legend of galileo continues to grow … and grow

This is not another article exclaiming that racers by the legendary Galileo (by Sadler’s Wells) won all the Group 1 stakes over the weekend. Indeed, from 10 G1s on Saturday and Sunday, they won “only” four of those: marvelous Magical (Irish Champion), Search for a Song (Irish St. Leger), Mogul (Grand Prix de Paris), and Shale (Moyglare Stud Stakes).

Instead, this is an article about how the Galileo daughters and a particular son of the old boy are doing.

Australia — Derby winner by a Derby winner and out of an Oaks winner, this young sire recently has had his first G1 winner (Coolmore photo).

The son is English Derby winner Australia (out of Oaks winner Ouija Board), who sired his first Group 1 winner in Galileo Chrome, the winner of the Group 1 St. Leger at Doncaster. The oddly-named Galileo Chrome – who’s a plain bay – galloped comfortably to the outside of the well-regarded Pyledriver for most of the mile and three-quarters and 115 yards, then maneuvered through traffic, and finished fastest to win the longest classic.

A winner in his three prior starts, including the Yeats Stakes at Navan on his last outing, Galileo Chrome is a progressive colt who appears to have a lot of scope and can only improve for greater maturity and strength.

In addition to the winner of the St. Leger, Australia sired Cayenne Pepper, who won the G2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh from Galileo’s daughter Amma Grace. Also this weekend, Australia had the third-place racer behind Shale in the Group 1 race mentioned above.

Shale and other daughters of Galileo are broodmare prospects of a high order, and they tend to go to some of the better sires around the world. Over the past weekend, one daughter of Galileo was the dam of the winner of the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden, Barney Roy, and another daughter produced Ghaiyyath, who was second to Magical in the Irish Champion.

Barney Roy’s dam, Alina, was unplaced in a pair of starts, whereas the dam of Ghaiyyath is Nightime, winner of the 2006 Irish 1,000 Guineas. The simple statistics of racing success, with about 3 percent stakes winners to foals, mean that far more of any stallion’s racers will fail than will succeed at a high level. Therefore, some nice prospects and subsequent producers will show little on the racetrack.

Another of the great sire’s non-winning daughters produced Pista, this year’s winner of the Park Hill Stakes, which is the filly equivalent to the St. Leger.

In her third victory from four starts, Pista has risen rapidly since winning a maiden at Galway in early August to become a listed stakes winner and now a group winner.

Bred in Kentucky by Lynch Bages Ltd. and a $675,000 yearling at the 2018 Keeneland September sale, Pista is out of Mohini, a daughter of the Storm Cat mare Denebola, who was the highweight 2-year-old filly in France in 2003 after victory in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac.

That proved the high point of Denebola’s racing, but she has three stakes-producing daughters, including Beta Leo (A.P. Indy), who is the dam of Senga (Blame), winner of the G1 Prix de Diane.

And the sire of Pista?

American Pharoah.

Four Star Sales’s Tony Lacy acted as agent for the Heider family in the purchase and recalled the process that led to the acquisition of Pista. He said, “We’d been looking at the first-crop yearlings by American Pharoah and had been very impressed. They were largely big, athletic prospects with scope and great minds. With their bone and toughness, I thought they might be very effective on turf.

“And this prolific family, that had been developed in the Niarchos family stud for generations, had a lot of turf excellence that I’d seen first-hand during my time working in France. This is the family of the highweight filly Coup de Folie, her full brother Machiavellian” (both by Mr. Prospector), who was a highweight on the European handicaps and then a leading sire, “and it goes right on back to a half-sister to Northern Dancer.”

Yeah, nice family.

As an individual, Lacy noted, “This filly was a big yearling who turned into a growthy 2-year-old, and we decided not to race her at 2 because she wasn’t ready. Even early at three, she didn’t show much promise until the late spring and early summer, and then she began to come on so strongly that Joseph O’Brien (who trains the filly) became optimistic about her debut. Pista, however, walked out of the gate and raced greenly.

“Joseph said the penny dropped after the first race, and in her second start, Pista jumped off nicely, laid up with the pace, and powered away to win her maiden” by 6 1/2 lengths at Galway. “Then we stepped her up to a listed race against colts,” Lacy continued, “in the Vinnie Roe Stakes at Leopardstown.”

The elegant filly won again, this time while competing at a mile and three-quarters and winning from Sunchart (Teofilo) and Dawn Patrol (Galileo), who ran eighth and sixth respectively in the St. Leger. So that is positive form suggesting that Pista could have beaten at least half the field in the classic.

Another reason that the connections, including the trainer, were quite pleased with the effort at Leopardstown is that Pista “is so laid back on the gallops that she doesn’t show what she’s capable of till she’s put in a race,” Lacy said. “So we said, ‘let’s try the Park Hill,’ and that result was a resounding ‘yes.’ The plan now is to go for the Group 1 Prix de Royallieu on the Arc weekend.”

That will be a further step up in a race that typically draws a set of experienced Group 1 fillies, three and up, but with the mental and physical toughness of the American Pharoah and Galileo stock, don’t discount her chances.

authentic’s kentucky derby victory makes peter blum the happiest breeder in america

In the normal scheme of Peter Blum’s breeding program, he’s quite as likely to be planning progeny of a female line he’s had for four or five generations, perhaps more. To produce Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, however, Blum sent the broodmare Flawless, only a first-generation “Blum-bred,” to the high-class stallion Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday) back in the spring of 2016.

The breeder did note, however, that he “had some experience with this family that made me want to buy [second dam] Oyster Baby, who was a lovely mare” and one who produced a beautiful foal in Flawless, the dam of the Kentucky Derby winner.

