January, 1987, was special for Aretha Franklin because she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It was worrying for President Ronald Reagan who underwent prostate surgery and worse for fellow Americans “Fat Tony” Salerno and Carmine Peruccia who copped 100-year prison terms for racketeering.
However, January, 1987 provided lifetime memories for Haunui Farm which had the distinction of selling two subsequent Derby winners at the National Yearling Sales. One was The Gentry, who won the New Zealand Derby and the other Wonder Dancer who triumphed in the Australian Derby.
The Gentry’s win had the Haunui stamp all over it. He was by resident sire McGinty and the last foal of the Le Filou mare Rainfall, a topline mare raced by Laurie Davis, one of the closest friends of Ron Chitty’s father Geoff.
As a contingency plan if the colt didn’t make his true value in the sale-ring Ron Chitty put together a partnership comprising himself, Laurie Davis, racecaller Keith Haub who still retained half the ownership of McGinty, and subsequent high profile owner and administrator Peter Walker.
The group became the owners of the $400,000 1988 New Zealand Derby winner for an outlay of $45,000. Wonder Dancer (Danzatore-Heavenly Belle) cost Tommy Smith $200,000 but he took his earnings past the million dollar mark when he won his classic.
Launched in 1972 and run at Perth’s Ascot Park, the Australian Derby has not been staged since 1992 but big name winners include Bounty Hawk, Sovereign Red, Family of Man , Denise’s Joy, Dayana and All Ashore, by Haunui sire Crested Wave.
McGinty’s Derby win was payback time for Ron Chitty. The previous year his budding champion Weston Lea had looked odds-on to win the classic, but tragically a week before the race he was fatally injured in a training accident.