Google the name “Michael Abraham” and you are likely to come up with:
Michael Abraham, Chicago area architect, who designs “high-end residential spaces that look to the past but are decidedly contemporary.” At least, that’s what the brochure says.
Then there is Michael Abraham – Dr. Abraham to you – an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where he specializes in procedures like aneurysm coiling, intra-arterial stroke treatment, and tumor embolization. Yeah, he’s a brain surgeon.
Michael Abraham of Montgomery County in Virginia is a travel writer who describes himself as “the Studs Terkel of Appalachia.” Michael Abraham is a professor of music production and engineering at the Berklee conservatory in Boston. And, for sports fans, Michael Abraham is a 6-3, 230-pound all-conference running back with the Fighting Pioneers of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.
With just a little refinement in the search line, however – something like “Michael Abraham Eclipse Award finalist” – Michael Abraham pops as the man who bred champion Lookin At Lucky to the Awesome Again mare Issues and came up with a foal eventually named Accelerate. That’s the Michael Abraham we’re looking for.
Abraham’s name alongside those of John Gunther and WinStar Farm as finalists for champion breeder of 2018 might come as a surprise to those of us who tend to save the breeding line for last. Gunther was responsible for Triple Crown winner Justify and WinStar bred the winners of more than $8.4 million, so they figured. But as the odds-on choice as champion older dirt male and a finalist for Horse of the Year, Accelerate also had coattails long enough to pull his breeder into the spotlight for the Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24.
“It was a surprise and an honor,” said Abraham, a native of New Mexico. “I was in Kentucky for sales when they announced it, and there were a lot of people congratulating me I didn’t even know.”
That happens, but Abraham is hardly a mystery man in breeding circles. He once had a $2.7 million sale topper, and currently has 30 Thoroughbred mares on the boil in Kentucky and another 60 Quarter Horse mares in New Mexico.
Abraham bought Issues in foal to Scat Daddy at Keeneland for $25,000 in 2011, before Scat Daddys became gold. In addition to Accelerate, Issues has produced a stream of good ones and is due to foal a Curlin this year.
“Her most recent foal is a Bernardini colt I repurchased at Keeneland,” Abraham said. “This one I’m going to keep to race. He’s 2, but he’s a June foal, so I’ll take my time.”
Accelerate was a May foal, and after the horse was purchased for $380,000 by Pete and Kosta Hronis, trainer John Sadler took his time. Accelerate’s maiden win – by 8 1/2 lengths – did not come until the summer of his 3-year-old season at Del Mar. Abraham, who markets his horses far and wide, happened to be in town for the race.
“That’s the only time I’ve seen him run in person,” the breeder said. “After he started winning without me there, I figured it was best to just stay away. I’m a little bit superstitious.”
As a result, Abraham was in a Lexington, Ky., hotel room screaming to the rafters as Accelerate nailed down his 5-year-old campaign with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last November. His breeder will continue to maintain his superstitious distance for both Thursday’s Eclipse Awards and the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream on Jan. 26, in which Accelerate will be favored.
Abraham got his first taste of the game at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds in his native Albuquerque. He claimed a Quarter Horse with a friend, had some success, then claimed a Thoroughbred named Gaelic Sue and boarded her at a farm north of town that was on its way to going belly up. So he bought the farm, populated it with a few mares, and the rest is history.
Abraham’s origin story is spiced by a father, also Michael Abraham, who made and lost a series of fortunes in the Southwest with oil and gas, saloons, amusement parks, and a cab company.
“My dad was always on the road,” Abraham said. “At one time or another he went from the bottom of the valley to the top of the hill and back again. But I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Horses, real estate, and sporting art occupy Abraham’s considerable energies these days, although he is quick to point out that “I don’t really have a 9-to-5 job.”
The crown jewels of his art collection are more then a hundred original paintings by LeRoy Nieman, who died in 2012.
“I have his Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, his original Churchill Downs, and one titled ‘The Preakness,’ with Sunday Silence and Easy Goer coming down the stretch,” Abraham said. “I think boxing and horse racing were his two favorite sports.”
In one of those moments of blissful coincidence, Abraham once met Nieman at a University of New Mexico basketball game. The artist, complete with flowing moustache and sketch pad, was sitting nearby.
“I introduced myself, and I told him I had 52 of his originals,” Abraham said. “He looked at me and said, ‘You’ve got a good eye.’”
He also breeds a pretty good horse.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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