in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, Canada.

rootinginterests“I don’t remember what the reserve bid was for him, but we thought he would bring a pretty decent amount,” Voss said on Tuesday, two days before she and Manfuso were heading west to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup. “We always thought he was a very good-looking foal. Since he was a New York-bred, we decided to put him in the sale. We sell most of what we breed. I was glad that the Ramseys bought him, and I’ve been glad to see him do well.”

International Star began his career by capturing a six-furlong maiden special weight event by five lengths on the grass at Belmont Park, then finished second in the $122,000 Rockville Centre Stakes for New York-bred juveniles at Belmont three weeks later. After a second-place finish behind Startup Nation in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, International Star rallied to post a mild upset in the Grey, overhauling favored Conquest Typhoon in the latter stages.

“I’ve seen all of his races and that was definitely his best one,” Voss said. “He really finished well that day. It looks like the competition is going to be much tougher in the Breeders Cup. But we’re hoping that he runs well and gives us something to cheer about on Friday. But he have a box for both days, so we’ll make the most of it. Obviously, it’s going to be a lot more fun knowing that one you bred is going to be competing in one of the Breeders Cup races.”


Although his dam, Parlez, hardly distinguished herself on the track, winning three of 15 starts and earning less than $100,000 in her career, she has proven to be a valuable broodmare for Voss and Manfuso. Her daughter Fools In Love, by Not for Love, won five of 23 starts, including a stake, and earned over $240,000 for trainer Kelly Breen.  And a son by Not for Love, recent Maryland Million Sprint winner D C Dancer, owns a 4-4-3 slate and $200,000 bankroll in 16 career starts for trainer Michael Trombetta.

Five years ago, Voss and Manfuso had plenty to cheer about when Gotta Have Her finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. A Royal Academy mare that they co-bred, Gotta Have Her won five graded stakes for trainer Jenine Sahadi and finished a sharp second to California Flag in the Breeders’ Cup, contested on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita. Gotta Have Her won 10 of 30 career starts and earned $1.1 million.

“When we saw her run that well five years ago, that was really something special,” Voss said. “That was the first time we had seen one of the horses we bred compete in a Breeders Cup race and to see Gotta Have Her run that well in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint that day was really enjoyable.”

International Star will compete against Startup Nation and Conquest Typhoon again on Friday, as well as European invaders Aktabannay, Commemorative, War Envoy and Wet Sail. Prominent trainer Aidan O’Brien conditions War Envoy.  Local racegoers, meanwhile, might recall that morning line favorite Hootenanny was the beaten favorite in the Rollicking Stakes on the dirt at Pimlico for trainer Wesley Ward before switching over to the grass in Europe, where he won the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville.

“The competition is obviously much tougher for this race than he’s seen so far,” Voss said. “But I’m glad to see that John  Velazquez is listed to ride him. He’s one of the best riders in the world, so if anyone can work out a good trip, it’s him. We make the trip to the Breeders Cup every year, but this year with International Star in the Juvenile Turf, we’ll have a rooting interest in the race even though he’s not ours anymore.”

Ted Black, a Maryland native, has covered racing — flat and harness, in West Virginia and in Maryland — for more than two decades. He is president of the Maryland Racing Media Association.