breeders’ cup juvenile comes up a ‘winner’ for wests and summer wind

Unbeaten in four starts after a clear victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a near-certainty to be the Eclipse Award winner as the leading colt of his division, the 2-year-old Game Winner will be the second juvenile champion by his sire, the Argentine-bred Candy Ride (by the Cryptoclearance stallion Ride the Rails). The stallion’s fleet Shared Belief was champion of the juvenile crowd in 2013, when he was unbeaten in three starts, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

Unlike the juvenile program of Shared Belief, Game Winner is set to take a break and then gear up for the 2019 classics in the New Year, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

That decision will make some trainers breathe easier about their prospects in the coming weeks, but it also puts a major bar to the hopes for Candy Ride to lead the general sire list this year. Kitten’s Joy (El Prado) stands more than $1 million clear of his rival, and Candy Ride needs a couple of major winners to close the gap.

But Game Winner holds out hopes of further grand results in 2019 for the lengthy bay stallion at Lane’s End, and Game Winner will not be the first unbeaten colt that trainer Baffert has pointed to the classics.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, Game Winner is related to one such colt trained by Baffert. In 1998, the trainer brought an unbeaten colt of towering speed and stature to the Kentucky Derby, but Indian Charlie (In Excess) lost for the first time, finishing third to Baffert’s “other horse,” Real Quiet (Quiet American).

Retired to stud at Vinery, Indian Charlie became a leading sire, and one of his champion racers was Fleet Indian, who is the second dam of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.

Fleet Indian won 13 of 19 starts, earned $1.7 million, and was the 2006 Eclipse Award winner as the top older mare off her 5-year-old season, when she won six consecutive races, including the G1 Beldame and Personal Ensign.

Consigned to the 2007 Keeneland November sale in foal to Storm Cat, Fleet Indian was officially listed an RNA at $3.9 million and was led from the ring unsold, but the mare was sold privately to the Summer Wind Farm of Jane and Frank Lyon shortly thereafter.

For Summer Wind, Fleet Indian produced four foals consecutively, then was euthanized due to complications of colic on Oct. 1, 2011 when the mare was only 10. Fleet Indian was not in foal at the time of her death, and none of her foals came close to reproducing her elite form on the racetrack.

Of the quartet, only the last, the Medaglia d’Oro filly Fleet of Gold earned black type with a third in the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct. Three, however, are mares, and the unraced A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving is owned by Summer Wind and is the dam of Game Winner.

Sold at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale as Hip 346, Game Winner brought only $110,000, just a touch below the 2017 median price of $130,000 for all 55 Candy Ride yearlings sold.

The winning bidder on behalf of Gary and Mary West was Ben Glass, who said: “To get him for that price, I guess I’m lucky. I love A.P. Indy and Candy Ride, and everybody has to get lucky once in a while.”

Once the hammer fell on the handsome bay colt, Game Winner went to “Dell Ridge Farm on Winchester Road outside Lexington, where Des Ryan takes care of them till they go to Jeff Kirk in Ocala to break. We send all our horses to Jeff; the young horses go there for breaking and pre-training, and the older horses who need layup or rehab go to Ocala too. I bought a place down there 30 minutes from Crystal River just so that I can interfere with Jeff’s training.”

When not interfering with Kirk’s training regimen, Glass is usually on the road to sales or to watch racehorses around the country for the Wests’ stable. They have racing stock with five different trainers across the U.S., and to orchestrate such a sizable operation, Glass noted, “It’s a team effort, and it takes a good group like this to put all these horses on the track in the best form possible.”

In addition to Ryan in Lexington and Kirk in Ocala, Glass has Dr. Douglas Brunk, “who’s worked with me for 35 years,” to assess vet work across the country and Dr. Craig Van Balen in Lexington, who does the pre-purchase exams on potential racehorses.

“That’s the team,” Glass said, “except for the Boss, and he has the final say.” If the results from Saturday are any indication, the boss is pretty happy. With an Eclipse Award winner in the barn with Baffert and last year’s champion 3-year-old West Coast (Flatter) retired and off to Lane’s End Farm to begin his stud career next year, the Wests’ stable is flying high.

And the legacy of Fleet Indian is looking like a Winner.

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a dream filly come true, fairyland a star at the sales and now at the racecourse

While inspecting and measuring yearlings last fall in Newmarket for Book 1 of the Tattersalls yearling sale, I saw a lot of really nice yearlings. But even among the well-grown and athletic prospects on the spacious grounds at Tattersalls, there was a filly who stood out as extra special.

Walking across one of the yards Tattersalls uses to house its sales yearlings, I nearly gave myself whiplash when a bay filly walked by.

Big, strongly made with scope and quality, she had a slashing walk and the presence of a queen.

fairyland at tatts17

Fairyland at the Tattersalls 2017 yearling sale, where she sold for 925,000 guineas. The striking bay daughter of Kodiac is now a Group 1 winner to match her impressive physical quality.

