bonny south aces her stakes debut and is another star for a famous family at juddmonte farms

The first step in the path that led to Bonny South (by Munnings), the winner of the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 21, came in 1972, when fashion magnate Carl Rosen purchased an athletic chestnut filly by the good, though not widely remembered, stallion Swoon’s Son at the Keeneland July sale. He paid $32,000.

Rosen then named the filly Chris Evert in honor of the sensational young tennis star, whom he had signed to a line of clothing made by Rosen’s Puritan Fashions.

Neither Chris Evert looked back. Both became greater stars, and their influence continues.

In racing, Chris Evert the filly won 10 of her 15 starts. At two, she won the G3 Demoiselle at Aqueduct and the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs. The filly’s only loss at two was a second in the G1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont.

At three, it was set and match.

After losing her stakes debut in the Comely, Chris Evert went on a tear through the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont, and while Chris Evert established herself as the best filly in the East, another filly was burning up the tracks in California. Named Miss Musket, she and Chris Evert met a match in late July named the Hollywood Special. Chris Evert won by a pole, as Miss Musket was eased.

The only question now was whether this filly was as good as the colts, and at Saratoga, Chris Evert hooked the best of her own sex, as well as the other. In the Alabama, Kentucky Oaks winner Quaze Quilt (Specialmante) ran a tremendous race to deny her chestnut competitor by a neck.

In the following week’s Travers, Chris Evert tackled Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Little Current (Sea-Bird), as well as Holding Pattern (Old Bag), who had just defeated the classic colt in the nine-furlong Monmouth Invitational (now called the Haskell). The filly vied for the lead for more than a mile, then tired a bit in the stretch to finish third behind Holding Pattern, who held off Little Current by a head on a sloppy track.

That was almost the end of Chris Evert’s racing career. She came back at four, won the 1975 La Canada at Santa Anita, then was off the board in the Santa Margarita a month later and never raced again.

Retired to stud at Claiborne Farm, Chris Evert became an unqualified success as a broodmare. Each of her first three foals earned black type, including stakes winners Six Crowns (Secretariat) and Wimbledon Star (Hoist the Flag). The mare’s fourth foal was a bay filly by English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky. Unraced but with the illustrious racing and production records of sire and dam, this young mare brought $700,000 at the 1987 Keeneland November sale, carrying her third foal on a cover to Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo (Mr. Prospector).

The buyer was Juddmonte Farms.

And Juddmonte is the owner-breeder of Bonny South. Before her sale by the estate of Carl Rosen, Nijinsky Star produced her first stakes winner with her first foal, Hometown Queen (Pleasant Colony), who won the Magnolia Stakes, then placed second in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, before her dam sold in November at Keeneland.

The mare’s consignor was Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services (John Stuart), and he recalled the situation from his current berth in Key West, where he is sheltering in place.

“We sold her because we were dispersing the estate of Carl Rosen. But despite all her positives, this mare wasn’t the easiest sale,” Stuart recalled. “She had a tube coming out of her lung, and it had to drain all the time. It wasn’t something temporary for the sale. It had been going on for a long time. She got pneumonia when she was young and had a continued fluid build-up in a lung; so we had that tube in there to drain out any fluid. It never seemed to bother her much. Tube came out the right side about half-way down, and I’ve never seen one like it before or since.”

Horsemen, and especially horse buyers, do not look with envy on anything that complicates the management of horses, who come with enough complexity with any added degrees of difficulty.

But in addition to a world-class pedigree, Nijinsky Star had other recommendations too. Stuart noted that “she was a big, heavy, 16.3 mare, and they bred her in such a way to scale her down, using Nureyev, for instance. George Blackwell bought her for Juddmonte, and we sold the man a damned good horse, and he got more out of that mare than anyone else, and that’s a great credit to the management team and Mr. Abdullah’s judgment in breeding and racing.”

Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke said that the purchase of Nijinsky Star “was just prior to my coming to Juddmonte, and she was fixed by the time I got here; she had had pleurisy and recovered from it. Nijinsky Star has been a tremendously successful purchase for Prince Khalid and has morphed into one of our most successful families.”

Indeed, after the mare produced the Conquistador Cielo colt Russian Sky (unraced), Nijinsky Star got the G2 Tidal Handicap winner Revasser (Riverman) and multiple listed stakes winner Viviana (Nureyev), plus the latter’s full sister Willstar, who was a winner from five starts.

At stud, each of Nijinsky Star’s four daughters produced stakes winners, and the Nureyev daughters Viviana and Willstar did the best. Viviana produced multiple G1 winners Sightseek (Distant View) and Tates Creek (Rahy), and Willstar produced the G1 Prix de la Foret winner Etoile Montante (Miswaki), who was also second in the G1 Matriarch, Prix Marcel Boussac, and Prix Maurice de Gheest.

“Viviana was an absolutely beautiful mare and a good runner too,” O’Rourke said. “Viviana was also a great big mare; you’d think of her as a Nijinsky with quality. She might have had markings you’d attribute to Nureyev but was not similar otherwise. She was 16.2, with great bone and substance, and Willstar was a lovely mare of the same type, although not quite as big; they have the Nijinsky size and mass.”

Willstar’s 12th foal is the chestnut mare Touch the Star (Tapit), who produced Bonny South as her second foal.

“Touch the Star is lovely-looking mare too,” O’Rourke said, “and Bill Mott said that she had a lot of ability, even though we didn’t get a win for her.”

So Juddmonte gave Touch the Star a serious shot at stud and hit the brass ring with the mare’s second foal, Bonny South.

