International horseracing is the growth area of the sport because owners are emerging from around the globe with cosmopolitan tastes and a penchant for big, lucrative races in exotic locales — very much like the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit. The owners are following the money, as more and more out-of-the-way destinations like Dubai, Kranji in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Qatar, Turkey, etc., are offering rich international purses. Swede Stefan Friborg is one of this new breed that fits the profile. A successful businessman, he’s the director general of Angola Drilling Company LDA, an energy company; he’s based in Brazil, where he breeds and races horses as Energia Estrela with his wife Dalva de Oliveira; and he races in Europe, South America, Asia, UAE, and South Africa.
In a short span — maybe five years — he’s become a player on this circuit. In 2005, his Brazilian-bred Sushi-Bar, by Jato d’Agua, became the first Brazilian-bred horse to win in Dubai, which in one stroke opened up the market for South American horses in the Middle East. Last year, his Natagora, a daughter of Japanese-bred Divine Light, won the 1000 Guineas and ran third in the French Derby; this year his Brazilian-bred Gloria de Campeao , a son of Argentine-bred Impression, ran second in the Dubai World Cup and then won the big race at Kranji, the Group 1 Singapore International Airlines Cup; and his Brazilian-bred Hot Six, a son of the English-bred Danzig stallion Burooj, won the 25th edition of the Group 1 Gran Premio Asociacion Latinoamericana de Jockey Clubes e Hipodromos at Sao Paulo’s Cidade Jardim racecourse in Brazil.
Note that none of these horses has a recognizable commercial pedigree. They are runners that were handpicked by Friborg’s advisers, which presently include Patrick Barbe in France and once included Brazilian Renato Gameiro, who no longer does work for Friborg. “I had picked out Einstein for Stefan as a yearling, too,” said Renato, “but his trainer didn’t like him. I asked Stefan if I could buy Einstein for another client — when I worked for Stefan, I could only work for him — and he said OK, but the horse could not remain in Brazil, not even to get broken. So I bought the horse for Kenny McPeek, but I told Kenny he doesn’t want the horse in Brazil at all, so we have to ship him out as a yearling.”
Even with Einstein getting away from him, Friborg has had an impressive run. In April he won two Group 1 races back to back in Brazil, and his best Brazilain, Hot Six, will be shipped out to prepare for a Dubai campaign in 2010. The Brazilian publication Raia Leve recently reported that Hot Six’s trainer, Givanildo Duarte, was instructed that Hot Six will no longer race in Brazil this year.
Friborg, by the way, has a penchant for grays: See Natagora,
Gloria de Campeao, and Hot Six.
“Yes, if you have a good gray horse, he will buy,” said Renato.