after holy bull victory, winner audible clearly has potential, but does his greatest opportunity lie in the classics?

That swishing sound of another ball through the basket was the sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday) having another big weekend with his offspring. Chief among them were a pair of colts who finished first and third in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

The winner was the bay colt Audible, who won his first stakes and third race from four starts in the Holy Bull. The stakes victory was a major step forward for the half-million dollar colt owned by the triumvirate of WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing LLC.

The partners picked up the husky bay at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at Gulfstream last year for $500,000. After being picked out of the Winter Quarter Farm consignment for $175,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s select New York-bred yearling auction at Saratoga, Audible had progressed so well that he worked a furlong in :10 2/5 with a stride length of about 24 feet. The colt had shown great extension and a high degree of thrust that earned him a Group 1 ranking and a BreezeFig of 62 from DataTrack International in its assessment of all the juveniles at the sale.

The partners brought the growthy colt along with a view to the long term. Audible has repaid them with rapid progress when it counts, and the company he defeated in the Holy Bull looks pretty solid. In second place was Free Drop Billy, who won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2017 and was second in the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

In third was the other Into Mischief colt, Tiz Mischief, who defeated Enticed (Medaglia d’Oro) by a length and a half. These two had reverse positions in last season’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. So, through several lines of form, the race result appears solid enough and deep enough to earn Audible a fair share of genuine respect.

 

That’s important because the goal for him, as well as most of the able colts, is the feature race on the first Saturday in May.

Having the ability is the first step, and this is clearly an athletic colt who is making significant progress at the right time to make a mark as a classic colt.

And the next question is whether Audible’s pedigree suggests that 10 furlongs will be a trump or a trap.

His sire Into Mischief won the G1 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles as a 2-year-old, was sidelined much of his 3-year-old season, then came back to finish second in the G1 Malibu at seven furlongs before being retired after winning three of six starts. That is the kind of inconclusive racing career that most frequently precedes a trip to obscurity.

But Into Mischief was not a usual stallion prospect, and he has become a true force to reckon with in contemporary breeding. His best stock so far have been milers like himself, with Goldencents winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile twice, plus the Santa Anita Derby at nine furlongs. That’s the longest distance that any of his top progeny have won a G1, including Practical Joke, who won the G1 Champagne at a mile, plus the G1 Allen Jerkens and Hopeful at seven furlongs.

With no significant racing performance in any of the colt’s first three dams, the best clues to stamina potential are their sires. Broodmare sire Gilded Time (Timeless Moment) was champion 2-year-old of 1993, when he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles, was laid off almost the entirety of his 3-year-old season until he came back to finish a close third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He retired to stud the next season after winning 4 of 6 starts.

Talk about breeding like to like, the racing careers of Into Mischief and Gilded Time are eerily similar.

The broodmare sire of Audible’s second dam is champion sprinter Gulch (Mr. Prospector). Winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs, the G1 Hopeful at 6 1/2 furlongs, the G1 Carter and Futurity at seven furlongs, and the G1 Metropolitan Handicap at a mile twice, Gulch won a G1 at nine furlongs only once, in the 1987 Wood Memorial.

In the weeks following the Wood, Gulch was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, fourth in the Preakness, won the 1987 Metropolitan, and was third in the Belmont Stakes. Gulch never won a race longer than 1 1/8 miles, and no horse in the first three generations of Audible’s pedigree won a G1 race at 10 furlongs.

Does that mean Audible won’t win the Kentucky Derby?

Not even I can look into the hearts of horses to see what greatness might lurk there, but if he’s almost as good as great-grandpa Gulch, Audible is going to be a hell of a horse.

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the leading freshmen sires of 2017 may have all they can handle from some classic-style young sires in the top 10 list

One of the bugbears of contemporary breeding is the extreme attention paid to the results of the first-year sires’ standings. The hyper-focus on immediate, short-term racing success drives the market both for stallion prospects and their offspring.

First of all, breeders look at a stallion prospect and ask themselves whether he’ll be a good 2-year-old sire, whether the horse in question was fast and successful in his first season and whether his sire or other close male relatives were top 2-year-olds. Then they ask whether the horse would be a good match for their mare.

Second, buyers at the yearling sales, and most especially the pinhookers, query themselves about whether the yearling in front of them is likely to be a quick and early juvenile. Are his closest relations of a similar racing character? That’s why the breeders were asking the question.

Last of all, the sales of juveniles in training and then the early-season racing, in particular, are stringent tests of the most likely prospects from the first two steps to get out on the racetrack and win races. Some, like Nyquist, will prosper mightily through the process and send their sires soaring into the stratosphere of stallion appreciation.

After the 2017 racing season for 2-year-olds, the results did not send a freshman sire to the stars the way Nyquist and other good juveniles sent their sire, former champion 2-year-old colt Uncle Mo (by Indian Charlie).

To the contrary, the top five earners among the juveniles of 2017 were by household names Quality Road (Caledonia Road), Good Magic (Curlin), Rushing Fall (More Than Ready), Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), and Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy). Likewise, the top 10 leading sires of juveniles in 2017 were topped by the much-lamented Scat Daddy over Curlin and Into Mischief. Among the top 10, only two freshmen made the scene, with Overanalyze (Dixie Union) and Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) in 8th and 9th of the 10.

Those two finished less than $100,000 apart at the end of an active season for their first-crop runners. Overanalyze had 64 starters from 100 foals of 2015, and Violence had 65 starters from 115 foals. Violence led all North American freshmen sires with 31 winners, and Overanalyze had 26. Each had four stakes winners from his first crop.

