animal kingdom, balanced linebreeding, barry irwin, bert welker, breeders of classic winners, clark shepherd, dalicia, gender-balanced breeding, german bloodstock, inbreeding and linebreeding, Kentucky Derby, kentucky oaks, leroidesanimaux, lyphard, medaglia d'oro, optimal mating, plum pretty, richard and audrey haisfield, sires of classic winners, stonewall farm, team valor
The following post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.
It is one of the particular ironies of this year’s classics that the sires of both Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty (Medaglia d’Oro) and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) were standing at Stonewall Farm in Kentucky at the time the Oaks and Derby winners were conceived.
In the meantime, Darley bought Medaglia d’Oro, now standing at Jonabell, and Leroidesanimaux changed ownership and moved to Florida after the operation went into receivership last year.
Furthermore, both stallions were bought for Stonewall through the efforts of Barry Irwin, co-breeder of Animal Kingdom with the NeverTell Racing of Richard and Audrey Haisfield and a Team Valor syndicate.
Irwin said, “I bought the stallion prospects for Richard because I was the only guy he could find who would work for breeding rights rather than money.”
But Irwin’s dealings with the Haisfields weren’t limited to making stallion deals. They also participated in some of the racing stock purchased by Team Valor, including Dalicia, the German-bred Group 3 winner who produced the Kentucky Derby winner as her first foal.
Irwin said, “She was already a G3 winner, and I paid 400,000 Euros for her, which was the highest price ever for a filly out of training at that sale. Haisfield owned 25 percent of her, with the syndicate and I owning the remaining 75 percent.”
The talented young mare was a good racing prospect who became a good broodmare prospect, but fate intervened to send the mare to the turf champion Leroidesanimaux. Irwin recalled, “I wanted to breed her to Kingmambo, but that was the year that he got hurt, and we had to make other plans. They came up with Leroi, which was OK with me.
“Any way you look at it, we were under-breeding the mare commercially, but Haisfield owned the 25 percent, and I liked the horse, and it worked out.”
The mating that produced Animal Kingdom wasn’t the only one from the Stonewall stallions that worked, and Plum Pretty made Medaglia d’Oro one of five stallions to sire two Kentucky Oaks winners in the last 50 years, along with heavy hitters AP Indy, Seattle Slew, Deputy Minister, and Sir Ivor.
Bert Welker, who was general manager of Stonewall during its heyday with the retirements of Medaglia d’Oro and champions Leroidesanimaux and Lawyer Ron,said Clark Shepherd was the individual at Stonewall in charge of evaluating the potential of particular matings.
Shepherd candidly noted the mating that produced Plum Pretty was a good match but it happened “because the owners wanted to breed to the horse, and we said, ‘Yes.’ The mating that produced Animal Kingdom was the designed mating.”
The match of Leroidesanimaux and Dalicia was “what I call an optimal mating,” Shepherd said, “giving you the greatest opportunity to produce a good racehorse. This is gender-balanced line breeding and there is a mirror image of the line breedings top and bottom.”
For instance, Lyphard appears twice in the fourth generation of Animal Kingdom. The first is as the sire of the mare Bubble Company, dam of Candy Stripes, an important stallion and the sire of Leroidesanimaux. In the bottom half of the pedigree, Lyphard comes through his European champion son Dancing Brave, sire of the producer Dynamis, the dam of Dalicia.
In addition to the pedigree patterns considered in the mating, Shepherd also looked at the physiques of the parents. He said, “Dalicia was a mare with some stature, and Leroi was 16 hands at best. We thought we needed to put a mare to him with some leg. We would always lend our advice along the lines of what would produce the best racehorse, commercial considerations aside, and we strived to put the mating together that could produce the one horse who could make your stallion.”
In that, they were successful. No matter what Leroidesanimaux accomplishes the rest of his life, he is the sire of the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.
As Shepherd and Welker looked back on the bittersweet experiences of working at the Kentucky division of Stonewall that ended before its failure, both affirmed their enduring respect for the horses who made the current racing successes possible. And Welker wondered, “What’s the chance that our next Triple Crown winner would be by a turf sire?”