The racing public may have thought the same thing on Sept. 29 when Fairyland stood in the winner’s enclosure at Newmarket racecourse a near-year after her sale across town. For Fairyland was the filly who so emphatically turned my head.

Nor was I the only one.

A strong bay with black points, Fairyland sold for 925,000 guineas as Hip 161. That, in itself, was a stunner. As a daughter of the Danehill stallion Kodiac out of the unraced Pivotal mare Queenofthefairies, Fairyland was not pedigreed to be a market leader.

But that is what she became through the excellence of her distinctive individual qualities, showing more size and scope than most of the stock by her sire, and even so, one well-informed sales reporter observed, “She very nearly has to win the Cheveley Park to worth that.”

That the filly has accomplished exactly that feat now makes Fairyland worth quite a bit more for owners Evie Stockwell, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

She is the second stakes winner from three winners out of her dam, who is a half-sister to leading European 2-year-old Dream Ahead (Diktat), who won the G1 Middle Park Stakes and Prix Morny at 2. He then progressed to become the next season’s leading sprinter also, with victories in the G1 July Cup and Prix de la Foret.

The 10-year-old Dream Ahead has sired G1 winner Al Wukair (Prix Jacques le Marois) last season and 20 total stakes winners to date.

Prior to Fairyland, Dream Ahead’s half-sister Queenofthefairies had produced stakes winner Now or Never (Bushranger), winner of the G3 Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial and then third in the classic itself. Sent to race in Australia, the filly won the G2 Rose of Kingston Stakes.

Fairyland’s second and third dams are stakes winners Land of Dreams (G2 Flying Childers Stakes; by Cadeaux Genereux) and Sahara Star (G3 Molecomb Stakes; Green Desert). Fourth dam Vaigly Star ran second in the G1 July Cup against colts and is by Arc de Triomphe winner Star Appeal.

This is a family with a great deal of speed and a fair bit of quality black type that seems to be upgrading generation by generation. It has reached a new high with the winner of the Cheveley Park.

As things stand today, Fairyland is no less elite on pedigree through her sire, but that has not always been the case. The simple fact is that Kodiac did not accomplish nearly enough in his racing career. With only a second in the G3 Hackwood Stakes as his single black-type accomplishment from 20 starts and four victories over the course of racing from ages 2 through 5, Kodiac might well have been a negligible sire if even given such an opportunity.

But, as fate would have it, Kodiac is a half-brother to five stakes winners, most importantly G1 winner Invincible Spirit (Green Desert), who is four years the senior. Kodiac was born the year his famous older brother was rated the top older sprinter in Ireland, and Invincible Spirit added the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup to his accomplishments the following year.

After Kodiac’s 5-year-old season, Invincible Spirit was on his way to becoming a sire of significance, and the younger half-brother was given a chance as an inexpensive sire for Tally-Ho Stud. That might have been the end of the story, but the genetics that power some sires have made Kodiac a star in Irish breeding. The sire of a record 61 2-year-old winners last season, and 46 stakes winners overall, the 17-year-old Kodiac has risen year by year to become a stalwart of the European breeding community.

Speed up to seven furlongs was his forte, and nearly all of his stock have speed. Place them well, and they will win. But the best of them also have surprising class, and Fairyland is the third G1 winner for the sire. His first was Tiggy Wiggy, a fast and precocious juvenile who also won the Cheveley Park and was recognized as the best 2-year-old filly in England and Europe. This year, Kodiac is also represented by his second G1 winner, the 4-year-old Best Solution, winner of the Grosser Pries von Baden and the GP von Berlin, both over 12 furlongs.

Even allowing that Best Solution is an outlier for this well-proven sire, the scope and size of Fairyland give her a fair chance of staying a mile, and she has already proven that she has the dash and class to win at the top level.

mckenzie raising the bar for kentucky derby-winning sire street sense with g1 victories at 2 and 3, plus prospects of a stallion career

Victory in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22 put McKinzie’s lifetime record at four victories and a second from five starts. The great question of his ranking among his contemporaries, however, will remain a mystery: How would he have fared against Justify?

With the pro tem champion and Horse of the Year standing on golden straw at Ashford Stud outside Versailles, Ky., McKinzie will have to test his elders alone and perhaps give the racing public and breeders a line on their comparative merits through his success in that endeavor.

Even that line of form will remain a conjecture, at best, because Justify never faced an older horse, and in fact, his entire stakes career was bracketed by the time that McKinzie was on the sidelines with a bruised hock.

In late March, McKinzie was scratched from the upcoming Santa Anita Derby, in which he would have been favored, and then-allowance winner Justify took up the mantle of unbeaten G1 winner in that race and wore it through the Triple Crown.

And, while we chew on the leathery pigskin of disappointment that the two never met, trainer Bob Baffert has apparently returned McKinzie to high-class form and left something for the colt to progress on in his upcoming races.