“Like the rest of this family, Bonny South has plenty of scope; you wouldn’t look at Bonny South and say you’re only a sprinter type,” O’Rourke said. “The family is coming through pretty strongly, with the Munnings zip too.”

Bonny South was such a good foal that Juddmonte sent the mare back to Munnings twice more, and she is now in foal to Quality Road, also from the Gone West male line.

one good mare makes all the difference for the hirsch family

Sometimes, all it takes is one good mare.

For Clement Hirsch, businessman and co-founder of the Oak Tree Racing Association, that mare was Magical Maiden (by Lord Avie). First involved in racing back in the 1940s, Hirsch won the 1969 Hollywood Gold Cup with the Argentine import Figonero and raced a successful stable decade after decade. In 1991, Hirsch bought the dark brown mare at the March 2-year-olds in training sale in California for $26,000.

That was no great expense, and adviser Kathy Berkey noted that “prices today are much the same as when I started doing business in horses about 40 years ago, maybe even higher back then, but the costs to produce racing stock have continued to climb.”

Price was no object to Hirsch, however, who made and sold companies, as well as racehorses. And Magical Maiden became a Grade 1 winner for Hirsch with victories in the Hollywood Starlet at 2, then the Las Virgenes Stakes at 3 in 1992.

The mare continued to race well and win stakes through her 5-year-old season, then became a foundation mare for Hirsch’s breeding program. Hirsch also had acquired Magical Maiden’s half-sister, the Miswaki mare Magical Flash, and the latter became as prolific a source of stakes winners as Magical Maiden had been a source of stakes victories.

Magical Flash produced six stakes winners, plus a pair of stakes-placed horses, and “we bred several of Magical Flash’s first stakes horses, then after Clement’s death in 2000, sold Magical Flash because she was about 13, and Bo Hirsch’s goal was to keep providing racing stock for [Hirsch family trainer] Warren Stute.”

As part of that plan, the estate sold some of the valuable mares, and Bo Hirsch purchased racehorses. Berkey said, “To stock the racing stable, we bought a couple of fillies at the track from the estate, plus a weanling, a yearling, and a 2-year-old. The weanling I picked out was Miss Houdini, and the yearling was a colt named Hot War,” who was out of Magical Flash and became a stakes winner at 3.

Miss Houdini was the fourth foal out of Magical Maiden and became the mare’s first important racer. From a pair of starts at 2, Miss Houdini won both, including the G1 Del Mar Debutante.

With that kind of start, the younger Hirsch must have thought the game was easy.

Unlike her dam, Miss Houdini raced only twice more, unsuccessfully, before becoming a broodmare, and she is a blocky, powerful mare, rather than having the taller and rangier build of her dam, a daughter of champion Lord Avie.

“The body and power in Miss Houdini came from Belong to Me,” Berkey noted, “and my own personal opinion is that it’s a fallacy that you shouldn’t breed to older stallions. I believe the perceived decline in success among older stallions is a function of the commercial market, with the better younger mares chasing the new stallions.

“I’m very glad now that we went to Elusive Quality late in his career,” Berkey said, “and we got two stakes horses,” the stakes-placed Stradella Road and her year-younger full sister Ce Ce. “Elusive Quality was a good cross for Miss Houdini and a good physical for her, adding size and scope and conformational correctness.”

A son of the excellent Mr. Prospector stallion Gone West, Elusive Quality was an exceptionally fast racehorse who became an immediate success with his offspring, including his second-crop star Smarty Jones, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

A sire of championship-level performers in Europe, South America, and Australia, as well as the States, Elusive Quality was a first-class sire who fell out of favor later in his career, when the value-seeking Berkey and breeder Hirsch took the opportunity to capitalize on that excellence.

And the result is the third-generation G1 winner Ce Ce, now a winner in three of her five starts. And for the Hirsch family, this is a family of mares that has made the game all the more glorious.

can authentic grab the gold for into mischief?

Olympic athletes say that “medaling” only makes them want to score higher in the ascent to Olympic gold, and although racehorses get only a single chance at each of the Triple Crown races, their sires do not. Tapit, for instance, has sired a trio of Belmont Stakes winners, and the great classic racer and sire Unbridled produced a Triple Crown of classic winners (Grindstone in the Kentucky Derby; Red Bullet in the Preakness; and Empire Maker in the Belmont).

Among stallions who haven’t yet earned gold in the Triple Crown, none would be hungrier for the top spot than 2019 leading general sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday). The robust bay has already medalled with Audible in the Kentucky Derby, and Into Mischief has had multiple winners of Triple Crown preps since his first crop, which included Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents and G3 Gotham Stakes winner Vyjack.

Other notable Triple Crown prospects for the sire were the second-crop Vicar’s in Trouble (Louisiana Derby), One Liner (Southwest Stakes), and Owendale (Lexington Stakes), who skipped the Derby and finished third in the Preakness Stakes last year.

The effectiveness of Owendale, Audible, and Goldencents in distances past a mile has marked them as special representatives for their sire, whose general run of stock seem to show their best at distances up to a mile, including 2019 Eclipse champion Covfefe and the highly regarded young stallion Practical Joke, who won the G1 Hopeful and Champagne at 2 going distances up to a mile, then was just touched off in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Fountain of Youth, and Blue Grass at distances just past a mile.

Saturday, March 7, marked a pair of victories in Triple Crown preps for sons of Into Mischief. Now the winner of two preps in 2020, Authentic won the G2 San Felipe after the Jan. 4 Sham Stakes, and Mischevious Alex won the G3 Gotham after the Feb. 1 Swale.

