Bax Knew ‘Beauty’ When She Saw It | TDN | Thoroughbred Daily…

Bax Knew ‘Beauty’ When She Saw It | TDN | Thoroughbred Daily…

By Alan Carasso

When asked what brought her to the 2014 yearling sales at Karaka in New Zealand, Kylie Bax had an answer that was succinct and very much to the point.

“To buy Beauty Generation!”

The international supermodel (once a supermodel, always a supermodel, right?) couldn’t possibly have known that nearly five years later, the horse that Bax selected (or the one that picked her, as tells it), would become the world’s top-rated galloper over a mile and would be aiming for back-to-back victories in one of the most prestigious races in the world at that specialist distance, the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile.

In the Beginning…

Born in 1975, in Thames in North Central New Zealand, Bax was raised at Blandford Lodge, originally owned by her parents Graham and Helen-Gaye. Bax later partnered on the farm with her father before selling her stake in 2009. Thoroughbreds were always in her blood.

“My father started in the industry when I was nine years old,” Bax said. “I remember sitting down in my parents’ lounge when I was a kid and watching the Kentucky Derby and that sort of solidified everything for me. I said to my parents, ‘I’m going to buy a farm in Kentucky one day’ and I did! That’s how my love and passion came about for the Thoroughbred.”

Bax eventually purchased land in the Bluegrass and called the farm ‘The B Ranch.’ She was even represented by a horse she bred at the prestigious Keeneland July Sale in 2000.

“This is why I started modeling, so that I would be able to establish myself in the horse and breeding fields,” Bax told TDN’s Bill Finley in an article that appeared on ESPN.com in 2000. “This is what I know and love. My aim and my passion is to own and breed race horses.”

Becoming A Leading Syndicator…

The horse that ultimately caught her eye at Karaka was consigned by Libby and Sam Bleakley’s Highden Park as lot 835 at that year’s NZB Select Yearling Sale and was from the second crop of Road to Rock (Aus) (Encosta de Lago {Aus}), not a household name by any stretch, but the proverbial horse any trainer would love to have in their shedrow. Anthony Cummings became said trainer after going to A$100,000 for the December foal from the Willow Park Stud draft at the 2006 Inglis Easter Yearling sale, and his purchase did him proud, winning six times, including the 2009 G1 George Main S. and the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. the following autumn.

Bax was deployed to Karaka with direct orders.

“I was sent to the Karaka sales to buy a Road to Rock,” she explained. “There weren’t that many Road to Rocks available that year and Anthony Cummings wanted to have another one in the stable. He had his choices of yearlings, but he asked me because he knew that I was really into my pedigrees, nicking and bloodlines and that I might have a different perception on how to choose a horse.

She continued, “When Anthony texted me to buy a Road to Rock yearling that year, all I did was go straight back to what I knew best and what I knew best was my pedigrees. Break it down, starting with the nick and the pedigree of the horse, then go back to the conformation of the horse. Also discuss with the vendor what the horse is like, its mentality and obviously its conformation.”

However, there was a difference of opinion.

“My choice was not the same as Anthony’s, but I went to the vendor and I said, ‘Which of the two horses–his choice or my choice–was the better of the two in your opinion?’ She told me that she thought Beauty Generation was the better of the two. So that confirmed my assessment per my bloodline choice that this was probably the best Road to Rock that he was going to be able to buy at the sales that year.”

Bax explained her methodology when scouting horses.

“I like to look at the speed index compared with the stamina index of the horse,” she said. “The dosage index is a highlight of mine and a couple of nice crosses on both the female side and the sire side in certain areas of the pedigree are things that I look for. [The Road to Rock colt] had a great dosage index, but you have to consider all the other factors. The horse has to be athletic, the family has to have soundness and he just had all the qualities.”

Looks To Kill…

“I know it sounds silly, but you sometimes say that a horse chooses you,” Bax related when asked exactly what drew her to lot 835, which she signed for under her Hermes Syndications banner. “When I look at a horse, it has to have this ‘star’ factor. It sounds crazy coming from a supermodel, but there has to be something that when you look at that horse, it just says ‘choose me.’ You don’t know why.”

