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Homebred Living Magic a Delight for Nothhaft

Though he spent the majority of his life serving in the marine corps and working as a tech entrepreneur, self proclaimed blue collar breeder, Henry “Hank” Nothhaft, has found a passion of a different kind in the Thoroughbred.

The now 80-year-old “retired” businessman began his venture into racing 15 years ago and has also expanded into the sales and breeding realms. Emphasis on a quality broodmare band including the addition of millionaire Living the Life , has paid off for Nothhaft who currently campaigns one of the dams up-and-coming foals in the 2-year-old filly Living Magic , a winner of the My Dear Stakes over the all-weather surface at Woodbine July 15.

“I keep five of my mares at Coolmore,” said Nothhaft who breeds under HnR Nothhaft Horseracing. “I kid them all the time because I say ‘If you added up all the purchase price of all of my mares there, it wouldn’t equal one of yours.’ I say I’m the blue collar breeder. I paid less than $50,000 for Living the Life.”

Making the victory even more the sweeter was the history that Nothhaft holds with the mare, who he raced before transitioning her to life as a broodmare following her 2016 season. The daughter of Footstepsinthesand  began her career in Europe before shipping to the States in 2014 and quickly added the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (G2) to her tally that same year. She won the race again the following season and added several other stakes wins before retiring with $1,028,394 in earnings.

Living The Life sure loves Presque Isle Downs, taking the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters (gr. II) for the second straight year.
Photo: Coady Photography

Living The Life wins the 2015 Presque Isle Downs Masters at Presque Isle Downs

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“I kept Living Magic for a lot of reasons but that was the first female foal that Living the Life had,” Nothhaft said. “I wanted to continue the bloodline even though she was a phenomenal, athletic looking horse from day one. … I brought her along in a reasonable fashion, figuring I’ve never had a really early 2-year-old with everything I’ve fooled around with. I wasn’t expecting (it) with Justify (as the sire).

“She proved the experts wrong and she’s never had a bad day since she’s come along. She went into Fair Hill training with Phil (Schoenthal) and he tried to keep expectations low but at some point he had to admit that he thought she was pretty good.”

The chestnut daughter of Justify   won on debut at Parx Racing May 1 and then placed in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park a month later until her win on Saturday—all under Schoenthal’s tutelage.

Nothhaft says the decision to breed Living Magic’s dam to the 2018 Triple Crown winner was a longtime love for his sire. 

“I had been an enormous fan of Scat Daddy…That was the bias I had going into this,” he said. “When Justify came along with his Triple Crown win and performances, I moved on from the American Pharoah phenomena which I did extremely well with to what I perceive to be the Justify phenomena.

“Now I’m a firm believer that (Justify) is starting to prove me right. He had three stakes winners this weekend. Betting on him as heavily as I have, I think he’s going to be Scat Daddy squared. I’m all in.”

With the possibilities seemingly wide open for Living Magic for the remainder of her juvenile season, Nothhaft says what is most important to him is doing right by the horse and making sure she has the best shot at success.

Living Magic #5 ridden by Victor Carrasco wins the second two-year-old race of the year on May 1, 2023 at Parx Racing in Bensalem, PA. Photo by Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO.
Photo: Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO.

Living Magic wins on debut at Parx Racing

“Certainly if I was trying to chase a buck we wouldn’t have raced at Woodbine, we would’ve placed her in the Schuylerville at Saratoga. She proved me right as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “Living the Life was grade 1-placed on the dirt, she won three graded stakes on the all weather…I’m convinced that this horse we have, Living Magic, can run on anything. Now the question will be what surface, and what location will we run her.

“She’s got such a great personality and peppy attitude about her, she’s playful. She was full of herself when I left Canada. It’ll just be a matter of talking it over with Phil of where to race next. But I think with the horse we have, we’d be foolish to try to not find the right race in the next four to five weeks to run her back. There’s more 2-year-olds coming every day.”

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