Nor was this the only unusual factor in Flawless being a part of the Blum broodmare band. The decades-long experience that Blum has with racing and breeding has encouraged him to balance the books whenever possible, and he sells his better stock, especially colts, at premium sales around the country.

Into Mischief — bounding bay son of Harlan’s Holiday is the leading representative of the Storm Cat line today and is as hot as any stallion can be, with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic among two dozen stakes winners of 2020. He was the leading sire by gross earnings in 2019 and remains in the lead this season. (Spendthrift Farm photo)

Since he typically keeps some of the fillies, Blum bought back Flawless for $285,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. It looked like a damned good idea after that good-looking daughter of leading sire Mr. Greeley had won her maiden impressively by 13 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park. Flawless, however, bowed a tendon in her second start, gaining no black type, and after Blum and trainer Bill Mott had rehabbed the filly and returned her to training, the tendon flared up again and made it necessary to retire her permanently. The mare’s dam, the Wild Again mare Oyster Baby, was unraced and produced only three foals before her death at age seven.

As a result, Authentic went to the sales with two blank dams. This is the bugaboo of commercial breeders because nearly all buyers want to purchase performance, black-type performance, not its absence. Blum said, “People were questioning why I’d keep her: she didn’t win a stakes, would catalog with two blank dams, and I told Bill Mott that I’d have a lot of trouble selling foals out of this mare, but he said, ‘Sell all the other mares and keep this one.’”

Blum kept Flawless, in particular, he said, because “I’ve had some really good fillies over the years, but I’ve never had a filly who was as brilliant; as far as speed goes, nothing compared to Flawless.”

The 2017 colt out of Flawless, when he came to the sales, was a striking yearling. Even as a May foal, Authentic possessed the body mass and length to suggest that he was on the way to becoming a serious athlete. He had enough scope and presence to appeal to horsemen looking for athletic prospects, either to race or to resell, and once the bidding started for the handsome bay, it reached $350,000 before all others gave up and allowed a partnership of SF Bloodstock and Starlight West to sign the ticket for the colt.

Sent into training with Bob Baffert, Authentic won his debut on Nov. 9 last year at Del Mar and made his stakes debut on Jan. 4 of the new year in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, which he won like a very good thing, indeed. To date, the bay colt has won five of his six starts and notably filled out his dam’s lack of black type on the pedigree page.

Authentic is the fourth foal and third winner out of Flawless. The others sold profitably, but he was the mare’s first foal to make a seriously impressive price at $350,000. That’s a really good figure for a yearling with two blank dams, no matter what he looks like, and that sum also was the second-highest among all the yearlings sold on the second day of the September sale’s Book 3 (session 8 overall) in 2018.

The Kentucky Derby winner has a 2-year-old half-brother named Mint (Bodemeister) who is yet unraced, as well as a yearling half-brother, also by Bodemeister, who has been named Push Button. Blum said that he was retaining the two half-brothers to race. Flawless was bred back to Into Mischief for 2021 and is in foal on a February cover.

That cover date guarantees that the full brother to Authentic will not be a May foal like the Derby winner. In an interesting aside to the biases of the commercial market, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Country House, first-place finisher Maximum Security, last year’s English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, and this year’s Kentucky Derby winner are all May foals.

When the foal from Flawless arrives in late January, Blum noted, he will go into exactly the same program as his big brother. He said, “Bridie, her family and staff, we’ve been together a lot of years. They deserve all the credit for raising Authentic and a lot of other fine horses,” Blum said. “She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, but we think a lot alike.”

And then Blum summed up what it means to breed a winner of the Kentucky Derby: “When he was in the winner’s circle, it was a special moment. Winning the Derby isn’t something you really think you’re going to do. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, but I don’t know if I’d be any happier if I’d kept him. We breed and sell horses. To be able to breed and sell a Derby winner; you can’t get a better endorsement than that. I don’t believe I could be any happier.”

win win win adds an exclamation point to the kentucky stud career of the sunday silence stallion hat trick

In the Forego Stakes at Saratoga, Win Win Win became the seventh Grade 1 or Group 1 winner for his sire in the same way that sire Hat Trick (by Sunday Silence) became a success at stud in America: doing it his way.

Hat Trick became a success in America in the broadest sense; he was only a lukewarm success in North America, where Win Win Win became the sire’s second Grade 1 winner. In contrast, Hat Trick was a triunfo caliente in South America, where he has four Group 1 winners and more strong crops to come.

On Aug. 3, however, the 19-year-old Hat Trick died in his stall of a presumed heart attack after covering his first mare of the 2020 Southern Hemisphere breeding season at Haras Springfield in Brazil, and the stallion’s final full crop will be born in the next few months during the South American spring.

Foaled in Japan in 2001, Hat Trick won the G1 Mile Championship in Japan and the G1 Hong Kong Mile in Hong Kong and was champion miler in Japan in 2005. Imported to stand at Walmac Farm in Kentucky for the 2008 season, Hat Trick was the first high-class racing son of Sunday Silence brought to stand in Kentucky, and Walmac owner Johnny Jones (the younger) recalled acquiring the horse.

He said, “We’d been looking for a son of Sunday Silence to stand in America, and the Yoshidas, who controlled access to this deal, had a bunch of sons of Sunday Silence at their farms. So, there must have been some feeling that they didn’t have to keep this horse, who was already six and would go to stud at age seven.

“Barry Irwin already had been in contact with the Japanese ownership, had arranged an option to buy him, and brought me the deal. He told me this, and we funded his option and bought the horse. It was a complex deal financially, and one point of concern was the horse’s age. On the positive side, we were thinking of Speightstown’s commercial success after going to stud rather late, and that made it seem a possibility.”