That is excellent news for racing and for breeders with an interest in these horses. Should McKinzie remain sound and progress well against his elders, he should be able to provide quality racing through his 4-year-old season and test next year’s classic generation, as well.

If so, McKinzie will be following a career path quite similar to that of his grandsire, the Machiavellian horse Street Cry. Third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 2, Street Cry won the UAE 2,000 Guineas at 3 and then was sidelined before the American classics that had long been his intended destination. The heavily constructed dark bay returned to race well as a 4-year-old, when he won the G1 Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster, then was second in the Whitney Stakes.

That first-rate 4-year-old season propelled Street Cry to a stud career at Darley‘s Jonabell Farm. There he sired Horse of the Year Zenyatta and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. Also standing at Jonabell, Street Sense has been his sire’s best son at stud, and McKinzie is the best son of Street Sense.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, McKinzie sold for $170,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September sale to Three Amigos and races for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Their star racer is out of the Petionville mare Runway Model, winner of the (then) G2 Alcibiades Stakes and G2 Golden Rod Stakes at 2, then third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The next season, the mare was second in the G1 Ashland.

The Ashland proved to be Runway Model’s most notable effort at 3, and as a 4-year-old, in foal for the first time, and on a cover to nothing less than Storm Cat himself, Runway Model sold at the 2006 Keeneland November sale for $2.7 million to Summer Wind.

The foal that Runway Model was carrying is the winning mare Couture Cat, dam of the stakes-placed High Fashion Diva and one of five winners out of the dam. McKinzie is Runway Model’s seventh live foal, and he is her first stakes winner and major performer.

Runway Model is one of the best performers by her sire, the Seeking the Gold stallion Petionville, the sire of 46 stakes winners, including Alabama Stakes winner Island Fashion and Two Step Salsa, winner of the Godolphin Mile and third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Based in Kentucky at Crestwood Farm for most of his stallion career, and now in Maryland at Murmur Farm, Petionville worked hard at creating a robust niche for himself in the ultra-competitive stallion market. He probably ranks as the second-best son of his sire behind only Dubai Millennium, the sire of a single crop but one that included classic winner and leading international sire Dubawi.

With McKinzie’s first three dams all being stakes winners and possessing a pedigree full of racehorses and racehorse sires, McKinzie is going to be a fascinating horse to watch develop over the next year and earn a significant place at stud in the process.

son of scat daddy covered more mares than any first-year stallion in euro-ville

In an article for the Racing Post about the leading first-year covering sires, bloodstock writer Martin Stevens details the covering results for the 2018 breeding season in England and Ireland.

There should be no surprise that Churchill, Coolmore’s classic-winning son of leading sire Galileo, covered more than 200 mares in his first season at stud, but it will surprise some that Coolmore’s great talking horse Caravaggio, a horse of startling pace by Scat Daddy, covered an even larger book.

Caravaggio-conformation-approved

Caravaggio: striking son of Scat Daddy showed exceptional speed over European courses, covered 217 mares in his first book at Coolmore. (Coolmore photo)

According to the numbers revealed in Weatherbys online stallion covering data, Caravaggio covered 217 mares, while Churchill bred 211. Both are giant books, even by the contemporary standard of 100-mare books and larger.

In addition, managing books of that size require exceptional vigor from the stallion, as well as intense mare management from the breeding farms, in coordination with the stallion station, to keep the covers per mare to an absolute minimum.

At least 14 first-crop covering sires in England and Ireland had books of 100 or more mares earlier this year, with Coolmore having three of the four most-used stallions. Highland Reel (Galileo) covered 184, placing him a single mare behind Kildangan Stud’s Profitable (Invincible Spirit), who covered 185.

Other first-year covering sires in England or Ireland that might be of interest to American readers include Ribchester (Iffraaj, Kildangan, 154), El Kabeir (Scat Daddy, Yeomanstown, 146), Galileo Gold (Paco Boy, Tally-Ho, 140), Ulysses (Galileo, Cheveley Park, 115), and Postponed (Dubawi, Dalham Hall, 112).

General figures from the US Jockey Club regarding 2018 covering figures hereabouts should be available relatively soon.

pin oak sire alternation gets runaway pocahontas stakes winner serengeti empress in his second crop of racers

For those who hadn’t seen Serengeti Empress (by Alternation) win the Ellis Park Juvenile Fillies by 13 ½ lengths on Aug. 19, the filly’s victory on September 15 in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs was a revelation. The dark brown 2-year-old won the historic stakes by 19 ½ lengths, the longest margin of victory in a stakes race at Churchill Downs since Rachel Alexandra shellacked her opposition in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks.

Alternation_Pin_Oak_paddock01_WEB

Alternation — high-class racing son of leading sire Distorted Humor has had a super September, highlighted by his juvenile daughter Serengeti Empress winning the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill by 19 1/2 lengths (Pin Oak photo).

