top value-sire khozan showing strength with first-crop juveniles in stakes

While Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile) is battling for freshman sire supremacy with Florida Derby winner Constitution (Tapit), nestled in among the highly ranked young sires standing for five-figure or six-figure fees is a pair of less-expensive animals: Competitive Edge (Super Saver) in third and Khozan (Distorted Humor) in fourth on the current freshman sire list.

Those two are sitting just clear of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song), Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern (Offlee Wild), and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice (Curlin). Tapiture (Tapit), Wicked Strong (Hard Spun), and Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) round out the top 10.

Nine of the freshmen sires stand in Kentucky; the outlier in the group is Khozan, who stands in Florida at Brent and Crystal Fernung’s Journeyman Stud north of Ocala. And Khozan has been standing for the smallest fee in the group, $4,000 live foal. [The fee will hop to $8,500 in 2020.]

The reason for the smaller stud fee is the good-looking sire’s race record, or actually the absence of the mulit-season, high-achieving race record of a G1 winner or champion. A half-brother to champion Royal Delta and one of the top lots at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds in training in 2014, selling to Al Shaqab Racing for $1 million, Khozan made only two starts. In the first, a seven-furlong maiden at Gulfstream on Jan. 24, 2015, the strong-bodied colt put himself in the race from the start, advancing from fourth at the quarter pole to a two-length lead at the stretch call, then pulling away to win by 3 ¾ lengths.

That race made believers of many, and when Khozan made his second start four weeks later in a mile allowance at Gulfstream, he was odds on at 1-20. The colt again placed himself well and kept on finding the speed to massacre his opposition, pulling away to win by 12 ¾ lengths “with an uncocked whip as the easiest of winners,” according to the chart.

Khozan never raced again.

The powerful bay was a likely favorite for the Florida Derby but picked up an injury to his right hind ankle shortly before his expected stakes debut.

Brent Fernung said, “After that second race, I was assuming he’d be a Grade I winner and go to stud in Kentucky, but he came up with an injury that sent him to stud. It was very fortunate for somebody like me to be able to get their hands on a horse like Khozan, and we ended up with a really good group of guys to back him. Al Shaqab kept a big percentage in him, and Gil Campbell, over at Stonehedge Farm, took a quarter. He’s bred a lot of good mares to this horse” and bred the stallion’s first stakes winner, Liam’s Lucky Charm.

Their commitment and hard work are paying off big time. Now sitting fourth on the national list of freshmen sires, Khozan has three stakes winners and three stakes-placed horses among his 31 starters and 14 winners out of a first crop of 73 foals, which is also the smallest number of foals among the top 15 freshmen sires.

The stallion’s stakes winners are: Liam’s Lucky Charm, winner of the $200,000 Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed Division on Aug. 31 at Gulfstream Park; Airbus, winner of the G1 Clasico Polla de Potrillos on Sept. 8 in Peru; and Sebs Princess, winner of the Louisiana Jewel Stakes at Delta Downs on Oct. 18.

The latter was bred in Louisiana by Jay Adcock and Red River Farms from A True Star (Yes It’s True), a mare that Adcock bought for $2,500 at the OBS winter mixed sale in 2017. He said, “I try to buy little stakes mares or stakes producers, and this mare had produced a nice colt by Congrats named Joe Hollywood, who’d have been counted a really good horse if a couple of close decisions had gone his way. He was from the A.P. Indy line, and I wanted her to breed to Guilt Trip or Bind,” both A.P. Indy-line horses that Adcock stands in Louisiana.

“I knew the mare was in foal to Khozan,” Adcock said, “who had looked really promising and had run some good numbers, and we got a really nice filly out of the mare. This filly was a big, tall, leggy filly with a lot of scope who came to the sale with a clean vet report, and nobody even wanted to look at her. The buyers here had never heard of the horse, never seen him run, and they didn’t want her. The man who bought her [for $5,500] was a fellow who did know something about Khozan.”