With year-earnings of $1.6 and $1.5 million, they stood well clear of the next horses on the list. In third is the only other freshman sire to pass $1 million in progeny earnings last year, but the stallion, A.P. Indy’s son Take Charge Indy, is now in Korea. Take Charge Indy was a markedly talented racehorse who did not pass some academic tests for conformational perfection, and “in-crowd” breeders were racing so quickly away from the horse that the ownership at WinStar Farm was convinced to sell him abroad.

The Versailles, Ky., farm takes courage from the loss by noting that Overanalyze stands there too. Violence stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale, and the next two horses on the freshman list, Shanghai Bobby and Animal Kingdom, stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud and Darley‘s Jonabell Farm.

Whereas Take Charge Indy proved a noteworthy surprise for many people, the two young sires immediately below him on the list were on many observers’ short lists of young sires to watch.

In fourth place, Shanghai Bobby was a champion juvenile by Harlan’s Holiday out of a mare by champion sprinter Orientate. The unbeaten 2-year-old Shanghai Bobby had gotten such quick- and progressive-looking yearlings his stud fee rocketed upward before he ever had a starter. By the end of the juvenile sales season, however, the bloom was off the rose for “Bobby.” Consignors and buyers were decidedly tepid in their appreciation of the horse’s 2-year-olds. Comments included “not big enough,” “look like sprinters,” and the ever-dreaded “may need time.”

The gentle reader might expect sellers and buyers of young critters in training would appreciate horses that “look like sprinters,” but that’s really not the case. The market ideal is a young prospect with the size and scope (length and leg) to look like a top miler or classic prospect but to also have the speed to sail through a furlong in about :10.

Don’t want much, do they?

Well, yes, they want everything, and they want it yesterday.

And that makes the fifth-place finish of Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) all the more interesting. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner was not a top 2-year-old and only bloomed just in time to make the classic and carry home the roses. He improved as a 4-year-old and, after a lengthy layoff, came back to finish a very smart second to Wise Dan in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile, then won the 2013 Dubai World Cup at 5.

Animal Kingdom is also one of three young sires in the top 10 with a graded stakes winner. The others are the pair immediately following Animal Kingdom, sixth-place Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor) and seventh-placed Point of Entry (Dynaformer). This trio have proven they can get the required quality in their early performers; if further improvement comes for some of their stock, one or more of these sires could challenge for overall leadership of the sire class this year.

legacy of spring hill farm and ned evans lives on with champion gun runner

Gun Runner waved goodbye to his legion of fans with a shake of his red tail, and the chestnut son of Candy Ride has arrived in Kentucky to enter stud at Three Chimneys Farm.

Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables LLC, Gun Runner was foaled and raised at WinStar Farm, then sold privately to Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm.

At the 2011 Keeneland November sale, Ben Leon’s Besilu Stables purchased the dam, stakes winner Quiet Giant (by Giant’s Causeway), for $3 million out of the dispersal of stock from the estate of Edward P. “Ned” Evans, who bred and raced Quiet Giant. Gun Runner is the mare’s first foal.

Part of the historical interconnections of racing that run through the saga of Gun Runner is the influence of Ned Evans on racing and breeding, and the man who’s long had a hand in this family is Chris Baker. For 11 years, Baker was general manager for Evans at his farm in Virginia and is now chief operating officer at Three Chimneys.

Baker said, “Mr. Evans was a student of the game and had a passion for it that was remarkable. He combined an understanding of pedigrees, with a continuing evaluation of the individuals in the racing stable and broodmare band, as he sought the best prospects and producers.”

As such, Evans wasn’t afraid to cull. When he cut a good one loose, he wasn’t too proud to step back in the ring and buy an animal that had proven its worth.

This happened repeatedly with Gun Runner’s family.

Evans bred and raced Gun Runner’s dam Quiet Giant and raced Gun Runner’s second dam Quiet Dance (Quiet American). Evans acquired Quiet Dance as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale for $75,000. A useful racemare who won the restricted Gala Lil Stakes at Pimlico, Quiet Dance also ran second in the G2 Demoiselle Stakes at 2.

After her retirement to Edwards’ Spring Hill Farm in Virginia, Quiet Dance became a broodmare of exceptional significance. The dam of four stakes winners, Quiet Dance also produced three stakes-placed performers, a winning daughter who is the dam of G3 winner Lull (War Front), and an unraced daughter who is the dam of G1 winner Buster’s Ready (More Than Ready).

Among the mare’s four stakes winners, the best was unquestionably Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado), with Quiet Giant ranking second as a G2 stakes winner herself. Saint Liam won nine races and more than $4.4 million, and he nearly mirrored the racing record of his kinsman Gun Runner with victories in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Donn (Pegasus), Clark (then a G2), Stephen Foster, and Woodward. Gun Runner also won the G1 Whitney and G2 Louisiana Derby.

Evans bred Saint Liam and sold him for $130,000 at the Saratoga select yearling sale. That was a profitable transaction, but the horse went on to become a champion and earn $4.4 million.

Baker said, “I recall sitting with him at the table in Virginia, when he was signing the paperwork to buy three shares in the syndication for Saint Liam that was worth $16 million. He wasn’t the sort of man who was going to let the difference between what he sold for and what he was buying back in for keep him from participating in a horse that he liked.”

Champion as a 5-year-old, Saint Liam stood only one season at Lane’s End before his death, but the bay sired champion Havre de Grace, among others.

Gun Runner differs from his elder relative by having a faster cruising speed and by coming to hand earlier so that the son of Candy Ride challenged his divisional rivals earlier in his career, winning the Louisiana Derby before finishing third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and Travers, then winning his first G1 in the Clark at the end of his 3-year-old season.

