December 2019 Members of the Month: Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt
Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt are the TOBA December Members of the Month.
Married for 55 years, Houston-based Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt have turned their Lone Star love into a fruitful equine partnership. The Texan twosome has raced numerous top-flight horses. They reached new heights in 2019 by campaigning grade 1 winners Mia Mischief and Mitole.
Growing up together in Bay City, Texas, Bill and Corinne always had a lot in common. “We both are from agrarian backgrounds; you know, that’s basically the business in our county,” Corinne stated. “We grew up with horses and cattle.” After their marriage, the two branched out into owning top-level Quarter Horses. “We initially started in cutting horses, Quarter Horses,” Corinne continued and then one day Billy came home and was excited and I said, ‘What is it?’ and he said, ‘I went to the polo club and bought a Thoroughbred.”
Bill chimed in, “I had been visiting and looking at Thoroughbred training and so forth with a gentleman that had been training in the Thoroughbred market, Ted Keefer.” Corinne added, “That horse didn’t pay an ounce but the next one he bought for ($5,200) did.” Bill’s next purchase was Appealing Breeze, an eight-time stakes winner who also captured the 1990 Fairmount Derby (G3).
The Heiligbrodts eventually liquidated their cutting horse business, but their passion for equine speed remained as strong as ever. “The difference is this—in a competition in cutting, it’s in the eyes of the beholder, the judge. It’s not objective; it’s very subjective in who wins the event. In racing, there’s no question. It’s who crosses the line first,” Corinne said.
Their decades of experience with quality animals taught them both what to look for in an athlete. Along or in partnership, Heiligbrodts have raced the likes of grade 1 winners Lady Tak, Appealing Zophie, Cashier’s Dream, and Golden Ballet, plus graded stakes-winning speedsters Posse and Bwana Charlie.
Even by their lofty standards, however, the Heiligbrodts have experienced an amazing 2019. “First, we were very fortunate this year and last year, to have two really top horses,” said Bill. “We had a filly named Mia Mischief, who’s also a grade 1 winner, and Mitole, which is really hard to do and we won two grade 1s on Derby Day, which is really, really hard to do. We’ve had two really good horses this year, plus we’ve had a stable of other nice runners.”
Those two grade 1s came in the form of the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) for Mia Mischief and Churchill Downs Stakes presented by Twinspires.com (G1) for Mitole. Mia Mischief sold for $2.4 million to Stonestreet Stable at the recent Fasig-Tipton November Mixed sale. Corinne recalled, “She is gorgeous. If you were at the sale that night she sold at Fasig-Tipton, you probably saw one of the most beautiful mares you’d ever seen in your life. She was muscled but she didn’t look like a female bull. She just looked like a beautiful female racehorse.”
In the language of the Texas-based Karankawa Native Americans, the word “Mitole” denotes a victory. Living up to his moniker, Mitole scored in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1), Forego Stakes Presented by Encore Boston Harbor (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), likely earning him champion sprinter honors. Bill observed, “I think Mitole stands out because he was such an athlete and such a racehorse, one that is really difficult to find and that can do what he did, time and time again, at high-level competition and every time put forth an effort that was at the level he did, and then retiring completely sound. Actually, I miss him not racing ’til the end of the year, but that’s really it.”
Corinne added, “It’s like people say when you have a big, pretty boat: it’s a nice ride. It was a nice ride with Mitole.” She added, “He’s got the mind. Some horses don’t have the mind, cutting or Thoroughbreds, but when Billy and I led Mitole into the winner’s circle at the Met Mile, he was pulling us.” Following the Breeders’ Cup, the son of Eskendereya was retired to Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Ky., where he will stand for $25,000 in 2020.
Along with fellow Spendthrift stallion Into Mischief, Mitole will be available to Quarter Horse breeders via artificial insemination, through Robicheaux Ranch. Corinne said, “It was Billy’s suggestion. We had a lot of inquiries from Quarter Horse people that we had known over the years. They were interested in him here.”
The Heiligbrodts currently own about 15 racehorses, including prospects, and three broodmares, boarded at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky. “We don’t have as big a program as we used to, but we’ve been very successful with what we’ve kept,” Bill said. With the 2019 they’ve had, that’s putting it mildly.