Racing for Northpointe Thoroughbreds, Sebs Princess has won $79,500 from two victories in five starts and was doing her best racing in the last quarter-mile of the Louisiana Jewel.

In what appears to be a conscious effort to spread the Khozan stock into different hands, Journeyman sold mares in foal to the stallion, and they were widely dispersed, none more so than the dam of Airbus.

Gracie’s Kitty G., the dam of Airbus, was an unraced mare by D’Wildcat that Journeyman sold on behalf of breeders Allen and Jenny Gardner for $3,500 at the OBS January sale in 2017 to Vicente Portaro, agent. A half-sister to G2 stakes winner Oprah Winney (Royal Academy), Gracie’s Kitty G. produced her first foal in 2015, and Airbus, foaled in Peru, is her second.

That approach has paid off handsomely through the varied opportunities available to Khozan’s stock, and Fernung observed, “This was a really fast horse who worked the co-fastest furlong at Fasig’s February sale in 2014, and he’s by a really fast horse in Distorted Humor who became a leading sire.” Distorted Humor’s best racing sons have been Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, Whitney winner Commentator, Travers winner Flower Alley, Haskell winner Any Given Saturday, and Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer.

Interestingly, however, Distorted Humor’s most successful son at stud to date has been the freakishly fast Maclean’s Music, sire of 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing; Malibu Stakes winner Jimmy Creed, sire of 11 stakes winners to date; and Alternation, sire of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress.

The fast and talented Khozan is bidding to join them as an important sire.

superstar frankel also delivers the goods at stud

So, how is the unbeaten superhorse Frankel doing at stud?

Right nicely, since you asked. Only his sire Galileo would garner higher praise among most breeders and assessors of bloodstock in Europe, and on Oct. 12, the burly young sire notched his tenth Group 1 winner when Juddmonte Farms’s Quadrilateral won the G1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket to remain unbeaten in three starts.

Frankel’s 10th G1 winner comes from the horse’s fourth crop of racers, and the nice-looking chestnut is a fine ending to a very good year for Frankel. The sire had added English classic victories to his impressive list of successes this season with an Oaks victory for Anapurna, also winner of the G1 Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend, and with a St. Leger victory for undefeated Logician, a striking gray who races in the colors of owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. Logician is expected to contest premier events next season at 12 and perhaps even 10 furlongs.

As that suggests, one of the fascinating aspects of Frankel as a sire is his success in getting horses who adapt well to a wide variety of distances. Some are notably quicker than is typical of this male line, much quicker than typical of his sire Galileo, especially, who is fine old influence for classic performance and stamina but needs a sharp infusion of speed if he is going to get even a miler.

Frankel, for instance, is out of a very good producer by the top sprinter and sire Danehill (Danzig). Such is the stoutness of this branch of Northern Dancer, indeed, that if you want a fast Frankel, you should send him a quick mare. Send him a mare by Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Daylami (Doyoun) or Strub Stakes winner Mizzen Mast (Cozzene), and you get a winner of the St. Leger (Logician) and a winner of the Fillies Mile (Quadrilateral), who made a fine run up the hill at Newmarket that put an emphasis on stamina.

Yet the unqualified success of getting 10 G1 winners, not lifetime but in only his first four crops, and 38 other stakes winners was not what some sales ring mavens were predicting for the bay son of Galileo. Indeed, Frankel was being damned with faint praise when his first yearlings came to market, and long was the talk that he would be a flop at siring racehorses.

Chief among the complaints was that he wasn’t “getting a type.” That much, however, is true. The Frankels may come in nearly any color found in the Thoroughbred, and they aren’t much like peas in a pod otherwise. But they do have an alarming consistency; nearly all of them can run.

Sure enough, Frankel has not replaced his sire and doesn’t seem likely to do so because Galileo has sired more stakes winners and G1 winners and classic winners than any sire in history. Frankel is undoubtedly, however, a very good sire and quite possibly the best is yet to come.