The financial side of the Walmac syndication was made possible by a set of anchor partners, as Andrew Rosen, Robert McNair, and a partnership controlled by John Stuart, joined Walmac in closing the deal.

Given a substantial group of mares, Hat Trick did his part, and from his first crop, he sired an unbeaten 2-year-old champion in France named Dabirsim.

The only Group 1 winner by Hat Trick in Europe, Dabirsim won all five of his juvenile starts, including the Prix Morny and Grand Criterium, both Group 1 races, but the striking near-black racer made only two starts at three, second on his seasonal debut in the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau, then was a close sixth in the French 2,000 Guineas. A sore foot and other physical issues kept the horse off the track the rest of 2012, and he was retired in April 2013, entered stud in 2014.

At Walmac in Kentucky, Dabirsim’s successes in 2011 brought an offer to capitalize on Hat Trick’s potential, and the owners sold a substantial interest in Hat Trick to Gainesway and moved the horse there for the 2012 breeding season.

Michael Hernon recalled the situation: “Antony and I both drove over and looked at the horse, who was just across Paris Pike at the stallion barn on Walmac. I had seen Sunday Silence late in his career at stud in Japan, and I thought that there was a good deal of resemblance between the sire and Hat Trick. Overall, Hat Trick was more elegant, wouldn’t have weighed as much, was always a proud horse when he came out to show, and was a kind horse, good in the breeding shed. He was a top racehorse, and he was able to get a few top runners.”

Had the near-black son of Sunday Silence gotten racer after racer in a class with Dabirsim, he’d still be eating bluegrass.

However, as Hernon explained, “Hat Trick’s appeal waned just as the market changed dramatically. He came to Gainesway in 2012, and yet by 2014 or 2015, with the aftereffects of the Great Recession and the resulting contraction in breeding, the stallion market had changed so radically that it favored the new stallion on the block too much and sent too many mares to those stallions, and those stallions alone. The number of mares being bred has continued to decline, while fewer stallions are widely used. The outside dynamic had changed, and since he was no longer a new item, that polarization of the market was so extreme that Hat Trick was sold” to stand in Brazil at Haras Springfield.

Early on in the stallion’s term at stud, Hat Trick had shuttled to Argentina for the Southern Hemisphere breeding seasons in 2009, 2010, and 2012. From those covering seasons came four Group 1 winners: Hat Puntano, Hat Mario, Zapata, and Giant Killing. The first and third of those won the Gran Premio 2,000 Guineas, and they helped create a reputation for Hat Trick in South America. They and other top-level winners by Hat Trick showed their form at or near the sire’s preferred distance of a mile.

Win Win Win, for instance, won his Grade 1 at seven furlongs in the Forego on Aug. 30, but the conditions of racing at Saratoga made the race as strenuous a seven furlongs as possible. The son of Hat Trick trailed early through quick fractions, was last turning into the stretch, and passed them all through the stretch while eight or nine paths wide to win narrowly in the slop and driving rain.

Bred and raced by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud, Win Win Win is very similar to his sire in color and general type, being a horse with a lot of quality and one who likes to finish his races powerfully.

Although there are a moderate number of Northern Hemisphere racers yet to come from Hat Trick, Win Win Win’s dramatic victory in the Forego was a symbolic climax for the stud career of Sunday Silence’s son in North America.

super-sires war front and tapit are the cornerstones to success for g1 winner halladay

A front-running victory in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 22 made Halladay the 51st group or graded stakes winner for his sire War Front (by Danzig), as well as the sire’s 22nd Grade 1 winner; Halladay also became the first North American Grade 1 winner for broodmare sire Tapit, who has been the leading general sire in North America three times.

War Front — this leading sire by the great Danzig (Northern Dancer) got his 22nd G1 winner when Halladay won the Fourstardave at Saratoga. (Claiborne Farm photo)

Tapit mares have already produced Group 1 winners in Japan and Australia. In June of 2020, Gran Alegria won the G1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo to pair with her victory last year in the G1 Oka Sho (Japan 1,000 Guineas). Overall, the bay daughter of the great sire Deep Impact has won five of eight starts and $4.1 million. Gran Alegria’s dam, Tapitsfly, also won a pair of Group 1 races, the First Lady at Keeneland and the Just a Game Stakes at Belmont, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf when it was instituted as a listed race (now G1). At the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale, Tapitsfly sold as a broodmare prospect for $1.85 million to Katsumi Yoshida.

Tapitsfly came from Tapit’s second crop of foals, and Hightap, the dam of Halladay, came from the gray sire’s first crop. Now they lead the stallion’s producers of quality.

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd. and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Halladay went to the 2017 Keeneland September sale, was led out of the ring unsold at $225,000, changed hands privately thereafter through Steve Young, agent, and races for Harrell Ventures LLC.

Hightap’s first four foals had brought about $1 million for the breeders, and Halladay was the broodmare’s fifth foal. The handsome gray did not show his stakes quality immediately, not getting his first black type until a third-place finish in the English Channel Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 26 last year.

Just a few days later, his dam, Grade 3 winner Hightap, went through the ring at the 2019 Keeneland November sale in foal to Union Rags (Dixie Union) and sold for $85,000 to Hidden Brook, agent. The mare produced a chestnut filly on Feb. 11 for owners John Gardner and Frank McEntee. Hightap was initially bred back to the Danzig stallion Hard Spun but would not get in foal and was sent to champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) shortly before that champion’s unexpected death, and she is in foal on a May 11 cover.

