By Julie Sarno
Longtime horse owner Theodore (Ted) Aroney is as enthusiastic about racing now as he was when he first began owning horses.
He is looking forward to the $1 million Pacific Classic (Grade 1) on Aug. 28 at Del Mar. That day, he will have Dakota Phone, one of the favorites, starting in the race. Dakota Phone races for Halo Farms (Aroney's stable name), John Carver and George Todaro.
Aroney has owned horses for 50 years, beginning when he was in his late teens. Aroney, who lives with his wife Leslie in Rancho Santa Fe, is a retired real estate developer.
"When I was 10, my father took me to Santa Anita," said Aroney, laughingly adding that some afternoons during high school were spent at the track. Mornings, one will find Aroney watching his horses gallop and work at the track or Rancho Paseana in Rancho Santa Fe. He currently has 20 horses in training at Del Mar and some 2-year-olds at Rancho Paseana with trainer Mary Knight. Aroney has Dakota Phone and 11 other horses with Jerry Hollendorfer, four with John Sadler and four with Clifford Sise.
"I really feel he is in top form now," Aroney said.
He bought Dakota Phone for $67,000 as a 2-year-old at the 2007 Barretts Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Dakota Phone has provided a good return on investment, compiling lifetime earnings of $583,810. The handsome bay gelding has won five races and finished second or third 14 times from 29 starts. This year, Dakota Phone has been knocking on the door, finishing second in the Grade 2 San Antonio and third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita and Grade 3 Berkley handicaps before winning the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 31.
Aroney fondly recalls King Glorious, the best horse he has campaigned to date. Hollendorfer also trained the runner, who now stands stud in Japan. Aroney 's Halo Farms bred and raced King Glorious, who won more than $1 million. King Glorious was the leading earner for his sire (father), Naevus.
At age 3, King Glorious won the Ohio Derby before winning the Haskell Invitational with Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron aboard.
"King Glorious shipped East to Monmouth Park for the Haskell," Aroney recalled. "He exploded in the stretch and won by six lengths."
By his own count, Aroney has campaigned 40 stakes winners. More recently, Aroney enjoyed watching his Evita Argentina compete. Last December, 3-year-old Evita Argentina added the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita to her victories, which included beating the boys in the San Vicente (Grade 2). When Evita Argentina won the A Gleam Handicap (Grade 2) at Hollywood Park in July 2009, she was the first 3-year-old to win the race since Honeymoon in 1946. Evita Argentina won the 2008 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. Trained by John Sadler, she raced for Aroney's Halo Farms and Ronald Judy's Three Sisters Thoroughbreds. Aroney noted that he sold her as a broodmare prospect and she is in Japan. Evita Argentina was one of the best horses from Candy Ride's first crop of foals.