One of the more serious objections to the elevation of Frankel to the elite ranking among sires was the contention that if he didn’t respond immediately with great successes from his young stock, then he would get much lesser mares and have much lesser success.

I, for one, don’t believe it matters.

Frankel is privileged to have a pedigree that is rife with excellence, and he had the racing class to indicate that he inherited all that was bright and beautiful from his forebears, as well as fast.

As a result, I am not surprised that Frankel has had success when mated to outstanding broodmares, as well as dams who are good, certainly good since they are going to Frankel, but far from extraordinary.

Take Nimble Thimble, the dam of Quadrilateral, for instance. She won a single race, and from four foals of racing age, Quadrilateral is the mare’s first stakes winner. So how did she rate getting to be in Frankel’s book?

Being a third-generation Juddmonte-bred from one of the farm’s great families surely didn’t hurt. I also suspect that the managers at Banstead Manor in England noted that Nimble Thimble was getting a good sort of foal, and she was successively mated to the farm stallions Bated Breath, Oasis Dream, Kingman, and Frankel.

The mare’s first foal has won three times, and the third, a colt by Kingman named Boardman, is listed stakes-placed. They appear to be useful horses but nothing more.

The upgrade to Frankel produced Quadrilateral, who is quite a lot more. Unbeaten from three starts and now a G1 winner, Quadrilateral had been made favorite for next year’s 1,000 Guineas before she won the Fillies Mile, and she had to be supplemented for that race at a cost of 40,000 pounds.

There is also good form in the family just a generation away. Nimble Thimble is a half-sister to Three Valleys (Diesis), who finished first in the G1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in 2003, then was subsequently disqualified. To make the situation worse, Three Valleys was second in the G1 Dewhurst and never won a subsequent G1, although the handsome chestnut did win the G2 Del Mar Handicap and was twice third in the G1 Citation Handicap when trained by Bobby Frankel.

Three Valleys and Nimble Thimble are out of the Niniski mare Skiable, who is a stakes-placed half-sister to Hasili, the dam of five G1 winners, plus a G2 and a G3 winner. This is one of the very finest Juddmonte families, deriving from Sookera (Roberto), who was a high-class juvenile filly in 1977 when she won the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

maxfield is a huge endorsement for the godolphin program, both on top line and the bottom

Godolphin is having a wonderful fall. Across the pond, their Irish-based stallion Shamardal (by Giant’s Causeway) is having a phenomenal year with a trio of 2-year-old sons – Earthlight, Pinatubo, and Victor Ludorum – who have won Group 1 races, and here in the States at Darley‘s Jonabell stallion complex, hometown hero Street Sense (Street Cry) has a top-tier 4-year-old in McKinzie and an unbeaten 2-year-old in Maxfield, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 5.

Champion 2-year-old colt of 2006 after a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby the following season, as well as the Travers. Losses to Curlin in the 2007 Preakness and then in the Breeders’ Cup Classic tipped the championship to the big chestnut, and the dark bay son of Street Cry went to stud at Jonabell in 2008, while Curlin raced on another season and earned a second Horse of the Year title.

From his first-crop foals of 2009, Street Sense got a slow start, and his only G1 winner from his first Kentucky crop was Aubby K, winner of the Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs as a 4-year-old in 2013. That season, her sire was serving mares in Japan as part of Darley’s global stallion operation, but the performances of the sire’s stock bought him a quick trip back to the Bluegrass.

Street Sense’s Kentucky crops from 2010 through 2013 yielded additional fillies in each crop who won at the highest level, from a total of 41 stakes winners from his first five crops.

Yet not until McKinzie won the Los Alamitos Futurity in 2017 did Street Sense get a G1-winning colt in this country, although he had a pair from his seasons in Australia: Hallowed Crown and Sense of Occasion. McKinzie has since added the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, Malibu, and Whitney to his scorecard.

Now Street Sense has a second.

Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin, Maxfield is unbeaten in two starts and has the leggy look of a really good high school athlete. To be somewhat immature yet capable of very high-quality performance at 2 is typical of the better members of this line, and in Maxfield’s case, this colt’s sizable promise is allied with some quality.

The dark bay colt’s move from next-to-last to first around the turn at Keeneland was one of the most impressive in a G1 event all season, and yet there would appear to be the potential for improvement in him, a thought that bears pondering, or dreaming about, given one’s inclination.

Maxfield is out of the Bernardini mare Velvety, who won her debut as a 3-year-old in England and then was unplaced in her only two subsequent starts. The mare’s first foal is a Dubawi gelding who apparently couldn’t outrun me and is unplaced in four outings in England. Following a year without a foal, Velvety’s second offspring is Maxfield.

The mare has a yearling colt by Medaglia d’Oro and a weanling filly by the same sire.

Velvety is the 12th of 15 foals produced by the graded stakes winner Caress (Storm Cat), winner of the G3 Athenia, Beaugay, and Poker Stakes. Bred and raced by Harbor View Farm, Caress produced Sky Mesa for the operation before both were sold at auction.

At the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale, Sky Mesa sold for $750,000 to John Oxley, and the preceding year, at the 2000 Keeneland November sale, Caress sold to Darley for $3.1 million in foal to Coronado’s Quest. After producing that colt, the mare went on a filly binge, producing six in a row, including Golden Velvet (Seeking the Gold), winner of the G3 Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream and the G3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne, as well as second in the G1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont.

The appeal of Caress lay not only in her racing class, her producing promise, and her very popular covering sire (the average price for a mare in foal to Coronado’s Quest in 2000 was $831,111). She also had a first-rate family. Out of the fine producer La Affirmed (Affirmed), Caress was one of four stakes winners out of her dam, including G3 winner Bernstein, who became a notably successful sire of champion Tepin, Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie, and others.

La Affirmed’s full sister Lovelier won the G3 Miss Grillo at 2, and their half-sister was the 1984 Eclipse Award winner for top 2-year-old filly at that age, Outstandingly, by Affirmed’s sire Exclusive Native (Raise a Native). Harbor View raced Raise a Native, then bred and raced nearly everything in this family until selling Sky Mesa and Caress.

And in character, quality, and ability, this family is Harbor View to the Max(-field).

mongolian groom defies his odds, not his pedigree, and becomes another g1 winner bred by calumet farm

When Mongolian Groom overturned the applecart in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, the dark bay gelding produced a proper upset. The son of Hightail (by Mineshaft) started at odds of 25.4-1, the second-longest in the field, and longershot Isotherm finished last.

Mongolian Groom, in contrast, finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of McKinzie (Street Sense), who was being talked about and written about as a champion pro tem and was heavily favored in the wagering at 3-10. In fact, with the exception of Mongolian Groom, the bettors correctly ranked the field in order from second through sixth.

Nor was the form of Mongolian Groom bad. The gelding had won a maiden special at Santa Anita last year as a late-developing 3-year-old, and he made his first start in stakes company in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, finishing third. All of Mongolian Groom’s six subsequent starts before the Awesome Again were also in graded stakes.

He hadn’t won any but had finished second in the G2 San Diego Handicap, third in the G1 Pacific Classic, and fourth in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

The gelding’s success has made a change in how both his sire and dam are perceived and how they will be in demand for the future.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Mongolian Groom is by the Calumet stallion Hightail, who won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint but who wasn’t seen as a “Kentucky” stallion and had been standing in Arkansas at Trophy Club Training Center for $2,500 live foal earlier this year.

That is about to change.

Hightail is already back in Kentucky and is munching in the fields at Calumet Farm, where the bluegrass is as parched as the rest of the forage across the region. No decision has been made about the horse’s stud fee for 2020, but it’s a reasonable guess to expect that it will be higher. How much higher will probably depend on how Mongolian Groom does for the rest of the season.

