Owner/breeder John Fradkin called it "Plan C" for his homebred Rombauer, winner of the 2021 Preakness Stakes (G1), who returned to light training in December with the long-term goal to stage a comeback later this year.
Fradkin would have preferred this year to see the first mares going to his now 5-year-old son of Twirling Candy , who won or placed in four graded stakes and ended his sophomore season with $1,040,500 in earnings. Instead, as first reported by Daily Racing Form, he now hopes to enhance the classic winner's race record, make him fresh in the minds of stud farm owners again, and land a stallion deal in Kentucky for 2024.
"He did get hurt at a bad time, around New Year's Eve of 2021 and we could have rushed a deal for 2022 but I thought that was the wrong thing to do," Fradkin told BloodHorse. "I aimed for 2023 but it didn't happen. Plan A was to get a stallion deal in Kentucky and then Plan B would have been a deal in Japan, but we didn't get any offers."
Fradkin said he could have gone to a regional market but he believes the stallion deserves a shot in Kentucky as a classic winner out of a deep female family that includes Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner California Flag, European highweight Roaring Lion, and graded stakes winners Cambiocorsa, Moulin de Mougin, and Schiaparelli, and stakes winner Bronson under his second dam Ultrafleet.
The bad timing of his injury and a strong entering-year crop for this year all worked against Rombauer, so Fradkin is gambling that a refresher of the horse's talent at the track will provide the boost needed. He is inspired by the comebacks of Da Hoss, who won the 1996 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) and came back in 1998 to win the Mile again after not racing at all in 1997 and making only one start prior to his 1998 Breeders' Cup repeat. Val Royal also won the 2001 Mile after not racing at all the previous year.
"Interestingly, both those horses came back at a high level on turf and that is my thinking we should try that," Fradkin said of Rombauer. "There is reason to think he could have had a successful career on the turf. There is a lot of turf in the family. He won his first start on turf impressively. We are dreaming a little here, but if can make it back to the races and win a graded race, then I think we might be back on the map enough."
While he waits to see how Rombauer progresses at a training center near Ocala, Fla., Fradkin said Rombauer's dam Cashmere, by Cowboy Cal, has been providing plenty of hope that the family's legacy will keep growing. The mare had a Constitution colt this year and will be bred back to Tapit . Her yearling, a full sister to Rombauer named Brown Sugar, will be offered at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
"Brown Sugar is beautiful," he said. "Also we saw some fireworks for Twirling Candy this week at OBS where he had a million-dollar sale and a $900,000 horse. I hope to have a good sale and it looks promising right now."
Fradkin knows he still has a ways to go before his dream with Rombauer can be realized, but he believes the horse deserves this chance.
"If all goes really well, I would like to get three or four starts into him and then we retire again. I am hopeful he can make some noise and we get a shot for 2024 in Kentucky," he said. "If he doesn't make it back to the races, then we'll look at a regional market, maybe California, Florida, or Maryland."