Having won at a mile and most recently at 8 ½ furlongs in the San Felipe, Authentic won the strongest-looking prep to date in 2020 with a 2 ¼-length victory over the highly regarded Honor A.P. (Honor Code), who was 3 ½ lengths ahead of 2019 champion 2-year-old colt Storm the Court (Court Vision), and with the previously unbeaten Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) fourth.

Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC, Authentic is a May 5 foal and sold to SF Bloodstock/Starlight West for $350,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale as Hip 2616. Consigned by Bridie Harrison for breeder Blum, Authentic sold at the eighth session of the world’s largest yearling sale.

There are agents and owners who will tell you the “good” horses have all been selected and vetted and sold in the earlier sessions. There are also some very smart agents and owners who watch and wait and know a good horse when they see one, whether it sells the first day or the last.

And Authentic was hard to miss. He was a really good horse and sold like one too. He brought the second-highest price of the session.

The San Felipe winner is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless, a winner from two starts at 3, and Authentic is the mare’s fourth foal and third winner. The mare’s other foals to this point are not headliners, and the second generation of this pedigree had gone rather cold, with no black type production.

The third dam, however, is stakes winner Really Fancy, winner of the G3 Anoakia Stakes and the dam of three stakes-placed racers. Her most important foal is the good-class winner Dixie Holiday (Dixieland Band), who produced stakes winner Holiday Runner (Meadowlake), the dam of G1 winners Reynaldothewizard (Speightstown), winner of the G1 Golden Shaheen, and Seventh Street (Street Cry), winner of the G1 Apple Blossom and Go for Wand Stakes.

The fourth dam is Native Fancy (Our Native), winner of the G2 Hollywood Lassie at 2 and the California Oaks at 3. In addition to foaling Really Fancy, Native Fancy is the dam of Blushing Heiress (Blushing John), winner of the G2 Wilshire Handicap.

This is a family that has shown considerable speed, especially at 2, but that also has the potential to develop the class to carry its speed. That is the multi-million-dollar question for Authentic as the days and weeks draw toward the first Saturday in May.

Will he have the finesse to carry his undoubted speed 10 furlongs and get the gold at Churchill Downs?

maximum security’s pedigree is like fine wine

Some pedigrees are like wine and improve with age. Taking that analogy in the context of the winner of the inaugural Saudi Cup on Feb. 29, Maximum Security has a pedigree akin to aged Burgundy.

The bay son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day (by Street Cry) isn’t that old himself, of course, being a youthful 4-year-old who won’t mark his fourth passage over the day of his birth until May 14.

Even the dam of Maximum Security isn’t all that old; she is only 13. But second dam Cresta Lil (Cresta Rider) was foaled 34 years ago, and her dam Rugosa (Double Jay) is a foal of 1967, the year that Damascus won two-thirds of the Triple Crown and made himself Horse of the Year with a stunning victory over Dr. Fager and Buckpasser in the Woodward Stakes. Buckpasser had been Horse of the Year in 1966 and repeated as champion older horse; Dr. Fager was the great nemesis of Damascus and earned Horse of the Year in 1968 at that horse’s direct expense.

Not only are those deeds and horses of an earlier vintage, but the man who bred Cresta Lil is still around and in the horse game. Stanley Petter, widely known as the “weanling man” when he operated Hurricane Hall as a breeding, boarding, and weanling sales prep operation, bred stakes winner Cresta Lil and sold her as a weanling. For her new owners, the filly was a multiple stakes winner at 2 and then became a multiple stakes producer.

Petter recalled the “first thing we did with our foals was to handle them. Never let them come to fear your touch; instead, work with them daily, help them to learn to walk, stand, and gently respond to commands. The results virtually sell themselves,” the weanling man said with a smile.

He also remembered the dam of Cresta Lil immediately because “Rugosa was the most beautiful mare I ever owned. She was drop-dead gorgeous.”

As good at stud as she was lovely, Rugosa produced a pair of stakes winners, and both of them produced stakes winners too. A third daughter, the unraced Hagley mare Rose Above, produced another pair of stakes winners, and the best of these was the Magesterial colt J.T.’s Pet, a winner of the G3 Louisiana Derby and G3 Jim Beam Stakes. But the horse who set this family alight again was the Flatter horse Flat Out, the best racer out of Cresta Lil.

A dark brown horse who improved greatly with age, Flat Out won a trio of G1 races, including two runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Cigar Mile. The tough horse raced from 2 through 7 and earned $3.6 million.

Flat Out’s fame and high class brought added luster to this fine old family, and when his year-younger half-sister Lil Indy (Anasheed) went through the Keeneland January sale in foal to Pioneerof the Nile in 2014, she brought $80,000. That was the ninth-highest price for a mare in foal to Pioneerof the Nile, whose son American Pharoah didn’t make his debut until the summer of 2014, but the champion’s performances that season guaranteed mares in foal to the sire brought a premium at the late-year November mixed sales.

Lil Indy’s resulting foal was the four-time winner Prince Tito, who earned $145,190 in three seasons of racing, but four years later and in foal to New Year’s Day, Lil Indy went through the 2018 Keeneland November sale for $11,000 and was bound for Korea.

The advent of her G1 winner brought a swift change in Lil Indy’s status in the world, as well as her location. She was purchased privately, covered by leading sire Quality Road in 2019, and then resold for $1.85 million at the Keeneland November sale last year.

That purchase for Summer Wind Farm is looking like a pretty good deal.

Maximum Security has now won eight of his 10 starts, winning a trio of G1 races and earning $11.8 million to date. Whether the bay colt ventures to Dubai or follows another path, there is no question he will enliven the sport with his large band of fans.