Members of this family have shown high form at 2, as well as later in their careers, and Quiet Dance had been second in the G2 Demoiselle at 2 in 1995. After Quiet Dance had shown her form, her dam Misty Dancer went to the sales, and Evans paid $230,000 for the dam of his successful Saratoga sale purchase at the 1996 Keeneland November sale when the mare was 8 and in foal to Silver Hawk (Roberto).

Retired a maiden after three excursions in maiden special weight company, Misty Dancer was by a first-rate sire and broodmare sire in Lyphard and out of an excellent producer, the Misty Flight mare Flight Dancer, who produced two high-class racers, Misty Galore (Halo) and Minstrella (The Minstrel).

At one point, Evans owned Flight Dancer, a granddaughter of champion Gallorette, but sold her after she had produced Minstrella, who won the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes and two other G1 races, and she was a highweight at 2 in England and Ireland in 1986.

Then Evans sold Flight Dancer before she produced Misty Dancer. But he liked Misty Dancer’s daughter Quiet Dance enough to purchase her as a yearling, then when the daughter revealed her form, Evans purchased the dam as well.

If you love a tangled tale, this is your ball of yarn. But wall to wall, it is a tale of good horses.

claiborne sire arch ‘instilled regard’ in breeders and has a son with classic prospects after lecomte victory

With his 3 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, the freshly minted 3-year-old Instilled Regard (by Arch) put another stamp on his passport along the Triple Crown trail.

Previously second in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity after the disqualification of Solomini (Curlin), Instilled Regard has now won two races, with a pair of seconds and a third from 5 starts. Second on debut to American Pharoah’s younger brother Saint Patrick’s Day (Pioneerof the Nile), Instilled Regard won an 8 ½-furlong maiden in his third start, then was placed in the Los Alamitos Futurity to earn his first level of consideration for serious things this season.

Owner Larry Best, who races under the name OXO Racing LLC, made the decision to ship Instilled Regard to New Orleans for the Lecomte, according to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and it worked out well. The dark bay Arch colt sat off the early pace to pounce down the stretch and win convincingly from the previously undefeated Tapit colt Principe Guilherme.

Bred in Kentucky by KatieRich Farms, Instilled Regard was a $110,000 RNA at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2016, then sold at the 2017 Ocala Breeders March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training for $1.05 million. Consigned by Tom McCrocklin, Instilled Regard had worked a flaming quarter-mile in :20 4/5.

The colt’s sales work was as impressive in the estimation of DataTrack International’s stride evaluation technology as it was on the stopwatch. Instilled Regard earned a Group 1 designation for exceeding all the internal stride performance benchmarks, and he scored a BreezeFig of 70, which is very good indeed.

 

arch

Arch – son of leading sire Kris S. (by Roberto) was a top sales yearling, a Grade 1 winner, and then a sire of G1 winners on dirt and turf around the world. (Claiborne – Dell Hancock photo)

 

Instilled Regard is the 62nd stakes winner and 37th graded stakes winner by Arch, who died two years ago at age 21.

A sale-topping yearling and G1 winner during his racing career, Arch was a striking horse who produced some good sales yearlings and even more good racers. Among his G1 winners alone are champion Blame, also a sire at Claiborne Farm; Arravale, Horse of the Year in Canada; Overarching, three times a champion in South Africa; Les Arcs, a highweighted sprinter in Europe; Grand Arch (Shadwell Turf Mile; It Tiz Well (2017 Cotillion); and Hymn Book (Donn Handicap).

The Lecomte winner is out of the Forestry mare Enhancing, a daughter of champion Heavenly Prize, a big, rangy mare by the beautifully proportioned Seeking the Gold (Mr. Prospector). Heavenly Prize was one of two champion fillies (along with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Flanders) from the first two crops by Seeking the Gold who helped cement that horse’s reputation as an elite sire.

Heavenly Prize was the Eclipse Award winner in 1994 as champion 3-year-old filly and won half of her 18 starts, including eight G1 stakes such as the Frizette, Beldame, Alabama, and Apple Blossom.

At stud, Heavenly Prize produced two dissimilar stakes-winning sons of Storm Cat. Two-time G1 winner Good Reward was a bay more in the mold of Seeking the Gold, and G2 winner Pure Prize was a tall, brawny version of Storm Cat who wasn’t the easiest horse to produce at this best but was mighty talented. At stud, the bright chestnut Pure Prize was much the better sire in North and South America.

This family, going back through Heavenly Prize’s dam Oh What a Dance (Nijinsky) to Maskette Stakes winner Blitey (Riva Ridge), produced some brilliant results for the Phipps family stable, including four graded winners out of Blitey: G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing Spree (Nijinsky), G1 Ballerina winner Furlough (Easy Goer), G1 Hempstead winner Fantastic Find (Mr. Prospector), and G2 Long Island Handicap winner Dancing All Night (Nijinsky).

The first and last of these are full siblings to the dam of Heavenly Prize. If there was some feeling that this family might be losing its G1 edge after Heavenly Prize managed to produce “only” one winner at that level, her daughter Enhancing is helping put the ship to rights with G3 winner and G1-placed Instilled Regard, who is his dam’s third named foal. Enhancing has a 2-year-old filly by Hard Spun (Danzig) named Heavenly Sis and produced a colt by American Pharoah in 2017, which is now a yearling.