Bax’s parents bred and consigned Danzdanzdance (Aus) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) to the 2016 Select Sale at Karaka, where she fetched NZ$5,000. Bax’s B.A.X. (Bloodstock Achieving Xcellence) races the filly in partnership and she has punched well above her weight, with third placings in the G1 Vodafone NZ Derby and in the G1 Livamol Classic for earnings north of NZ$140,000. Similar to the colt that became Beauty Generation, Bax connected with the grey filly on a more intangible level

“When I saw her, it was just like, ‘how can anybody not see what I see?’ she said. ‘How can anybody not see that there’s a star quality here and she’s saying look at me!’ It was exactly the same with Beauty Generation. There was something that when you looked at him, you just could not look away.”

It would be nearly two years before the horse, raced initially as Montaigne, found his way to the races. Connections were cautiously optimistic and there seemed to be a buzz, albeit a fairly muted one.

“A lot of trainers don’t like to talk about their horses until they get onto the track,” Bax said. “When [Anthony] would talk about this horse, you could actually hear the excitement in his voice. If you just listen to the inflections in peoples’ voices and the trainers’ voices, you can tell there’s a little something going on that may be a little more special than the horse next to it.”

Montaigne was a 50-1 roughie for his career debut over a heavy 9 surface at Warwick Farm, but defied the tote and the underfoot conditions to be a good second.

“It was quite surprising that he gained a placing in that heavy track and when he got a better track the next start out [at Warwick Farm 13 days later], it was an easy kill,” she said.

Third in the G2 Hobartville S., Montaigne continued his over-achieving ways with a runner-up effort to Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) in the G1 Rosehill Guineas and backed up on seven days’ rest to finish a close fourth behind fellow Kiwi-bred Preferment (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}) in the G1 The BMW S.

About 48 hours later, Montaigne was off to Hong Kong to join the formidable stable of John Moore.

Derby Dreams…

The deal struck meant no trip to the G1 AJC Derby, but now named Beauty Generation and owned by Patrick Kwok, the prestigious BMW Hong Kong Derby became the objective. The bay performed admirably in the 4-year-old series, finishing third to his ill-fated and exceptionally talented stable companion Rapper Dragon (Aus) (Street Boss) in the Hong Kong Classic Mile and in the Derby itself. Though he bested stablemate and top G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase hopeful Eagle Way (Aus) (More Than Ready) in a 2200m handicap following the Derby, a new horse was born the following season.

Moore opted to cut Beauty Generation back to 1400m to 1600m at the beginning of his 5-year-old campaign and his rise to stardom has since been meteoric. The all-the-way winner of the 2017 Hong Kong Mile, Beauty Generation added the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and the G1 Champions Mile, then outpointed the mercurial Pakistan Star (Ger) (Shamardal) to be named Hong Kong Horse of the Year and no-brainer champion miler. He is perfect in three tries this term, including a sensational three-length success in the G2 BOCHK WM Jockey Club Mile Nov. 18.

“When you see how Zac Purton rode him the last start, it was like he was driving a Ferrari, it wasn’t like he was riding a horse,” Bax said. “He was able to shift gears, not compete with the front-runners when they jumped away. He took him back, waited for them to ease off the pace at the front and then went forward. They were all on the back foot when he started to make his forward movement. Purton was obviously confident that he had such an incredible horse that he could do that with, because not that many horses are able to do that.”

Bax always believed that Beauty Generation was the perfect type of horse for Hong Kong.

“From the first time that he paraded in New Zealand in front of prospective buyers as a yearling, he was cool, calm and collected,” she said. “He traveled on a float for an hour to get where he needed to be. When you take a horse up there, you need a horse that able to be calm in the box, settle well and not be flighty or highly strung, not be hot. You need a lot of attributes to be able to travel and to live in Hong Kong. Obviously this horse is thriving in that environment, which is absolutely fantastic.”

Kiwi Power…

Beauty Generation joined fellow New Zealand-breds Vengeance of Rain (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}), Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (Pins {Aus}) and Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) in being named Horse of the Year in Hong Kong and Bax makes no effort to conceal her Kiwi pride.

“In New Zealand, we do our best to be able to supply Hong Kong with some of our best equines,” she said. “Obviously it’s a very proud moment and I couldn’t be happier for all the connections, past and present. I know that past owners are watching with great excitement every time he runs. It’s just a thrill for everybody. He’s a great flag-bearer for New Zealand.”

And on a rating of 126, Beauty Generation is the best miler in the world according to the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, another feather in Bax’s cap.

“I am very proud to have done that,” she commented. “It’s like a child, all my horses are like my babies and it’s absolutely a thrill.”

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