The filly is the fifth stakes winner by her sire, a big dark bay son of leading sire Distorted Humor (Forty Niner), and is from the stallion’s second crop. She is also Alternation’s second graded stakes winner; the first came 13 days earlier when the sire’s first-crop son Limation won the G3 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Those two important stakes winners are coming at an opportune time, as breeders begin the process of deciding which stallions to send their mares to in 2019. With horses like these, Alternation will not be forgotten.

Clifford Barry, general manager for Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud, which bred, raced, and stands Alternation at stud for a syndicate, said “Serengeti Empress gave us a freakish performance on Saturday. We’ve been pumped up all weekend because it’s very exciting for everybody, including the members of the syndicate who have supported (Alternation) so well.

“This has been a tremendous family for Pin Oak,” Barry went on to say, because both Alternation and the farm’s proven sire Broken Vow (Unbridled) have the Iron Ruler mare Strike a Pose as their third dam. “Mrs. Abercrombie gets a lot of credit for her patience and foresight in working to develop this family,” Barry said, and also full marks because the owner-breeder went somewhat against the current trends of the marketplace, which is hard to do, in standing a nice young horse of her own breeding and racing that fell just a shade outside the “commercial range” for a Kentucky-based sire.

Make no mistake. Alternation was a darned nice horse, winning nine races, including four graded stakes, and earning a bit more than $1 million. Any horse owner would love to have a dozen of those.

Alternation’s best performances came at 3 with victory in the G2 Peter Pan Stakes and then also at 4 with five successes in seven starts, including the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, plus the G3 Pimlico Special and Razorback Handicap.

But that elusive G1 victory essentially was the difference between being a young prospect who had to stand at a fee below $10,000 and getting to start off with a fee that was a multiple of 10. As part of securing Alternation a future at stud, Pin Oak syndicated the horse so that he would have a base of support among breeders.

One of those was bloodstock agent Jacob West, who said, “I was there at Pimlico when he won the Pimlico Special, and that’s literally the reason I bought the share.”

At the beginning of the horse’s second year at stud, West was at the Keeneland January sale “looking for an inexpensive mare that would fit Alternation, and we happened onto the dam of Serengeti Empress.” That was the unraced Bernardini mare Miss Havisham, being sold on by Darley as a broodmare prospect, and West picked her up for $5,000.

Later in 2015 at the Keeneland November sale and in foal to Alternation, Miss Havisham was bought back by her owners Tri Eques Bloodstock LLC for $34,000. That partnership (West, his father-in-law Val Henson, and an uncle of West’s wife) became the breeders of multiple stakes winner Serengeti Empress. The next year, both the dam and her weanling went through the ring at Keeneland November. Again in foal to Alternation, the dam sold to Triple Crown for $12,000, and her foal made twice that valuation, selling for $25,000 to Dixon Enterprises.

Fred Seitz Jr. said, “That’s one of our family entities at Brookdale. We resell probably 10 weanlings to yearlings every year. In selecting them, I prefer something that looks like it’s got some growing to do. There are a lot of finished products at the weanling sales.

“She was kind of awkward-looking at the time, but I thought she might grow up into something nice, and she did. Other times they don’t. [When resold for $70,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale as Hip 2471], we thought we got all the money [for her], but it turns out she’s worth a lot more now. The people who have her [owner Joel Politi and trainer Tom Amoss] are going to have a really good time.”

Indeed they are. If Serengeti Empress continues to progress in a similar fashion to her sire and broodmare sire Bernardini, she has plenty of improvement ahead, and that is quite a prospect to contemplate.

‘more improvement to come’ from spinaway winner sippican harbor

The result of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga was a positive milestone for second-crop sire Orb (by Malibu Moon), whose 2-year-old daughter Sippican Harbor came from last to first and won the stakes by two lengths.

This filly had won her maiden in masterful style by 17 lengths in her previous start for trainer Gary Contessa and owner Lee Pokoik, and she became her sire’s first G1 winner in the Spinaway.

A winner in good company at 2 who came on strongly at 3 to win the G1 Kentucky Derby, Orb has been one of the most popular young sires with both breeders and buyers at major sales the past couple of years. But the appetite of buyers does not last unless there are immediate top-tier results from a stallion’s racers. As a result, there has been a perceptibly diminishing enthusiasm for the Orb stock through the sales season this year.

That may reverse course now for the handsome bay who stands at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. In addition to Sippican Harbor, Orb’s second-crop daughter Malocchio dead-heated for second in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth on Saturday.

Trainer Gary Contessa said the plans for the Spinaway winner are to go “straight to the Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile Fillies]. I’ve run her three times during the Saratoga meet, and I believe the two months to the Breeders’ Cup will suit her well. Her first start was a mile and a sixteenth, and believe me, she should have won. Her second race was rained off the turf, and she won on a wet track at Saratoga by 17 lengths, leading all the way. Then she showed her versatility by coming from dead last in this race and having a big kick through the stretch.

