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The Indiana Advantage: Bruce Murphy Triumphs with ITOBA Sale Horses


Indiana Thoroughbred owner & breeder Bruce Murphy at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Thoroughbred owner & breeder Bruce Murphy. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.

With a deep-rooted passion for Thoroughbreds and an unwavering commitment to the sport of horse racing, Bruce Murphy has carved a prominent role for himself in the Indiana Thoroughbred industry. He's found an abundance of success as a breeder and owner of Indiana-bred and sired racehorses, particularly when purchasing them from the ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale and racing them at Horseshoe Indianapolis.


Murphy has achieved many of his victories through his partnership with owner and trainer Genaro Garcia of Southwest Racing Stables. Together Murphy and Garcia have 161 wins to date and earnings exceeding $3.5 million. They were bestowed the Leading Owner title at Horseshoe Indianapolis in both 2018 and 2019 and have campaigned award winners like the ‘22 Indiana Horse of the Year Climber, ‘22 Champion Claiming Sired Mare Compressed Energy, and ‘21 Champion Two Year Old Sired Filly Holy Justice.


Murphy has won 40 races outside of his various partnerships, highlighted by his stakes-winning homebred Discreet Beauty, who was named Champion Indiana Bred Filly in 2018.


Murphy’s accomplishments and experience have catapulted him into various leadership roles; he’s served as the president of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (ITOBA) and is currently on the organization’s board. He was also appointed by Governor Holcomb to be the chairman of the Indiana Horse Racing Thoroughbred Advisory Committee through September 2023.


The annual ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale is one of the main platforms through which Murphy searches for his stable’s next star.


Betcha, Indiana-bred and Indiana-sired racehorse, was purchased at the ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale and won many races at Horseshoe Indianapolis
Betcha was a $7,200 purchase at the ITOBA Live Yearling Sale. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Betcha - $7,200 Purchase at the 2018 ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale


Murphy and Garcia set their sights on a beautiful grey yearling filly by Sangaree at the 2018 ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale. “She was big and strong, very balanced, very correct,” Murphy recalled. “She had good bone on her.” He was also attracted to her pedigree, specifically that she was out of a winning Maria’s Mon mare.


They successfully acquired the filly later to be named Betcha for $7,200 and she nearly earned back her entire purchase price in her first two career starts without even crossing the wire first. A victory in a $33,000 Maiden Special Weight in her third start awarded her $19,800; she was officially in the black.


Betcha carried that good form into the juvenile stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis later in the year; she competed in three stakes with her best finish being a 2nd in the $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes. She made it back to the winner’s circle in an Allowance at three and then dug in to gamely win the $75,000 ITOBA Stallion Season Fillies Stakes in September of 2020.


Betcha, Indiana-bred and Indiana-sired stakes winning racehorse, at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Betcha winning at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.

That stakes win would prove to be the highlight of Betcha’s long career. The Sangaree filly was claimed from Murphy and Southwest Racing Stables in October of 2021 and exchanged hands again through a claiming race at Oaklawn Park, but found her way back to Murphy and Southwest Racing Stables when they reclaimed her in June 2023.


Betcha will race through the 2023 season. Afterward, Murphy plans to retire her to begin a new career as a broodmare. To date, Betcha has a race record of 37: 10-5-5 and earnings exceeding $229,000 - nearly 32x her initial purchase price.


Holy Justice, Champion Indiana Sired Filly, at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Holy Justice was a $1,800 purchase at the ITOBA Live Yearling Sale. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Holy Justice - $1,800 Purchase at the 2020 ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale


Two years after the purchase of Betcha, Murphy and Garcia took a liking to a chestnut filly by Indiana sire Harry’s Holiday, whose yearling fillies have gone for upwards of $20,000 in the sales ring. “She was not very big, but very correct,” Murphy recollected. “It just seemed like she had a good mind and was very, very athletic looking.”


The hammer fell at just $1,800 which would prove to be a monumentally profitable investment for Murphy and Garcia. “Everybody kind of laughed because we bought her that day, but we liked her.”


What Holy Justice lacked in size, she made up for with talent. She was second in her career debut, banking $9,000, and broke her maiden just two weeks later in a $31,000 Maiden Special Weight. With such obvious talent, the next move was to step her up into stakes company; she relished in the increased competition, bagging the $102,650 Back Home Again Stakes and the $100,000 Miss Indiana Stakes, both in game, head-bobbing fashion.


Her sensational juvenile season earned her the title of Champion Indiana Sired Two-Year-Old Filly. Holy Justice notably finished 3rd in the Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes and 2nd in the Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes during her sophomore season. In total, the chestnut filly had a record of 16: 3-2-2 and earnings of $214,933.


“She was nice to be around,” Murphy lovingly reminisced. “She was a little temperamental and had a little attitude to her, which you kind of want, especially with fillies. She had a lot of guts.”


Holy Justice, a filly by Harry's Holiday, wins the Miss Indiana Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Holy Justice (inside) digs in to win the Miss Indiana Stakes. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Why Indiana?


Murphy continues to breed, buy, and race in his home state because of the lucrative breeding and racing program. He particularly chooses to buy at the ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale because of the great selection of high-quality Indiana-bred and Indiana-sired horses that can compete in the 28 stakes restricted to Indiana horses that are worth a combined $3.4 million. His success is proof of the great value owners get when they purchase horses at the ITOBA sale and race them in Indiana.


Horseshoe Indianapolis hosts two restricted stakes with a guaranteed purse of $250,000 and two at $200,000. The remaining 24 restricted stakes have purses of at least $100,000.


“I don’t know if there’s another regional program that has that to offer. It’s amazing.”


Murphy also enjoys the Indiana Thoroughbred community. “It’s a lot of local people,” he said. “We keep our horses at the track and want to fill our races. The track is very supportive.”


He praises the Breeder Awards Program, which grants the breeder of a registered Indiana bred that wins a race at Horseshoe Indianapolis 20% of the gross purse and 10% of the winner’s share of the purse for any race outside of Indiana, as well as the state’s New Mare Incentive, which gives up to $2,000 to owners who purchase a pregnant mare at public auction for at least $2,500 and foal that mare in Indiana.


With Indiana’s Thoroughbred breeding and racing program on the rise and the ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale growing every year, it’s easy to see why Bruce Murphy and his partners continue to not only succeed but thrive in the Hoosier State.


Bruce Murphy & Genaro Garcia in the winner's circle after Holy Justice's Miss Indiana Stakes win
Bruce Murphy & Genaro Garcia in the winner's circle after Holy Justice's Miss Indiana Stakes win. Photo courtesy of Tammy Knox / Horseshoe Indianapolis.
 

This story was sponsored by the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (ITOBA).


The 2023 ITOBA Fall Mixed Sale commences at Horseshoe Indianapolis on October 14th with a Live Yearling Sale immediately followed by a Live Paddock Sale of horses of racing age. The sale will conclude with the Mixed Digital Sale of horses of all ages at HorseAuctionsUSA.com from October 16-19th. Live broadcast and online bidding for all sales will hosted by HorseAuctionsUSA.com, so you can get involved from anywhere in the world. Learn more about how to seize your opportunity to participate in the lucrative Indiana Thoroughbred breeding and racing program at ITOBA.com.


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