From Maidens To Group Ones

Le Romain (pic. Racing Photos)

When the Carusi brothers – Mark and Anthony – purchased the Strategic mare, Mignard, for $18,000 at the 2009 Inglis Spring Thoroughbred Sale, they thought it was a pretty good deal.

Mignard had won the solitary race (a Hawkesbury Maiden) but had placed on six other occasions from just 11 starts and was closely related to stakes winners, Pursuits and Regulations, along with Hong Kong Group One winner, Masked.

Mignard’s first two foals though, albeit named, had not raced, so when the third foal – a colt by Hard Spun – was ready to be sold as a yearling, sales companies weren’t exactly knocking down the Carusi’s door.

Left with no other option, the Carusis decided to race the horse themselves and on Saturday, their ‘reject’ – now a 4YO gelding going by the name, Le Romain – won his second Group One by taking out the Cantala Stakes at Flemington.

Following on from his Group One Randwick Guineas success in March and five other stakes placings, Le Romain has now put over $1.5 million in the bank for the brothers and fellow owners.

To say they are having a lot of fun with Le Romain would be something of an understatement with Mark Carusi revealing that they had been offered $2.5 million by Hong Kong interests prior to the Cantala.

“It was huge money,” Carusi explains. “People questioned what we were doing but after winning the Cantala it’s all worth it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way after turning down a big offer, but it did this time.”

Le Romain is clearly a very good horse and held off some of the best ‘milers’ in the country in the Cantala, prompting trainer Kris Lees, to declare a change of luck was in order after the horse had finished second in the Show County, the Tramway and the Cameron, before a luckless fifth in the Epsom Handicap this time in.

“He (Le Romain) rarely gives anything but his best,” Lees points out. “He’s underrated in some circles but not by the stable. He was really brave in the Epsom and we were confident he’d run well in the Cantala.

“We got the right breaks and were able to get there at the right time. He is still like an 18-year-old playing first grade, he is just going to get better.”

As for Le Romain’s dam, Mignard, the Carusis have an untried 2YO filly with Lees by Domesday (called Isabeau), a yearling filly by Exceed And Excel’s multiple Group winner Kuroshio and, as of 7 October, a colt by Kuroshio.

One imagines that if they decide to sell any of them, there will be quite a few people ready to take their call.



The Power of Passion