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Kingsbarns Solidifies Searing's Investment in Breeding

Kingsbarns' dam Lady Tapit was privately purchased after RNAing at a Keeneland sale.

Kingsbarns following his victory in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs

Kingsbarns following his victory in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs

Javier Molina

June 29 appeared to be a disappointing day at first for Lee Searing as 2023 Shoemaker Mile (G1T) winner Exaulted, who he owns under the banner of C R K Stable, failed to fire on a turf course dampened by rain in the $500,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs.

However, his day was salvaged in a huge way as he watched a colt he bred, Kingsbarns, storm to an impressive victory in the $1 million Stephen Foster (G1) just a few hours later.

"When we found out the big horse (Kingsbarns) won that race, it was pretty good," Searing said.

Kingsbarns is out of the winning Tapit  mare Lady Tapit, a horse that Searing received a tip on from bloodstock agent David Ingordo.

Originally planning to head back to California after the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Searing changed his original plans and decided to spend the night. Ingordo called and told him about an "absolutely gorgeous" yearling that had RNA'd for $675,000.

(L-R): David Ingordo and Lee Searing at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale on Sept. 15, 2022, at Keeneland in Lexington, KY.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
(L-R): David Ingordo and Lee Searing at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

"We drove two hours and we looked at her, looked at her, and we looked at her again," Searing said. "We made a deal and took Lady Tapit out West."

Although only a maiden winner, Lady Tapit performed well on the track, earning a graded placing in the 2017 Adoration Stakes (G3) and finishing fourth in the Santa Margarita (G1), but a traumatic experience would soon derail her career.

"She was working with another horse and she tripped, she fell. She didn't move." Searing said of a workout he was watching at Santa Anita Park with trainer John Sadler. 

Fearing the worst, Searing was relieved when she stood up after several minutes and shook it off, eventually walking over to the ambulance and getting vanned off the track.

"Really her racing career stopped then," Searing said. "She wasn't the same horse. It's amazing what something like that can do to the mental part of the horse."

Lady Tapit was retired and sent to Gabriel Duignan's Springhouse Farm in Lexington. 

"I have the best farm manager, Dermot Joyce," Searing said in praise of the farm's team. "They have a beautiful farm and got quite a few of my mares."

Her first foal was a 2019 Candy Ride  colt named Lord Sheldon, currently a four-time winner. Her second foal was Kingsbarns by Uncle Mo .

"Kingsbarns grew up a really good-looking weanling and yearling," Searing said. "To breed a grade 1 winner—I've (owned) grade 1 winners, I want more because I love racing horses—but I think (Kingsbarns) has always been cut out to be a racehorse."

Caption: Searing petting Uncle Mo foal from Lady Tapit (background). Lee and Susan Searing look over their bloodstock (mares, foals, yearlings) at Springhouse Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., on June 22, 2020 Springhouse Farm in Nicholasville, KY.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Lee Searing petting Kingsbarns as a foal as his dam Lady Tapit stands in the background.

Kingsbarns sold for $250,000 at the 2021 Saratoga Select Yearling Sale to Tom McCrocklin as an agent for Champion Equine. He was then pinhooked and sold to Spendthift for $800,000 at the 2022 March Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

"We decided to sell the horse for $250,000," Searing said. "We thought he was worth a lot more than that, but that was the year I really wanted to buy a lot of horses to take West."

The breeding game has only become a focus recently for the 76-year-old Californian who breeds under the name Parks Investment Group along with his wife Susan.

Always dreaming of winning the Kentucky Derby (G1), Searing raced mostly colts. With the uncertainty in California racing, Searing has moved more horses to the East, something he'd never done before. In addition, he is increasing his involvement with breeding as he tries to even out his colts and fillies to "50/50."

"The claiming game has gone on the West Coast, so I needed to make a decision," Searing said. "I'm pretty involved in trying to breed a broodmare band—a small one, 15 horses or so."

Part of his challenge in building up the broodmare band is to help support Lane's End Farm's first-crop stallion Honor A. P. , who Searing campaigned on the track when he won the 2020 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

"I have a lot more (mares) than that now because I want to support Honor A. P. He deserves it," Searing said.

However, the buyer is still present in Searing, who bought his first horse when he was 18, a $2,000 purchase named Secret Touch.

Lee Searing, 2023 OBS 2 year old in training Sale
Photo: Photos by Z
Lee Searing

"I have a lot of 2-year-olds," Searing said. "This is the first year where we're really giving it a go. We're going to put a lot of horses on the track."

Searing never forgot Secret Touch, who won the owner's first two races, and named another horse Secret Touch a few years ago.

"I have duplicated some names along the way," Searing said. "There are just some horses you can't forget."

One of those horses Searing will never forget is Lady Tapit, who had a beautiful Munnings  filly that will soon be taken to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

"I think I'm going to hit my first home run," Searing said.