With four very small crops of racing age, Hightail has two stakes winners from nine starters. From the horse’s first crop came Dynatail, a four-time stakes winner, and she is from the Dynaformer mare Southern Dynamo.

Likewise, Mongolian Groom was foaled by a Dynaformer mare. The Awesome Again winner is out of Bourbonesque, a foal of 2009 who produced Mongolian Groom as her second foal. The mare’s first foal was an unnamed filly by Eye of the Leopard (A.P. Indy) who died as a yearling, and her third foal is an English Channel (Smart Strike) filly who is also unnamed, and there is no evidence that she is in training.

Bourbonesque produced a 2018 colt by the Calumet stallion Raison d’Etat (A.P. Indy), and both were sold at the 2018 Keeneland November sale. The weanling brought $1,200 from James B. Hancock, has since been named Bourbon Treaty, and Mongolian Groom’s dam, in foal to G1 winner Keen Ice (Curlin) on a May 1 cover, brought $4,500 from Jerry Cummins of Equus Farm.

Cummins said, “I think Keen Ice is a grand-looking horse, and I bought three mares in foal to him at the November sale last year. [Bourbonesque was one of those, and] Mongolian Groom was already on the page” as a maiden winner of $40,290, but there wasn’t any evidence that he was going to get black type, nor yet win a G1. “She’s a good-sized, good-looking mare, and I just got lucky,” Cummins said.

“I was cheering for Mongolian Groom all through the stretch” of the Awesome Again, Cummins said, “and after the race, I went out and gave Bourbonesque a pat on the head and told her, ‘You done good, girl.’”

In addition, Bourbonesque produced a “really good-looking colt by Keen Ice on May 26,” and Cummins sent her to first-year stallion Cloud Computing (Mclean’s Music), winner of the 2017 Preakness Stakes. Cummins said that “she didn’t get back in foal, but I suppose I should look at this as an opportunity to get her in foal early next year.”

Bred in Kentucky by the owner of Calumet Farm, Bourbonesque is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Rhineland, a half-sister to G1 winner George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator) and to G2 Remsen Stakes winner and G1 Metropolitan Handicap second Saarland (Unbridled). Their dam is the multiple G1 winner Versailles Treaty (Danzig), a four-time G1 winner, and this branch of the Exclusive female line was cultivated by the Phipps family to produce such graded performers as For Kicks (Topsider; G3 Columbiana), Arabian Dancer (Damascus; 2nd G1 Matron), Lead Kindly Light (Majestic Light; G3 Athenia), Out of Place (Cox’s Ridge; G3 Clark Handicap), Gold Fever (Forty Niner; G1 NYRA Mile), and Boisterous (Distorted Humor; G1 Man o’ War).

Now there’s another high-class performer in the family: Mongolian Groom.

claiborne’s algorithms has winner of the pennsylvania derby bred by family operation

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Maybe it’s something in the water at Claiborne. But over the weekend, freshman sire Lea (First Samurai) had his first stakes winner when Vast won the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Monmouth by two and three-quarter lengths, and Algorithms got his first Grade 1 winner when Math Wizard won the Pennsylvania Derby at 31-1.

In fact, Algorithms had an astonishing weekend. In addition to Math Wizard setting up a tremendous payout for bettors who liked his chances in the race, Algorithms had a second stakes winner on Saturday with Hypothesis in the Harry Mercer Memorial at Charles Town and a pair of stakes-placed horses: Taylor’s Spirit was third in the G3 Charles Town Oaks and He Hate Me was third in the G3 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash.

The handsome bay son of Bernardini (A.P. Indy) currently has eight stakes horses racing around the country and is sitting at 69 percent starters to foals and 48 percent winners to foals, both well above the breed averages. Algorithms, however, didn’t get these graded and black-type results immediately with his first crop, now 5, and this year, he covered a small book because mare owners weren’t seeing enough black-type horses. The current run of stakes action, along with Recruiting Ready, who won the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint earlier this year, may have rectified that situation.