New sires’ first foals arriving daily

Pulses are quickening in Kentucky and elsewhere around the country because now and in the near future, farms are being blessed with the births of the first foals by top young sire prospects like classic winner and Horse of the Year California Chrome (by Lucky Pulpit), 2015 champion 2-year-old colt and 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo), 2016 Preakness Stakes Exaggerator (Curlin), champion European 2-year-old Air Force Blue (War Front), champion turf horse Flintshire (Dansili), champion sprinter Runhappy (Super Saver), and multiple G1 winner Frosted (Tapit), who had the highest entering stud fee of any sire in 2017.

Of those seven, two descend from Raise a Native / Native Dancer in male line: Exaggerator (Curlin – Smart Strike – Mr. Prospector) and Runhappy (Super Saver – Maria’s Mon – Wavering Monarch – Majestic Light – Majestic Prince). Two descend from the Danzig branch of the Northern Dancer male line: Air Force Blue and Flintshire.

And the especially intriguing factor is that the other three come from the Nasrullah line. California Chrome and Frosted hail from the A.P. Indy branch of this fabled sire line through different sons of Pulpit, and the third is Nyquist, who is the latest premium performer in an outlier male line descending through Caro and his high-class juvenile son Siberian Express to the superb older horse In Excess, his best son Indian Charlie, and leading sire Uncle Mo.

A principal reason that the rising fortune of the Nasrullah line is of interest lies in the fact that a generation ago, more than a few observers would have consigned the line to the scrap heap.

The line was striving to find a place in Europe through the good services of Blushing Groom, but in the States, the Bold Ruler tribe, which had held sway through the 1960s and much of the 1970s, had experienced a precipitate decline and was generally considered “yesterday’s news” in breeding circles.

The development of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew as a premier sire, although many thought he was not the most likely candidate for such honors, breathed life and sustenance into the line through those lean years when everything Raise a Native and Northern Dancer was the rage.

Seattle Slew’s best son A.P. Indy added further stature to the line with his own successes on the racetrack and as a leading sire. Stallion sons of A.P. Indy became almost commonplace, and his high-class son Pulpit guaranteed the line further glory with three-time leading sire Tapit, as well as two-time classic winner California Chrome, who is a grandson of Pulpit.

In addition, leading sires like Bernardini, Congrats, Flatter, Malibu Moon, and Mineshaft continue to spread A.P. Indy’s influence through the breed to good effect. And the young sire Honor Code is one of the country’s most promising stallions, with his first crop now being yearlings.

This line’s beneficial qualities for speed and stamina, classic quality and soundness, as well as a hearty appreciation for racing on dirt courses, all appear factors that will help its future grow bright and continue as a primary factor in American breeding.

 

new kentucky sires for 2018, part 2

The horses entering stud in Kentucky for 2018 with fees below $20,000 live foal include some fairly well-known young prospects, as well as others that are flying below the radar.

bird song at gway

Bird Song – is a son of leading sire Unbridled’s Song, whose sire Unbridled began his stallion career at Gainesway, where Bird Song retires for the 2018 season. (Gainesway photo)

SELRES_6324a66d-2b3d-4c6d-af1f-2503388dc9adAmong the stallion prospects this year, the pair at the top of this sector of the market are Astern (by Medaglia d’Oro) and Bal a Bali (Put It Back), both at $15,000. Standing at Darley’s Jonabell Farm, Astern is an Australian-bred bay who won stakes at 2 and 3, including the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes at seven furlongs as a 3-year-old.SELRES_6324a66d-2b3d-4c6d-af1f-2503388dc9ad

Astern showed his best form at distances from five-and-a-half to seven furlongs, more along the lines of progeny by broodmare sire Exceed and Excel, a very fast son of leading sire Danehill. Astern is a half-brother to G1 winner Alizee (Sepoy), and his next three dams are all stakes winners, including fourth dam Triscay, who was champion of her division at 2 and 3.

Standing at Calumet, Bal a Bali is a Brazilian-bred dark brown in the type of In Reality: medium-sized, lengthy, and athletic. This neatly made 8-year-old was a four-time G1 winner in his homeland at 3, when he was champion of his division and Horse of the Year. Brought to the States for racing, the horse developed health issues, including a bout of laminitis, but trainer Dick Mandella brought him round on the racetrack to win twice at the G1 level at age 7 in the Shoemaker Mile and Kilroe Mile.

With 15 victories from 26 starts in six seasons of racing, Bal a Bali possesses a level of hardiness and racing aptitude that are atypical in contemporary American racing. His sire Put It Back, a great-grandson of In Reality and useful sire in Florida, has been a revelation in South America since his export, where he has sired champion after champion.

A half-step below these two in price are sons by two of America’s most in-demand sires: Tapit and Pioneerof the Nile. The Tapit horse is Cupid, who enters stud at Ashford for $12,500 after a career in which he won five stakes, including the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, earning more than $1.7 million. A $900,000 yearling of good size and scope, Cupid is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Heart Ashley (Lion Heart) and Ashley’s Kitty (Tale of the Cat). Another expensive Tapit yearling who enters stud in 2018 is Mohaymen, who will stand at Shadwell for $7,500. Sold for $2.2 million as a yearling, Mohaymen is typical of his sire: medium-sized, neatly made, and good-looking. A one-time favored prospect for the 2016 classics, Mohaymen won four times at the G2 level (Nashua, Remsen, Holy Bull, and Fountain of Youth).

In addition to siring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Pioneerof the Nile got the wildly popular young sire Cairo Prince, whose first foals just turned 2. But his first-crop yearlings were so appealing and so strongly supported at the sales, there was even greater demand for ‘Pioneer’ sons at stud. And Midnight Storm enters stud at Taylor Made for $12,500. A stakes winner from 3 through 6, Midnight Storm earned more than $1.7 million. His only victory at the top level was the G1 Shoemaker Mile in 2016, but the horse is a five-time winner of G2 stakes and showed his best form when striding freely on the lead like his broodmare sire Bertrando.

