Ivan Dalos has a knack for nicks.
The Toronto, Ontario, businessman will tell you his foray into Thoroughbred racing and breeding began purely by chance. He will tell you one of the first horses he bred, Victory Gallop—who stunned the racing world when he won the 1998 Belmont Stakes (G1)—was a “fluke.”
But there has been nothing accidental about the rise of Dalos’ self-made bloodlines, which have made his Tall Oaks Farm one of the most successful breeding and racing operations in Canadian history.
For four months each year, May to August, Dalos is immersed in pedigrees and stallion books, planning matings for his broodmare band come the following spring. He doesn’t own a farm, but his mares reside at Rene and Darlene Hunderup’s Norse Ridge Farms near King City, Ontario, and Nick Lotz’ Briarbrooke Farm near Paris, Ky.
The work has paid off. Dalos’ Tall Oaks homebreds have given him a dramatic rise to the top of the breeder and owner charts in the last five years. He has bred international stakes winners and several champions—including Victory Gallop—and at the 2016 Sovereign Awards, Tall Oaks was beaten a nose in the voting by the mighty Adena Springs.
All of this has taken place with an annual foal crop of less than two dozen.