Victory Farms is the Top Breeder of 2010.
By Michael Mahaffey, originally published in the April 2011 issue of BHN.
Developing a consistent breeding program is not easy. It is an all-consuming endeavor, even in the best of situations. Running a breeding program that produces winners year after year is the stuff that dreams are made of, and Danny and Darla Ray of Victory Farms are living the dream.
The Top Breeders of 2010, with 65 of their horses winning $232,928 during the year, the Ray’s Victory Farms has been a model of consistency for much of the last decade.
Victory Farms first broke the $100,000 mark in yearly earnings in 2005, the first of six consecutive years to do so, and followed up the next year by breaking the $200,000 mark and earning Top Breeder honors in 2006. Their 2010 efforts marked the second time their horses have topped $200,000 in a year, the only breeders to do so twice since 1999, according to Equi-Stat.
Ray says the success of the Victory Farms program has been influenced as much by the quality of the mares he’s bred to as it has by the great stallions, like On The Money Red and Designer Red, that he has crossed them with.
“I am now adding broodmares to my herd that have either produced great horses or were great individuals themselves,” he said. “Obviously, there’s only so many good broodmares out there, so we are constantly making new fillies, going and·running them, winning, getting credentials, and then going on and flushing embryos out of those.”
As a modern breeder, Ray cites the allure of a big payday from a foreign purchaser for one of his top broodmares as a situation he’s had to learn to deal with lately. He says he’s learned that selling in this way should always be counter-balanced by wisely thinking ahead.
“We’re going to have to be cautious that we don’t lose all of our good stuff (to other countries],” Ray said. “I know it’s all about the dollar and survival—and I have to do that as well—however, if you’re going to sell your best broodmare, have a daughter of her or a sister to her or the mother of her. Don’t lose all of your genetics just for that bang unless you’re going out of business.
“I’ve sold [foreign investors] over 25 head in the last two years, but 95 percent of the time, I still own the momma, the sister, the daughter. I still have those genetics in my herd.”
Heading into December 2010, Victory Farms was on pace to land fourth in the Top Breeder standings. Then, VF Hi N Famous, a 3-year-old daughter of Dash Ta Fame and out of the Band Of Azure mare Hi Steppin Fancy, blew the doors off the field in the BFA $uper $takes to win $100,000. The mare is one of only two Dash Ta Fame’s bred by Victory Farms to collect a check in 2010, along with VF A Speck of Fame, who is out of a Sticks An Stones mare.
In the future, Ray said he’ll be constantly trying to be innovative and make his operation stronger and more resilient.
“I never stand still,” he said. “The view never changes if you’re not in the lead. I’m constancly crying to improve my mare herd, and I am constantly looking for a new stallion.”