“She relishes distance and will legitimately run all day,” said a trainer who clearly relishes his position for the championship race.

In addition to training Sippican Harbor, Contessa also picked out the filly from the Dromoland Farm consignment at last year’s Saratoga select yearling sale for $260,000, which placed her in the top 20 percent of sales yearlings by her sire in 2017.

Contessa said, “Every year, I buy four or five yearlings for Lee Pokoik to resell, and if they don’t sell, we keep them and race them. I bought her at Saratoga last year, pinhooked her into the OBS March sale, where she brought only a high bid of $110,000. We weren’t going to let her go for that.”

Nor should they. Sippican Harbor had worked really well, getting a furlong in :10 1/5 and showing a stride length of slightly more than 24 feet, plus good internals that scored her a BreezeFig of 74, one of the best figs of the juvenile sales season.

“I thought she worked well,” Contessa said, “and Lee said, ‘We’ll race her.’ Aren’t we lucky to still have her.”

With a filly who will be among the favorites for the BC Juvenile Fillies, the owner and trainer are in an enviable position. Contessa added, “She was a little immature in March, not real big or heavy; you had to look a little beyond the norms to like this filly. I look for a horse that does everything well but doesn’t look that great. She’s been coming to hand ever since she came to the track, and there’s more improvement to come.”

Bred in Kentucky by Justin Spaeth, Kalvert Spaeth, and Equine Equity Partners, Sippican Harbor is out of the Deputy Minister mare Blossomed. Unraced herself, Blossomed is a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Cinemine (Mining) and listed stakes winner Flick (Dehere). The Spinaway winner’s third and fourth dams are stakes winners French Flick (Silent Screen) and Tres Jolie (Herbager).

The fifth dam is the Nasrullah mare Leallah, who was champion 2-year-old filly of 1956 in voting by the Daily Racing Form; the Thoroughbred Racing Association track secretaries placed Romanita as divisional champion that year, with Leallah second.

A deciding factor in the voting was probably the 1956 Spinaway, which Leallah missed because trainer Mack Miller scratched her after expecting the track to be muddy from overnight rains. Last Saturday, her descendant Sippican Harbor went over the muddy track at the Spa and claimed victory.

catholic boy shows his virtue in travers

With a four-length victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Catholic Boy (by More Than Ready) has taken a serious position among the 3-year-olds of 2018. Although unlikely to depose Justify in the regard of the Triple Crown winner’s legion of racing fans, Catholic Boy is a sound and progressive sort of racehorse who was good last season and is clearly better this year.

As a 2-year-old, Catholic Boy was one of the best young athletes in the country. He won three of his four starts and began his stakes career well with a victory in the G3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, then progressed to win the G2 Remsen Stakes at nine furlongs at Aqueduct in the late fall. The Remsen is primarily regarded by horsemen as an indicator of promise for 3-year-old success over a distance of ground, and Catholic Boy was trained and raced with that plan in mind.

A pair of losses earlier this year, especially a fourth-place finish in the G1 Florida Derby at the end of March, sent the colt and trainer Jonathan Thomas along a different path to their late-season goals. The colt freshened for two months before coming back with successive victories on turf in the G3 Pennine Ridge on June 2 and the G1 Belmont Derby on July 7, before returning to race on dirt in the Travers on Aug. 25.

The Travers became the sixth victory for the bay colt from nine starts to date, and the bay son of More Than Ready now has more than $1.8 million in earnings. The trainer has said that Catholic Boy is likely to have one more start this fall before tackling the best older horses in training at Churchill Downs in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Bred in Kentucky Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Catholic Boy is out of the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette and is the second G1 winner out of a Bernardini mare. The other is the Uncle Mo colt Mo Town, who earned his G1 brackets with a success in the Hollywood Derby on turf. Like Catholic Boy, Mo Town won the G2 Remsen Stakes at the end of his first season. Mo Town will enter stud at Ashford for the 2019 season.

Bred in Kentucky Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Catholic Boy is out of the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette and is the second G1 winner out of a Bernardini mare. The other is the Uncle Mo colt Mo Town, who earned his G1 brackets with a success in the Hollywood Derby on turf. Like Catholic Boy, Mo Town won the G2 Remsen Stakes at the end of his first season. Mo Town will enter stud at Ashford for the 2019 season.

Unless something unforeseen occurs, Catholic Boy is expected to race on at 4, with further glory and riches at stake for a sound and athletic performer who is versatile on both dirt and turf and stays 10 furlongs or more well.

As such, he is all that a breeder could hope for in a foal, and Catholic Boy’s breeders chose to sell him as a short yearling (technically a yearling because he had passed Jan. 1 but not chronologically 12 months of age) in the 2016 Keeneland January sale, where the colt was bid in at $170,000. Trainer Jonathan Thomas was present for the sale and reported that he liked the colt quite a lot. After the colt went through the ring, Thomas hustled back to the Taylor Made representative responsible and made a deal to acquire the colt.