A foal of May 4, Math Wizard was bred in Kentucky by Lucky Seven Stable, and that operation put the colt in training, raced him, and then lost him on a $16,000 claim from trainer Antonio Sano when the colt finished third behind Maximum Security at Gulfstream on Dec. 20 last year. Sano ran Math Wizard back at the same level, and the colt won and was claimed; raced for $25,000 claiming, Math Wizard was claimed a third time in succession and exited that phase of his career.

The Pennsylvania Derby winner was raised at Upson Downs of Alex and Sarah Rankin near Louisville. Alex Rankin said, “Math Wizard was the last foal out of the mare. He was a tough little guy from the start. He wasn’t the biggest horse in the field, but he had plenty of competitive spirit.”

Lucky Seven Stable is the operation of the four Mackin brothers from Louisville. Rankin said, “They own Metal Sales, and I believe they still own Yellow Cab in Louisville. They have another company called Thoroughbred Plastics. There are four brothers who run these businesses together, and their father Leo Mackin was a CPA in Louisville and got them involved in business and the horses.

“They bought four or five yearlings this year and last, and they have two mares with me now, including Sister Blues (Pioneerof the Nile). She’s an interesting story because they sent her to us early in the year in 2017 with the intention of breeding her, then continuing to race her.

“She came in about mid-February, was bred on the 17th day she was at the farm, got right in foal, then went back to racing, where she won three in a row,” including the 2017 Opelousas Stakes at Louisiana Down in August.”

In 2017, Math Wizard was a tough-minded yearling learning his early lessons toward becoming a racehorse, but his pedigree was already distinguished.

The family traces back through the mists of time to the imported mare Myrtle, by the English Derby winner Mameluke. Myrtle was imported to Tennessee in 1836, and this became famous as the family of the fine 19th century racemare Maggie B B (Australian) and her granddaughter Sallie McClelland (Hindoo), winner of the 1890 Spinaway Stakes and 1891 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

By the time that the Royal Note mare Royal China came to the races 70 years later, some of the gloss had come off this branch of the family, and Royal China won only three of her 23 starts. The bay mare got the memo, however, and two of her three foals earned black type. These were Stephanos (Boldnesian), three times second in handicaps at 2 and 3, and Lachesis (Iron Ruler), who won the 1975 Interborough Handicap and was second in the 1976 Fall Highweight against colts.

Retired to stud, Lachesis got her best racer as her first foal, the Tentam horse Muskoka Wyck. A winner in 10 of 50 starts, Muskoka Wyck got a well-deserved reputation as an almost horse, running second in four stakes and third in two more, including the G2 Fall Highweight in 1984. Through much of his career, however, it appeared that Muskoka Wyck would be a placer but never a winner of a stakes. But in 1985 at 6, the bay won the Coaltown Stakes at Aqueduct.

As her third foal, Lachesis produced the Halo filly Halo My Baby, who brought $175,000 at the 1983 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale, then resold the next spring as a 2-year-old in training for $450,000 out in California. As a yearling, she had ranked fourth-highest among all Halo yearlings sold and was the top lot among the sire’s juveniles.

And she never raced.

That, of course, did not stop her from becoming an important broodmare. She produced 14 foals, 13 racers, and 12 winners. Like her dam, Halo My Baby produced a stakes winner as her first foal. That was the Czaravich horse Art Work, who won the Bastille Day Handicap at Hollywood Park and placed third in the G3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar and in the G3 Ascot Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Halo My Baby also produced the stakes-placed Green Baby (Green Dancer), Dontcallmemary (Imperial Falcon), and Red Wraith (Thirty Six Red). The mare’s best racehorse and most important for the subject of this story came as her tenth foal in 1998. By champion Deputy Minister, this foal was named Minister’s Baby and won a trio of stakes as a 4-year-old, including the G3 Gardenia Handicap in 1992.

