breeders keep circling back to curlin


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Curlin is a like a great chestnut shark: basking in the sun, looking good, taking it easy, nothing to worry about here. Then, bang! He gets you.

The two-time Horse of the Year got his latest graded stakes winner Aug. 16 when 2-year-old Exaggerator swept from last to first in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special to win by three-quarters of a length from the favored Saratoga Mischief (by Into Mischief) in 1:16.39 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Bred in Kentucky by Joseph B. Murphy, Exaggerator is out of the stakes-placed Dawn Raid (Vindication). The Saratoga Special winner’s dam is one of four black-type offspring from Embur Sunshine (Bold Ruckus), and Dawn Raid is a half-sister to Canadian champion Embur’s Song (Unbridled’s Song).

Dawn Raid was third in the restricted Fanfreluche Stakes at Woodbine, and her dam was second in the Candy Éclair and Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth, third in the Polite Lady Handicap at Woodbine. Embur Sunshine’s dam was Vevila, an English-bred daughter of The Minstrel (Northern Dancer) and a half-sister to Canadian champion Eternal Search (Northern Answer) and four other stakes horses.

Bred in Ontario by Josham Farms Ltd., Dawn Raid sold to W.S. Farish Jr. at the Keeneland September sale in 2006 for $70,000 and gained her stakes placing in the colors of a Woodford Racing LLC partnership. Consigned to the 2008 Keeneland November sale by Lane’s End, agent, Dawn Raid sold for $50,000 to Murphy, who raced her once unsuccessfully and retired her to breed for 2009.

Murphy said that “we thought there was some value in Dawn Raid as a racing and broodmare prospect, and after the losing race at Turfway, we sent her to Rood & Riddle to evaluate her breathing. They reported back that she was the fastest horse they’d ever seen on a treadmill, and we retired her.”

The mare’s first two foals were winning fillies by Any Given Saturday (Sweet Saturday) and Pioneerof the Nile (Nile Queen), and Exaggerator is Dawn Raid’s third foal.

Murphy said that “for a few years, including 2013, I sent the pregnant mares to John Downes to foal at the property he’s leasing from Overbrook.”

Downes recalled the mare and foal well. He said, “She was a nice mare who produced a good-looking foal. We’ve raised graded stakes winners (not counting Exaggerator) each of the last seasons from our resident boarding mares, which number 15 to 20.

“While the Stoneleigh mares were here,” Downes said, “I was able to arrange a deal for Dawn Raid to go to Curlin, in part because the elder Mr. Murphy was such a fan of the horse. And I had another client wanting to use the stallion, and that made it an attractive deal to breed to him.”

The resulting foal grew up to be a good-looking yearling, and when consigned to the 2014 Keeneland September sale through Warrendale Sales as agent, Exaggerator sold for $110,000 to Big Chief Racing LLC.

Murphy said “the colt had a lot of his mother about him when we were prepping him for the yearling sale. She’s a good-looking, correct, and gentle-natured horse, and he was like that too.”

Dawn Raid has a yearling full sister to Nile Queen; has no foal of 2015, Murphy noted; but is back in foal to Curlin for 2016 on a March 16 cover.

Murphy said “people started calling yesterday after the colt won the race, trying to buy her, and they are really interested, especially when they find out that she’s back in foal to Curlin. My dad doesn’t want to sell her, he’s really into the racing, but we got into this to make money. So I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Whether the mare owners decide to keep or sell, Dawn Raid appears to be the kind of mare who fits well with Curlin, possessing speed and also the ability to race at least a mile.

The breeders’ cycling back to Curlin mimics the pattern that others have followed in using the big chestnut son of Smart Strike. They have used the champion, moved on to other sires, then come back as results have led them to desire more Curlin stock.

From his early returns, Curlin was clearly no sire of juvenile stars along the lines of Storm Cat or Tapit. Not many stallions get a high percentage of top 2-year-old performers, but those who do earn regard in the market for those qualities.

Instead, the champion’s best early racer was 2-year-old winner Palace Malice, who trained on at 3 to improve significantly and become a classic winner in the 2013 Belmont Stakes. Likewise, among the stallion’s stars this season are Curalina (G1 Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks) and Stellar Wind (G1 Santa Anita Oaks and G2 American Oaks). Both improved with maturity and distance.

Now that we have grown accustomed to regarding Curlin as a sire of stock who get better at 3 and who show their form at a mile or more, we have a pair of graded stakes-winning juveniles at Saratoga.

In addition to Exaggerator, on July 24, the Curlin filly Off the Tracks won the G2 Schuylerville Stakes, and she is reportedly training well for the G1 Spinaway.

new york breeding poised for a changing of the guard, like the rest of the country


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In the aftermath of a smashing sale of New York-breds at Saratoga over the past weekend, I see a couple of trends in the breeding industry there. One is the national trend strongly leaning toward Tapit, particularly through his sons. The other is a continuing advance through the quality of dams, which is more subtle.

The influence of Tapit in the breed nationally is approaching that seen with Storm Cat a decade ago and more, and here follows a look at two stallions who are emblematic of the present and future of the Empire State: Freud, a full brother to Giant’s Causeway who has been New York’s leading sire every year since 2008; and Honorable Dillon, a Grade 2-winning son of leading sire Tapit who entered stud in 2015 and proved very popular among breeders in his first season.

Freud: A Star for Storm Cat
Dominance in any field has some subjective qualities, but those who truly dominate also show consistency. They are good, every day and every way, including when they are less than their best.

Consistency of racing stock is one way to assess the importance of Freud to the New York breeding program. The 17-year-old son of Storm Cat and Mariah’s Storm has sired 69 percent starters from foals, 49 percent winners, which places him about 15 percent above the breed norms of 60 and 42. And he has 6 percent stakes winners, which puts him at nearly 100 percent above the breed norm.

Not bad.

Furthermore, the blocky bay has total progeny earnings to date of more than $35 million, with average earnings per runner of $76,252. With stats like those, it is no surprise that Freud is the leading New York-based stallion.