Sergio de Sousa, managing partner at Hidden Brook, said that Hightap is a “really good-looking mare, and she produced a pretty foal. Both the mare and foal have been entered in the Keeneland November sale” later this fall, but whether they go to the sale or not may depend on other factors, such as the status of sales during the pandemic and the economics of the September yearling market.

Hightap’s new owners take an active interest in selecting mares for their breeding program, and Hidden Brook partner Dan Hall said, “The current owners went through the November catalog and picked out the ones that interested them. They like mares with a little age that look like they would be discounted in the marketplace, then we look at the physicals for them. This was a nice mare in foal on an early cover to a top sire, and there looked like a lot of upside. John is involved in our racing partnerships, but they seem to be a little more interested in the breeding side of the game.”

For the breeders of Halladay, Hightap has a gray yearling filly by Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride) who is entered in the 2020 Keeneland September sale as Hip 1396, which is in Book 3 of the lengthy auction. Depending on the filly’s looks, vet report, and what Halladay accomplishes between now and then, the Gun Runner filly has the potential to be one of the breakout lots of the day.

So there’s a silver lining for all those associated with Hightap because, as Dan Hall noted about buying the dam of a newly minted Grade 1 winner, “You’d like to say you’re smart, but in this game, you have to be lucky.”

And surely the luckiest participant in the Hightap saga is Jay Goodwin, who bought the Empire Maker half-sister to Halladay for himself and partner Cloyce Clark for $5,500 at the 2019 Keeneland January sale.

Goodwin said, “She’d just turned two, didn’t have the greatest x-rays, and the mare hadn’t produced any black type at that point. But I love Empire Maker; I love Tapit. With that pedigree, I knew I couldn’t go wrong, and I knew if any of the other runners got black type in that family, it would go hot.

“From the first, my intention was to go on with her a broodmare, not try her as a racehorse,” Goodwin said. “So, I turned her out and never brought her up, except to trim her feet, and put her under lights at the end of 2019.”

Named Highschool, the gray is in foal to Mitole (Eskendereya), the 2019 Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter whose successes included the Metropolitan Handicap and Breeders’ Cup Sprint, on a March 15 cover and is entered in the November sale at Keeneland.

Goodwin said, “It’s better to be lucky than good.”

trainer mcpeek once again strikes gold at the yearling sales with swiss skydiver

Pedigrees are funny things. We look at them on the pages of sales catalogs through the prism of the weakest link, which is typically the female line.

Consider that, almost universally, the sire of a foal is a better racehorse than the dam; the broodmare sire is likewise almost always better than his offspring, the dam, and his mate, the second dam. The rationale for presenting “pedigree” in that fashion is that if the female line is strong, then the rest of the pedigree should likewise be quite good.

Yet when looking at sales horses, frequently we hear people say, “Not a lot of pedigree there,” without a thought to the rest of the animal’s heritage not foregrounded on the page.

Daredevil — this son of More Than Ready entered stud at WinStar Farm and now stands at Karacabey Stud in Turkey. He is the sire of leading 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver (TJC photo).

That might have been the case with Swiss Skydiver when the winner of the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga came to auction at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2018. There, the chestnut daughter of Daredevil (by More Than Ready) attracted little attention as Hip 2997 in the sale that lasts two weeks.

She did, however, attract the right attention.

Trainer Kenny McPeek is an exception among trainers: he loves the yearling sales. McPeek said, “I think buying yearlings is the most fun we have in racing. It’s the ultimate challenge.”

McPeek meets the challenge this way: “We’ve got a very systematic approach in how we work a sale. We turn over every stone, and the emphasis is on the physical. I trained a lot of bad horses early on, a lot of claimers, and I learned a lot from them, what their limitations were and what their issues and weaknesses were. So, I started going to the yearling sale knowing what a horse looked like that I didn’t want to train.”

McPeek also has some fairly specific factors for strength and motion that he does prize in horses, and he noted that Swiss Skydiver was a strong filly with a grand walk. With regard to pedigree and physique, McPeek said, “If they’ve got all the right parts in the right places, they don’t know who they’re out of. They’re going to be racehorses. I’ve made my career out of being able to pick out top horses with a modest budget,” including stars like two-time Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin (Smart Strike).

Selecting top performers from the ranks of growing prospective athletes is no mean feat, and McPeek has had to increase the degree of difficulty by operating on a moderate budget. He said that “years ago, an owner told me, ‘You need to train horses like Wayne Lukas.’ I said, ‘Bullshit, you need to buy me horses like Wayne Lukas.’ That owner was my dad.”

Instead, McPeek has had to go to the sales and pick horses who have the physical qualities he wants and that fall within his budget. Swiss Skydiver is another top horse who fit the criteria, and McPeek bought her for $35,000.

One reason for the meager auction price is that the filly catalogs no better than “so-so.” There’s black type with each of her first four dams, but they all fit on the catalog page. The superstar performers are all above the female line.

The filly’s sire is G1 Champagne winner Daredevil; his sire is G1 winner More Than Ready, a sire of international acclaim; the dam’s sire is champion Johannesburg, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and selected as champion juvenile colt in each country he raced in 2001.

The great majority of top performance indicators among those three sires, the best horses in the first two generations of Swiss Skydiver’s pedigree, is for excellence at two, with more than a hint of turf. So, the filly won a maiden special at two, has shown strong improvement at three, has shown her best form at eight to 10 furlongs, and looks like a champion on dirt.

On her racing profile and distance preferences, the high-class filly seems much more like the sire of her second dam, Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold (Alydar).

