Business News

Mike Moreno unloading equine interests

by Leslie Turk

Thoroughbred auction house Fasig-Tipton aims to sell Southern Equine Stables LLC's prized runners.

Thoroughbred auction house Fasig-Tipton Company announced Feb. 9 that it is helping Lafayette businessman Mike Moreno’s company, Southern Equine Stables LLC, sell some of its prized runners.

The liquidation of Moreno’s equine assets comes on the heels of the collapse of the local entrepreneur’s Green Field Energy Services, a company that offered hydraulic fracturing services to the oil and gas industry before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2013 and eventually being forced into liquidation.

Mike Moreno

The sale of Green Field’s assets (estimated at more than $250 million) was called “the largest disposition project that this industry has seen” by the company charged with marketing the fracking company’s entire portfolio of equipment and inventory.

Moreno supposedly is still moving ahead with his mixed-use development in Baton Rouge called River District. The 40-acre project is on both sides of Nicholson Drive, between Downtown and LSU.

Calling the impending sale of Moreno’s equine interests “a continuation in 2015 of a strategic plan to reduce a portion of the Thoroughbred holdings of Southern Equine Stables LLC,” Fasig-Tipton notes that the stable’s runners have won numerous graded stakes, including the G1 Whitney Stakes, the G1 Test Stakes and the G1 Acorn Stakes, “with talented horses such as Moreno, Champagne D’Oro and Bodemeister.” It’s unclear whether those three horses are part of the planned auction.

Founded by Moreno in the late 1990s, Southern Equine, according to Fasig-Tipton, is one of North America’s most accomplished owners and breeders.

According to the press release, the initial group of horses will be offered at the “Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Old in Training Sale” on May 18 and 19 in Timonium, Md. It will include approximately 15 horses by top sires like Arch, Awesome Again, Bernardini, Candy Ride, Ghostzapper, Harlan’s Holiday, Malibu Moon, Medaglia d’Oro, Quality Road, Smart Strike, Speightstown, Tapit and Unbridled’s Song, the release notes.

Throughout the remainder of 2015, the release states, Fasig-Tipton will team up with Bluewater Sales to offer yearlings, broodmares and weanlings.

Southern Equine Stables’ website appears to have been deactivated, and sources tell ABiz there is no activity at its local farm, located at 6387 Louisiana 93 in the Grand Coteau/Arnaudville area. Its Facebook page has not had any activity since November 2013. The following is listed in the About section of the FB page:

Since our inception, Southern Equine Stables has developed a success driven program. By means of the support and passion of owner Mike Moreno, Southern Equine Stables has been able to assemble a portfolio of racing and breeding stock that ranks among the finest in the world. World record setting Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour produced back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches. For good measure, her next two foals were accomplished as well. Casino Drive won the Grade Two Peter Pan stakes and Man of Iron would live up to his name by winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

On the racetrack, multiple graded stakes winner and Grade 1 placed Salute the Sarge, retired with a résumé that paved the way for him to enter stud in 2009, standing in Kentucky (Walmac Farms), while also shuttling to Brazil for the Winter season. A homebred for Southern Equine, Mi Sueno took the Grade 3 Sorrento in emphatic fashion before providing a dramatic victory in the Grade 1 Darley Debutante. Santa Teresita added to her already impressive laurels by winning the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita. Current stars include G2 winner Open Water, and G2 winner and G1 placed Moreno, currently pointing for the 2013 Breeders Cup Classic.

Mike Moreno's namesake thoroughbred, Moreno

ABiz readers might recall that this publication years ago reported that Moreno, a risk taker always chasing the next deal, paid a staggering $14 million for the then 12-year-old thoroughbred broodmare Better than Honour at the Fasig-Tipton November 2008 select mixed sale in Lexington, Ky. It was a world-record price, according to The Blood Horse magazine. Moreno actually already owned 70 percent of the mare, but his partnership was dissolving.

The previous record sale for a broodmare sold at public auction was $10.5 million.

Moreno, a Cuban immigrant who grew up in Lafayette and earned an MBA from UL Lafayette, spent a total of $23.5 million at that November sale and was inching toward becoming one of the top five thoroughbred owners in the world.

But that was then.