All this is nothing less than what his pedigree promised. As a son of Storm Cat, Freud was a desirable stallion prospect when he went to stud, and being a full brother to international star Giant’s Causeway ensured that the dark bay would get a fair assessment from breeders.

They would not have given Freud the same treatment based solely on his race record. He raced a dozen times, winning only a piddling maiden race at the Curragh. That he also made the third spot in the Group 2 Cork & Orrery Stakes at Ascot was to his credit, even more so when considering that Invincible Spirit and Bahamian Pirate were among the beaten field.

The race record, however, didn’t cut a dashing figure when the time came for him to enter stud. Freud found no favor in the major leagues of breeding, but their loss proved to be New York’s gain.

The stallion translated his own suspect form into consistent athleticism among his offspring, who are rugged enough and game enough to win lots of races. Some of them also show class, and among the stallion’s best runners are G1 winners Giant Ryan and Franny Freud. From his innings at stud in Argentina at Haras La Legenda, Freud has sired good performers like G2 winner Must Go On, who won the Gran Premio Chacabuco at Palermo.

Demand for his offspring has made Freud one of the most popular stallions in New York, with eight yearlings consigned to the New York-bred sale at Saratoga.

Among the more interesting lots are Hips 316 and 480. The first is a half-brother to stakes-placed Make the Moment (earnings of $335,720). He is out of the Silver Deputy mare Pretty Pretty, and his second dam is graded stakes winner Careless Heiress, a winner twice at the G3 level and four times graded placed. The second is out of stakes winner Fly to Me, by former New York stallion Belong to Me (by Danzig). This makes Hip 480 line-bred to Northern Dancer through Storm Bird and Danzig, and the colt’s third dam is the tough stakes winner Nurse Dopey.

Overall, for athleticism and racing enthusiasm, Freud has proven a star for Storm Cat and the New York program.

Honorable Dillon: Growing Impact of Tapit
In the no holds barred arena of stallion competition, there is little fantasizing about what it takes to make a significant sire: winners. Lots of them and the higher the class the better.

Among proven stallions in New York, Freud stands clear. He is an honorable representative of the powerful Storm Cat line, known for its speed, and is a full brother to leading international sire Giant’s Causeway.

In the continuing flux of Thoroughbred breeding, however, the king of the mountain in Kentucky these days is Tapit. There has been a changing of the guard, especially in American breeding, with a continuing shift toward the A.P. Indy line of horses. As a grandson of A.P. Indy, Tapit stands at the head of the class, along with other important sires like Malibu Moon, Bernardini, Flatter, Stroll, and Congrats.

Tapit, however, is the leading sire, and he has proven that as his books improve, his gross earnings and race results have too. And sons of Tapit are horses that breeders want to use.

Not surprisingly, enterprising breeders brought the Tapit son Honorable Dillon to New York and stood him at Rockridge Farm near Hudson, N.Y. They sent him to stud in 2015 with a fee of $5,000 stand and nurse, and breeders nearly trampled the place getting to the stallion.

One of the reasons for the interest in Honorable Dillon is the growing impact of Tapit, who has made himself the leading sire in America with champion juveniles like Stardom Bound and Hansen; classic stock like Tonalist (Belmont), Frosted (Wood Memorial), Careless Jewel (Alabama), and Untapable (Kentucky Oaks); and high-class winners like Constitution (Florida Derby), Joyful Victory (Santa Margarita), Tapizar (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile), and Zazu (Lady’s Secret).

Rockridge’s owner-manager Lere Visagie said, “Honorable Dillon was so fertile that you could count on one hand all the mares who weren’t in foal after his first 60 days at stud. So we kept adding mares.”

The horse’s appeal is not limited to the strength of his sire. Honorable Dillon is a good-looking horse standing 16 hands. He has the balance and quality we have come to expect from the stock by Tapit, and he is a gray, mimicking his famous sire in color and deportment.

Honorable Dillon is out of the Argentine mare Shy Greeting (by Shy Tom), who was stakes-placed in her homeland. In Argentina, Shy Greeting produced Forty Greeta (Roar), a champion 2-year-old filly and twice winner at the G1 level, including the Estrellas Juvenile Fillies.

Brought to the States, Shy Greeting produced Honorable Dillon, who won the G2 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream.

The family, although based in Argentina, has some familiar names. The young stallion’s second dam is by top American sprinter Groovy and produced a sibling to Shy Greeting who is the dam of Greco Tom, winner of the G1 Estrellas Juniors Sprint. Honorable Dillon’s third dam is G1 winner Gioconda (Good Manners), the dam of Fayette Handicap winner Good Command.

This is the family of Argentine star racehorse and stallion Farnesio, who was produced by Honorable Dillon’s fifth dam.

leading sire tapit made a huge impression with buyers at fasig-tipton’s saratoga select yearling sale


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America’s leading sire, Tapit, took over the 2015 Saratoga select yearling sale, with four of his first session yearlings bringing a gross of $4,350,000 for an average price that’s just a bit more than $1 million.

The sleek, silvery-gray son of Pulpit entered stud in 2005, and his chief claim to fame at the time was victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Such a victory was nothing to sneeze at, but with dozens of stallion prospects filling slots at farms around the Bluegrass, Tapit was somewhat overlooked.

What was the big deal, anyway? He wasn’t by Storm Cat.

Fifteen years ago, the best thing a stallion prospect could be was “sired by Storm Cat,” with a G1 victory or two on his race record.

For one thing, these sire prospects usually fit the Storm Cat type, which the sales market loved. A powerfully built horse himself with great length through the body, Storm Cat was a power horse who sired the same, and after he proved more than capable of getting winners at the highest level, breeders and buyers drove the market to prize the deep shoulders and massive quarters that were so distinctive in his stock.

In contrast, Tapit is a more balanced horse. On the medium side of large, Tapit and his sons or daughters generally have plenty of muscle, but they don’t look like weight lifters.