That is a key to the strength and energy of our sport, and we can hope Maximum Security’s racing managers will set him an enterprising agenda of some of the sport’s greatest races to test his ability and establish his merit for posterity.

remembering ap indy

The heir of greatness, the ancestor of glory, A.P. Indy died on Friday, Feb. 21, full of years and laden with honors.

The grand bay was a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (by Bold Reasoning) out of the exceptional producer Weekend Surprise, by Triple Crown winner Secretariat (Bold Ruler). Linebred to Bold Ruler through some of his most distinguished descendants, A.P. Indy had bloodlines that placed him among the very best in the breed.

With the pedigree to be a star, A.P. Indy never missed in proving those prospects to be correct. He grew into an exceptional yearling who topped the Keeneland July select sale at $2.9 million in 1990, went into training with the patient and savvy conditioner Neil Drysdale, earned black type at a 2-year-old with victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, progressed to become a classic colt, won the Belmont Stakes, challenged the older horses and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, was named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old colt, went to stud at Lane’s End Farm, where the wondrous horse had been bred and raised, became a leading sire, a leading broodmare sire, and has a male line that is second to none in North America.

Not bad for one lifetime.

It is, in fact, almost too much to believe. But A.P. Indy did it, and I saw it. The horse’s lifetime fell within the period that I’ve been equally fortunate to write about racing and breeding.

A.P. Indy became a significant part of what I wrote because on the racetrack and in the paddocks, in the sales rings and breeding sheds around the country, A.P. Indy set a standard of excellence with his athleticism and the qualities that he imparted to his progeny.

Strange to tell, but there was a moment, and it lasted for longer than a moment, when the success of A.P. Indy at stud was not a foregone conclusion. For one thing, there were “only” four stakes winners from the horse’s first crop of juveniles, and that quartet didn’t include Pulpit, the brilliantly fast bay who developed rapidly in the spring of 1997 to win the Fountain of Youth and the Blue Grass, then finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby; eventually those foals of 1994 included 13 stakes winners from 45 foals and 39 runners for an ostentatious 29 percent stakes winners and $8.9 million in earnings from the first crop.

That’s salty by any measure, but several close observers were saying that A.P. Indy was not the sire you wanted if you were trying to breed early speed. Time proved that assessment; from the stallion’s next three crops, there was only one more 2-year-old stakes winner. From each, however, there were G1 winners who excelled at 3 and later.

Then, from A.P. Indy’s fifth crop, which were foals of 1998, came the strikingly handsome A.P. Valentine. This beautifully balanced colt was so full of quality that he sold to trainer Nick Zito, agent, for $475,000 at the 1999 Saratoga select yearling sale. Racing for Celtic Pride Stables, A.P. Valentine looked brilliant winning his maiden over Pure Prize (Storm Cat), then the G1 Champagne Stakes of 2000 over Point Given (Thunder Gulch), and A.P. Valentine became the first foray of the Coolmore organization into the A.P. Indy line when they bought the stallion rights to the colt.

Subsequently, both A.P. Valentine and Point Given were defeated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by Macho Uno (Holy Bull), who won by a snout over Point Given, with Street Cry third, and A.P. Valentine tailed off in last.

Although both Macho Uno and Street Cry missed the classics the following year, in the Kentucky Derby, the Champagne first and second renewed their rivalry. Point Given was fifth and A.P. Valentine was seventh as Monarchos trailed early, scorched home late to win by 4 ¾ lengths in the second-fastest Derby, 1: 59.97. Point Given, however, never lost again and won the Preakness and the Belmont over A.P. Valentine, who was an unappreciated second in each.

At the end of the year, the grand-looking bay was retired to Ashford, where he proved virtually sterile. A.P. Valentine, however, had done a good thing by emphasizing that his increasingly popular sire could get important juveniles, and if they showed their form at that age, there was likelihood of further improvement at 3.

In 2001, the year that A.P. Valentine was twice classic-placed, A.P. Indy’s first important stallion son, Pulpit, had his first racers. From that crop of 2-year-olds came Pulpit’s first G1 winner Essence of Dubai, home first in the Norfolk Stakes. With that, the import of A.P. Indy began to sink in, not just with the true believers, but with breeders and racing people everywhere.

A.P. Indy was not simply a very good stallion, not simply the sire of good-looking and highly saleable yearlings. He was an exceptional stallion who had gotten a very good stallion in his first major son at stud. Breeders took him to heart as the horse they had needed in a cup that was filled to the brim with Northern Dancers and Raise a Natives.

Big, beautiful, unerringly successful, A.P. Indy has since proven himself a major linchpin in the development of the breed. He is the horse who crossed well with the prevalent lines of the 1990s and reset the sire pool with sons and grandsons.

Even at 31, he was gone too soon. I cannot mourn him, however. He is too grand and brave for that. Instead, I bask in the reflected glory of his days and deeds, and I remember. I remember.

modernist exhibits a classic profile in development to date, with his recent victory in the risen star stakes

The victories by Mr. Monomoy (by Palace Malice) and Modernist (Uncle Mo) in the two divisions of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans promoted those two colts to the top of the Kentucky Derby point standings for the time being.

While Mr. Monomoy is now atop the list with 52 points and Modernist second with 50, some of the later preps carry 100 points, and the winners of those races will scale the rankings accordingly.

Mr. Monomoy is a colt bred to improve at 3, being by a Belmont Stakes winner and a half-brother to champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl (Tapizar), but Modernist has a pedigree notable for its juvenile success.

As a son of champion 2-year-old colt Uncle Mo and out of a half-sister to champion juvenile filly Sweet Catomine (Storm Cat), Modernist could hardly have done less to fulfill that heritage of precocity last year. From two starts, he didn’t win.

