British Idiom, co-owned by Delaware attorney Stuart Grant and his wife Suzanne, may be the best two-year-old filly in the world, after a stunning performance and first-place finish at last weekend’s prestigious Breeders Cup.
The horse is now three-for-three in thoroughbred events, winning her career debut at Saratoga in August followed by a first place finish at a Grade 1 race at the Alcibiades Stakes in Lexington last month, where she won by a comfortable 6 ½ lengths and sealed an automatic qualification in the Breeders Cup.
Her latest win at California’s legendary Santa Anita Park – her first on a dirt track and the final race of the thoroughbred season — makes the unbeaten horse the odds-on favorite to be named the Two-Year-Old Filly of 2019.
“There were horses from all over the country, in fact all over the world. This was super exciting,” said Stuart Grant. “Leading up to the race, I was really confident, although everyone else thought I was a little crazy. But I really thought that she fit really, really well [into this race].”
Earlier this year, Grant’s other prize filly, Monomoy Girl, earned an Eclipse Award as the Three-Year-Old Filly Champion of the Year after impressive wins at the Breeder’s Cup Distaff and the Kentucky Oaks in the same year.
Grant, who races as The Elkstone Group and owns the two-year-old filly in a partnership with Michael Dubb and Sol Kumin, calls jockey Javier Castellano “not only a great rider but a great human being.” Castellano has ridden British Idiom for all three of her championship races.
But Grant also credits trainer Brad Cox, who has trained both of his prize fillies.
“One of the things I am smart enough to know is that you leave it in the hands of people who do this for a living. Brad’s a serious trainer. Particularly in the last few years he has gotten very hot. He actually won one of the other Breeders Cup races this year,” said Grant.
Cox says British Idiom is a pretty relaxed filly. “She’s a really nice filly that’s full of class,’ the Louisville native said. “She never gets worked up She does whatever you want in the mornings. She’s a good-sized filly and obviously capable of getting around two turns.”
The $2 million purse, split among the top five horses in the Juvenile Fillies race, still leaves $1.1 million for Grant and the other owners as well as a percentage for the trainer and the rider.
This is all pretty remarkable since the two-year-old chestnut filly was purchased for only $40,000 just a year ago. “There were some fillies in that race that have sold for $800,000 and some for $500,000. So, she was sort of the pedestrian filly there. It was certainly one of our better investments,” said Grant.
Saturday’s thrilling two-minute race, which at one point had British Idiom sitting in about 7th place, came down to the final seconds. “But coming into the second turn, she started to make a move. By the head of the stretch she was outside with no one else in her way and she just wore the leader down and won by a head,” said Grant.
Grant says her name was inspired by a number of English friends who love to speak in idioms. “At one point we were just sitting around, and I said, ‘Everyone loves a good British idiom.’ And I forget whether it was Suzy or me who said, ‘That’s a great horse name.’”
Owning one champion racehorse would be satisfying to any breeder. But to have two – with major back-to-back victories, is pretty special to grant.
“It’s just so hard to compare one to the other. Each one is an extraordinary experience that you wouldn’t trade it,” he said.
British Idiom’s win is the latest in a string of successes for Stuart’s The Elkstone Group. Previously in the season, Social Paranoia made his 3-year-old debut, winning by 8 lengths in the Maiden Special Weight on Florida Derby Day, and also won the Dueling Grounds Derby. Top Line Growth won the Iowa Derby and broke the track record for a mile at Laurel Park, and Irony of Reality set the 11/16th miles track record at Presque Isle Downs.
Monomy Girl, now four-years-old, has not entered races “because she has had some issues,” but Grant and his partners hope to bring her back next spring to race as a five-year-old.
Grant realizes that the recent deaths of horses plaguing the industry – in particular, dozens at Santa Anita – are a problem that needs to be addressed.
“I can tell you at Santa Anita has had a problem. We’re very concerned about it. We don’t just race to race but we race because we love the horses, and we love the sport. We take tremendous care of our horses – we have funded an equine program at the University of Delaware so more and more people learn about horses and how to take proper care of them,” said Grant.
“Any time there’s a breakdown – even one – it’s more than any of us would like. Santa Anita knew it was in the spotlight [this past weekend] … They were trying to take extra care to make sure that the horses were safe and wouldn’t get hurt. They had additional vets on the grounds, who look at the horses before they go out on the racetrack and are looking at them as they’re warming up. And if they don’t feel that they’ve warmed up properly or feel that they might be thrown off, they scratch those horses. Between the two days, probably 250 horses, one did get hurt. That’s one too many. But I’m not sure there’s any sport where there’s 100% safety record.”
“We have on our farm probably a dozen horses who got hurt and can’t race anymore, and we just keep them on the farm. They’re my lawn ornaments, but we take care of them for for the rest of their life,” said Grant.
In the summer of 2020, Stuart will offer University of Delaware students the chance to apply for a paid internship through the I Could Do Great Things Foundation, at Camden Training Center in South Carolina, where many of his thoroughbreds have trained. The internship will last ten weeks and will provide hands-on experience in the racing industry.
Grant retired from the law firm he founded, Grant & Eisenhofer, in September 2018 and he currently serves as an advisor in the financial and litigation arena.