Among the stallions at $10,000 is the Pulpit son American Freedom, who is a big and substantially made horse in the mold of grandsire A.P. Indy. Standing at Airdrie, American Freedom won the G3 Iowa Derby but earned his street cred with seconds in the G1 Travers to Arrogate and in the G1 Haskell to Exaggerator.

Also at $10,000 is the Malibu Moon horse Gormley, winner of the 2017 Santa Anita Derby and the 2016 Frontrunner, both at the G1 level, and a winner of more than $1 million. Standing at Spendthrift alongside his famous sire, Gormley is one of two well-regarded sons of the big, bay son of A.P. Indy who enter stud for 2018. The other is the two years older Mr. Z, a contemporary of American Pharoah and Dortmund who was in the frame with the latter when third in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Mr. Z won the Ohio Derby and earned more than $1.1 million. The handsome chestnut stands for $7,500 at Calumet.

Another entering stallion at the $10,000 level is the Quality Road 4-year-old Klimt, winner of the G1 Del Mar Futurity and second in the Frontrunner to Gormley at 2. Klimt was second to West Coast in the Los Alamitos Derby and third to Battle of Midway in the Shared Belief Stakes in his only two starts at 3. A very handsome specimen, Klimt stands at Darby Dan for $10,000. Klimt had the precocious speed to run a quarter at the OBS March sale in :20 4/5 and sold for $435,000.

Another son of the immensely popular young sire Quality Road is that stallion’s first-crop horse Hootenanny. Entering stud at Buck Pond Farm, Hootenanny won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2014, when he also won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and was second in the G1 Prix Morny. Hootenanny did not recapture that form but placed in stakes at 4 and 5, will stand for $5,000 live foal.

The final stallion for $10,000 is the Candy Ride bay Unified, a winner of the G2 Peter Pan at 3 and the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint over Mind Your Biscuits at 4. Standing at Lane’s End along with his sire and the prosperous young stallion Twirling Candy, Unified is out of stakes-placed Union City, a daughter of Dixie Union like the dams of Mohaymen and Klimt. Unified is a strongly made horse, typical of his sire, and one with the speed to win at sprints and carry his form up to nine furlongs.

Another strong muscled animal is the Buck Pond sire Wildcat Red (D’Wildcat), standing for $7,500. A progressive 3-year-old of 2014, Wildcat Red won the G2 Fountain of Youth and was second in the G1 Florida Derby. Altogether, this horse of the very masculine, Storm Cat type won six races, four stakes, and earned $1.1 million.

There is a son of More Than Ready going to stud for $6,000 at Spendthrift, and he is Tom’s Ready, winner of the G2 Woody Stephens, as well as the G3 Bold Ruler and Ack Ack. A quick-actioned horse with speed, Tom’s Ready earned more than $1 million.

The remaining prospects are all at $5,000. There are a pair at Calumet: Behesht (Sea the Stars), a listed winner at 12 furlongs in France; and Producer (Dutch Art), winner of the G2 Topkapi Trophy in Istanbul and a pair of G3 stakes in England.

The Chilean-bred Tu Brutus enters stud at Crestwood. A winner of two stakes in his homeland, this chestnut son of Scat Daddy was brought to the U.S., where he won the Flat Out Stakes and ran third in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap.

The last horse is Bird Song, a gray son of Unbridled’s Song, like the horse who began this survey, Arrogate. Being the “other” son of Unbridled’s Song to enter stud in 2018 is far from the worst coincidence, and Bird Song won the G2 Alysheba Stakes and G3 Fred Hooper in a racing career with earnings of more than a half-million. Out of champion filly Bird Town (Cape Town), Bird Song traces back through a splendid female family. The scopy gray has good bone and balance, and his presence and ease with his surroundings are a positive reminder of his kinsman across town at Juddmonte Farm.

quality road paying off in the long term with consistency and high performance

One of the positive revelations of the 2017 season was the affirmation – generally believed but now thoroughly proven – that the young sire Quality Road is a member of the stallion elite.

On entering stud in 2011, Quality Road was an outstanding prospect. The tall and striking dark horse was one of the very best racing sons of leading sire Elusive Quality (by Gone West), along with double classic winner and champion Smarty Jones, European highweight Raven’s Pass (Breeders’ Cup Classic, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), and Australian champion Sepoy (Golden Slipper, Blue Diamond Stakes). Furthermore, Quality Road comes from a first-class female family and had a sterling racing career that was highlighted by very fast victories at eight and nine furlongs.

In fact, after his Metropolitan Handicap win in 2010, Quality Road was considered the leader of his division until Blame forcibly dethroned him with a narrow victory in the G1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Then, Blame went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Eclipse Award as leading older colt.

Quality Road entered stud at Lane’s End Farm in 2011 as a horse of exciting potential in a markedly down-beat bloodstock market, and the strongest factors the dark bay son of Elusive Quality had going for him were an outstanding physique and the shocking speed he had inherited from his sire, who is one of the conduits for the Mr. Prospector line through Gone West.

Now, the speed and high class that Quality Road showed on the racetrack have brought him to further glory in his newer role as a sire.

With the victory of City of Light in Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Quality Road rose a notch to end the year in a tie for first place among all sires of graded stakes winners. With 11 GSWs for the year, Quality Road sits in first place with the late and much lamented sire Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), just one GSW ahead of two heavyweights of the American sire ranks: perennial leading sire Tapit (Pulpit) and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado), both with 10 GSWs each.