The good news is that the colt didn’t lack ability. According to comments from trainer Bill Mott after the Risen Star, apparently Modernist lacked something in focus, but the trainer and his staff brought the big colt around, and he won a maiden in his 3-year-old debut, going nine furlongs at Aqueduct in 1:54.24.

In that race, Modernist appeared to rate comfortably on the lead, and in his next start, the Risen Star, the dark bay pressed the pace in second while comfortably holding his position until taking command of the race in the stretch to win by a length in 1:51.28 for the nine furlongs.

With his last two races, Modernist is giving clear indications that, despite the general tendencies of his famous relations, he is showing the profile of improvement typical of a classic colt and is better with distance and experience.

Bred in Kentucky by the Wygod Family LLC, Modernist races for Pam and Martin Wygod, and the scopy dark bay is the third generation of this family bred and raced by the Wygods.

They got into this family in 1987 when they claimed the 4-year-old Flying Paster mare Symbolically for $40,000. A winner six times who earned $163,300, Symbolically was twice second and once third in restricted stakes from 36 starts, and she became one of the foundation mares for the Wygods’ breeding operation in California and Kentucky.

At stud, Symbolically was a major success, producing four stakes winners, the first three by the Wygods’ home stallion Pirate’s Bounty (Hoist the Flag). These included the G1 winner Pirate’s Revenge, winner of the G1 Milady at Hollywood Park, as well as the geldings Echo of Yesterday and Caribbean Pirate. The mare’s fourth stakes winner was by the leading sire Kris S., and Sweet Life won the Providencia Stakes at 3, then was second in the G1 Beverly Hills Handicap at 4.

Retired to stud and sent to Kentucky as the Wygods put their premium mares in the Bluegrass, Sweet Life went directly to Storm Cat. Her first foal was champion Sweet Catomine, and once the champion’s quality was evident, Sweet Life was sent back to Storm Cat subsequently to produce four full siblings: two stakes winners and two unraced. The stakes winners were multiple G1 winner Life is Sweet (Breeders’ Cup Distaff) and listed stakes winner Calimonco, who was also G2-placed.

Symbolic Gesture was the 10th foal of her dam and did not race. Ric Waldman, who has worked as a consultant with the Wygods for about 25 years, explained that “Marty was high on Symbolic Gesture because of the ability he saw in her training, and he stays close to his horses in training to try to see which have that ability.”

Sent to stud at 3, Symbolic Gesture produced Modernist at 4 in 2017 as her first foal. Waldman said, “We had looked at the crosses that worked well with this family and decided on Uncle Mo, but we weren’t looking for a special breeding ingredient at that time.”

In assessing pedigrees and potential matings, Waldman said, “I’m simply a tool. Marty is hands-on, and we coordinate well, as we do now with Emily being involved, but nothing gets done without Marty’s stamp of approval, and if I recommend something, I’d better have a very good line of reasoning that Marty will buy into.”

With the success of this mating in the Risen Star on Saturday, there is every reason to expect that the Wygods will return other members of this family to the champion racehorse and sire and further extend this fabled family’s historic influence and longevity.

This is probably the oldest continuous family in the American Stud Book and traces back through the mists of time to the imported English-bred mare Selima, a foal of 1745 by the Godolphin Arabian. Selima was imported to the colonies before the establishment of the General Stud Book in England, but the great bloodline historian, C.M. Prior, discovered the details of her pedigree and sale to Benjamin Tasker of Virginia, where she arrived as a 5-year-old and won an important match as a 7-year-old against four opponents, a single heat over four miles, that cemented her reputation as a high-class racer. Then, as a producer, she was a broodmare of the highest order and founded a line that continues today.

sole volante is second classic prospect from first crop of sire karakontie, descends from prix de diane winner northern trick

Had the odds-on favorite Independence Hall (by Constitution) won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 8 by 11 ¼ lengths, I can guarantee that the saber rattling could have been heard in China. There’s even the possibility that it could have been heard by trainers and owners out in California, where so many of those other classic prospects are located.

But instead, Independence Hall finished second, 11 ¼ lengths ahead of Ajaaweed (Curlin), and beaten 2 ½ lengths by third choice Sole Volante (Karakontie). The bay son of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Bernstein) raced the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.60 and was stronger at the mile than at the quarter-mile.

That race profile is typical of a turf horse, who would more likely race a steady pace early, then finish strongly. That is what Sole Volante did, and judging from the margin back to third-place, Independence Hall wasn’t exactly collapsing either.

Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, Sole Volante has the pedigree of a “turf horse,” being by Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Bernstein) out Light Blow, by leading sire Kingmambo (Mr. Prospector), and trainer Patrick Biancone first raced the bay gelding on turf.

A winner in his first two starts, including the Pulpit Stakes, Sole Volante was sent into the Mucho Macho Man as his dirt debut and finished third. Biancone said that the switch to dirt was an effort to follow the wealth and prestige of dirt racing in the U.S., and the trainer was sufficiently pleased with Sole Volante’s effort that he brought him right back for the Sam Davis.

Now, Biancone is training a classic prospect, something that delights the stallion season professionals at Gainesway Farm, where Karakontie stands at stud. Michael Hernon of Gainesway said that “suddenly, there’s strong interest in the horse. Sole Volante being on the Triple Crown trail and winning from behind like that, it caught a lot of people’s attention. The stallion’s unbeaten 3-year-old Kenzai Warrior won the Horris Hill last year and is pointed to the 2,000 Guineas for his seasonal debut.

