The goal of Highfield Investment Group's thoroughbred racing and breeding operation were, to say the least, lofty when, it was initially formed in 2004 as Highfield Stock Farm and then, in 2015, changed to Highfield Investment Group.
"We wanted to be world-class breeders that produced horses that could run outside of Alberta," said Highfield president Adrian Munro, whose father, David, bought a neglected cattle farm south of Calgary in 2004 which started Highfield on its way — which became Highfield Investment Group in 2015.
Consider that accomplished. With an exclamation point. In the recent past two Highfield Alberta-breds - four-year-old Jasper Shine and two-year-old Knowing Glance, have both shined on the international scene. Jasper Shine won the Sept. 23 $5-million yen Upopoy Autumn Sprint in Japan after having earlier this summer taking the $2-million yen Tokubetsu also contested at Japan's Monbetsu race course.
Last year, Jasper Shine won the $10-million yen Doei Sprint. One yen is the equivalent of .01 Canadian dollar. The latter was the chestnut's fifth straight victory.
"Who would think we would sell an Alberta-bred project that would go to Japan and be competitive?" said Munro, who manages Highfield Investment Group's operations including the oversite of joint ventures, partnerships, and land portfolio. "It's amazing really."
Then there is the Highfield Alberta-bred filly Knowing Glance. Last month she won an $80,000 allowance race at Keeneland, Kentucky. It was Knowing Glance's second straight win. The previous start saw her winning - and getting claimed - out of a $150,000 maiden race.
"I can't ever recall a horse being claimed for $150,000," said Munro, who manages the company's operations including the oversite of joint ventures, partnerships, and land portfolio. "It kind of shocked me."
Knowing Glance's only other two starts saw her finish third at Saratoga. "Anytime you run third at Saratoga is exciting," said Munro, who also manages Highfield's commercial portfolio, farming operation, and thoroughbred racing & breeding operation.
Knowing Glance could easily be something very special. "To say that is great," said Munro. "It's also remarkable, outstanding and humbling. It's something every commercial breeder dreams of."
Knowing Glance is out of Highfield's mare Noon Time Shower, who Highfield bought in foal to Jimmy Creed, a son of Distorted Humor. Like Jasper Shine, Knowing Glance was foaled at Highfield. Noon Time Shower, a stakes-placed winner of two races, also has a yearling - owned by Highfield - by War Correspondent, a son of multiple graded stakes winner War Front and a full brother to champion Declaration of War.
War Correspondent used to be a Highfield stallion. Noon Time Shower also has a weanling - also owned by Highfield - by Destin, a son of champion Giant's Causeway. Destin, who won just short of $1-million, was defeated by a nose to Creator in the 2016 G1 Belmont.
Jasper Shine, who has seven wins in 18 career starts, is a son of Violence out of Highfield's stupendous mare Golden Made. "Golden Made had 11 foals," said Munro. "All of them were either stakes winners or stakes placed. Her progeny earned almost $1-million. Jasper Shine is her last foal. She's now retired and living the good life eating grass at Highfield."
Four times - in 2010, 2013, 2015 and in 2016, Highfield has been Alberta's leading breeder by earnings. In 2016 Highfield was also the top earning breeder in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That year Highfield was also honoured as the TOBA Canadian Breeder of the Year. A fifth Alberta crown is a definite possibility this year.
"We had a very good two-year-old crop this year," said Munro, referencing the likes of FlashforDani, who won a stake and was second and third in two other added-money event; Oneofthemgirls, who was bred in partnership with Curtis Landry, won the CTHS Sales Stake and Escrow Style, who won in Louisiana and was stakes placed twice at Iowa's Prairie Meadows.
With a long lineage, Highfield Investment Group goes back to Adrian's grandfather, who owned a couple of thoroughbreds and his father David, who owned many top thoroughbreds. Until now Highfield's best race horses were probably Alberta-bred Onestaratatime, who won $400,000 - all in Alberta - and Woodbine Oaks winner, Free Fee Lady.
Never sitting still Highfield, which owns 15 broodmares and 45 horses of their own, brought stallion Fed Biz to Alberta this year. The leading sire in Canada, Fed Biz, a multiple track record-setter and son of Giant's Causeway, previously stood at WinStar Farm in Kentucky. Fed Biz is out of Wild Again stakes winner Spunoutacontrol making him a half brother to A.P. Indy stakes winner and stakes producer Spun Silk.
Originally bought for $950,000 as a yearling, Fed Biz won three graded stakes and set the seven-furlong track record (1:21.12) in the 2013 Pat O-Brien stakes and the eight-and-a-half furlong track record (1:41) in the 2014 San Diego Handicap - both at Del Mar, California. "Fed Biz was an incredibly talented racehorse and with his outstanding pedigree and stunning looks we are thrilled to welcome him to Alberta," Munro told BloodHorse magazine.
"This is the right time for a stallion of his caliber to be introduced to the Western Canadian market. We think Alberta is poised for growth. There are some great breeders in Alberta which don't get the credit they deserve. It's a great industry in Alberta and we are well positioned if we take advantage of it. We're making great strides if we just stick to our guns. We've got some momentum with the government. We just need to stay the course and not get ahead of ourselves."
As fabulous as it is to have two Alberta-breds accomplish so much recently, Highfield almost added another great chapter this past weekend. In partnership with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners LLC, Highfield owns Quick Suzy, who was pointed towards last Friday's $1-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint at Del Mar but she spiked a temperature on the way over from Europe ending those hopes. Quick Suzy defeated Twilight Gleaming this summer in the Queen Mary Stakes at Ascot. Twilight Gleaming went on to win the Juvenile Sprint. "I think she would have been a presence," lamented Munro.
Highfield Investment Group's thoroughbred operation is just part of their expansive portfolio. With a 4,200 acre assembly of land under development they are one of the largest independent land develops in the Calgary area. Also general partners of two iconic boutique hotels in Calgary, they are also heavily into managed assets in construction, property management and oil and gas operations.
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