Quality Road actually has more graded victories in 2017 than Scat Daddy, although Tapit and Medaglia d’Oro outrank both on that criterion.

Even so, this is lofty company to be keeping, and Quality Road will be getting further recognition for his sire accomplishments. Among his 3-year-olds of 2017 is the filly Abel Tasman, who is generally considered the most likely champion of her division when the results are announced at the Eclipse Awards later this month.

The sire has a second strong candidate for an Eclipse Award for 2017 with the juvenile filly Caledonia Road, who won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with a dramatic finish that has set her up as the potential champion of her division.

City of Light became the sixth G1 winner for his sire with victory in the Malibu, and the now-4-year-old colt joins Caledonia Road, Abel Tasman (4 G1s: Starlet, Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Hootenanny (BC Juvenile Turf), Illuminant (Gamely), and Klimt (Del Mar Futurity) as winners for their sire at the top level.

In particular, the ability to sire performers who are effective at the graded stakes level is the hallmark of the contemporary prestige sire, even if other statistical indicators lag. In these, however, Quality Road is well ahead of the breed norms with 76 percent starters (breed norm of about 60 percent), 51 percent winners (42 percent), and 6 percent stakes winners (3 percent).

Not surprisingly with all these credits, Quality Road is the leading fourth-crop sire, and one of his most impressive statistical accomplishments is having an average earnings index (AEI) of 1.96 from mares with a comparable index of 1.64.

Mares with those numbers for a comparable index are indeed mates of quality, but the fact that the horse has been able to improve on them by 20 percent is a serious statistical advance.

For the 2018 season, Quality Road will stand for $70,000 live foal.

In part due to the continued success that their sire has enjoyed, two sons of Quality Road will enter stud in Kentucky in 2018. These are Klimt, who will be standing at Darby Dan Farm for $10,000, and Hootenanny, who will be standing at Buck Pond Farm near Versailles for $5,000. Furthermore, Quality Road’s son Blofeld, winner of the G2 Futurity Stakes and Nashua at 2, will enter stud at Murmur Farm in Maryland for $4,000 for the 2018 season.

** Note: Some readers have asked about the entering stud fee for Quality Road. The horse went to stud at $35,000 and stood at that price for two years, then was available for $25,000 in his third and fourth seasons at stud, and went back to $35,000 after his stock began performing. For 2018, Quality Road’s fee is $70,000 on the strength of his 2017 season that includes a pair of strong contenders for Eclipse Awards: Abel Tasman and Caledonia Road.

new kentucky sires for 2018, part 1

The breeding market is increasingly segmented between the “in-demand” set of stallions who will be covering large books of select mares during the 2018 breeding season and the “rest.”

The breakover point in stallion pricing between those heavily in demand is approximately $15,000, and the stallion prospects for 2018 who are priced at $20,000 and up are the focus of this article.

As the pricing should suggest, these boys need no introduction.

 

mastery dec2017

Mastery – as he appeared last month at Claiborne – was a hot favorite for the classics. The tall and handsome son of Candy Ride descends from the Unbridled branch of Mr. Prospector. (BitB photo)

 

But even among the horses in this elite subset of the stallion population, there are some who are clearly of the highest appeal.

The new stallion with the highest stud fee of 2018 is champion Arrogate (by Unbridled’s Song). The strapping gray established his sterling reputation with a series of victories in four races from the 2016 Travers Stakes through the Breeders’ Cup Classic and inaugural Pegasus World Cup to the 2017 Dubai World Cup over Gun Runner. Those efforts earned him a ranking as the most talented horse in the world, according to the Longines assessments of racehorses worldwide.

A striking, round-bodied yearling when purchased for Juddmonte Farms at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Arrogate has grown into a tall, very well-constructed athlete standing about 16.2 at the end of his 4-year-old season. Still looking quite the racehorse when I saw him last week at Juddmonte, Arrogate possesses good bone, excellent scope and quality, plus the mental character and disposition of a champion.

He will stand for $75,000 live foal.

Arrogate’s chief competitor and contemporary, Gun Runner (Candy Ride), finally gained a measure of success against his gray superior when winning the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, after Arrogate had gone unarguably off form.

Gun Runner, in contrast, has been the marvel of consistency and steady reproduction of form month after month in 2017. The elegant chestnut is little shorter at the wither than his gray rival but is so beautifully balanced that Gun Runner’s height is not obvious till standing beside him.

Gun Runner’s only loss in 2017 was the Dubai World Cup, and the handsome son of Candy Ride came home first in four Grade 1 races this year, beginning with the Stephen Foster, then the Whitney, Woodward, and BC Classic. Out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, Gun Runner shares some of the excellent qualities of his famous broodmare sire in consistent success at the G1 level.

Currently in training for the 2018 Pegasus, Gun Runner is expected to enter stud in 2018 at Three Chimneys for $70,000 live foal.

Behind that elite pair, the entering stallion prospect with the next-highest fee is 2016 champion 2-year-old colt Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile). A colt of immense talent and promise in 2016, Classic Empire found numerous hurdles to steady progress through his second season.

Delayed in his training due to seemingly minor issues, Classic Empire won the G1 Arkansas Derby as a prep for the Kentucky Derby, where he ran a surprisingly strong fourth between a pair of other entering prospects for 2018, Battle of Midway and Practical Joke.

Then Classic Empire ran a winning race in the Preakness two weeks later, putting it all on the line against his elite competitors, only to tire late and lose in a photo to Cloud Computing. As a result of his best efforts and early form, plus the demand for his sire, Classic Empire stands at Ashford Stud for $35,000 live foal.

