TORONTO, August 10 – In horse racing the term ‘connections’ refers to the trainer, owner, jockey, and anyone connected to a horse. For the breeding partnership behind Queen’s Plate runner Duke of Love, connections through Sam-Son Farm, brought the group together.

David Whitford is the former General Manager of Sam-Son Farm, and Tom Zwiesler is Sam-Son’s current Racing Manager.

Pat Costello is a partner at Paramount Sales, a leading consignment agency. He formerly operated Drumkenny Farm, where he boarded horses for Sam-Son, and has consigned horses for them at Paramount.

Caldara Farm is Callan Strouss, Farm Manager Oak Tree Division, at Lane’s End, and his wife, Darcia Strouss. Sam-Son boarded mares with Callan at Lane’s End over the years.

“We all sort of had a connection through Sam-Son and working together over the years,” said Whitford.

Their connection led to the breeding of Duke of Love, a story that begins with his dam, Tell the Duchess.

Tell the Duchhess’s dam, Classira (IRE), is by Danehill. Sam-Son purchased Classira (IRE), to breed her to Smart Strike, because they were interested in the Danehill and Smart Strike cross, that foal was Tell the Duchess.

Tell the Duchess went unraced, and Sam-Son was unable sell her as a broodmare prospect. So, Whitford, Costello, and Strouss approached Sam-Son Farm President Rick Balaz, about selling her to them privately.

“We were able to broker a deal with Rick,” said Whitford. “She has lovely bloodlines, and is a pretty mare, a little on the small side, but we thought she was well worth trying to breed from.”

Voyant, her first foal, wasn’t a success in the sales ring, but has earned breeders rewards for the group through Ontario Racing’s Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP), from his performance at Fort Erie Race Track this season.

The next foal out of Tell the Duchess was Duke of Love. By Cupid, Duke of Love was consigned by Pararmount as a weanling.

“We had him in the Keeneland sale and were surprised he didn’t meet his reserve, so we sold him for less than that after the sale,” said Whitford. “Then he went to the two-year-old in training sale, and bought him. Obviously, they saw what we had seen, liked the horse, and liked his mechanics from the breezing sale.”

Fractional group bought Duke of Love for $85,000. He has a record of 2-1-0 from six starts, for his many owners, including a runner-up finish in the G2 Marine on July 2 at Woodbine.

Whitford and co. will be cheering him in the Queen’s Plate, not just because they bred the horse, but because through the TIP Breeders Rewards, the group will earn a $50,000 bonus if he wins the Queen’s Plate.

“Even though we didn’t get great money at the sale, we have been getting some nice breeders rewards, and that is just a wonderful program,” said Whitford. “It’s so nice when you have a bit of success to get paid for it. It encourages people so much, and the Mare Purchase Program, getting money back there, that also a wonderful program, and is really helping Ontario breeders.”