Strike the Gold — the 1991 Kentucky Derby winner entered stud at Vinery in Kentucky. Sold to the Turkish Jockey Club, he stood at Karacabey Stud like Daredevil and became the premier stallion in Turkey till his death in 2011 (Vinery photo).

A good-looking, rangy chestnut, Strike the Gold won the 1991 Kentucky Derby, as well as the Blue Grass Stakes at three and the Pimlico Special at four, earning nearly $3.5 million. After a quiet start at stud, Strike the Gold was sold to the Turkish Jockey Club as a 10-year-old and went to stand at the TJC’s Karacabey Stud Farm, beginning his term at stud in Turkey in 1999. There, he sired champions and classic winners and was Turkey’s leading sire; Strike the Gold was euthanized on Dec. 13, 2011 at the age of 23.

Strike the Gold’s lasting influence has been notably toward stamina and classic quality, and in that regard, Swiss Skydiver is a strike on the mother lode.

in the freshman sire race, texas red and hit it a bomb are gunning from the start

With races for 2-year-olds that prohibit Lasix, it was no surprise that the juvenile graded stakes winners at Del Mar on Aug. 8 both raced without the controversial medication. It was, however, a surprise that the winners of the Grade 2 Best Pal and the G2 Sorrento were both by freshmen sires.

The Sorrento’s public betting choice at 0.90-to-1 was My Girl Red (by Texas Red), and after leading all the way, the handsome bay filly duly delivered by 4 3/4 lengths from second-choice Get On the Bus (Uncle Mo), who had five lengths on Exchange Vows (Tapiture), the longest price on the odds board.

Bred in Kentucky and racing for breeder Erich Brehm, My Girl Red is out of the stakes-placed Morakami (Fusaichi Pegasus), and the Sorrento winner is one of four stakes horses out of that mare. Brehm, who was a co-owner of Texas Red, purchased Morakami in foal to Street Boss (Street Cry) for $21,000 at the 2017 Keeneland January sale.

A $225,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Morakami would have been counted a disappointing broodmare at the time of sale, as none of the mare’s racers had earned black type at the time. Two of the mare’s foals already in training subsequently became stakes-placed, and the foal she was carrying at the sale is now known as Gold Street, the winner of the 2019 Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds and the 2020 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

Now unbeaten in two starts, My Girl Red is the first graded winner for either of her parents. Morakami has a yearling filly by Texas Red and a weanling filly of 2020 by leading sire Kitten’s Joy (El Prado). The mare was bred to Into Mischief for 2021.

Much like his precocious daughter, Texas Red (Afleet Alex) was a talented 2-year-old, winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the absence of champion American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and becoming one of the early favorites for the next season’s classics. The tall bay was sidelined in February 2015 with a hoof abscess, came back to win the G2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, then was sidelined once again with bone bruising.

In 2017, Texas Red went to stud in Kentucky at Pope McLean’s Crestwood Farm. Pope McLean Jr. said that former Crestwood associate “Phil Hager had a relationship with Brehm, and we partnered with him and his group. Erich leads that ownership group, and most of them stayed in on the horse” as a stallion prospect.

“Erich Brehm has put so much into the horse that this [victory at Del Mar] meant a lot to them,” said Marc McLean. “Morakami was a nice mare already, but Erich bought some other mares for the horse. That makes a difference in the opportunities that a young stallion has.”

With a first crop of “only” 49 foals, Texas Red had a very respectable number of foals for an earlier time, but in today’s stallion environment with popular stallions having superbooks of 200 mares or more, the son of Afleet Alex is overachieving to have a graded stakes winner already.

In addition, another daughter of Texas Red, Somuchsugar, finished second in the restricted Miss Ohio Stakes on Aug. 8 to the Constitution filly Alexandria.

Hit It a Bomb — unbeaten juvenile son of War Front (by Danzig) picked up his first stakes winner as a sire when Weston won the G2 Best Pal at Del Mar. (Spendthrift photo)

Like Texas Red, Hit It a Bomb (War Front) was a Breeders’ Cup winner as an unbeaten juvenile, winning the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf by a neck from Airoforce (Colonel John). Laid off until August of his 3-year-old season, Hit It a Bomb returned with thirds in the G2 Solonaway Stakes and G3 Desmond Stakes and ended his career unplaced in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Sold to stand at Spendthrift Farm, Hit It a Bomb got a tepid reception from dirt-oriented breeders and has only 38 foals from his first crop. Some of them looked the part of quality racers at last year’s sales of yearlings, as Makai brought $140,000 at the Keeneland September sale from Jordan Blair Racing, and Miss Costa Rica brought $95,000 at the same auction. Too many of the yearlings by Hit It a Bomb, however, did not receive the seal of approval from American trainers and pinhookers, with a sales median price of $12,000 from 23 sold.

One of those below the median price was Weston, who sold to Chris Drakos for $7,000 at the Keeneland September sale. Now the winner of the Best Pal Stakes, the bay has improved a lot, and he may not be the only one. Miss Costa Rica returned as a 2-year-old in training at the OBS March sale and sold for $200,000 in this year’s strongly depressed market. She and a couple other well-regarded members of the first crop by Hit It a Bomb are reported to be training well and should make starts soon.

A winner on debut, Weston won the Best Pal after laying up with the pace the whole trip and was ahead by a neck at the wire, defeating Girther (Brody’s Cause).

Weston is out of the stakes-placed Elke (Dixie Union), and the Hit It a Bomb gelding is the mare’s first stakes winner. Elke has also produced the stakes-placed Miss Segovia (Paddy O’Prado) and two other winners of more than $100,000.

As the progeny of a high-class racer who showed his form on turf, gamblers will want to pay special attention to the stock by Hit It a Bomb when they get a chance to race on turf.