Practical Joke (Into Mischief) finished just behind Classic Empire in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and his additional best form, winning the G1 Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, makes this powerful bay a horse of great interest to breeders for 2018.

In addition, Practical Joke was a top juvenile, winning the G1 Champagne Stakes, and he is by the immensely popular stallion Into Mischief, the best stallion son of Harlan’s Holiday.

Practical Joke stands alongside Classic Empire and others at Ashford, with his fee of $30,000 live foal.

Just below that price point, going to stud for $25,000 live foal, are a pair of entering stallions – Lord Nelson and Mastery. For 2018, they are trying to overcome a lack of recent activity. The longest off-track is Lord Nelson (Pulpit), who was designated for stud in 2017, but laminitis and its complicated recovery put that off a year.

A big, handsome chestnut with great length through the body, Lord Nelson is progressing still from the condition, but all signs are go for his covering a full book in 2018.

Mastery, on the other hand, was the hottest early-book choice for the classics until an injury after his 6 3/4-length victory in the San Felipe Stakes ended his unbeaten career. The “other” son of leading sire Candy Ride entering stud in 2018, Mastery stands 16.2 and is a strikingly handsome bay.

At the next rung of the stud fee ladder among this elite category are a trio of entering stallions priced at $20,000 live foal: Battle of Midway (Smart Strike), Connect (Curlin), and Keen Ice (Curlin).

This trio is notable not only for their form on the racetrack but also their sire line. Two are by leading sire Curlin, the sire of classic winners Exaggerator (Preakness) and Palace Malice (Belmont) who is now standing for $150,000 live foal. And Battle of Midway is by Smart Strike, twice the nation’s leading sire by gross earnings and sire of Preakness Stakes and BC Classic winner Curlin, twice Horse of the Year.

A robustly made bay, Battle of Midway ran a bang-up third in the 2017 Kentucky Derby and ended his career with a game victory in the G1 BC Dirt Mile over Sharp Azteca, Practical Joke, and other high-class racers.

Connect won the 2016 G1 Cigar Mile but made only a single start this season, winning the G3 Westchester. A scopy horse in the mold of his sire, this horse possesses a similar type to the other Curlin, 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice.

That victory gave Keen Ice something no other stallion can boast: success against Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah. A good-looking bay, Keen Ice also won the Suburban at Belmont, ran second in the G1 Whitney and Jockey Club Gold Cup, was third in the BC Classic and Belmont Stakes.

a cowboy and his students: fear the cowboy a tribute to student-centered teaching at uk’s maine chance farm

The victory of Fear the Cowboy (by Cowboy Cal) in the Dec. 16 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park poked holes in the aspirations of some horses looking at next month’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup.

But the 5-year-old’s victory brought cheers from fans and partisans as far apart as Kentucky and South Korea.

Fear the Cowboy was bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky, raised at UK’s Maine Chance Farm on Newtown Pike north of Lexington, and then sold at Fasig-Tipton‘s Kentucky winter mixed sale across the road from Maine Chance in February 2013 when Fear the Cowboy was a short yearling.

The leggy bay didn’t bring much, selling for $1,500 to Alexandro Centofanti.

Laurie Lawrence, professor of animal and food sciences at UK, noted that “unlike most of the other farms, our horses aren’t the principal product. Instead, the primary focus and end goal are our students. Each semester, we employ eight to 10 students to work on the farm. They handle the mares, clean the stalls, fix the fences, go on breeding shed runs, and do foal watch.”

Those skills are an important part of UK’s contribution to educating these young people, Lawrence said, because “few of the students come from a Thoroughbred background, and it’s a good introduction to Thoroughbreds.” The Maine Chance operation raises 15-20 yearlings annually and sells them at Fasig-Tipton “because it’s right across the road, and the shorter sales fit into the students’ schedules more easily,” Lawrence said.

The education for and introduction of young people to the Thoroughbred business is one reason the farms and owners in the region support UK, its Maine Chance Farm, and the overall equine program so enthusiastically.

In the case of the Harlan’s Holiday winner, both the dam and the season to the sire were donated to the program.

Lawrence said, “Jeffrey Morris at Highclere Farm donated Whom Shall I Fear,” an unraced daughter of the Dehere stallion Soto, who stood at Highclere.

Morris said, “One of the motivations for donating the filly was Ned Morrison, a really nice guy who got interested in Soto and bought into that filly, but we ended up not getting her to the starting gate. The mare was a maiden, and I donated her near the end of 2009, when she was an unraced 3-year-old.

“Her dam (Leh She Run) was floundering with her produce at that point,” Morris continued. “I wasn’t getting any traction with her yearlings at the sales, and it seemed wiser to donate Whom Shall I Fear and allow my partner to take a tax deduction.”

Morris, however, had bred a foal out of the Pulpit mare Leh She Run in 2009 that turned out to be O’Prado Again (El Prado), winner of the 2011 Remsen Stakes and a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2010.

That made Whom Shall I Fear a nicer-looking prospect for UK when considering her next mating, and Lawrence said “the big success of First Samurai (two-time G1 winning juvenile by Giant’s Causeway) in the mare’s second dam led us to look for a Giant’s Causeway stallion, and Pin Oak was generous enough to donate a season to Cowboy Cal,” a young son of Giant’s Causeway who was fairly popular at the time.

In the interim, Cowboy Cal was sold to stand in South Korea and Fear the Cowboy dawdled his way through the Fasig-Tipton sale. That was, however, the last time the bay colt was caught dawdling.

