Kentucky-bred mare (b. 1998)
By Cahill Road-Beyond the Storm
Career (2000-2002): 8-1-2-0, $29,155
In horse racing, a Blue Hen is slang for a mare that is a prolific producer of quality offspring. But in the case of Shandra Smiles, perhaps we could call her an Emerald Hen?
After all, before Shandra Smiles became one of the sport’s greatest producers—her offspring include 2013 Eclipse Champion 2-Year-Old Filly She’s a Tiger and triple Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger—Shandra Smiles was a stakes winner at Emerald Downs. In fact, all eight of her career starts were here, including a victory in the 2001 Federal Way Handicap and a second in the 2001 U.S. Bank Stakes. An ankle injury caused a premature end the racing career of Shandra Smiles, but it turned out the towering 17-hand filly had precious blood coursing her veins.
A stakes winner on the track and a producer of two Grade 1 winners in the breeding shed, that’s as good as it gets in horse racing. Dr. Rodney Orr, who achieved his first stakes victory as an owner with Shandra Smiles, said the now 16-year-old mare proves Thoroughbred racing can serve up good fortune in many different ways.
“It makes you realize the horse industry has opportunity,” said Orr, a Family Practitioner in Silverton, Ore. “I enjoyed horse racing anyway, but the combination of science, luck and perseverance can work.”
On the recommendation of bloodstock agent Dana Halvorson, Orr purchased Shandra Smiles for $20,000 as a yearling in 1999. Orr and Halvorson were part of a four-man group that bought Cahill Road and moved the fledgling sire to Washington, so Shandra Smiles—named after Orr’s wife—could help showcase the stud to prospective breeders. And with Steve Bullock training, Shandra Smiles showed keen speed to win the Federal Way Handicap and finish runner-up in the U.S. Bank Stakes before injuring her ankle.
Orr currently has about 15 broodmares, dividing them between Paris, Ky., where Shandra Smiles is housed, and a 40-acre farm in Silverton, Ore., where good producers like Bella Cantu and Ashbecca are bred.
Orr admits to being offered $600,000 for Shandra Smiles but said the mare is not for sale at any price. She currently has a yearling filly by Gio Ponti that will be sold at Saratoga in August, and in April she delivered a Giant’s Causeway filly that could go to auction in 2015. Meanwhile, Smiling Tiger, who sold for $40,000 and earned nearly $1.5 million for owners Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz, recently entered stud to an enthusiastic reception in California. And She’s a Tiger, who flies the fluorescent pink silks of Dr. Mark Dedomenico of Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center, was scheduled to make her 2014 debut Friday at Churchill Downs.
It must be satisfying that every time She’s a Tiger races, Dr. Rodney Orr is listed in the official program and Daily Racing Form as the champion’s breeder. Orr, however, praised Halvorson, “It’s all Dana, he deserves the credit,” Orr said.
Halvorson, meanwhile, said a horse like Shandra Smiles makes the sport’s ups and downs worth it.
“You don’t predict one of these kind of deals like Shandra Smiles,” he said. “I remember after we started and things weren’t going all that great, we just wanted to get a good allowance horse.”