Article Last Updated:
Saturday, January 19, 2002 - 10:46:53 PM MST
Little piece of Kentucky in Dracut, Mass.
DRACUT -- Leo Chasse came late to the horse game,
but he's determined to make up for lost time.
With just a year and a half of Thoroughbred ownership
under his belt, Chasse, 53, has ventured headlong
into the breeding end of the business.
He already owns yearlings sired by highly-rated
national stallions Rubiano and Chimes Band, but
now he's swinging for a home run.
Later this month, Chasse's eight-year-old mare,
Beauett, will be shipped from his small Dracut
stable to the world-renowned Three Chimneys Farm
in Midway, Ky. There, she will be one of a select
few mares bred to Albert the Great, the multiple
Grade I winner who was retired last fall and will
be standing for his first season at stud.
Three Chimneys executives are carefully screening
applicants to be bred to Albert the Great, who
displayed a rare combination of speed and stamina
in his brilliant racing career. They eagerly accepted
Beauett, a daughter of Beau Genius and Road to
Shiloh, who spent her entire 56-race career kicking
around minor league circuits in New England and
In the complicated, computer-driven chemistry
of pedigree matching, the two should make a perfect
couple, even though one was third in the Breeders'
Cup Classic and the other was third in a Rockingham
Park claiming race in their final outings.
The stud fee of $10,000 (with a guaranteed live
foal) seems to be a bargain. Point Given, also
standing his first season at Three Chimneys, is
commanding a stud fee of $125,000.
Chasse, who's lived in Dracut for 25 years, has
dabbled in pedigree matching on his computer and
sees great things for the Albert-Beauett matchup.
And Edwin Anthony,
pedigree consultant to Three Chimneys Farm and
author of "The 21st Century Pedigree Handbook,"
was a claiming horse, both she and her dam, Road
to Shiloh, won a number of races," said Anthony.
"In addition, this just so happens to be
an extraordinary match on paper, with inbreeding
to some of the most influential Thoroughbred sires
of the 20th Century.
"The Albert the Great-Beauett combination
results in inbreeding to Northern Dancer, Raise
a Native, Buckpasser (and others). Inbreeding
to these sires has already been extremely successful
in the pedigrees of stakes winners, so I suppose
we're all hoping that some magic will take place
with this mating."
Albert the Great, a son of Kentucky Derby winner
Go for Gin trained by Nick Zito, won the Jockey
Club Gold Cup and the Suburban, Brooklyn and Widener
Handicaps, among many other stakes races.
Chasse said Beauett (pronounced Bow-ett) will
come back to his small farm on the Dracut-Lowell
line, with the foal due in the spring of 2003,
if all goes well.
He is thinking about selling shares in the youngster,
with the thought that local people might like
to own a piece of what could be a world-class
Thoroughbred (you never know).
Chasse figures it might be a way to increase interest
in the Sport of Kings, whose glory days of front-page
headlines have gone the way of Seabiscuit.
In the meantime, Chasse and his fiancee, Sam Christman,
are operating a beautiful little private stable
in the unlikeliest of places -- on Pemberton Street
in Dracut, hard by the Centralville line.
They cleared the land in the summer of 2000 and
the barn is nearly completed, with four 13-by-13
stalls and two larger foaling stalls under the
high ceiling. The detail work is right out of
a Kentucky Bluegrass brochure. The occupants right
now are a combination of broodmares and racing
Thoroughbreds being given a rest.
At first, says Chasse, the neighbors were skeptical
about the woods behind his house being replaced
by grazing land, but the farm is clean and well-run
and the property shows the great pride Chasse
and Christman take in it. Now, the neighbors bring
their kids over to see the horses.
Chasse, the owner of Mill Steel Co. in Manchester,
N.H., was around horses as a kid, but caught the
bug big time in 2000.
He did some research and found a trainer, Karl
Grusmark, whose style and love for horses fit
his own. Then he set about claiming some stock,
including Beauett (whom he claimed for $5,000,
lost for $12,500 and claimed back for $10,000).
"I'm not in it for the money," said
Chasse, sitting in the kitchen of his expanded
Cape overlooking an inground pool and, beyond,
horses standing in the snow-covered field with
the stable basset hound, Bud.
"If the young generation could just go to
the track and see the beauty of it -- not even
to bet, just to look at the horses as athletes
-- they'd start going."
Chasse, Christman and her daughter Shaina sometimes
go to the track just to take pictures, he says.
"They really are beautiful animals."
Whether the offspring of Albert the Great and
Beauett races on the New England circuit or in
the big leagues of New York, Kentucky or Florida,
"will be up to the horse to tell us,"
If the computer model
is on target (the foal will have a Dosage Index
of 1.22 and a Center of Distribution of 0.10,
an almost unheard-of figure), it's not too early
to make reservations for the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
While he talks about trying to "bring some
class" to New England racing. ("Why
can't we compete with New York like we do in baseball
and football?"), Chasse knows the realities
of the declining New England racing scene.
He owns a handful or horses and has won nearly
30 races in his year and a half in the business.
"I can thank Karl Grusmark for that,"
he says of his trainer.
If all goes well, the product of the upcoming
Albert the Great-Beauett partnership may carry
Chasse and Grusmark -- not to mention local horse-racing
interest -- to greener pastures in the years ahead.