Both My Girl Red and Weston were the first winners by their sires, and now they have become the first stakes winners and graded stakes winners for those young stallions trying to secure a future in the breeding world of Kentucky. To secure a position in the stallion hierarchy for 2021, Hit It a Bomb and Texas Red needed to show success early, and they have done well to sire graded winners from relatively small crops very early in their first inning at stud.

city zip’s son improbable hit the mark in the g1 whitney and is another star for his consistent sire

When Improbable won the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1, the striking chestnut colt was further confirming that his sire, the Carson City stallion City Zip, was one of the steadiest contributors of quality in the breed.

City Zip, a Grade 1 winner at two and major winner at three, moved to Lane’s End for his third season at stud and was never the top horse on the farm. The most obvious reason for that was a big bay beast named A.P. Indy, who was the top horse on the farm. City Zip didn’t even start out as second fiddle to the Horse of the Year, but the quality and consistency of the stock that City Zip sired made him a serious force to be reckoned with.

And breeders came to realize that City Zip was also a good sire for a young mare. A medium-sized stallion, City Zip wouldn’t burden a first-time foaling mare with an overly large foal. Furthermore, the stallion consistently contributed speed to his progeny and got startlingly high percentages of starters (84) and winners (66), placing him among the best in breed. As a result, City Zip was a great way to get a nice young mare going as a producer. For instance, a nice young mare by A.P. Indy like Rare Event, who became the dam of Improbable.

Bred in Kentucky by Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership, Rare Event is out of the stakes-winning mare Our Rite of Spring (by Stravinsky) and is a half-sister to G1 winner Hard Spun (Danzig), who was also second in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

As a yearling, Rare Event was so attractive that G. Watts Humphrey bought the filly for $400,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling auction. On the racetrack, Rare Event won four of 14 starts, earning $114,159.

As the mare’s first live foal, Improbable was a medium-sized, attractive chestnut with three white stockings and a blaze. Humphrey bred the Whitney Stakes winner in partnership with Ian Banwell’s St. George Farm Racing LLC, and the breeders sold the flashy chestnut colt at the 2016 Keeneland November sale for $110,000 to Taylor Made Sales, agent, when the partners also sold Rare Event to Calumet Farm for $150,000 while carrying her second foal on a cover to Lane’s End stallion Quality Road (Elusive Quality).

At the November sale in 2016, Katie Taylor, Frank Taylor, and long-time manager John Hall picked out the spritely weanling who grew into Improbable. Katie Taylor said, “We bought him as part of the fourth installment of our pinhooking package, Bloodstock Investments. That was the first installment that we did weanlings only; we had a list of sires that we wanted to get for the package that year, and City Zip was one of them. We missed out on one weanling at Fasig-Tipton, and this colt was really nice, so nice that we decided to hold back a little on the other and go stronger” on Improbable, whom the investors bought for $110,000.

“We were able to buy him,” Katie said, “because he wasn’t the biggest; he was just big enough. City Zip was such a solid sire, and this colt is indicative of what City Zips were: he has a strong hind-end, good body, nice neck. Lots of balance and quality.”

Katie recalled that “from the time we bought him, Improbable did well. He had no behavioral problems, no vetting problems. He was consistent and steady [in his development and maturation]. We were going to take him to Saratoga but had another City Zip for Saratoga, and we sent him to September instead,” where the colt brought $200,000 from WinStar and China Horse Club.

Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales said that “the first I saw of Improbable was when he came back to Taylor Made and began to integrate in the herd. He was a really nice, stretchy, and really well-balanced horse, and I thought he looked more like a two-turn horse than a lot of runners by his sire. He had some white feet on him, but they were good and sound. He was a really cool horse but a little different from what you normally saw from the sire.”

City Zip was known primarily as a sire of fast horses, not horses who found their best form at longer distances. The stallion could and did get those, however, and he threw uncommon soundness and athleticism into his stock, even those with white feet, which are frequently seen as a sign of a soft or potentially weak foot in a racer.

Instead, Mark Taylor noted that the colt’s sale to the people at WinStar “validated our feeling that this was a really good horse. At the end of his 3-year-old season, I thought that this colt was one of those horses who hadn’t reached his full potential, but he has certainly done the job this season, and when he goes to stud, I know that we will be lining up to breed mares to him because he is a beautiful horse.”

In the immediate future, the plans indicate that Improbable will continue to challenge for a leading role in the older horse division with a goal of the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in October.

And the Taylor Made crew will be back with more yearlings to sell next month at Fasig-Tipton and at Keeneland.

somelikeithotbrown and the burden of expectations for young stallions

From the evidence of the sums paid for stallion syndications and for price of nomination fees to these unproven sires, a reasonable observer would assume that there is a strong correlation between elite racing performance and its resulting stratospheric stallion valuations and then the progeny results of such horses on the racetrack.

That reasonable observer, however, would be incorrect.

There is a modest correlation between racing excellence and stallion performance; essentially every important stallion is a stakes winner, for instance. But you don’t have to look very hard to find Danzig, who was unbeaten in three starts, none a stakes. Clearly, that very talented son of Northern Dancer was an aberration; had he enjoyed a fairly normal racing career, Danzig would have been a stakes winner and probably a stakes winner of very high merit.

Aside from stakes success as a general parameter of racing performance, however, the variability of the genetic material that a stallion provides to his offspring and the equal variability of how that contribution pairs up with a contribution from the dam make breeding effectively an exercise in randomness.

All this makes the prices of major syndications what we might generously call “optimistic.”

