Successful Santic now fishing for a Cox Plate
November 03, 2004
WITH Makybe Diva delivering two Melbourne Cups and a Sydney Cup within a year, owner-breeder Tony Santic has one further ambition: to win a Cox Plate.
"I don't think I will be doing that with this mare," Santic, 52, said of his record-breaking mare, "but, hopefully, I can win it somewhere down the track."
The Melbourne and Sydney Cups sit in the Santic home showcase in Port Lincoln, South Australia, alongside a Cox Plate trophy of national significance.
That one is an 18-carat trophy won by the great Phar Lap, in 1931. Santic bought it at public auction for $420,000 -- claimed at the time as a national record for a piece of sporting memorabilia -- just days after Rogan Josh's Cup win in 1999.
One of the three biggest tuna farmers in Australia, Santic is among the nation's biggest individual owners of bloodstock, with about 200 horses on his books. He has 47 in training and the rest is made up of breeding stock and foals, weanlings and yearlings.
His latest venture in the racing-breeding side of his business is Smytzer's Lodge, a breeding operation built at substantial cost at Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.
Santic deflected questions about the turnover of his tuna farming and export business to Japan and Europe.
"I couldn't say what my turnover is -- it fluctuates so much. But it keeps the horses going," Santic said.
Croatian-born Santic, husband to Christine and father of five children, entered BRW's rich list in 2003, with his wealth then estimated at $200 million. His burgeoning tuna farming business, which was set up in Port Lincoln, has expanded to his native Croatia.
All Santic-owned runners race in red, white and blue colours, with the top half of the jacket featuring the Southern Cross, the bottom half the red and white checks of Croatia's national flag.
Makybe Diva, a six-year-old mare who has had only 25 starts over three seasons, contributes heavily to cash-flow requirements of Santic's racing-breeding operation.
When she ran up and took the lead from the crack European stayer Vinnie Roe in the closing 300 metres and went on to become the first mare in 144 years to win the Cup for a second time, she picked up a winner's cheque of $2.7 million and associated trophies valued at $80,000.
That bounty lifts Makybe Diva's lifetime earnings to $7,157,135 in prizemoney, becoming the second highest stakes-winning mare in Australian history, after Sunline's $11.1m.