“Let’s face it. It’s against the odds for a young stallion to have a pair of horses out of his first crop that are both pointed for the classics this spring. But there’s a lot of classic quality in this horse. In addition to Kingmambo, who won the French Guineas, there’s Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence; there are classic winners Miesque, Shirley Heights, and Northern Trick. There’s a lot of Miesque and Nureyev about Karakontie physically, and let’s hope that this is the beginning of significant success for him as a stallion.”

Perhaps it was the look of classic quality that Biancone was searching for when he was in Ocala.

Just 10 months ago, Biancone was at the Ocala Breeders Sale in April looking for a racehorse and selected this youngster from the one-horse consignment of New Hope AB LLC. That is the sales name of Marcos Arenas, who used to work with the long-time 2-year-old sales powerhouse Hartley-deRenzo Sales.

Arenas said, “I was 20 years working with Hartley-deRenzo, ending as farm manager, and I quit to try to do this myself. This horse was my first experience going to Kentucky and buying horses. I went to Keeneland with my truck and trailer to buy a yearling or two the last few days because I don’t have enough money for the big pedigrees.”

This wasn’t a little pedigree, however.

Karakontie had won the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere-Grand Criterium at 2, then the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) at 3, and finished his season with victory at the 2014 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. The handsome bay’s 4-year-old season had gone sideways, but the well-bred and very well-performed horse entered stud in Kentucky at Antony Beck’s Gainesway Farm in 2016.

And Sole Volante is from Karakontie’s first crop. Arenas said, “I really like the freshmen sires, and I really liked this yearling. He looked like the stallion. When he went to the ring, I started bidding, and he brought only $6,000. I was so happy to get him.

“We brought him back to Ocala and turned him out. He was very smart, and I really liked him because of his conformation, his attitude. I did an entry for the April sale, but they told me the price was too low. Then I told them this was a really nice horse, and the man at OBS called me back in 10 minutes and let me in. This was my only horse in the sale.”

Clearly, volume isn’t everything. But the colt was also the sole focus of his owner-consignor’s attention. Arenas said, “I was so careful with this horse, I didn’t want to hurt him because this was my only chance with this horse, and when we breezed the horse, he went in :10 2/5, and we were happy. Everything was good, vet clean, and we were hoping that he would bring a little more money, but we did all the work; so we made a little money with him.

“We saw that Patrick Biancone bought him. He had looked at the horse a couple of times, and then he came back to the barn with his daughter and said that he bought the horse for her. That was so nice.”

Now, Sole Volante is a classic prospect, and despite not being a financial homerun, he is the kind of advertising that a young business cannot buy. “I feel happy because we are part of this process,” Arenas said. “He has the potential to one of the real contenders for the Kentucky Derby.”

This is the second consecutive year that the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings has bred a racer who has found success on the Triple Crown trail here in the States. Last year, it was the War Front colt War of Will, who won the Risen Star and Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds, then won the Preakness in mid-May.

War of Will had been a notably more expensive purchase from Flaxman, but Sole Volante’s is an excellent family that has had notable updates in the last year. At the time of sale at Keeneland, the gelding’s page showed no black type under his dam. Now the daughter of Kingmambo is the dam of two graded stakes winners and a stakes-placed horse.

Sole Volante’s half-brother, the Trappe Shot gelding Explode, won the Ascot Graduation Stakes less than two weeks after Sole Volante sold at Keeneland, then won the G3 Canadian Derby in August 2019. Their sibling Light of Joy (Kitten’s Joy) was second in the listed Galtres Stakes at York shortly before the 2018 Keeneland September sale, where Sole Volante went to auction.

This is one of the really good Flaxman families, with major winners in each generation. The second dam of Sole Volante is the Shirley Heights mare Lingerie, the dam of G1 winners Shiva (Hector Protector), winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup; and Light Blow’s full sister Light Shift (Kingmambo), winner of the Oaks at Epsom.

The third dam is Northern Trick (Northern Dancer), the top filly of her 3-year-old year in France, when she was a winner in four of her six starts, including the G1 Prix Vermeille and Prix de Diane, and second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

max player is the first star for young sire, but he is the latest in a constellation from top broodmare halory

When he rolled down the stretch to win the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 1, Max Player became the first stakes winner and first graded stakes winner for his sire, champion older horse Honor Code (by A.P. Indy).

Now a winner in two of his three starts, Max Player has promoted himself to the leader of the first crop by his sire, who had a noticeably quiet freshman season with his 2-year-olds. Honor Code, however, is following a fairly standard pattern for the A.P. Indy tribe in not getting precocious juveniles but instead getting horses that make progress near the end of their juvenile season and especially in the first half of their 3-year-old season.

Max Player is one of nine winners by the sire who have taken their maiden special victories in the last 10 weeks. So, it appears the strikingly handsome Honor Code is following the “A.P. Indy pattern” of maturation in detail. Clearly, breeders and owners of promising stock by the sire hope this trend continues unabated.

One further reason to hope for good things here is that Max Player is out of a storied female family that comes from Stonerside Farm, Elmendorf Farm, and the Windfields Farm of E.P. Taylor.

Taylor got into this family in the early 1950s with the seventh dam Reply, an unraced mare by the little known stallion Teddy Wrack. The mare’s first foal for Taylor was the stakes winner Windy Answer (Windfields). With that, Taylor and this family were off to the races.

Windy Answer produced three stakes winners, including the top Canadian colt Cool Reception (Nearctic), who ran second in the 1967 Belmont Stakes behind Damascus, and Ciboulette (Chop Chop), the dam of three stakes winners, including champion filly Fanfreluche (Northern Dancer).