This was pointed out by the result of the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. The Baruch was won by the New York-bred 4-year-old Somelikeithotbrown (by Big Brown), and the winner is from the first New York-conceived crop by the 2008 Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old colt.

A winner in his only start at two, Big Brown improved massively to remain undefeated through victories in the G1 Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. Heavily favored to complete the Triple Crown, Big Brown was eased in the Test of the Champion at Belmont Park.

The son of Boundary (Danzig) won his final two starts, a prep for the Haskell and the main event, then was retired to stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky to stand for a fee of $60,000 live foal. The other top horse retiring to Kentucky for the 2009 season was two-time Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike), and both were scheduled to have stud fees of $100,000 or thereabouts before the Great Recession came crumbling down on everyone’s head.

That debacle had the effect of lowering those two horses’ stud fees by nearly half, to $60,000 for their first seasons. External factors did not make the economics of standing the two champions any easier, but the long-term challenge for each was to get horses of very high racing class.

Curlin answered in the affirmative, most strongly as his stock gained experience and maturity on the racetrack, and the champion chestnut has established himself as one of the premier stallions in the country with a stud fee of $175,000.

In contrast, however, Big Brown sired winners from large books of accomplished mares, and the regression to the norm seen in the quality of his racers produced a corresponding regression in the horse’s stud fee.

To date, Big Brown has had nine crops of racing age, and from 584 foals of racing age (including 27 2-year-olds), he has 27 stakes winners, including seven group or graded stakes winners. The best of these was Dortmund, a smashing chestnut of giant proportions who won the G1 Santa Anita Derby and Los Alamitos Futurity, as well as running third in the 2015 Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile).

This is not an exercise in bashing Big Brown, who followed a good racing career with stud performance that is slightly above average: he sired a Grade 1 winner and a half-dozen other group or graded winners from 27 stakes winners. Few stallions do that much.

Average performance, even a bit better than average success, however, is not nearly enough to keep a stallion in Kentucky at a commercial fee under the present market circumstances. The pressures on stallions include the escalating book sizes that have some of the most in-demand stallions covering more than 200 mares in the Northern Hemisphere breeding season from February through early July; the dual-hemisphere shuttle system which sends some stallions to the Southern Hemisphere, where they will be working with another large book of mares; the demands of the sales market for large, correctly conformed, attractive, and well-matured yearlings or 2-year-olds; and then the racetrack demands to get racing stock that can win early and often, then show high form in graded company.

If a stallion prospect could know what lay in store for him, he’d just have a nervous breakdown and be done with it.

The horses who have the libido and physical health to handle the breeding demands, then to compound that by outperforming expectations with lots of good individuals who regularly perform at the highest levels, are rare creations indeed. That’s what a top-class contemporary stallion has to provide, and it’s a prescription to understand why there’s only one Galileo, one Tapit, or one War Front every few years.

authentic is a live-action promo for racehorse.com but “just another” class performer for top sire

Into Mischief picked up his sixth Grade 1 winner on July 18 with Authentic’s victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. Two days earlier, the bay son of the deceased sire Harlan’s Holiday (by the Storm Cat stallion Harlan) had the one-two in the G3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga when Dayoutoftheoffice won by six lengths from Make Mischief, who was a length ahead of second-choice Hopeful Princess (Not This Time). The fourth horse was 10 lengths farther back, and the odds-on favorite, Beautiful Memories (Hard Spun), stumbled at the start, was pulled up after a half-mile, then walked off.

In contrast to the victory of heavily favored Authentic, Dayoutoftheoffice and Make Mischief were two of the four longest shots in the field of seven, and the winner was 19.8-to-1.

Quick, precocious, and willing racers, Dayoutoftheoffice and Make Mischief are typical of the progeny of leading sire Into Mischief, who has stood his entire stud career at Spendthrift Farm for owner B. Wayne Hughes, and the stallion has risen from the modest heights of an entering stud fee of $12,500 to a position in the hierarchy of stallions where his fee for 2020 was $175,000 live foal, and for 2021, it would not be surprising to see a further increase.

The quantity and quality of his offspring are responsible for that steady upward progression in stud fee.

As evidence of that, Into Mischief was the leading sire of 2019 by progeny earnings, with $18.9 million, and he ranks second in 2020. In addition, Into Mischief is a promising sire of stallions, with such well-regarded young horses as Audible (G1 Florida Derby), who entered stud at WinStar in 2020, and Practical Joke (G1 Champagne, Hopeful, Allen Jerkens), who entered stud at Ashford in 2018 and has first-crop yearlings this year.

When he goes to stud, Authentic will go to Spendthrift to stand alongside Into Mischief, like the stallion’s other sons Goldencents (sire of seven stakes winners and the earners of more than $10 million) and Maximus Mischief, who entered stud in 2020.

Spendthrift’s Mark Toothaker said, “We’re so lucky to have Into Mischief, because he’s a generational sort of sire, and we’d love to stand all his sons, too. We already have a couple, and we’re thrilled to have Authentic coming to Spendthrift. He’s a taller, stretchier sort of Into Mischief, and we’re seeing more of that type as breeders are coming to breed more mares to him with size and scope.”

Before Authentic goes on to a second career, however, trainer Bob Baffert will point the long-legged bay for the Kentucky Derby, and “hopefully Authentic runs on next year at four; that’s the deal with him now,” Toothaker said, “and that was part of the plan for bringing in MyRacehorse.com as part of the ownership of the horse.”

Purchased at the 2018 Keeneland September sale by SF Bloodstock and Starlight West, Authentic started his career so impressively that Madaket Stables LLC, Spendthrift Farms LLC, and MyRaceHorse Stable subsequently have bought into the horse.