It is fitting that Catholic Boy should attain the pinnacle of his career to this point at Saratoga because the Spa has been “berry, berry good” to both the sire and broodmare sire of the Travers winner. In 1999, the early-maturing and fleet More Than Ready (Southern Halo) won his first five starts in a row, beginning with a contentious maiden special at Keeneland in April. The final race, and fourth stakes, in that winning series was the G2 Sanford at Saratoga. And despite a very respectable fourth in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, it appeared the Sanford might be the highlight of More Than Ready’s racing career until the good-looking colt won the G1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga later that season.

Upon his retirement to stud, More Than Ready became one of the best of the pioneering shuttle sires of the time, and he is the sire of multiple champions in both hemispheres, most recently with 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Roy H, the Eclipse Award winner for leading sprinter of 2017. Standing at WinStar Farm between Versailles and Lexington, More than Ready is still an active stallion, and he will shortly be credited with more than 3,000 foals worldwide.

Likewise, Bernardini (A.P. Indy) found success at the Spa during his racing career, winning the G1 Travers in 2006, as well as the G2 Jim Dandy. Subsequently, Bernardini was named the season’s 3-year-old champion. Sent to stud at Darley‘s Jonabell farm near Lexington, the elegant bay has sired two winners of the Travers (Alpha and Stay Thirsty), in addition to Cavorting (Test, Personal Ensign), Rachel’s Valentina (Spinaway), and To Honor and Serve (Woodward).

With the infield canoe painted in the colors of co-owner Robert LaPenta after Catholic Boy’s Travers success, this is a family that really floats your boat at the Spa.

eskimo kisses shows her winning colors in historic alabama victory

Running off through the stretch of the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga to win by 6 ½ lengths, Eskimo Kisses (by To Honor and Serve) looked ever so much like her famous grandmother, Hall of Fame member and classic winner Winning Colors (Caro).

In the spring of 1988, Winning Colors set West Coast racing alight with long-margin victories in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks and Santa Anita Derby. In both races, the gray daughter of Caro led from start to finish and won by 8 lengths in the first, 7 ½ in the second. Her time of 1:47 4/5 in the Santa Anita Derby led to Winning Colors being one of the much-fancied entries four weeks later in the Kentucky Derby. Leading by 3 lengths or more for much of the race, Winning Colors prevailed by a neck in a dramatic finish with the previous year’s champion juvenile colt, Forty Niner (Mr. Prospector).

Later purchased and retired to stud at Gainesway, Winning Colors spent the rest of her life at the famed stallion station and farm on Paris Pike north of Lexington.

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd., Eskimo Kisses is a tall, scopy chestnut much in the mold of the 1988 Kentucky Oaks winner. The Alabama Stakes winner is out of the non-winner Silver Colors, a daughter of leading sire and broodmare sire Mr. Greeley (Gone West), who stood at Gainesway, and Eskimo Kisses is the second stakes horse out of the dame, along with the stakes-placed Silver Ride (Candy Ride).

The gelding Silver Ride is the first foal from Silver Colors, and Eskimo Kisses is the fourth. In between them are a filly (Tapping Colors) and colt (Tapit High) by Gainesway’s premier sire Tapit; the latter was the sire’s most expensive yearling of 2015 ($2.1 million at the Saratoga select sale). Silver Colors had no foal in 2016.

Silver Colors foaled a filly by Union Rags (Dixie Union) earlier this year and has a yearling colt by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker (Unbridled) consigned to the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale as Hip 406. With his half-sister now being a G1 winner, he will have one of the salient updates of the entire catalog. Silver Colors is back in foal to Tapit for 2019.

Two years ago, Eskimo Kisses was a forward and promising yearling from the second crop by multiple G1 winner To Honor and Serve. At the sale, however, Gainesway’s owner, Antony Beck, said that Eskimo Kisses “was not vetted; there was no interest in her, despite the fact that she’s a very attractive and quality individual. So we withdrew her.”

Then, Beck was approached by trainer Kenny McPeek, acting for himself and a group of owners. Beck said, “When a judge of horseflesh as astute as Kenny McPeek asked if he could buy her and whether I would stay in, I was absolutely delighted to do so.”

McPeek said, “I thought she was one of the best fillies in the sale, and I was very happy to be able to purchase an interest in her for my client Harold Lerner” and others. The kink in the filly’s appeal to other buyers, McPeek said, was that “she was too big to be a real 2-year-old sales prospect, and she had a little activity in her knees called ‘lipping,’ that put off some people, I’m sure.

“What I really liked,” McPeek said, “was that I saw a lot of Deputy Minister about her. And to make sure her knees stay quiet and all, I train her like a distance horse, working and racing her slow and steady, and it really works for her.”