I well recall when inspecting foals nearly a decade ago, and Gainesway’s Michael Hernon told me how good the Tapit foals were and urged me to look at them. Right he was. They were smooth, elegant, and tightly muscled little athletes.

Then and now, the Tapit stock are full of activity. They are not dead on a shank when a handler leads them out of a stall to show or walks one up and down a show ring for the umpteenth time.

The stallion’s first foals looked like and acted like little racehorses, and size (wrongly) was the chief knock on Tapit’s early offspring. The foals look like foals, and the yearlings look like yearlings, not 2-year-olds before training.

Buyers and perhaps trainers have had to accustom themselves to the Tapit type, which is notably different from the Storm Cat type, but both are good.

There is a smoothness and quality to the Tapits that suggests a superior type of miler, and plenty can carry their innate speed around two turns.

For instance, Tapit’s son Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup last year, and the stallion’s son Frosted won the Wood Memorial and then finished second behind American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes this year.

The classic success of some of Tapit’s stock is important because nearly all of them have speed, that most important quality in top-class Thoroughbreds. But racing 10 and 12 furlongs effectively is a badge of honor and accomplishment that makes Tapit and his offspring much more desirable around the world.

And that was one of the things we saw in the buying at the first session of the Saratoga sale.

At the sale on Monday evening, four of the five lots sold, with only the filly, Hip 24 out of Wow Me Free, being bought back at $950,000. The session’s highest-priced lot went for $2 million to El Capi Racing, a partnership of Venezuelan investors, Hip 34 (out of Appealing Zophie) sold to a partnership of Americans for $1.2 million, and Hip 49 (out of Carriage Trade) was purchased by John Ferguson at $750,000 for Godolphin.

Godolphin, not incidentally, bred and races Frosted, who finished second, beaten a half-length by Texas Red, in the Jim Dandy as his prep for the G1 Travers, and when international racing operations purchase yearlings, they envision them going on to do the grandest things.

They also consider the big picture of breeding and the potential of sons and daughters of Tapit as breeding stock.

Important developments in this regard at the Saratoga sale include Hip 62, a fetching Medaglia d’Oro colt out of graded stakes winner Dancinginherdreams (by Tapit). The colt sold for $500,000 to Todd Quast, agent.

And two yearlings from the only American crop by Tapit’s champion son Hansen were consigned by Crestwood Farm for breeder Kendall Hansen. The filly out of Where Woody Bea (Hip 20) sold for $250,000 to Skychai Racing, and the colt out of Airizon (Hip 29) sold for $200,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds.

More important than the exact prices, both yearlings looked the part as quality racing prospects.

If Hansen’s first-crop performers, or the young racers by Tapit sons like Trappe Shot, Tapizar, and Flashback strike the top, then what we saw Monday night was only the tip of the iceberg in the demand for Tapit.


**The demand for yearlings by Tapit continued on Tuesday evening. The two-day results for the sire are below.











‘hidden’ elements in american pharoah’s pedigree are worth the attention


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In writing about pedigrees, most of the time we concentrate on the major influences. Those horses like Northern Dancer, Raise a Native, or Mr. Prospector who dominate pedigrees and who repeatedly show up in the ancestry of the most famous horses week after week, year after year.

But there are other steeds, some famous and a few scarcely known, who find a home in pedigrees without becoming stars in the firmament of pedigree writing.

Among the horses of this sort in the pedigree of Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner American Pharoah, perhaps wonderful Lord at War is the best. The Argentine-bred chestnut was a mid-size speed machine, gifted with such early pace that few had the heart to take him on, and yet he had the fluency of stride and the competitive grit to carry his speed up to 10 furlongs.

Bred and raced by Peter and Diane Perkins and then put to stud in Kentucky, Lord at War was not everyone’s cup of tea. Physically, he wasn’t a towering beast with massive muscling. He was more fluid in his motion than most horses, with a light action. And for a horse with such American attributes in speed, he certainly possessed an outcross (ahem, unrecognizable) pedigree.

Now, before Mrs. Perkins clobbers me with a stick for such a comment, Lord at War’s pedigree was only unrecognizable to those who were unfamiliar with international racing, in which the Perkinses were immersed.

In the male line, Lord at War was a grandson of the mighty Brigadier Gerard. Beaten only once, and then with a brilliant bit of riding by Braulio Baeza on English Derby winner Roberto in the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, Brigadier Gerard did not possess a grand pedigree himself, being by Queen’s Hussar out of the Prince Chevalier mare La Paiva. Once Brigadier Gerard’s racers showed a bit, but not a great deal, breeders skipped along to the next horse, and the ‘Brigadier’ labored as a nearly forgotten sire.

Among his good ones, however, was General, the sire of Lord at War. Sent to stud in Argentina, the Perkinses bred the stallion’s best in Lord at War, who showed high form in his homeland, winning the G1 Gran Premio Internacional Joaquin S. de Anchorena. Transferred to race in the States, Lord at War was trained by Charlie Whittingham and won the G1 Santa Anita and San Antonio handicaps, along with four other stakes. He earned $776,945 from 10 wins in 17 starts, only twice out of the first three.

Sent to stud initially at Walmac from 1986 to 1991, Lord at War was not a straightforward “American” sire. He rarely sired 2-year-old stakes horses, but his stock lasted well, took their racing well, and generally improved when raced on turf. After the first bloodstock depression of the late 1980s, Lord at War moved to the Perkinses’ Wimborne Farm outside Paris, where he spent the rest of stallion career.

Moreover, Lord at War proved that he was a really good sire. He had 47 stakes winners from 382 foals (12 percent), and one of those was La Troienne Stakes winner Star of Goshen, who became the dam of Pioneerof the Nile, now known around the world as the sire of American Pharoah.

