B & B Stables ventured out into their own stable two seasons ago when their co-founders, Nate Brannin and Chad Berkemeier of Morristown and Rushville, respectively, got a taste of racing through the fractional ownership program Grand Gesture Stable. They were part of the original ownership of AJ Pacer and two years later, they celebrated a win with the first horse acquired by their new stable called B & B Stable.
Royal Gem was purchased in a package deal with another yearling filly, Wanna Have Fun, by trainer Tony Granitz, the conditioner of AJ Pacer. Both Brannin and Berkemeier had been talking to Granitz about possibly getting a horse of their own and at the conclusion of the season in 2017, they began the process of starting B & B Stables. Their silks were created, using the gold and black colors of Grand Gesture with two “B” emblems on the front to represent their partnership. Soon, their partnership grew to include a co-worker, Mike McComas of Shelbyville, who got in on the ground floor of B & B Stables and Royal Gem.
Brannin, Berkemeier and McComas all work at Pilkington NSG, a local factory in Shelbyville. They went into partnership with one of Granitz’s established owners, Cal Johnson of Chicago, and they were soon in the racehorse business.
Royal Gem was broke in Florida with Granitz’s string of horses before moving up to Indiana Grand last summer. Soreness in her shins prevented her from starting at two and she was turned out. She got back into training this past winter in Florida and was ready to go once the meet started in Indiana. However, the Indiana bred daughter of Bellamy Road had a delay to her racing debut.
“This filly (Royal Gem) has been working really well this year,” said Granitz. “She had a setback a few weeks ago and we had to scratch her, but the wait was worth it. Nate and Chad got into this all because of Grand Gesture Stable. The program is really a great one to introduce new owners into the racing business.”
Royal Gem, ridden capably by Andres Ulloa of Chile, had a slow start out of the gate and trailed the field early on. Ulloa began to make up ground in the middle stages and at the top of the lane, was in contention for the lead.
Royal Gem got a head in front in the stretch, but appeared to be beat halfway down the lane by Undisputed Justice and DeShawn Parker. The chestnut filly fought back and eventually got the jump on Undisputed Justice for the win by a neck, making an even more exciting outcome for the large group of friends and family in attendance to watch her first start.
“This feels great,” said Berkemeier about winning the race with Royal Gem. “Having all our friends and family here was worth the wait. Mike (McComas) had to work and Cal (Johnson) wasn’t able to make it down either, but we had good representation for the race.”
Royal Gem paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.40 across the board as the third favorite of the nine-horse field. She broke her maiden in a $33,000 maiden special weight for Indiana breds running at a distance of one mile.
And, B & B Stables is expanding. They now have three other horses they own in separate partnerships with approximately eight other people they have brought into the racing world.
“We are getting close to owning another one,” added Brannin. “We just need one more partner.”
Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Wednesday, Nov. 6. Racing is held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:15 p.m. with Saturdays beginning at 6:15 p.m. For more information, visit the website at www.indianagrand.com.