Andrew Rosen joined the partnership just before the Kentucky Oaks, and now the partners have a G1 winner who is clearly at her best performing at 9 to 10 furlongs, whether the surface is wet or dry. And Eskimo Kisses is a valuable broodmare prospect for the future due to her athletic ability and distinguished ancestry.

Beck said, “Winning the Alabama with this filly very meaningful to me because my father loved Winning Colors. She was a lovely mare, and physically, Eskimo Kisses takes after her.” Both are sizable, with scope and bone equal to many colts, but with quality to balance their size.

The Alabama Stakes winner is the third generation of this family owned by Gainesway, after Graham Beck acquired the 1988 classic winner and champion 3-year-old filly at auction from the 1989 dispersal of Gene Klein for $4.1 million. Gainesway initially bred sales yearlings from the big, impressive mare, and they sold $5.5 million in sales yearlings from the mare before Winning Colors hit on hard times.

Like many mares will do as they age, the grand old gray began to have trouble with her pregnancies, and from 2000 to 2005, Winning Colors did not have a foal. She was, however, a most distinguished member of the stud, and when she rewarded Gainesway with a pair of fillies by farm stallions Orientate (Ocean Colors) in 2006 and Mr. Greeley (Silver Colors) in 2007, those fillies were retained by the farm for racing and breeding.

By keeping the final two fillies out of the great daughter of Caro, Beck has a first-rate performer who has given him a trophy to pair with the Travers won by Afleet Express (Afleet Alex), so that Gainesway has raced the winners of the two biggest races for 3-year-olds at Saratoga.

best picked a ‘grand’ winner in son of into mischief

A wide-margin victory in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar confirmed the grand-looking bay colt Instagrand (by Into Mischief) is a force of significance among the current 2-year-olds racing on the West Coast, a group which appears freakishly loaded with quality and talent.

In both his debut on June 29 and in the Best Pal on Aug. 11, Instagrand showed speed from the start, controlled the pace and tempo of the race, then pulled away to win by 10 lengths in his debut, by 10 ¼ in the graded stakes. In each race, Instagrand was the odds-on favorite and performed like it.

The powerfully built bay is yet another indication that owner Larry Best (OXO Equine) is doing good work in selecting and purchasing premium racing prospects.

Best buys top-tier stock that look the part, act the part, and that produce on the racetrack. At the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training back in March, Instagrand breezed a furlong down the stretch at Gulfstream in :10 flat. In doing that, the handsome bay showed a stride length of nearly 25.5 feet, and his efficiency and mechanical function earned him a top ranking as a Group 1 horse for DataTrack International. I know all these details because I am a part of DataTrack, but we did not assess this colt for Mr. Best.

Others were not behind in giving Instagrand high marks, and the son of Into Mischief brought the co-high price of the sale at $1.2 million.

As part of its approach to buy the best, OXO Equine is a major player at the top of the sales market. In addition to the immediate successes of Instagrand, OXO Equine also races the Arch colt Instilled Regard, a winner of the 2018 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Best purchased the colt for $1.05 million at the OBS March sale of select 2-year-olds in training.

into mischief-spendthrift

Into Mischief — the fast son of top sire Harlan’s Holiday has become one of the leading young stallions in the world with stock like as Best Pal winner Instagrand (pic courtesy of Spendthrift).

Best has another impressive juvenile winner, the Medaglia d’Oro filly Brill, who won her debut at Del Mar on July 18 by 1 ¼ lengths. She sold for the top price of $1 million at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton July sale, and at the Saratoga select yearling sale on Aug. 6, Best paid $1.2 million for a filly by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) out of multiple G1 winner Life at Ten (Malibu Moon).

OXO Equine has already collected a group of good performers and potential stars, but the brightest light of the moment is Instagrand.

Bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm, the colt is out of the Lawyer Ron mare Assets of War. A longtime breeder and owner, Stoneway “sells most of its colts,” according to Terri Burch, racing manager for the operation based in LaGrange, Ky., between Lexington and Louisville.

Their introduction to this family was partly due to another longtime owner-breeder, Dreabon Copeland. Burch said, “Dreabon was a dear friend who took (owner) Jim (Stone) and me under his wing so that a good deal of credit in our success goes to him. Dreabon also was a filly man. He taught me how to pick out fillies, and a lot of the farm’s early success we attribute to Dreabon, who had a lot of good sport with his fillies and the families that he developed.”

One of the first fillies that Stoneway acquired was the winner Added Time (Gilded Time), a full sister to G2 stakes winner Added Gold and a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Added Asset (Lord at War). Added Time also brought Stoneway its first top-level victory as a breeder with the filly Irish Smoke (Smoke Glacken), winner of the G1 Spinaway Stakes in 2007.

Stoneway had pursued a reasoned policy of selling the early foals out of Added Time, which included a pair of stakes winners, but those early sales horses also accounted for all three of the mare’s only fillies.