Star of Goshen is out of Castle Eight, a daughter of the beautifully pedigreed Key to the Kingdom. A son of the great sire Bold Ruler and the great broodmare Key Bridge, Key to the Kingdom was a useful racehorse. He won the G3 Stymie Handicap for breeder Paul Mellon, then was sold and went to stud at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky.

As a sire, Key to the Kingdom had some very good days, siring European highweight Ma Biche, as well as G1 winners Great Communicator, Louis le Grand, and For Once’n My Life.

His daughter Castle Eight was a winner three times, then produced two stakes winners. Before Star of Goshen had G1 winner Pioneerof the Nile, the more famous of Castle Eight’s foals was Powis Castle (by Rare Brick), who won the Malibu Stakes and more than a half-million dollars.

Star of Goshen’s second dam was Her Native, a winner five times. This daughter of the Native Dancer stallion Kanumera produced Blackened, who ran third in the G3 Falls City Handicap. But from six total foals at stud, four daughters of Her Native produced stakes winners.

Her Native was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud, like her sire Kanumera. A bay son of champion and leading sire Native Dancer out of the Alibhai mare Believe Me, Kanumera was an ‘almost’ horse for much of his career. He won his only start at 2, then ran second to major winners Dike and King of the Castle at 3, and outran Al Hattab at 4. But all those better efforts came in allowances, rather than black-type races.

So when Kanumera was a 5-year-old, he was a talented and well-bred horse with no evidence of stakes in his record. Then under the training of Johnny Longden, Kanumera won the Harvest Stakes and went to stud, where he met with little interest from breeders.

Sons of Native Dancer weren’t quite scarce in the early 1970s, and many had better qualifications. But a handful of breeders persevered, and Kanumera got a first crop of 11 foals, eight of whom went to the races. All were winners.

And one of them was Her Native.

From that tiny acorn, each generation has improved to Pioneerof the Nile, and his son is a mighty oak who carries on a legacy of greatness.


When published at Paulick Report, one of the comments to this column was from Comrade Tinky, which is reproduced below:

Brilliant article, and I’m delighted the Lord at War was featured prominently. A couple of small notes: Lord at War produced 387 foals; Giant’s Causeway has produced 1867 thus far. *sigh* Progress? Methinks not. Powis Castle was a runner, and was by Rare Brick. The latter was by Rare Performer (by Mr. Prospector), and I have a distinct memory of him. I was at Hialeah in 1981, early in my racetrack education, and Rare Performer, trained by the late Allen Jerkens, was contesting the Tallahassee Hcp. He washed out badly prior to the race, and I expected him to run below form as a result. A little more than one minute eight and three-fifths of a second later, he was heading back to the winners circle, having equalled the track record. It was one of those important learning experiences, as I hadn’t seen him previously, and therefore should not have been so confident that he wouldn’t run to his best. Finally, as I have a clear memory of horse foaled in 1977, am I no longer eligible to be considered a ‘Spring Chicken’?

storm cat has been cloned


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When I read last week, in a Vanity Fair article profiling Crestview Genetics, the nearly off-hand comment that Storm Cat had been cloned, I felt an electric sensation that the future was already here. Or perhaps, the past was actually the future. Then, rationalizing, my second thought was that someone had misspoken, had meant that a son or daughter of the most commercially dynamic sire of the past generation had actually been the horse cloned. Not Storm Cat, surely.

Nyet, comrade.

Chris Young of Overbrook Farm confirmed that Storm Cat, the powerful dark bay son of Storm Bird and Terlingua (by Secretariat), “has indeed been cloned.”

Since Storm Cat was euthanized on April 24, 2013, at the Young family’s Overbrook Farm, racing and breeding have been adjusting to the state of affairs, no Storm Cats available to race, that had been developing since the stallion had been pensioned in 2008.

Today, there are essentially no remaining offspring of Storm Cat on the racetrack, and Young confirmed that will remain the case. He said, “We have no intent to race the Storm Cat clone or its offspring” in non-sanctioned races, as had been suggested in the Vanity Fair article.

Rather, Young explained the situation was one that grew out of a meeting with Alan Meeker years ago and an awareness of Meeker’s genetic cloning business, Crestview.

Crestview’s signature cloning results in high-end polo ponies for élite players and teams around the world, and that is how Young came to know Meeker.

Then, a few years ago, “when Storm Cat’s health was declining,” Young recalled, “we took blood and tissue samples from the horse, and we shared those with the UK Gluck Equine Research Center, to develop a baseline of data about Storm Cat’s genetics, and with Crestview.”

From the Storm Cat sample in its possession, Crestview was able to produce clone embryos of Storm Cat, and earlier this spring, they had two [colt] foals who were clones of Storm Cat. Both were pictured and mentioned in the Vanity Fair article, but Young said that one of the colts has since died in a paddock accident.

That leaves the single colt who is a living thread of his famous father, or is it he himself?

Overbrook “shares ownership of the colt with Crestview Genetics that is similar to a royalty arrangement,” Young said, that would be paid from any resulting stud fee earnings. He said that Meeker had sent an email Tuesday morning, July 28, with an update that the colt is doing well.

“We have done what we wanted to do: create a source of sperm genetically identical to Storm Cat,” Young concluded.

This is a box of bees that could be kicked into high gear by a single rule change at the Jockey Club: allowing cloned horses and their offspring to be registered as Thoroughbreds and to race. Currently that is emphatically not allowed, and frankly, I expect to be walking on water before that change occurs. 

So Storm Cat’s clone will be restricted to mating polo mares or mares from other breeds which allow cloning and other forms of reproduction aside from live cover for exclusive use in the polo industry.