Minister’s Baby foaled a pair of stakes winners. The first was Ginny’s Grey (Political Force), and Math Wizard was the mare’s last foaled, produced when she was 18.

As a May foal, Math Wizard would have been notably smaller and more immature than many of his early pasture mates, but the chestnut son of Algorithms looked plenty big through the stretch of the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s all grown up now.

storm cat’s son stormy atlantic keeps rolling on with el tormenta in woodbine mile

The Storm Cat line isn’t half as dead as some would have you believe. For instance, on Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland, the Shamardal colt Pinatubo, now unbeaten in five starts, added the Group 1 National Stakes to his record and is one of his sire’s best performers ever. A top-class racehorse, Shamardal has been the brightest beacon on the breeding scene for his sire Giant’s Causeway in Europe.

And on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Woodbine, El Tormenta carried the flag for Storm Cat’s branch of the Northern Dancer line to a brave victory in the G1 Woodbine Mile. The gelding by the excellent Storm Cat sire Stormy Atlantic won the race by a half-length over Got Stormy, who is a G1 winner by Get Stormy, who is a G1 winner by Stormy Atlantic.

So the winner and runner-up were keeping the major prizes all in the family. Bred in Ontario by owner Sam-Son Farm, El Tormenta had won the G2 Connaught Cup in June and was making his second start in a G1 event. The son of Stormy Atlantic is the product of various long-term investments in breeding and racing that began with Sam-Son founder Ernie Samuels.

The two most important decisions regarding El Tormenta came when Samuels purchased the Nodouble filly No Class and raced her with particular success as a juvenile, when she was second in the Yearling Sales Stakes and third in the Princess Elizabeth.

The other decision of great import to El Tormenta was the farm’s purchase of shares in the Storm Cat son Stormy Atlantic. Bloodstock adviser Patrick Lawley-Wakelin recalled that “we bought two shares in Stormy Atlantic when he came to stud in Kentucky at Hill ‘n’ Dale. Stormy Atlantic was what we needed because Sam-Son was using Mr. Prospector so much, and I really believed in the horse to such a degree that I also bought a share for R.S. Evans, as well.”

A good racing son of Storm Cat with a first-rate female family, Stormy Atlantic was out of G1 Santa Anita Oaks winner Hail Atlantis (Seattle Slew), and his third dam is champion Moccasin (Nantallah), the dam of seven stakes winners. This is a family that has produced stallions such as Nureyev, Thatch, and Sadler’s Wells.

And it has made a good match for one of the foundation family developed by Sam-Son from their mare No Class.

Trained by James Day, No Class was a stakes-class juvenile with speed and early maturity. Through her latter two seasons on the racetrack, however, No Class proved only an allowance performer. She was a talented racer but nothing like the best of the best. At stud, however, No Class became a producer of much greater note than a cursory reading of her racing record would suggest. The mare, however, was sound, made 29 starts in three seasons, and possessed both class and 2-year-old form that proved most helpful to her offspring.

No Class became the dam of six stakes winners from eight foals, and the best-known of them were G1 winners Sky Classic (Nijinsky) and Always a Classic (Deputy Minister), in addition to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile second Regal Classic (Vice Regent) and champion filly Classy ‘n Smart (Smarten).

The latter was her mother’s daughter as a producer also, getting four stakes winners from nine foals. These included Eclipse Award winner Dance Smartly (Danzig) and leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector). Of importance to our story, however, was the unraced Seattle Slew mare Seattle Classic.

Although she didn’t make the races, Seattle Classic became the second daughter of Classy ‘n Smart to produce a G1 winner, along with half-sister Dance Smartly. Seattle Classic’s second foal was Hello Seattle (Deputy Minister), who won two of her three starts at 2, including the G1 Mazarine Stakes, and was champion juvenile filly in Canada.