This became one of the best Windfields families, and Reply’s eighth named foal was the winning mare Respond (Canadian Champ), who went back into the Windfields broodmare band and produced a pair of stakes winners, as well as the small, unraced filly Cold Reply, a foal of 1972 by Northern Dancer.

Her first foal was the multiple stakes producer Question d’Argent (Tentam) and her fourth was the stakes winner Halo Reply (Halo); so a great deal was expected of the mare’s eighth foal, a pint-sized full sister to Halo Reply named Halory.

As with most of the Windfields yearlings, Halory went to the sales, and with this family behind her, she sold for Can$180,000 (about US$150,000) to Jack Kent Cooke, the entrepreneur and sportsman who had purchased historic Elmendorf Farm from the estate of Maxwell Gluck.

Racing for Cooke, Halory was a complete bust, winning nary a race from 14 exposures to the starting gate. Then she came back to Elmendorf, where broodmare manager Hume Wornall recalled that “when she came off that van, she wasn’t much bigger than a shepherd dog. You’d just look at her and shake your head, but Bob Bricken was the brains behind the Elmendorf matings and had picked her out at the sales.”

Despite the busted hopes for Halory on the racetrack, she didn’t disappoint again.

From the mare’s first eight foals, seven were winners, four were graded stakes winners, and two more were stakes-placed. That’s about as good as a mare can do.

As part of getting out of the sport, Cooke sold the entirety of the Elmendorf Farm broodmares to the Stonerside Farm of Bob and Janice McNair in a private transaction valued well into seven figures.

The Stonerside adviser John Adger said, “The key to the whole package was Halory and Mari’s Sheba, and there were 35 mares, as I recall. I noticed that Halory had produced a Grade 3 stakes winner by Procida, who was an awful sire. After we bought the package for Stonerside, Halory’s young runners kept winning stakes; Mari’s Sheba produced Congaree for the McNairs; and we had a lot of good mares to work with. And to top it off, farm manager Bobby Spalding moved from Elmendorf over to Stonerside, where his knowledge of the mares was really helpful.”

Two things made Halory successful: according to Wornall, “they were all sound. No problems with feet, ankles, knees. Just solid racehorses;” and “they were good-looking, well-balanced athletes,” Spalding recalled.

Spalding said, “Halory wasn’t pretty, but she was very special, had the sweetest personality, and threw gorgeous foals.”

The prettiest of them all was a big, chestnut colt by Storm Cat. The transfer to Stonerside had brought a different set of sires to Halory, including Mr. Prospector and Storm Cat. The Storm Cat colt was Van Nistelrooy, and Spalding said, “Van Nistelrooy was an extraordinary foal, just a beautiful individual,” and he sold for $6.7 million at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale. The price more than paid for the entire package of mares that Stonerside purchased.

Van Nistelrooy went on to become the fifth graded or group stakes winner out of the mare, and Halory’s second foal, the stakes-placed Speak Halory (Verbatim), produced the French Deputy mare Parlez. She became the family’s next star producer with three stakes winners, including Louisiana Derby winner International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) and Fools in Love (Not for Love), who is the dam of Max Player.

One of four stakes horses out of five foals to race from Fools in Love, Max Player has clearly benefited from the class in the family and should have good racing in his future.

recollections of ormonde, prompted by snow

While looking through the first issue of The Thoroughbred Record for 1921, I came upon a column written by The Special Commissioner of the London Sportsman. In writing about the first day’s selling at the Tattersalls December auction, these were not the days of live-action reportage, he mentioned the weather and accommodations for such at Park Paddocks, which then turned the tiny grey cells to consider one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time: the unbeaten Ormonde (by Bend Or). He writes:

I do not know that the first day of the sales taught us much, unless it were that trade might have been worse, and Friar Marcus foals are in much demand. All the same, there was a very decided falling off in prices, notwithstanding the large number of would-be buyers. Horses in training were retained at reserve prices, which, in view of a winter’s keep, seems ridiculous, and the wonder is that many of them were sent up at all, unless to satisfy handicappers that they are really considered undesirable — if only someone will give an unknown price.

I suppose English people are so dull-witted that they would never rise to the occasion if all reserves at sales were announced, though it would save a lot of time, but there must surely be some intermediate possibility of leading them up to their work if they are going to bid at all. A sand-glass would be no bad thing, if they knew that the hammer would go down simultaneously with the last grains of sand.

And yet, why complain? Who that has sat through an auction of land does not know that the process is infinitely more tedious, and, after all, it is possible to attend at Park Paddocks in these days and be in comfort under cover and before a fire while the monotony of the sale drags on.

Not so very many years ago, the position at these sales was very different. There was little or no shelter, no fire, and I remember, with shuddering, weeks when the snow was on the ground the whole time, and your feet having become ice-cold, after the first hour, you simply had to endure that condition to the finish.

I half regret those days, for it was then that I used to pick up bargains in the absence of an opposition that did not “stick it out.” Still, even I have no desire for such arduous competitions in these later days, and, even as it is, I find the people complaining of the cold, though they have facilities for warmth which in those earlier times would have seemed Utopian.

“Man never is, but always to be, blessed”* is the truest line that ever was written. I well remember the late Hume Webster on one of those bitter, unprotected occasions going about collecting names to make a syndicate to bring back Ormonde from South America. He would have succeeded in it, too, had he not wanted too much for himself, on the scheme as proposed, and it was fortunate for all concerned that it did not come off, as is well known now, Ormonde, after his first season, was practically sterile, on account of the bad attack of septic pneumonia from which he suffered at Newmarket in his second season [at stud].

He was, as I call to mind, very badly misused in that season, when he ought to have been laid by to recuperate, if possible. The net result was only one living foal, Glenwood, and he was never beaten, but a roarer — the only real roarer ever sired by Ormonde.

