TOBA: Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association

March Member of the Month

Thomas Turner

“Eh Cumpari!” was a 1950s hit, but a horse of the same name is proving to be a smash in 2015. Anstu Stables’ Eh Cumpari, bred by Thomas Turner, proved the best in the March 7 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) by a head. The three-year-old colt, who achieved his first stakes victory, is another stellar addition to Turner’s breeding resume.

Turner, who resides in Baton Rouge, La., first got into racing approximately 14 years ago due to his daughter’s enthusiasm for equines. “She was interested in hunter-jumper and so we started going to hunter-jumper events, and ultimately she needed to find out more about horses. We also had my sister breeding Arabians, and so I found out more and more about horses and ultimately found out more about Thoroughbreds and we got into it,” he recalled.

Turner owns 50 to 60 horses, including up to 35 mares boarded at Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds in Lexington, Ky. Turner formerly worked with ClassicStar, but that didn’t last. “They eventually went out of business and we were looking for a big partner,” he said. “And Gaines-Gentry showed up on our radar and the chemistry struck up. He [Olin Gentry] needed us; we needed him. It all worked out. We’ve been together [approximately] six years.” Of Gentry, he said, “These guys have been in the business forever. They live eat and breathe this stuff.”

Jim Moloney, manager of Anstu Stables, purchased Eh Cumpari at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale of Selected Yearlings for $225,000. Of his success, Turner commented, “Well, I mean it’s always fun to have some horse that you’ve bred that ultimately is victorious. I mean, that’s what you’re aiming for. It’s nice to know that you did a good job, that somebody bought one of your babies and it went on to win.” He added, “What really stands out is when they go for a good price at the auction.”

Eh Cumpari hails from a high-end family on both sides. His sire is top stallion Elusive Quality, while his dam is Bells are Ringing, a half-sister to leading sire Unbridled’s Song. Sadly, “Bells are Ringing passed away,” noted Jonathan Greer, who runs Turner’s family office, but Turner still owns her yearling daughter by The Factor.

When breeding his mares, Turner relies on the Gaines-Gentry team. “Well, in my case, I depend a lot on my partners. They’ve been in this business a long, long time so I depend on them, and then just having learned over the years [to focus on] just classic lines,” Turner said.  “I’ve learned over time a good horse eats the same amount as a bad horse, so you better follow the advice of smart people that are in the business.”

Another recent Turner-bred standout was Indianapolis. He sold for $490,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale and ended up racing for the Coolmore team of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. Indianapolis briefly debuted on the 2013 Triple Crown trail, winning the San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita before getting injured. By Medaglia d’Oro, he is out of Pretty ‘n’ Smart, also dam of grade III winners Ashley’s Kitty and Heart Ashley. Turner still owns Pretty ‘n’ Smart, who produced a Tapit foal this year and is back in foal to that stallion. That’s a winning combo. In 2013, a Tapit – Pretty ‘n’ Smart colt sold for $1 million to M.V. Magnier at Keeneland September, while, the following year, his full brother went for $900,000 to Magnier at the same sale.

Another top-notch member of Turner’s broodmare band is Carson Jen. Dam of graded stakes winners A Z Warrior, Jojo Warrior and E Z Warrior, Carson Jen is now in foal to Bernardini. Will Turner keep the foal? Greer commented that after “consulting with the vet and Mr. Gentry, then we’ll just kind of decide. It varies year by year. It’s ultimately a decision of who he decides to sell and who he decides to keep.”

Turner’s motto is simple: breed the best to the best and hope for the best. “I think he likes to breed quality stallions and quality mares and he’s had some success doing it that way.” Greer said. “The business has really grown. It started off as just breeding Thoroughbreds and now includes owning our own mares, some of these horses, some stallion shares. It’s really grown into a full-fledged Thoroughbred breeding business and we expect it to continue to grow. Mr. Turner’s very excited about the business. He feels it’s a real opportunity now for the breeders.”

Congratulations to Thomas, TOBA's March member of the month!

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