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March 29: Wire To Wire – Brei Leaves Florida Thoroughbred Legacy Through Service, Stallions and Jacks or Better Success


With the recent passing of Fred Brei, long known for his distinguished achievements in the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry in the name of his Jacks or Better Farm Inc., the Florida Thoroughbred industry says good-bye to a stalwart leader renown for going to battle for Thoroughbred breeders in the Sunshine state in racetrack board rooms and in the State Capital.

Brei will be remembered for his many contributions and longtime service to the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association where he served as president in 2010-’11, first vice-president in 2009-’10 and treasurer from 2013-’16 while serving five, four-year terms as director from 2005-’11, 2012-’18 and 2019-present.

But he will be most remembered for the many accomplishments of his horses racing under his distinctive purple silks with yellow polka dots.

With 25 victories in the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes as both a breeder and owner, Jacks or Better Farm is the all-time leader in both categories. Jacks or Better homebreds Jackson Bend (2009), Awesome Feather (2010) and Fort Loudon (2011) all swept the series and the most recent victory by a Jacks or Better runner came when his Shivaree won his second consecutive Florida Sire Stakes Marion County in December of 2021.

Awesome Feather was his most accomplished runner having earned an Eclipse Award in 2010 as the champion 2-year-old filly after winning the Grade 1 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs that year. She retired with earnings of $1,912,746 from 10 victories in 11 starts and in addition to her Eclipse Award, she was named the 2010 FTBOA Horse of the Year and Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.

Jackson Bend went on to become a multiple Grade 1 winner with victories in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in 2011 and the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct in 2012 and retired with earnings of $1,806,750 from nine wins in 37 starts with nine seconds and six thirds. Jackson Bend, in partnership with Robert V. LaPenta, was Brei’s only Kentucky Derby starter, finishing twelfth in the 2010 Run for the Roses. He was also named the 2011 FTBOA Champion Sprinter.

Fort Loudon would also achieve multiple graded stakes-winning status with victories in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder in 2012 and the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship in 2012.

Brei is also recognized as the owner of several successful Florida stallions including Fort Loudon, Awesome of Course and Hear No Evil among several others.

Awesome of Course is all-time leading sire of Florida Sire Stakes runners with 16 victories by his progeny including both Awesome Feather and Fort Loudon. Hear No Evil ranks fifth on the list as his progeny, including Jackson Bend, rattled off eight Florida Sire Stakes wins. Awesome of Course was also the leading juvenile sire in Florida in 2011.

Through racing on March 25, Jacks or Better Farm runners have won 536 races from 4,210 starters with 498 seconds and 550 thirds while earning $23,251,646. With partners, Jacks or Better Farm had another victory with six seconds and three thirds with earnings of $239,180 from just 20 starters.

Jacks or Better Farm was FTBOA Breeder of the Year in 2015 and a two-time winner of the Needles Award presented by the FTBOA to the small breeder of the year in 2001 and 2004. He is the only person to win both awardsHe was the top owner by Florida-bred earnings in 2010, 2014 and 2015 and Jacks or Better was represented by nine FTBOA champions who earned 10 titles.

“On behalf of the FTBOA including our staff and his fellow board members, I express our deep sadness and surprise in the passing of longtime Ocala-based Thoroughbred breeder and owner and longtime FTBOA board member who served our Association during a great time of change for a year to president, Fred Brei,” FTBOA President and CEO Lonny Powell said.

“Our hearts and thoughts also go out to his wonderful wife Jane and the rest of the Brei Family.

“I first met Fred almost 12 years ago during my visit to Ocala as part of a national search. I knew right then that Fred was a ‘break-the-mold’ type of character, the likes of which I had not quite seen before and am doubtful will see such a unique person like him in the future.

“Fred was an incredibly smart man with a real passion for Florida-bred Thoroughbreds—particularly those from his own mares by his Florida stallions. He was such a competitor in the racing and breeding games and achieved much success, particularly on the Gulfstream and Breeders Cup stages. Over his years, he made a number of contributions to the betterment of the FTBOA. For that impact on an industry and association standpoint, he will always be remembered and appreciated. I will miss him.

“Fred had so much enthusiasm for and success in the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes. He was always ‘All-In’. We plan to recognize him in a swift, appropriate and true to the man way. We will be internally incorporating his name into our Florida Sire Stakes bonused 2-year-old maiden special weight races at Gulfstream. Largely through Fred’s efforts. I’m pretty sure he would both chuckle and like it.”

Brei had several trainers throughout his career with Ralph Nicks overseeing the lion’s share of his current stable.

“Fred was always straight to the point and direct and had very strong convictions about his horses and the Thoroughbred industry,” Nicks said. “ Speaking every day, we would have our differences, but we always seemed to be laughing at the end of every conversation.

“I felt that way about my father, so I think I always looked to Fred as kind of a father figure and as an inspiration. He cared a great deal about this business and for him, the Florida Thoroughbred industry was number one.”

FTBOA President George Isaacs also praised Brei for his work at the FTBOA.

“Fred became president of the FTBOA at a very difficult time when membership satisfaction was at an all-time low. In his straight up no-nonsense style of leadership he got the ship steered in the right direction,” Isaacs said. “He was fiercely passionate about Florida breeding and racing, and darn sure put his money where his mouth was.

“As the manager of a large breeding operation in Florida, I was always so impressed with Jacks or Better’s success at Calder and then Gulfstream with a small broodmare band. I once told Fred, ‘man you make it look easy breeding winner after winner of the early 2-year-old races and then one by one the Florida Sire Stakes.’

“To sweep the FSS series in 2010 with Awesome Feather and then go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, is something we could all only dream of. And he and his farm pulled it off! He backed that up with many more stakes winners after that. RIP Fred.”

A celebration of life service will be held April 15 at Heirs-Baxley Funeral Services at 910 E. Silver Spings Blvd in Ocala.


Jacks or Better Farm FTBOA Champions

Fort Loudon, 2011 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding

Garter and Tie, 2018 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding

Awesome Feather, 2010 Horse of the Year

Awesome Feather, 2010 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly

Ballet Diva, 2015 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly

Fort Loudon, 2012 Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding

Awesome Banner, 2016 Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding

Dogwood Trail, 2015 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly

Jackson Bend, 2011 Champion Sprinter

Awesome Banner, 2016 Champion Sprinter

Jacks or Better Farm Florida Sire Stakes Winners

Dr. Fager

Jackson Bend, 2009

For Loudon, 2011

Sing Praises, 2014


Jackson Bend, 2009

Fort Loudon, 2011

Twotwentyfive A, 2014

Garter and Tie, 2018

In Reality

Jackson Bend, 2009

Fort Loudon, 2011

Best Plan Yet, 2013

Sing Praises, 2014

Fellowship, 2015

Desert Vixen

Awesome Feather, 2010

Red Bud Road, 2011

Leap Year Luck, 2014

Susan’s Girl

Awesome Feather, 2010

Ballet Diva, 2015

My Dear Girl

Awesome Feather, 2010

Awesome Belle, 2011

Marion County

Shivaree, 2020

Shivaree, 2021

Three Ring

Dogwood Trail, 2015


Twotwentyfive A, 2015

Awesome Banner, 2016

Foolish Pleasure

Awesome Banner, 2017