Of his stock in his first season, all were sound save that Goldfinch was thick-winded, and Orville (out of Shotover) made a slight noise, but the others, such as Orme, Llanthony and Sorcerer, were sound as possible; and the generally accepted belief that the Duke of Westminster sold Ormonde because he was a roarer must be a fallacious one or why should he have carried on with Orme as principal stallion and bred Flying Fox?

Ormonde had, in his second season, contracted a far worse trouble than the mere thickness of wind, which he shared in common with almost all the Agnes family — including Sceptre. I do not believe that Ormonde would ever have beaten Minting at Ascot had he not been, to all intents and purposes, as sound in his wind as Sceptre was when she beat Rock Sand for the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.

Sterility, however, is a more serious matter, and, as I have stated above, it was fortunate for the proposed Ormonde syndicate that they did not complete the business. I only thought of it just now from a memory of snow on the ground in Park Paddocks at that time.

*So like a poem in prose, our man the Special Commissioner, writes. The quotation he refers to above is Alexander Pope, The Essay on Man, Epistle 1. After a dedication to Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, the great writer gets to his matter, and down the page in part 3, Pope continues:

What future bliss, he [God] gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

I added a second comma after “be” in hopes of making the line in the column above easier to understand. But then life rarely is.

pegasus winner mucho gusto is the latest great success for the sire line of champion holy bull

There have been times when Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (by Macho Uno) has threatened to break through, but there’s no doubt that he’s barking with the big dogs now.

The victory of the young stallion’s first-crop son Mucho Gusto in the Grade 1 Pegasus Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 25, has propelled Mucho Macho Man into an enviable position at the top of the leading sire rankings for 2020. With more than $1.7 million in total progeny earnings, Mucho Macho Man has more than double the earnings of the second-place sire Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), who was the leading sire of 2019.

“But wait, Colonel, isn’t $1.7 million what you earn for finishing fifth in the Pegasus?”

Nyet, comrade. You are thinking of last year or the two years before. When Juddmonte’s great gray colt Arrogate swept the field in January 2017, he won $7 million, and the second-place horse, Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper), earned $1.7 million. Not a bad payday, then or now.

Arrogate, however, elevated his sire, the deceased Unbridled’s Song, to the leading sire in the country with that winner’s purse, and then Arrogate and four other graded stakes winners kept their sire in the premier spot for the rest of the season, with Unbridled’s Song finishing 2017 as the leading sire with $18.5 million.

The same thing happened in 2018, when Gun Runner put his sire, Candy Ride, at the top of the leader board, then kept him there, with the help of 16 other stakes winners, to finish with $17.9 million. [Candy Ride was the leading sire, depending on which sire list you inspect. If one counts the $3 million that Hawkbill earned in Dubai, then his sire, Kitten’s Joy, is leading sire with $18.6 million.] Likewise in 2019, City of Light won the Pegasus impressively and placed his sire, Quality Road (Elusive Quality), at the top of the leading sire list. Last year, however, was the first drop in prize money for the Pegasus, and the $4 million for winning the race wasn’t enough to guarantee the winner’s sire getting the overall leadership.


Indeed, even without City of Light winning more money (he retired to stud), Quality Road did extremely well in 2019, finishing fifth overall with $13.2 million, but the $3 million difference for the Pegasus alone would have placed Quality Road a strong second on the list at the end of 2019 behind the effervescent Into Mischief, who wasn’t going to be denied with $18.9 million.

Even without a guarantee of sire list leadership, Mucho Gusto’s performance puts Mucho Macho Man in grand company, with Into Mischief, Curlin, Tapit, and Uncle Mo ranking slightly below. And prior to the Pegasus, the striking chestnut Mucho Gusto was sold in a private transaction by previous owner Michael Lund Petersen to Prince Faisal bin Khalid of Saudi Arabia, and the colt’s next goal is the Saudi Cup worth $20 million.

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!

Therefore, leading a sire list is not out of the realm of possibility for Mucho Macho Man, who ranked among the top 10 of his contemporaries the past two years. In 2018, he was ninth among freshmen sires behind group leader Cross Traffic (Unbridled’s Song), then eighth among second-crop sires led by such as Goldencents (Into Mischief), Noble Mission (Galileo), and Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile).

Now Mucho Macho Man is leading his contemporaries, as well as all other sires, and should the stallion’s leading performer win one of the major prizes, such as the Saudi Cup, or the one in Dubai, or even the one that the Breeders’ Cup puts on at the end of the year, then the 17-hand stallion could become the first general sire list leader from his male line in more than a century.

This is a very special sire line, scantily represented for decades, that comes down from the 19th century stallion Himyar (Alarm), who sired two important stallion sons. The most important by all measures was Domino, who would have been one of the greatest sires in the history of the breed but for dying very young and leaving 21 foals behind. Even so, he founded one of the “American” lines that produced champions Commando, Colin, Alsab, and others.

The “other” Himyar was 1898 Kentucky Derby winner Plaudit, and this is the branch of Himyar that resulted in 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull (Great Above), his champion son Macho Uno, and his best son Mucho Macho Man.

Although the champions Holy Bull and Macho Uno had some splendid years at stud, neither led the general sire list. None of the sires in the direct male line from Plaudit to Mucho Macho Man have led the general sire list. One of the great-uncles, Dr. Fager, is a son of Mucho Macho Man’s fifth-generation sire Rough’n Tumble, and Dr. Fager led the sire list in 1977, a year after the 1968 Horse of the Year had died at age 12.

It’s a long time coming, but Mucho Macho Man could write some history of his own this year.