Warren Riding High on Derby Trail

Andrew Warren has been building his racing stable from the ground up for four years, but after an initial stretch of limited success, the pieces recently fell into place for him to have, as he puts it, “the best week I’ve ever had in racing.”

Last week two of his horses ran in the money on Wednesday, then another made it to the winner’s circle on Thursday, and on Saturday he and his wife Rania celebrated their first graded stakes win with Raise Cain (Violence) in the GIII Gotham S. The weekend wrapped up with a pair of runner-up efforts from Scoobie Quando (Uncle Mo) in the John Battaglia Memorial S. at Turfway and Wizard of Westwood (Tu Brutus {Chi}) in the Baffle S. on the turf at Santa Anita.

All this from someone who got into racing with the intention of owning just one horse.

Warren grew up attending the races with his parents William and Suzanne Warren, who have campaigned a number of graded stakes winners led by GI Breeders’ Cup Classic victor and 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and 2018 GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City of Light.

When City of Light retired to stud, Warren started to think about getting involved in the sport himself.

“I was intrigued by the breeding aspect of the game and how horses could sell for astronomical prices at the sales,” Warren said. “I wanted to buy one filly, race her, and then breed her to City of Light and get a really nice foal.”

After enlisting the help of City of Light‘s trainer Michael McCarthy, Warren attended the 2019 OBS March Sale wielding a list of sires that might nick well with the new stallion. But buying one filly quickly led to the purchase of another, and six months later he was at the Keeneland September Sale looking at colts.

“The plan changed a bit and I ended up buying a few more horses than I anticipated,” he said with a laugh. “I became intrigued with the talent selection process and with trying to find that needle in the haystack.”

Warren wasn’t too far into his foray in the industry when he landed on what would eventually become that first graded stakes winner. He picked out a Violence colt from the Warrendale Sales consignment for $180,000.

“I’ve had a handful of horses by Violence and they’ve shown good flashes of ability for me,” Warren said. “On his female side, having Unrivaled Belle (Unbridled’s Song) in there is pretty impressive. I have advisors helping me look at them and after you vet them if they still look good, you feel pretty good. All the stars have to align for you to want to be spending money on a horse because you’re gambling at a high stakes.”

The Warren family | courtesy Andrew Warren

As Raise Cain was training as a 2-year-old with Eisaman Equine, Warren was starting to feel disheartened when his first few purchases hadn’t turned out to be as productive on the racetrack as hoped. He decided to send a few of his 2-year-olds through the ring at the OBS June Sale.

“I was weary about how maybe I needed to cut down on how much I was into this,” Warren recalled. “I didn’t go in with the mindset to pinhook, but when I’ve felt like my stable has gotten too big, I’ve tried to reduce at the 2-year-old sales to come back with the appropriate amount of risk that I want to be taking.”

Despite improving steadily at a juvenile, Raise Cain went through the ring unsold for $65,000. Warren decided to stick with his original plan and he sent the colt on to Ben Colebrook.

Raise Cain broke his maiden last fall at Keeneland and then placed in two stakes as a juvenile.

Warren was cheering from his home in Oklahoma as Raise Cain closed down the stretch in the Gotham to win by 7 ½ lengths at odds of 23-1, earning 50 points on the Kentucky Derby trail.

“I had kind of pushed for this race, for him to get into a stake, and when he was 30-1 morning line I knew we were in the deep end of the pool,” he admitted. “I knew he had a lot of ability and I knew it was within him to perform like that, but I didn’t want to get too high on him because you can get humbled pretty quickly in this game.”

While Warren said he was disappointed that he couldn’t make the race in person, he explained that it was just as meaningful to watch the victory at home with his father. The younger Warren works alongside his father in their family’s Tulsa-based oil and gas exploration and production company.

Warren echoed what Colebrook has already indicated concerning Raise Cain’s next start. The GI Blue Grass S. at his home track or the GII Wood Memorial S. back at Aqueduct are their top two considerations.

Meanwhile, Warren has another potential Kentucky Derby contender in Scoobie Quando. The son of Uncle Mo graduated on debut early this year in the Turfway Preview S. and made his third career start in the John Battaglia Memorial S. last Saturday. After getting stuck behind a wall of horses, Scoobie Quando was able to make a late run to finish second, earning eight points on the Derby trail.

Purchased by Warren for $160,000 as a yearling, Scoobie Quando was yet another OBS June pinhook attempt, but the colt failed to reach his reserve at $125,000.

“He had value and was a nice horse, but had some chips that needed to be removed,” Warren recalled. “People at the 2-year-old sales weren’t giving money for horses that would probably need surgery, so we thought we would do the surgery and see how it works out.”

Now with two good shots at making it to the Kentucky Derby with horses that went through the ring unsold as juveniles, Warren said the colts’ achievements this year have been reassurance that he is taking the right steps in the game.

“I was pretty excited just to have the two horses in those races last weekend,” he noted. “It’s definitely incredibly fortunate that they have both developed this way and have come along like they have because I’ve had quite a few over the past couple of years that didn’t develop and go the way I wanted them to go. To be able to finally have a little fruit from the labor is pretty unbelievable.”

While the majority of the horses in Warren’s 30-some strong stable are with Ben Colebrook, he also has horses in California with Michael McCarthy and several others with Bret Calhoun, Anthony Farrior and Barbara Minshall.

Warren said the most exciting part of his journey in racing so far has been enjoying the ride with his family. He shared that his wife, Rania, follows their stable as much as he does, and now that their daughter has turned three, they hope to be able to travel and attend more races in person.

Warren has been to the Kentucky Derby twice to cheer on his parents’ horses. In 2008 their colt Denis of Cork (Harlan’s Holiday) finished third.

“I remember going both times that they had a horse running and it was an unbelievable experience,” Warren said. “To be able to go to the Derby would be beyond exciting, very emotional, and a thrill for everyone. It would be incredible to share the experience with my friends and family, but to be able to share it with my dad would be very special.”

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