That will be a radically different career from the colt who was born 32 years ago and who dominated breeding and racing during a 20-year career at stud. Owned, bred, and raced by W.T. Young, Storm Cat was the best American-raced son of Storm Bird (Northern Dancer), and Storm Cat would have been champion 2-year-old but for Tasso’s nose victory at the end of the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Retired to Overbrook, Storm Cat became a sire of such class and distinction that he dominated sales and racing with performers like Kentucky Oaks winner Sardula, Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat, Alabama Stakes winner November Snow, Hopeful winner Hennessy, Beldame winner Sharp Cat, Breeders’ Cup race winners Sweet Catomine, Storm Flag Flying, Cat Thief, Life is Sweet, and Desert Stormer, as well as the top racehorse and sire Giant’s Causeway. In all, Storm Cat sired 181 stakes winners from 1,414 foals.

As a racehorse and as a sire, Storm Cat operated at an élite level and became a legend without the advantage of perfect conformation or unlimited initial opportunity among his mates.

Whether a clone of Storm Cat could attain such success is not known. It is also probably immaterial because the Jockey Club allows registration only of foals born from natural cover, and the Storm Cat clone would not qualify for registration.

But as long as he is standing in that paddock of lush grass, the question will be, “What if?”

Young provides a pragmatic answer to much of the wondering about the cloned colt: “When the colt lives to sexual maturity, and if he is fertile and a healthy breeder, then we will have him mated to polo mares, and in a few more years, we should know whether those foals are good performance horses in that sport.”

After the better part of a decade, we will know whether the Storm Cat clone will be a success in this new venture and will add an asterisk to the history and legacy of Terlingua’s son.

gabriel charles brings latest g1 success to the fabled female family of champion gallorette and her dam gallette


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When Gabriel Charles powered home the winner in the Grade 1 Eddie Read at Del Mar on July 18, he established several firsts. The victory was the bay’s third stakes but first G1 success, and Gabriel Charles is the first winner at the top level for his sire Street Hero (by Street Cry) and for his breeder, Doris Tummillo, a cardiologist from Augusta, Ga.

Foaled and raised at the Trackside Farm of Tom Evans and Pam Clark outside Versailles, Ky., Gabriel Charles is from the first crop by his sire, a good-looking son of Street Cry who raced only at 2 and proved a G1 winner during his brief career.

Street Hero was also third in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he entered stud the following season at Vinery in Kentucky, and his first foals were born in 2010.

Gabriel Charles was foaled on March 31, and Evans recalled the colt as a nice individual with scope and good balance. When the owner elected to sell the yearling, however, he drew Book 6 of 6 at the Keeneland September sale in 2011.

That was not good news. Evans recalled that despite having a nice yearling, selling Gabriel Charles proved a challenge because “we didn’t have a lot of sire power, we were selling late in the sale [as Hip 3706], and it was 2011, which wasn’t a good year to be selling anything.”

But a bad market for sellers can prove a good market for buyers, and agent Federico Barberini picked up the likable bay for $19,000.

At the Ocala Breeders Sales auction in April 2012, Gabriel Charles had continued his good progress, and now that he could show some of his qualities on the racetrack, buyers were less interested in the commercial appeal of his sire.

The colt flew a furlong in :10 1/5, looked good doing it, and sold to Mike House for $160,000. Even at that price, “This horse was well bought,” said DataTrack International’s managing director Bob Fierro. “Gabriel Charles was one of the standouts on the figs for 2012 April sale. He scored a Group 1 on our rankings, earned a BreezeFig of 69, which was 7 points over par, and he showed a stride length well over 24 feet, more than a foot longer than the average.”

House races Gabriel Charles with Sam Britt, and the colt has earned $584,400 and has been in the money 9 times from 11 starts. A stakes winner at 2 and 3, Gabriel Charles was on a definite upward trend near the end of his 3-year-old season, winning a division of the G2 Del Mar Derby and then finishing second in the G2 Twilight Derby on Nov. 1, 2013.

Then the colt was away from the races till mid-April this year.

All his connections showed patience, and they have been duly rewarded. Now their colt is a G1 winner, and that reflects well on the whole family.

Out of the Atticus mare Star of Atticus, Gabriel Charles is his dam’s fifth foal and fifth winner. He is notably the best of them, but this is a family that has flirted with G1 class generation after generation, and not too far back, there are other G1 winners.

Star of Atticus, the dam of the Eddie Read winner, ran second in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill as a 2-year-old and earned $123,971. She is one of three stakes-placed performers out of the Halo mare Trip Around Heaven. One of them, Nan (High Yield), ran second in the G1 Del Mar Oaks. Trip Around Heaven was a winner, like her half-sister Key Flight, who produced two stakes winners.

They are out of the Key to the Mint mare Key to Flight. Although unraced herself, Key to Flight is a half-sister to some high-performing racers. Her half-sister Minstrella (The Minstrel) won three times at the G1 level at 2 in 1986, including the Cheveley Park Stakes, and was the highweight juvenile filly in England that season. Their half-sister Misty Gallore (Halo) won at the G2 and G3 levels, along with three seconds in G1 races.

These excellent performers are out of Flight Dancer (Misty Flight), the fourth dam of Gabriel Charles. Third in the Queen Mary Stakes at 2, Flight Dancer is out of Courbette, one of most grandly pedigreed mares in the stud book.

Courbette, a foal of 1957, was a gray daughter of Horse of the Year Native Dancer and champion racemare Gallorette (Challenger). Beaten once in 22 starts, Native Dancer is ranked equal to or higher than nearly all other 20th century champions. Outstanding on the racetrack, he was arguably even better at stud, as his line is the predominant one in North America and vies for influence elsewhere with that of Northern Dancer, who is (ahem) out of a Native Dancer mare.

Unbeaten in her only start, the Waterford Testamonial Stakes in Ireland, Courbette was one of two stakes winners out of gallant and much-praised Gallorette. The mare raced from 2 through 6, winning major stakes from 3 onward. Many of these, including the Whitney, Carter, Brooklyn, and Metropolitan, were against colts.

And Gabriel Charles did his 6th dam proud when taking home the G1 success in the Eddie Read last weekend.