The first four entities are well-known for involvement in high-profile racing stock, but MyRaceHorse Stable is a different proposition. Toothaker noted that when “we met Michael Behrens, who owned MyRacehorse.com at the time, we loved it so much that Spendthrift bought a significant interest in the company,” and now Spendthrift is putting MyRaceHorse Stable in partnerships with some of its high-class racers.

Brian Lyle, who is the liaison for Spendthrift with MyRaceHorse Stable, said that “Mr. Hughes is concerned with the number of people involved in racing and wants to help attract more people to the sport. Our concept of MyRaceHorse Stable is purely to get more fans to the racetrack. It brings in more owners, it builds greater enthusiasm, and it builds up education so that some owners can move to the next level with their involvement in the sport.”

In Toothaker’s analogy of the approach, he said, “It’s a sort of farm league or development league to allow people to have individual involvement in the game through the purchase of micro-shares, and Mr. Hughes believes it could save the game. Normally, we are looking at young horses where Spendthrift would buy breeding rights, but now with MyRacehorse, we are also looking to buy racing rights.”

As testament to the widespread appeal that this could have with the general public, Toothaker recounted that the assistant pastor at the church where Toothaker and his family attend came up to him on Sunday to let him know that the clergyman had bought a share in Authentic.

Maybe those prayers made a difference in the stretch run of the Haskell. Either way, involvement of people not otherwise experienced in Thoroughbred ownership is a boon for the sport, and Authentic may prove an important educational and promotional marker for the popularity of the sport with this success and with anything else he accomplishes in the future.

art collector looks like a masterpiece from historic greentree family

With a stylish 3 1/2-length victory over leading 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on July 11, Art Collector has moved into a position as one of the leading classic prospects of 2020 and is unbeaten in three consecutive races.

Actually, the handsome bay has finished in front in each of his last four races, stretching back to a blowout victory in a Nov. 30 allowance at Churchill Downs. After winning by 7 1/2 lengths, however, Art Collector was subsequently disqualified for the presence of a prohibited substance.

Transferred to trainer Tom Drury after that, Art Collector has continued his march to excellence with allowance victories this season on May 17 and June 13 at Churchill Downs, then skipped down I-64 to test those very positive-looking results against graded stakes company at Keeneland.

Never farther back than third in the 13-horse field, Art Collector had the lead at the stretch call and widened away from his competition to win in 1:48.11. Swiss Skydiver held second by 4 3/4 lengths from Rushie, and the form rather emphatically places Art Collector in the hunt for Kentucky Derby in September.

Bred in Kentucky by Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector races for his breeder. In taking his fourth official victory from eight starts, Art Collector became the first stakes winner for his dam, the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Legacy. She won three races at three and four, including the Sky Beauty Stakes at Belmont, and more importantly, Distorted Legacy was also second in the G1 Flower Bowl.

Distorted Legacy is one of two stakes winners out of the Private Account mare Bunting, who was second in the G1 Alcibiades Stakes. This is a family that performed nobly for decades at Greentree Stud and that got its start in the States with the importation of the Prince Bio mare Bebop, a half-sister to Oaks winner Sun Cap (Sunny Boy). Bebop herself had been third in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

Bred to Greentree’s Horse of the Year Tom Fool, Bebop’s first foal was Bebopper, the first of eight consecutive fillies out of the dam, including stakes-placed Stepping High (No Robbery), the dam of multiple stakes winner and leading sire Buckaroo (Buckpasser). Bebopper did the most good for Greentree, however, with the major winners Stop the Music (Hail to Reason) and Hatchet Man (The Axe).

Hatchet Man — a son of The Axe II, is shown at stud on Greentree. He was a high-class racer who matured well and was especially effective over 10 furlongs; his half-sister Flag Waver is the third dam of the 2020 Blue Grass Stakes winner Art Collector. (Tony Leonard photo)

Stop the Music won the Dwyer and the Saratoga Special, then inherited the 1972 Champagne after Secretariat sort of intimidated him during the stretch run. Hatchet Man was later maturing than his half-brother but won the Dwyer at three, then also the G1 Widener and Haskell at five.

These were Bebopper’s third and fourth foals; the mare’s 11th foal was Flag Waver (Hoist the Flag), who won the 1983 Rampart Handicap at four and is the third dam of Art Collector. Flag Waver’s first foal was stakes winner Abidjan (Sir Ivor) and her sixth was stakes-placed Bunting, the second dam of the Blue Grass winner.

Lunsford bought into this family with the acquisition of Bunting as a 3-year-old filly in training at the 1994 Keeneland November sale for $500,000. Bunting’s first foal for Lunsford was the Storm Cat horse Vision and Verse. A rangy bay, Vision and Verse didn’t win a lot of races but had a lot of class, winning the G2 Illinois Derby and finishing second in the G1 Belmont Stakes and Travers, third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The horse earned more than $1 million and went to stud in Kentucky at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm.

Bunting had a trio of black-type daughters, and the best of these was Distorted Legacy. Her sire, Distorted Humor, threw some speed into this very classic family, and even so, the best distance for Distorted Legacy was 10 to 12 furlongs. In addition to a good second to Stacelita in the Flower Bowl at 10 furlongs, Distorted Legacy was fourth, beaten a length for the victory, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly Turf.

So there should be little concern about Art Collector’s ability to handle the 10 furlongs of the Derby, and this colt is following the well-worn path of improvement laid down by Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and so many of his descendants, with good to reasonable form late at two, then radically accelerating improvement at three.

This is a classic colt winning a classic prep in the proper style, and he appears to be a potential masterpiece for the owner, trainer, and family.