The following article was written by Nick Hahn and appeared in The Racing Biz on June 23rd. Virginia residents can wager the Diamond Jubilee Stakes from Royal Ascot June 24th via TVG.com, XPressBet.com, TwinSpires.com and NYRABets.com
When horseplayers around the world, some in tuxedos and top hats, pick up their weekend racing programs for the races at Royal Ascot, they will see the name of an unlikely horse from a small-time breeding farm now located in Augusta County just southwest of Staunton, VA named Snow Lantern Thoroughbreds.
Snow Lantern bred Long On Value, a journeyman sprinter who is testing the world’s racetracks with effectiveness. The travels of Long On Value, a six-year-old horse, have temporarily stopped this month in New Market, England for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a Group 1 race. Odds for Long On Value fluctuate between 20-1 to 33-1 in the 22-horse field to be run Saturday afternoon at 4:20 (11:20 AM Augusta County time).
“I’m excited about it,” said breeder Bob Powell from southwestern Augusta County. “I hope he shows well, and that he would win would be fantastic.”
Powell, alongside longtime business partner Dr. Joseph Orlick, has been breeding and raising thoroughbreds since the 1960s in various parts of Virginia. Powell has moved his farm from Leesburg to Warrenton to Charlottesville and finally, to Augusta County (Swoope, VA) nearly eight years ago. It was shortly after the move to Augusta County when Long of Value was foaled.
“I’ve always been involved in farms and lived on farms as my primary residence on a farm,” Powell said. “I love the horse business and sometimes it was only love that kept me in it.”
Powell’s involvement in racing has largely been in breeding horses and selling them as yearlings, only recently racing a few horses in the Snow Lantern silks. And it’s also only now as Snow Lantern is slowly winding down its breeding operations that its most successful offspring is performing at high levels on an international scale.
Long On Value’s previous 27 starts have taken him to racing venues in Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky, Florida, New York, Maryland, Illinois, California, even Minnesota. A week before what would become Colonial Downs’s swan song, he won the Jamestown stakes as a two-year-old in his second career start. He has competed and won in some of horse racing’s historic venues such as Saratoga, Keeneland, Santa Anita, Belmont and Gulfstream Park.
Long on Value was foaled and lived for the first 18 months of his life on Powell’s farm. As a yearling he was sold in the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall Yearlings Sale for $3,000 to Richard Hessee, who shortly thereafter transferred ownership by private arrangement to a group comprised in part of his current owners, Wachtel Stable, George Kerr and Gary Barber.
In his first start at Delaware Park, he broke his maiden, one of only two races he’s run that were not stakes. He suffered his first setback in his fourth start in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. Long On Value has finished third or better in 15 of his 27 tilts.
Earlier this year on the other side of the world, Long On Value just missed a win when he ran out of racetrack to The Right Man in the Al Quoz Sprint, a Group 1 event on the Dubai World Cup undercard. Despite finishing second, the connections of Long on Value felt optimistic about the outing saying it “felt like a win.”
Shortly after his last workout earlier this month at Saratoga, NY, where he spent his spring in trainer Bill Mott’s barn, Long on Value shipped across the Atlantic Ocean on July 13. Mott, the Hall of Fame trainer of Cigar among many others, sent his son Riley alongside to watch over him. Two days after his arrival he cantered four furlongs.
“He is a very relaxed horse and at home he is great,” noted the young Mott to The National. “In Dubai walking from the international quarantine center to the Meydan track, he got a bit warm and a little keen for whatever reason and he never quite got over that during his stint there. Compared to what we saw today, he is completely different. He was totally relaxed and at one with his surroundings. I am extremely happy by how he handled it. So far we are very happy.”
Long On Value, a son of Value Plus-Long Message, by Orientate, is aptly named both because of his breeding and because of his price. Long Message is still owned by Powell, as are Long on Value’s siblings, including a two-year old half-sister sired by Keep Up training in Florida, a yearling sired by Cross Traffic, and a Will Take Charge colt foaled this April in Kentucky.
Bouncing back in June to Royal Ascot after racing in the elite March meet in Dubai has proven to be very difficult even for the best of horses. The six-year old doesn’t appear to be intimidated of the task, considering his birthplace among the cattle in a Virginia county with little thoroughbred heritage historically and no known current racing entities other than Snow Lantern. In 22-horse field, nearly everyone gets long odds but for Long on Value it’s more than a name. It’s part of his “horsona.”