January 2020 Member of the Month: Ara Aprahamian
Ara Aprahamian is the TOBA January Member of the Month
Ara Aprahamian is living the dream. In 2019, two partnership groups organized by Aprahamian campaigned stakes winners. M and A Racing’s Happy Farm captured the Dec. 8 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, while Leitone took the Dec. 7 Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes at Gulfstream Park. A founding partner in Beach Haven Thoroughbreds with pal John Sakkos, Aprahamian sent Uncle Benny to the Breeders’ Cup in 2018 and out to a stakes win last year.
A resident of Rockland County, New York, Aprahamian now runs a pharmaceutical company. He recalled, “I always liked horses as a kid. I don’t know; I just enjoyed them as animals. I’ve always, like I said, enjoyed being around horses—not that I was around barns as a child—but we did have a stable in close proximity with horses and every time we’d go past it, I’d always look out for the horses.” He added, “A friend’s father took me to my first horse race probably when I was about 14 or 15, and I don’t know– fast forward 20 or 30 years, it all came together.”
Aprahamian first bought into a partnership around 2003 or 2004. After being “actively involved in the process” there, he branched out on to his own with friends. He observed, “We’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by good people in the industry, good trainers, vets, just people that are willing to look out for the best interest of the animal[…]” He added, “We wanted to get people an opportunity to participate on a smaller scale with the horses and we’ve been very fortunate.”
Aprahamian has two horses with Beach Haven and 10 to 12 with M and A Racing. A multiple group 1 winner in his native Chile, Leitone hadn’t reached such heights since being exported to the United States. But after romping by 13 ¾ lengths in a June 16 Belmont Park contest, trainer Jason Servis claimed him for $12,500. Aprahamian observed of the horse, “He’s been very good to us. I credit Jason’s operation, and specifically [assistant trainer] Henry [Argueta], with turning that horse around and getting him in the form that he’s currently in.” He added, “We primarily claim; we do buy some babies, as well.”
After Happy Farm finished fourth in a March 3 claiming race at Aqueduct, Servis scooped up the gelding for $30,000. The five-year-old ran second next time out, then went on a four-race winning streak culminating in the Fall Highweight. He finished second to Servis stablemate Firenze Fire in the Dec. 22 Gravesend Stakes at Aqueduct.
Crediting Servis’ entire team for its tremendous efforts, Aprahamian added that jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. “did a terrific job, took him to the front, and there was no looking back” in the race. Aprahamian noted, “You don’t take for granted the contributions that each person makes.” Last year, Servis and Aprahamian won the Fall Highweight with another claim, Life in Shambles.
Beach Haven’s flagship runner has been Uncle Benny, whom Servis bought for $185,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York Select Yearling sale. The Declaration of War colt broke his maiden at Monmouth Park in 2017. Next up came a victory in the historic Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park, run at six furlongs on the turf. Named for Aprahamian’s late uncle, Uncle Benny headed to Churchill Downs for the first weekend in November. He finished second by a half-length to Line of Duty in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).
In 2019, Uncle Benny took the September 8 Allied Forces Stakes on Belmont Park. A knee injury forced his early retirement, leading Aprahamian to reflect, “That’s horse racing. Sometimes you get something that you don’t expect—sort of like with a claimer, like a Happy Farm—and sometimes you have much higher expectations, with a horse winning the Futurity and coming second in the Breeders’ Cup, only to have your hopes thwarted with unfortunate injuries.”
Beach Haven made another sage purchase the following year. At the 2018 OBS April Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, they bought a daughter of Central Banker for $110,000. Named Newly Minted, the New York-bred filly registered three state-bred stakes wins in, finishing the year with a triumph in a Dec. 22 open-company allowance at Aqueduct.
Aprahamian aims to expand his burgeoning equine empire. He said, “That’s something I really want to get into—I really want to get into the breeding side of things, surrounding myself with a lot of people in the industry, learning more every day, and yeah, that’s something I’d love to get involved with.” And if his recent successes are anything to go by, his name will appear atop breeders’ lists in no time.