**Ed. note: The next dam in this sequence is the Sir Gallahad III mare Gallette, and this is the immediate family of Triple Crown winner Omaha, Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Johnstown, and leading juvenile Nadir.

american pharoah another classic star for fappiano line through unbridled but also a reminder from an old hooper family

The Fappiano-Unbridled branch of Mr. Prospector produced yet another classic winner when American Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile) sailed home a winner in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. In the male-line race for the Kentucky Derby, it was a clear victory for Mr. P over Northern Dancer, who had the second, Firing Line (Line of David) through Storm Cat, and third, Dortmund (Big Brown) through Danzig. And the A.P. Indy line of Bold Ruler got a tremendous late run out of Frosted (Tapit), who was fourth.

The male-line contest is entertaining, but a quick glance through American Pharoah’s pedigree, or that of any other horse, will show a mix of influences that come together in producing the qualities of the horse in question.

With American Pharoah, he is a colt of classic scope and type, but he also welds uncommon speed onto the framework as our current classic winner. The origins of some of that speed may be found in the Derby winner’s female family. American Pharoah is out of Littleprincessemma, a daughter of the Storm Cat stallion Yankee Gentleman.

Littleprincessemma was not a winner in her brief exposure to racing, but American Pharoah is the mare’s second foal and second winner. With American Pharoah already on the page as a G1 stakes winner, Littleprincessemma went through Fasig-Tipton’s November sale last year, selling for $2.1 million to Summer Wind Farm and was back in foal to American Pharoah’s sire, Pioneerof the Nile.

Without a race record to tell us anything of her own aptitude or racing character, Littleprincessemma nonetheless reveals some things of interest in her pedigree. Her sire, Yankee Gentleman, was a sprinter who won four of 10 starts, and the most important of his victories was the restricted Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar, with earnings of $202,547. Those are not usually the credentials to get a horse a place at stud in Kentucky, but the blocky bay was a son of leading sire Storm Cat, whose name at the time was magic to the ears of breeders.

In addition, Yankee Gentleman is out of G1 winner Key Phrase, by the good sire Flying Paster. This is a quick set of horses cultivated by Pam and Marty Wygod, who bred Yankee Gentleman and his dam.

At stud in Kentucky at Airdrie, Yankee Gentleman sired some productive racehorses, with the most talented surely being Golden Yank, who won the Oklahoma Derby and Zia Park Derby and gleaned earnings of $936,584. When the world economy went in the tank, stallions on the margin like Yankee Gentleman were relocated to regional markets, and he stands today in Louisiana for $3,500 live foal.

The dam of Littleprincessemma was a minor stakes winner named Exclusive Rosette, by the Exclusive Native horse Ecliptical. A half-brother to high-class performers Eminency, Katonka, and Barrera, Ecliptical won a single race but greatly eclipsed that at stud, with his best performer being G2 winner Exclusive Praline.

Although Ecliptical’s daughter Exclusive Rosette accomplished much less on the racetrack, a single stakes victory in the restricted Florida Thoro’bred Charities Stakes, Exclusive Rosette had good speed and was a good producer. Eight of her 10 foals to race were winners, and two were stakes winners.

Even more importantly, the stakes winners were both successful at the graded level. Full siblings by the former Airdrie Stud stallion Stormin Fever, Storm Wolf won the G2 Laz Barrera Stakes, and Misty Rosette won the G3 Old Hat Stakes and was third in the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga.

Those stakes-winning siblings were the first signs that high class was reappearing in this female line, which extends back several generations in the stud of famed Florida Thoroughbred breeder Fred Hooper.

Neither of the Hooper-bred third and fourth dams, the Tri Jet mare Zetta Jet, and the Crozier mare Queen Zetta, would raise a dust on the racetrack and neither even placed in a race.

Hooper, however, was an old-school breeder who would persevere with a family that had been good to him, and the fifth dam, Miami Mood (Greek Game), had been very good to Hooper. On the racetrack, Miami Mood won the Jasmine Stakes and was second in the Mimosa at 3, won the Four Winds Handicap and was second in the Columbiana at 4.

Miami Mood was a typical Hooper stakes winner. She was quick and consistent, sound and persistent. Then she became a good producer. She foaled two stakes winners, Mia Mood and Miami Sun, as well as the stakes-placed Miami Game. All were by Crozier, like their sibling Queen Zetta.

So Hooper could be expected to hold hopes of good things to come from this line of mares.

Furthermore, the first Hooper-bred mare in this family was the sixth dam, Miami Mood’s dam Hoop Mood, by Kentucky Derby winner Hoop Jr. The latter was the first racer in the Kentucky Derby for Hooper, who had bought the colt at auction, and Hoop Jr. provided Hooper with his only success in the Kentucky classic.

Six generations later, the family is back in the winner’s circle with the garland of roses.

could california chrome be a surprise at stud?


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With the July 12 announcement online that champion California Chrome has a bruise to his cannon bone and will require an extensive rest to recover, it appeared last week that the chestnut son of Lucky Pulpit might not be able to race again this year and that his racing career might be over. 

Only July 17, however, a formal announcement by Taylor Made Farm told the world that the famed Kentucky operation had purchased the Coburn family’s interest in California Chrome, and information from that press release from both Taylor Made and from attending veterinarian Larry Bramlage offered considerable expectation that California Chrome could return to racing later this year or more probably in 2016.

Furthermore, comments from trainer Art Sherman over the weekend indicated that the colt will return to training after some rest and recuperation at Taylor Made Farm and will be pointed for a 5yo campaign next season.

Whether California Chrome enters stud in 2016 or in 2017, the prospects of California Chrome as a stallion prospect are better than average. For one thing, he has accomplished so much that he will attract mates of notably better than average quality. He is an athletic colt of high ability, he is quite good-looking, and he does not have a pedigree of high fashion.

That last consideration is one, however, that will limit his appeal to some breeders, despite the colt’s undisputed athletic ability. Even so, bad horses do not win the Kentucky Derby, let alone the Derby and Preakness, among other notable stakes, and California Chrome proved his athleticism and class very well.