Burch said, “When Added Time was getting a little older and wasn’t giving us girls, we bought Assets of War strictly to get back into the family” because Assets of War is out of Added Time’s half-sister Added Asset, winner of the G3 Arlington Oaks.

Added Time had been a $170,000 2-year-old at the Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training back in 1999, and Stoneway purchased Assets of War for $165,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale in 2011.

By the champion racehorse Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr), Assets of War is from her sire’s second crop, and Burch said “Assets of War looks like a Lawyer Ron: a lengthy, medium-sized mare with a good hip and a good head. She looks definitely two-turn, not a sprint kind of horse. Kind of a heavy body and good length. Added Time had a heavy body but was a sprinter type; six furlongs was about as far as she could go.”

The mare’s length and strength were assets when mated to leading sire Into Mischief, and the result was Instagrand. The farm still owns the colt’s 3-year-old full sister, Aerial Assets, who is a winner.

Assets of War has a yearling colt by Cairo Prince who is consigned to the Keeneland September sale, where he will sell in the four-day Week 1 book, and the mare has a weanling colt by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (GB). Earlier this year, Assets of War was bred back to Creative Cause.

stride and power are key to the quality and success of champion good magic

Everything’s coming up Curlin. On July 28, the stallion’s son Tenfold won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, with the Curlin colt Vino Rosso a flying third in the nine-furlong race, and the next day, last year’s champion 2-year-old colt Good Magic, also by Curlin, won the G1 Haskell by three lengths as the odds-on favorite.

The results of those two races are an indication of the significance tied to Curlin, the best racehorse and best stallion son of the important Mr. Prospector horse Smart Strike. Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008, plus a winner of the Preakness, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Dubai World Cup, Curlin was a racehorse of very considerable importance.

One of the best racehorses of the first decade of the new century, Curlin is also clearly now one of the best stallions in the country. He is all the more important because he represents a distinct branch of Mr. Prospector, one that is both quick enough to race well at 2 but is more adept at 3 when racing at distances of a mile and up.

The only other branch of Mr. Prospector to be a serious national actor in the classic scene is the Fappiano stem through Unbridled and his sons Unbridled’s Song, Grindstone, and Empire Maker. From the latter comes the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who is by the Empire Maker stallion Pioneerof the Nile, also sire of 2016 champion 2-year-old colt Classic Empire.

Curlin has staked out new territory for himself with Good Magic because, although the sire has always had a few promising juveniles like his first-crop classic winner Palace Malice, Curlin’s strength obviously has been with his maturing stock that grow into their typically sizable frames and improve with distance.

Palace Malice was the first indicator of this pattern of development, and the handsome bay improved further at 4, winning four graded stakes from his five starts that season, including the G1 Metropolitan Handicap. Prior to Good Magic, 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator was probably the best juvenile by Curlin. Winner of the Saratoga Special and Delta Jackpot, as well as second in the Breeders’ Futurity in his first season, Exaggerator improved notably at 3 to win a trio of G1 stakes: the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, and the Haskell.

Exaggerator offers some important pedigree indicators for breeders hoping to produce speedier and more precocious stock by Curlin. The 2016 Preakness Stakes winner is out of a mare by the Seattle Slew stallion Vindication, an unbeaten 2-year-old champion and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His sire, Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, was an unbeaten juvenile and divisional champion in the days before the Breeders’ Cup and then continued his unbeaten streak through the 1977 Triple Crown.

This is the male line of Bold Ruler through his son Boldnesian (Santa Anita Derby) and grandson Bold Reasoning (Jersey Derby), which includes a heritage of his speed through its effortless stride. Speed is generated either by stride or by power. The Bold Ruler line, seen in simplest terms, is a stride line, and its most famous exemplar is Secretariat, the perfect stride machine. On the other hand, the Raise a Native line is a power line and generates speed through the leverage and muscularity of its hindquarter propulsion.

The evolution of this branch of Mr. Prospector through Curlin appears to be bearing toward the stride factors that add speed. In addition to Exaggerator being out of a mare by Vindication, other Curlin stakes winners have Bold Ruler-line broodmare sires such as Tapit, Boston Harbor, and Yes It’s True.

Tenfold, for instance, is out of the Tapit mare Temptress, and the handsome bay colt looked the picture of quality in the paddock before the Jim Dandy. A scopy colt with a great length of rein, Tenfold used his stride to great effect, first pressing the pace and then taking over the lead before the three-sixteenths pole to win from early pacesetter Flameaway (Scat Daddy) and the fast-closing Vino Rosso.

One of the excellent qualities of Curlin as a sire is that he appears to be unifying the stride and power elements of his mates to produce more effective and efficiently athletic racers. And that characteristic of his stock is making Curlin one of the most sought-after sires today.

Standing for $150,000 live foal at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm outside Lexington, Curlin is covering large books of ever-improving quality, and the effect of his substance and racing excellence should be felt for years to come.