The kind of serenity exuded by Amer Abdulaziz is in stark contrast to the storm created by his Phoenix Thoroughbred brand in the racing and breeding industry worldwide. Such has been the ballooning of their reputation in a short span of time, they were established in January 2017, that you sometimes wonder if it’s all a dream. Abdulaziz acknowledges the fact it might be one, but it is seemingly clear if it be the case, he is perhaps happy to sleepwalk to an eternity. “Yes we are living the dream at the moment, but the fund needs to do well so that we can move on to the next phase. I couldn’t have been much happier with the way things have progressed so far because we are in this business to stay,” said Abdulaziz, the CEO of Phoenix Thoroughbred.
Registered as an investment fund in Luxembourg with a head office in Dubai, Phoenix Thoroughbreds is said to own or have interests in nearly 300 horses and have been punching alongside all of the major players at sales rings around the world. They made headlines at the Goffs Orby Sale in October when securing a pair of Galileo fillies for €3.2 and €2 million. Figures like those added to a burgeoning list of names that have been landing graded victories is really helping Phoenix Thoroughbreds strengthen its market standing. The Bob Baffert-trained Dream Tree, bought at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2yo sale last year has been one of their star performers so far with five wins in as many starts, including a victory in last year’s Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos.
Advertise is another big name on their roster, having landed the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August before his second in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Signora Cabello, who was offered at Tattersalls’ December Mares Sale this week, is another reminder of the lofty ambitions of the Phoenix Thoroughbred brand. The 2yo filly won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and followed that success by landing the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte. Despite counting victories, Abdulaziz is quick to remember Gronkowski’s second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes as one of the major achievements of the investment fund. Abdulaziz explains: “We have achieved a good amount of success in a very short period of time and I am very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to do that because this is only the beginning and we will do more as we expand our portfolio.
“We have invested smartly in bloodlines and the results are starting to show with Advertise winning the Phoenix Stakes. It was our biggest win at the top level in Europe and it was a matter of winning a race in the backyard of big racing names like Aidan O’Brien, so that made it even more special for us. “While we’ve had a lot of winners, one of the most important stories for us was Gronkowski’s second place behind Justify in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, which is the final round of the American Triple Crown. “So all in all we’ve been doing well across the globe and we hope that continues as we look forward.” Onward and upward is the way Abdulaziz would like to see Phoenix Thoroughbreds go even as the fund expands its portfolio to include more partnerships in the breeding side of the industry.
Earlier this year, the fund announced it had partnered with Aquis Farm in New South Wales, Australia, to purchase and stand the Group One winning Invader, following on from November 2017s 50% stake purchased in Aclaim, who stands at the National Stud in Newmarket. “I think perceptions of us have changed a lot since the time we have been operating. People earlier wanted to know who we were and now they want to partner with us and that feels good because it shows that we are gaining recognition,” Abdulaziz added. “As far as our ambitions go they have always been to compete at the highest level in all spheres of the racing industry. “In any business you have to have objectives and targets and for us we want to be one of the leading breeders in the world.
That’s our objective. We want to position ourselves at the top with the likes of Coolmore, Darley and Juddmonte. That’s the model we look at.” Phoenix were expected to be involved both as buyers and sellers at the Tattersalls December Mares Sales this week. Offering the prized Signora Cabello at the sale marked their first time role reversal as sellers. It is a part of the evolution process Phoenix Thoroughbreds planned to have from the start. “Phoenix was always famous for its big buying, but that was part of the initial phase of the plan and we would eventually turn sellers as well,” Abdulaziz explained. “You can only keep buying if you sell some and that’s how we’re operating. The idea is to sell some of the horses we’ve acquired and if we’re going to do that we need to start with the best that we have. It’s not easy to let go but sometimes you have to. We’re excited to see Signora Cabello go through the ring and very happy to have owned a filly like her.”
Speaking of the breeding side of things, the Bahrain-born Abdulaziz added: “Stallions play an essential role in our operation and they are the final product we hope to achieve. We have 15 stallions right now and the number is increasing year after year with Aclaim and Invader part of the fold.” Run out of Dubai, Abdulaziz has grand plans and hopes to have a splendid winter here culminating with the Dubai World Cup. Gronkowski and recent buys Axelrod and Sands Of Mali are all expected to winter here for Phoenix Thoroughbreds and signal their intentions as the season moves towards the richest card in the sport globally, the Dubai World Cup. “The UAE is the main base for Phoenix because of its pioneering experience in horseracing and its global nature which matches the company,” Abdulaziz said. “The country has sophisticated infrastructure when it comes to racing and our main goal over the winter will be to work towards the Dubai World Cup. We will be active in the Dubai World Cup Carnival. “We plan to bring horses here; a lot of 2yos and 3yos and have them train with locally based trainers so that they can be conditioned using their experience. “The Phoenix Ladies Fund has already benefited so far with regular victories and with a strong line of horses running in our colours we believe we can make an impact in many races on the nights here including the Dubai World Cup.” That would catapult Phoenix Thoroughbreds into a higher stratosphere.