As a racehorse, California Chrome is a class performer, and his value in that regard is quite high. Becoming a successful stallion is a different set of challenges than those that he faced at the racetrack, however, and unlike the challenges of a race, California Chrome will not be able to dig in and fight through the stretch to be a better sire.

Instead, stallion success is about genetic probability, transmission of the most compatible physical traits, and access to mares that fit the horse both for genotype and phenotype.

Those are not a small considerations, and more than a few stallions have floundered due to a lack of proper mates.

And here is where fashion comes in as a positive.

With the most popular bloodlines, breeders have general ideas about what will work well due to the evidence of other sons of a proven sire of stallions. These are familiar names, familiar successes, and breeders feel more at home with them than with the unknown.

With Lucky Pulpit, the sire of California Chrome, breeders generally would have a good sense of what to do. Lucky Pulpit is a son of the famous sire Pulpit (by A.P. Indy), and he is out of a mare by champion racer Cozzene, who had success both as a sire and a broodmare sire.

A middling sort of racehorse, Lucky Pulpit never quite made the top of the tree. He was second or third in a half-dozen stakes, most notably finishing second in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes at 3 and third in the G3 Generous Stakes at 2.

Lucky Pulpit’s only stakes victory came at 4 in the Smile Stakes at Arlington, winning at five furlongs over turf in the flaming time of :56.50 for the distance.

A good-looking horse like his famous sire, Lucky Pulpit has good length through the body, a powerful and nicely made hindleg, and plenty of substance in his shoulder and middle.

He switch-hit successfully on either turf or dirt, like many of the Pulpits, and showed high speed. Those are benefits for Lucky Pulpit, and his physical attractiveness, along with a good pedigree, attracted enough mares for him to average more than 40 live foals from his first six crops of racing age.

Lucky Pulpit is out of the winning mare Lucky Soph, a daughter of Eclipse champion turf horse Cozzene (Caro) and the major stakes winner Lucky Spell (Lucky Mel).

Lucky Spell was a good and very hardy racemare, winning 12 times in 69 starts. Among her victories were five stakes, including the G3 Las Palmas and Princess Stakes. A ruggedly made and rather plain mare, Lucky Spell was undeniably good on the racetrack, and she produced three stakes winners at stud: Torrey Pines winner Goldspell (Caro), G3 Jersey Stakes winner Merlins Charm (Bold Bidder), and minor stakes winner Elegiac (Nepal).

As an 11-year-old in 1982, Lucky Spell sold for $700,000 to Richard Eamer in foal to Caro. The mare’s first stakes winner, Merlins Charm, had already shown her class, and Goldspell was a foal of 1982. The foal that Lucky Spell was carrying was another filly by Caro. A winner in England, that filly was named Trolley Song.

As a broodmare, Trolley Song became famous as the dam of Unbridled’s Song, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, favorite for the Kentucky Derby, and the first highly successful stallion son of champion Unbridled.

An out-sized horse of legendary speed, Unbridled’s Song became an important sire, but the closest that he came to siring a Kentucky Derby winner was his lovely daughter Eight Belles, who finished second to Big Brown.

One of the ironies of breeding is that the “great” grandson of Lucky Spell did not sire a Kentucky Derby but the relatively little-known Lucky Pulpit did. The uncertainties of breeding are always there to keep us humble.

presence of many fast classic winners in american pharoah’s family

There are at least eight classic winners in the first five generations of the pedigree of American Pharoah.

The scopy bay colt has won all the important races he has contested, missing the winner’s circle only in his début in a maiden special last summer. And last month, American Pharoah became the 12th Triple Crown winner.

In considering his aptitude for the classic races, it is useful to consider those classic winners who came before him and their success with the Triple Crown events.

The closest classic winner in American Pharoah’s pedigree is his grandsire Empire Maker, winner of the 2003 Belmont Stakes and one of the better classic sires to stand in Kentucky over the past decade or so. At stud, Empire Maker sired two colts who came second in the Kentucky Derby, the very fast Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of American Pharoah.

Both those colts raced for Zayat Stables, and both are now at stud on WinStar Farm, where Pioneerof the Nile commands a $60,000 fee.

Empire Maker, however, no longer stands in Kentucky. In the fall of 2010, the now 15-year-old stallion was sold by owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms to the Japan Bloodstock Breeders Association and stands on the island of Hokkaido at the JBBA’s Shizunai Stallion Station. Empire Maker’s 2015 stud fee is $3.5 million yen (roughly $30,000).

Empire Maker’s sire, Unbridled, won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and was second in that year’s Preakness. A giant among racehorses, Unbridled became an even more towering figure at stud, siring a winner of each Triple Crown race, as well as champions, Grade 1 winners, and major producers at stud.

In the fall of 2001, champion racehorse and leading sire Unbridled was euthanized from complications of colic surgery, leaving a legacy of high-performing stock that included Empire Maker among the stallion’s yearlings at the time of Unbridled’s death.

Empire Maker was the best racehorse, among four G1 winners, out of the extraordinary broodmare Toussaud. She was a daughter of English 2,000 Guineas winner El Gran Senor. A beautifully made, elegant, and all quality animal, El Gran Senor was the highweight juvenile of his crop in England and Ireland, just like his full brother Try My Best.

In the transition from high-class juvenile to classic prospect for trainer Vincent O’Brien, El Gran Senor went from strength to strength, becoming one of the best-rated winners of the Guineas, and his only loss among eight starts came as a narrow defeat to Secreto, also by Northern Dancer, in the English Derby.

El Gran Senor would have been an outstanding sire but for the agonizing fact that he was borderline infertile. Coolmore reacquired the horse after an insurance claim from the syndicate that initially sent El Gran Senor to stud and spent years trying different things to improve the stallion’s fertility.

To some degree, they succeeded, and El Gran Senor sired Eclipse Award sprinter Lit de Justice, the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Rodrigo de Triano, and Belmez, winner of the 1990 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

In quality and racing aptitude, El Gran Senor was quite like his famous sire, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, who appears in the fifth generation of American Pharoah’s pedigree.