Lawrence said, “Whom Shall I Fear is pretty big, and her babies tend to be late developers, tall and leggy. When he sold, Fear the Cowboy was a tall, somewhat gangly colt, but he was a perfectly nice colt and has ended up in good hands.”

Repaying sensible management, the competitive bay has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout his career. Fear the Cowboy won a maiden at 2, then became a stakes winner at 3, repeated with a stakes victory at 4, and has won a pair of Grade 3 events this season at 5, with total earnings of $570,869.

That’s a hefty return on a $1,500 horse the students, staff, and management at UK and Maine Chance have many reasons to be proud of. As Lawrence said, “A lot of our horses have gone to end users,” like the owners of Fear the Cowboy, and that has the advantage of benefitting both the buyers and the young men and women who are learning the ropes in an uncertain game.

fipke strikes a ‘perfect’ gem with seeking the soul

With a stunning victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Seeking the Soul became the second G1 winner for his sire, the veteran stallion Perfect Soul (by Sadler’s Wells). The stallion’s previous winner at the premier level is Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and in an ironic turn of chance, both victories came at Churchill Downs.

In addition to this pair, Perfect Soul is the sire of Golden Soul, who was second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby behind Orb, and of Perfect Timber, who was second in the G1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine.

Bred and raced by Canadian precious minerals tycoon Charles Fipke, like his sire, Seeking the Soul is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking the Title, a granddaughter of the great racemare and producer Personal Ensign.

Sid Fernando, president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants and an adviser to Fipke, recalled the circumstances that led to the production of the Clark winner’s dam.

“Mr. Fipke bought Title Seeker (Monarchos) in foal to Seeking the Gold for $1.7 million at the 2006 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.”

The mare produced Seeking the Title the following year, but the result was not what one would hope from such an expensive purchase.

Fernando recalled “the dam of Seeking the Soul was not exactly perfect conformationally, but Mr. Fipke wanted to give her a chance on the racetrack and sent the mare to Dallas Stewart for training. Seeking the Title has some chip issues, conformation issues, and Mr. Fipke sent her into training with strict instructions to retire her immediately if she showed any reluctance or inability to train.”

The breeder’s enterprise was well rewarded.

As a 3-year-old, Seeking the Title won the G3 Iowa Oaks, and she finished third in the G1 Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park later that year. The athletic bay had proved her class, and Fipke brought her home to be a broodmare.

And then bred his G3 winner from one of the great producing families in the stud book to his home stallion Perfect Soul.

There was, however, a reason for this.

Fipke said, “We found, eh, that Perfect Soul works best when you have La Troienne in the family, as well as Mr. Prospector, and in the case of Seeking the Soul, he has them both.” This was the pedigree pattern that Fipke was seeking in making out the mating that produced the Clark Handicap winner, and there’s more.

Fipke continued, “In the case of Seeking the Soul, Dallas Stewart likes the colt’s younger brother and thinks he may be even better than Seeking the Soul.”

That match has certainly paid off for Fipke, and Seeking the Soul is the second foal out of Seeking the Title. The 2-year-old full brother is the mare’s third and is named Perfect Seeker. Seeking the Title is back in foal to Perfect Soul for 2018.

Standing for $2,000 live foal, however, Perfect Soul is no longer a stallion with commercial appeal in Kentucky

So why would Fipke use the horse?

There are several reasons. One is that Perfect Soul had a high-class race record, becoming a champion turf performer in Canada and a G1 winner the States as a 5-year-old, and the horse has a very good pedigree, being by European supersire Sadler’s Wells and out of a daughter of Secretariat.

Another important reason is that Fipke employs this approach because he can.

Fernando explained: “Mr. Fipke plans his matings and spends a lot of time on them, and the entire process related to that gives him great pleasure. He is, in many ways, a throwback to the great owner-breeders from the middle of the past century because he derives the greatest satisfaction from breeding his own mares to his own stallions and looking at this as a competitive enterprise. As a result, he is constantly seeking homebred colts that may become stallions for his breeding program.

“This isn’t a common practice nowadays.”

That’s an understatement. There might be five similar breeders in Europe and the States, or perhaps not so many.

Fortunately for Fipke, he has the luxury of doing what he wants with his horses, and for 2018, the breeder will be standing his Perfect Soul son Perfect Timber, G1-placed in the Northern Dancer, in Canada because, according to Fipke, the horse “is the best-looking horse I’ve ever bred.”

Also, Fipke stood Perfect Soul’s full brother, unraced Not Impossible, in Canada, and that horse became the first Sadler’s Wells stallion to sire a North American classic winner with the Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon, who also is a stallion in Canada.

Another son of Not Impossible is Society’s Chairman, who likewise went to stud in Ontario and sired Canadian Horse of the Year Caren from his first crop of racers. Society’s Chairman did not debut on the racetrack till he was 5, and Fernando said, “That’s how Mr. Fipke perseveres with horses, and this one, Society’s Chairman, was able to win the Grade 3 Appleton at 7 and place second in the G1 Turf Mile at Keeneland behind champion Gio Ponti.”

Fernando recalled that Fipke chose to stand Not Impossible due to the circumstance of Viceregal and Vice Regent, both bred by E.P. Taylor in Canada and sent to stud at his Windfields. Whereas Viceregal was a divisional champion in his homeland, Vice Regent was lightly raced and not a stakes winner, but a better specimen and became a high-class sire, numbering champion and leading sire Deputy Minister among his numerous good offspring.

Using that example as his model, Fipke got a Canadian classic winner from Not Impossible and came close to getting an American classic winner from Perfect Soul.

With Seeking the Soul, Fipke has an improving 4-year-old with the potential to challenge the divisional leaders, and he plans to do exactly that in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup.