New York native Susan Moore’s tenure as a Thoroughbred owner and breeder began with a love of animals and a penchant for handicapping — two passions that, even after 30 years and several road bumps, keep her coming back for more.
After a near seven-year hiatus from the business — during which Moore and her husband John packed up and moved from their prior home base in New Jersey and New York to The Land of Lincoln and Illinois — Moore is back to gracing winner’s circles across the continental United States.
And it’s all thanks to a flashy dark bay filly named Princess Grace.
Bred by the Moores and trained by Mike Stidham, Princess Grace, a daughter of Karakontie (JPN), sealed her second Grade 2 win Aug. 7 in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap. The trip to the West Coast was the first for the 4-year-old, who has won five of her six lifetime starts, all of which have been run at different tracks.
“I was concerned because you can’t ship the grooms with them any longer,” said Moore. “She had never done that. It was a long ship, and it took around 15 hours to get her there. But they kept saying to me, ‘Susan just think, Goldikova had a 30-hour trip before the Breeders’ Cup. She will be fine.’
“It’s nerve-wracking thought because she was also going up against G2 winners. When she went into that race she had won a grade 2 (Mrs. Revere Stakes), but it was on the dirt, and she had only won another G3 (Pin Oak Valley View Stakes) by a neck because she was trapped for a lot of that race. ‘You’re throwing her to the wolves!’ is what I said to Mike when he shipped her to California. But Mike loves her disposition, and he trusts her. He said she deserved the shot. To go out there to Del Mar … she had to run a 100 Beyer to win that race and she did it.”
Princess Grace is just the latest in a long line of stakes winners to be bred, campaigned, and sold by Moore and her husband. It was a business they got in to quite by chance, thanks to Moore’s love of the racing for and a weekly, Friday night ritual at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
“I was a workaholic and the only thing that would distract me from work was handicapping and the numbers on the page,” said Moore. “Every Friday on the way home from work we would stop at Meadowlands and one night a couple sat down next to me. They said they had never seen a woman so interested in horses, but they explained they had a breeding farm and invite me to come up and see them.
“I went up and I ended up giving them $100,000 to buy three horses, but they were probably only worth about $10,000. After that, I was determined to figure out how to survive in the business and not get screwed. I’ve spent many years talking to people and working with people learning how to manage my horses. I’ve had a long, productive run at it.”
For years, the Moores were disciples of the Thoroughbred industry’s tried and true formula to success: they bought nice yearlings, develop them into stakes winners, and later sell them as broodmare prospects. The couple kept about a half dozen horses in training at any given time. Those that couldn’t be sold were either folded into the broodmare band or rehomed by Moore personally.
But when the bottom dropped out of the market in the mid-2000s, Moore, who works primarily as the CEO of the e-commerce company Winston Brands, decided to make the move to Illinois and cut back on their stock.
The Midwest proved less lucrative for the couple. As the purses at Arlington Park began to decline, there was a congruous decline in the Moore’s willingness to play the game. The Moores sold a good portion of their mares and took a step back. For close to seven years, the couple existed on the periphery of the industry, until Susan — who had never lost her love for horses — decided she couldn’t stay away any longer.
“We kept a couple of inexpensive mares and then bred a couple of the offspring, so that’s what we have now,” said Moore, whose current broodmare band of three lives at Cobra Farm in Lexington, Ky. Among those is Masquerade, a daughter of Silent Name (JPN) who was purchased by Moore for $15,000 through bloodstock agent Cecil Seaman at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.
Trained by Stidham, Masquerade never achieved stakes-level prowess on the track. But Moore liked her spunk and made her a member of the broodmare band. The mare soon rewarded Moore’s confidence by producing Princess Grace.
“Princess Grace is bringing us back into the fold. She’s been phenomenal,” said Moore. “She digs in and can do anything you ask of her and is absolutely amazing.
“She’s so docile. She’s a puppy dog and she’s such a sweetheart. She’s very nice in the stalls and easy to handle. Mike says nothing but nice things. You wouldn’t think she’s this determined racehorse, but she is, and she is just brave. Going through all those holes in those last races like she did … I think the Del Mar race was hard on her. She got in trouble, had to go through a hole, and pushed horses aside in doing that. It was tough but she did it and she never balks.”
With Princess Grace’s conditioning well in hand, Moore made her first trip back to the sales at the end of 2020. Including Princess Grace, she now has six horses in training, including another potential turf star in the filly’s 2-year-old brother by Kitten’s Joy.
“I missed the horse business because I love the horse business,” said Moore. “My husband is not very mobile and is now in a wheelchair most of the time, so it’s hard to get him to be able to travel and see the horses any longer. But this year I just really missed the races and the animals, so here I am back with six horses in training. Masquerade is also in foal to American Pharoah, so I’m sure I’ll be back at the sales grounds.”
In the downtime between races and sales, Moore continues to share her love of animals through The Moore Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1999 that operates a division known as Caring for Racetrack Cats. The program provides care and feeding to the barns cat who winter at Saratoga when the track is closed for business. Caring for Racetrack Cats also offers veterinary visits and helps with adoptions for cats and kittens born on the property who need good homes.
As for Princess Grace, Moore said there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months.
“What they’re thinking of right now is the (Oct. 9) First Lady at Keeneland,” said Moore. “If she does well, I don’t think she will go into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf because she’s really a miler.
“Watching Got Stormy beat the boys this weekend in the Fourstardave Handicap, it’s a question of how Princess Grace can run. Got Stormy is very, very talented and so she’ll likely go into the (Breeders’ Cup FanDuel) Mile (G1T) for sure. Whether we go into the Mile will depend on how we do at Keeneland, but it’s a possibility. There is nothing to say we can’t continue to improve and obviously the filly loves Del Mar. That last trip was a long trip, but she came out of it great. We just want to give her time since it was such a big, forward move. We will let her tell us what she wants to do.”
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