When Robert Garrett sold his power line company last year, he knew just how to fill up his free time. The Oklahoman headed to Ocala where, with the help of trainer Chris Hartman, he purchased a son of Cloud Computing for $220,000 at last year’s OBS Spring Sale. Now named Two Eagles River, stakes-placed and fresh off a dominant allowance victory at Oaklawn Park, the 3-year-old has Garrett enjoying retirement.
“I’ve owned horses out here in Oklahoma and I owned a stallion and some broodmares, but that’s the first one that we ever went and picked out and paid some serious money for,” Garrett said of the purchase. “We just got really fortunate here in the last year. We sold our company and I got the opportunity to retire. So that was actually the first 2-year-old in training sale I had ever went to.”
Garrett credits Hartman with picking Two Eagles River out at OBS following the gelding’s :10 flat work.
“Chris Hartman is our trainer and he’s got a really good eye for athletes,” Garrett said. “So most of it had to do with him. We paid quite a bit of money for him if you want to look at his stallion’s stud fee. But when you go out there, you have to buy the athlete standing in front of you, not just the sales catalogue.”
Garrett owns the dark bay in partnership with another Oklahoman, Dr. Michael Robinson, a relative newcomer to the racing game.
“[Robinson] and I both graduated from Sayre High School in Oklahoma, which happens to be the Sayre Eagles,” Garrett said. “His wife came up with the name of Two Eagles. And all of my horses’ names have a ‘river’ in them somewhere. So that’s where the name came from.”
Two Eagles River, who had been gelded as a yearling, showed promise right from the start of his time with Hartman.
“We knew he was special from his first two or three breezes,” Garrett said. “There weren’t many horses in the barn that could keep up with him. He was working with Tejano Twist who is a stakes horse, so we knew he was pretty nice. We had to hold off on him for a couple of months for some maturity issues with his knees. We had to give him the time to mature. And he did. He is really sound.”
Once Two Eagles River made it to the races, he quickly justified Garrett’s faith in him with a stylish debut victory going five furlongs at Churchill Downs last October. He was second, beaten just a neck by subsequent Smarty Jones S. winner Victory Formation (Tapwrit) in a six-furlong allowance in his second start and was just a head short of Frosted Departure (Frosted) when second in the six-furlong Renaissance S. at Oaklawn last December. Stretched out to a mile, he was third behind Verifying (Justify) in his sophomore debut in January.
All of those foes have since gone on to graded stakes competition, while Two Eagles River returned to the winner’s circle with a wire-to-wire four-length victory in a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Feb. 19 (video).
“We thought he would like the stretch out and going two turns,” Garrett said. “The first race before that that he went two turns, two of the horses in the Rebel were in there with him and he ran third. And he had run second to another horse in the Rebel, which was Frosted Departure when he got beat in the Renaissance S. by a nose.”
Garrett continued, “It was a short turnaround. We just had two weeks in between the races, but we’ve known sprinting wasn’t where his wheelhouse was going to be. He’s got a really long stride. His stride was two feet longer than the average stride in that Ocala sale. So we’ve known he has a big stride and would be a two-turn horse. We’ve just been taking our time to get him there so that he is comfortable with it.”
Asked where Two Eagles River might make his next start, Garrett said, “Couldn’t tell you that. We are going to wait a week or two and get a work into him and see how he comes out of that. He came out of his race really good, Chris said. But what’s next? That’s Chris’s decision. He knows the best places to put horses–he does a really good job with that. I know he comes from Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, all the way across the country. He has some old stomping grounds there at Sunland Park and they have a $700,000 prep race [Mar. 25 GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks] at Turfway Park nowadays. So there are lots of options.”
Garrett admitted he is hoping a return trip to Oaklawn Park will be in the cards.
“If had my druthers, it would be the [Apr. 1 GI] Arkansas Derby, of course,” he said. “I love Oaklawn Park, but that will depend on Chris and the horse.”
Garrett was in Hot Springs for Two Eagles River’s victory a week ago and he returned on a reconnaissance mission this past weekend to watch the GIII Rebel S.
“We were over there for the last race and I’ve just come from there this last weekend,” Garrett said. “I wanted to watch the Rebel to get an eye on our competition.”
Garrett has a lifelong love of horse racing thanks to his father.
“I was born the son of a horse trainer,” he said succinctly when asked how he first became involved in horse racing, adding with a laugh, “It just takes a little time to make enough money to buy one. That’s easier said than done.”
Garrett has some seven horses currently in training, but his retirement plan includes more than just racing. He will be making his first attempt at pinhooking this year and has three 2-year-olds entered in the OBS March sale, which runs from Mar. 20-22.
Garrett’s OBS March trio includes a colt by Bernardini (hip 54), who was purchased by agent Rusty Roberts for $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale; a colt by Midshipman (hip 190), who was purchased by Roberts on behalf of Garrett’s Scattered Acres for $55,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale; and a filly by Maximus Mischief (hip 199), who was purchased for $75,000 at Fasig July.
“We bought some yearlings that are going to be selling in Ocala in March,” Garrett said. “We’ve started doing that. And I bought some weanlings that are going to sell as yearlings. We are going to hope like heck that the sales part of it can support the racing part of it.”