By Anthony Manton
Warwick Farm barrier trials on Monday morning saw the first public appearance of sought-after yearling Stark (I Am Invincible).
Stark was purchased at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $1.45 million by BK Racing & Breeding and Damion Flower’s Jadeskye along with Brad Widdup who trains the colt.
He was the fifth highest-priced yearling at the sale with the I Am Invincible x Tai Tai Tess (Magic Albert) colt Faretti topping the sale at $2 million. I Am Invincible sired three of the top five lots in the sale with the other two being by Snitzel.
First foal from Group 1 winning mare
Stark is the first foal from Group 1 winning mare Commanding Jewel (Commands). Commanding Jewel won three of her first five career starts in her 3-year-old season culminating in the 2012 Group 1 Thousand Guineas 1600 metres at Caulfield. As a 4-year-old she won the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes 1400 metres at Flemington and won the same race again a year later.
Commanding Jewel is a three-quarter-sister to four-time Group 1 winner Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) and from the same family as multiple stakes-winner Flippant (Hinchinbrook).
Naturally, Stark attracted a lot of interest at the sales. Majority stakeholder BK Racing & Breeding teamed-up with Damion Flower’s Jadeskye to ensure they secured the colt.
“We had been active buying at the sale and he was lot 624 so we were always saving a bank to leave with him,” said Ben Vassallo, Racing Manager for BK Racing & Breeding.
“Damion and I both really liked him and it would have been silly going head-to-head with each other so we agreed to team-up knowing BK Racing would have the majority share. We put together a syndicate afterwards that included some of the mare’s owners who were keen to stay involved with the colt."
“Damion and I both really liked him and it would have been silly going head-to-head with each other so we agreed to team-up knowing BK Racing would have the majority share”. - Ben Vassallo
Group of patient owners
The syndicate ownership group includes Greenwich Stud Pty Ltd, Nick Vass Bloodstock, Werrett Bloodstock Pty Ltd, Geraghty Bloodstock Pty Ltd and rugby league commentator Phil Gould among others.
Connections have remained patient through three preparations for Stark to get to this point and are confident they’ll be rewarded for taking their time.
“He was very docile as a yearling and slow to mature mentally. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on him early and it’s taken three preparations to get to this point and see him trial”.
“He will just continue to improve, the more time we give him the better,” said Vassallo.
Monday morning was as a low-key starting point for Stark, who finished third beaten 3.5L in his heat over 791 metres, but his owners were more than satisfied with the effort.
“He was very docile as a yearling and slow to mature mentally. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on him early and it’s taken three preparations to get to this point and see him trial”.-Ben Vassallo
“He handled the whole morning brilliantly and wasn’t fazed by anything, even going through the tunnel onto the track for the first time he handled like he’d done it all before,” said Vassallo.
While there are no immediate plans for Stark, Vassallo suggested trainer Brad Widdup will likely trial the colt again before committing to a race start.
“Brad will probably give him another trial and he might look at a mid-week race afterwards, we’ll just see how he comes through it all first,” said Vassallo.
Being a high-priced son of I Am Invincible with a stallion’s pedigree, the obvious goal is to ultimately win a Group 1.
“That would be the dream and that’s what you buy these types of colts for with the hope they will make it as a stallion.”
“As we saw with The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) he didn’t race until a late 2-year-old and there are plenty of good races as a 3-year-old for us to win if he’s not quite ready,” said Vassallo.