Northern Dancer was a staying 2-year-old, winning the Remsen, and improved week by week to his record-setting victory in the Derby over Hill Rise. After winning the Preakness, however, Northern Dancer appeared not to stay the Belmont distance but rebounded to win the Queen’s Plate before beginning one of the greatest careers at stud in the history of the breed.

Also in the fifth generation are the great racehorse Brigadier Gerard and the important sire Le Fabuleux. Brigadier Gerard was one of the best milers in European racing history and one of the best winners of the 2,000 Guineas, in which he defeated Mill Reef. In contrast, Le Fabuleux was an outstanding example of stout French classic breeding and a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club. At stud, both in France and at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, Le Fabuleux imparted bone and stamina generously to his offspring.

The latter two are rather marginal influences at stud these days, however, not often seen except through a couple of specific lines, typically Unbridled and Lord at War. Much more omnipresent is Northern Dancer, who appears twice in American Pharoah, and Bold Ruler, who was the most important sire in the world at the time of his death in 1971 and whose yearlings at that time included Secretariat.

The latter went on earn Horse of the Year in each of his two seasons of racing, and in winning the first Triple Crown since Citation 25 years earlier, Secretariat fired enthusiasm for racing that has persisted for decades. At stud, Secretariat was a good sire, not a great one. His best performers included Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret and Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Risen Star.

Of more lasting influence were his daughters who produced leading sires A.P. Indy (Weekend Surprise), Storm Cat (Terlingua), and Gone West (Secrettame).

1957 Preakness Stakes winner Bold Ruler is the oldest of the classic winners to show in American Pharoah’s five-cross pedigree, but I believe he is crucial. A rangy horse with a distinctive head, Bold Ruler was a top-class performer in each of his three seasons of racing. He showed speed of an extraordinary level, class to win at the highest level, and the tenacity to carry impressive weights.

For high speed, a great hindleg, and physical type, Bold Ruler has imparted a good deal of his best qualities to American Pharoah, who also resembles Bold Ruler in profile.

American Pharoah looks even better now that he has become the second classic winner in the family to earn a Triple Crown.

lady eli proves herself a ‘divine’ athlete with string of successes

With her sixth turf victory in a row, unbeaten Lady Eli has clearly asserted herself as the best turf filly in America, and with her two and 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks over 10 furlongs on July 4, Lady Eli may have shown that she is the best filly of her crop, regardless of surface.

Certainly, the daughter of Airdrie Stud stallion Divine Park (by Chester House) has already achieved an unusual distinction. No Eclipse Award turf champion has ever won its first six starts in succession. That in itself is a nifty bit of insight into this filly’s accomplishments, and that covers a few decades of turf champions.

Admittedly, turf is not the primary racing surface in the States, and therefore the few champions who have started with sizable unbeaten runs have all been on dirt. Just writing the names of Ruffian, Personal Ensign, Gold Beauty, and Princess Rooney brings a shiver of excitement that Lady Eli may be approaching that level.

Among turf horses, the American-trained performer closest to Lady Eli is 1978 turf champion Mac Diarmida (Minnesota Mac). The colt didn’t win until switched to turf in his fourth start, but he won 10 in a row on his proper surface, never raced on anything else after his maiden victory, and won 12 of 13 starts on turf, defeating a 3-year-old John Henry, among others.

Among the Eclipse champions trained overseas, Youth (Ack Ack) won five of his first six starts, including the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club, and Arazi (Blushing Groom) won eight of his first nine starts, including four G1s, but one of those was on dirt in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which earned him the Eclipse as leading 2-year-old colt.

The filly’s accomplishments are attracting appreciation, even from rivals. “I loved her at the sale,” said agent Bob Feld, “but didn’t have anyone to buy her. Then she beat our filly, Miss Temple City, soundly by two and a half lengths in the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, and you have to be impressed with a horse like that.”

Bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay Jr., Lady Eli proved a good sales filly and a wonderful advertisement for her sire, Metropolitan Handicap winner Divine Park.

The multiple G1 winner is out of the Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur. The dam was a winner and is the last foal of the great producer Kazadancoa (Green Dancer). The latter is dam of three graded stakes winners – Jacodra, Jacodra’s Devil, and Changing Ways – and Kazadancoa is also the dam of Royal Run, who produced a pair of graded stakes winners in Tejano Run (Breeders’ Futurity) and More Royal (Jersey Derby) and three other daughters who have produced stakes winners.

Sacre Coeur has produced two graded stakes winners herself. In addition to Lady Eli, the mare has foaled Bizzy Caroline (Afleet Alex), winner of the G3 Regret Stakes and Mint Julep Handicap. Sacre Coeur has a 2-year-old filly by Blame who sold for $360,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September sale and a yearling colt by Ghostzapper. The mare did not have a foal in 2015.

With a pair of G1s among her six victories, Lady Eli is among the sterling representatives of Keeneland’s 2014 April sale of 2-year-olds in training, which was discontinued this year. A $160,000 Keeneland September yearling, Lady Eli was a neat and elegant filly at 2 who worked well at the April sale but brought only $160,000 from Jay Hanley out of the Eddie Woods consignment.

Woods could not have hoped for a better work. The filly went a furlong in :10 flat, and she did it with fluency and by showing a stride length pushing 25 feet. That was more than a foot longer than the average stride length at the sale. Furthermore, she scored very well on all internal measures as evaluated by DataTrack International, which rated her a premium prospect on its Best of Sale list.

And at that, she was underrated.

[Please note: The excellence of Lady Eli stands even more in contrast to the irony of fortune. Trainer Chad Brown has reported this week that the 3yo filly stepped on a nail coming back to the barn after the race for the Belmont Oaks and has developed laminitis in her front feet. This very serious condition imperils both the filly’s racing career and her life.]


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