Seattle Classic also produced the stakes winner Sail from Seattle and the stakes-placed Go Classic and Fleet of Foot, all by Gone West (Mr. Prospector). Second in the Ontario Damsel and third in the Whimsical and La Voyageuse, Fleet of Foot produced multiple G3 stakes winner His Race to Win (Stormy Atlantic), as well as the El Prado mare Torreadora, who won a pair of races and earned $116,265.

Sent to stud, the natural mate for her was the sire of her graded stakes-winning half-brother. That has produced the mare’s first stakes winner and graded winner. Torreadora has an unraced 3-year-old full brother to El Tormenta, a yearling filly by Mizzen Mast, and produced a foal of 2019 by the very fast young sire Palace.

This year, the 25-year-old Stormy Atlantic has a half-dozen stakes winners and has accounted for 102 stakes winners to date, according to Jockey Club records.

jockey club’s proposed rule to limit stallion books is provoking comment and analysis

Those wild revolutionaries at the Jockey Club lobbed an incendiary device into last week’s news with the announcement that their board of stewards was considering a “rule to limit the annual breeding of individual stallions starting with the 2021 breeding season.”

In the final days leading up to the world’s largest yearling sale at Keeneland, the words on everyone’s tongues were “book limits,” “rising stud fees,” and “restraint of trade,” depending on the speaker’s view of the proposed rule. Not “let’s make a deal.”

The “book limit” under the proposed rule for stallions would be a cap on the total number of mares bred to individual stallions in North America at 140. This would be a significant restriction to a small number of stallions and a slight restriction to a few more. A press release from the Jockey Club noted “43 stallions reporting 140 or more mares” in their 2018 books, and those stallions accounted for nearly 30 percent of the mares covered.

The consideration of the proportion of mares being covered by a limited number of stallions was the primary reason of concern cited by the Jockey Club board of stewards in their announcement. It was felt that a “worrisome concentration of the gene pool” was not in the best interests of the breed, and therefore the Jockey Club had to make recommendations to correct the situation.

Decisions made by the Jockey Club are a transforming force on the breed, and the proposed rule to limit stallion books is being considered to stabilize the size of the gene pool.

If the rule takes effect as stated, one of the predictions made by both stallion managers and by breeders is that stud fees will rise. As supplies decrease, prices rise.

This mitigates, perhaps even entirely erases, the loss of income that some farms might incur from the diminished number of mares covered. Cash income, however, is not the only consideration in some operations that rely on volume to improve the chances of producing a superior performer.

So, as with most economic considerations, some will gain more and some will gain less.

As stated in their proposal, the Jockey Club stewards “will continue to study the decreasing diversity of the Thoroughbred gene pool and its cause and potential effects over the course of time. As more data and analyses become available, the stewards may revise The Jockey Club’s approach to protecting the breed’s health and welfare.”

The Jockey Club could choose to continue on this course to limit book size of stallions or pursue another route. But of equal importance is that the Jockey Club can make the decision without needing to convince everyone in racing, or even in breeding.

I facetiously told a concerned stallion manager that the stewards needed to convince only the 20 chief investors in stallion equity in Kentucky. Actually, that might be more along the lines of the 200 primary investors, but it is a surprisingly modest number.

And if a consensus of stallion owners and investors decides these steps are in its overall best interests, I have no doubt they will pursue them, even if there are a modest number of dissenters.

Not least among the reasons for the pursuit of a goal such as this is that the Jockey Club is “dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing.” Among the other principles dear to many is the avoidance and mitigation of risk, and if there is anything riskier than breeding Thoroughbreds, perhaps it’s skydiving.

A corollary of this rule change would be the mitigation of risk.

As economist and writer Allison Schrager says in her recently published book An Economist Walks Into a Brothel, “Facing risk is the cost of getting what we want, and just like any cost, sometimes we can economize and get more for less” risk.

By limiting books, raising stud fees, and consequently reducing the number of yearlings available by the most popular sires, breeders and stallion owners would incidentally receive more money for those yearlings. At least, if the principles of free trade work, the fewer yearlings available by popular sire X, the higher the prices for them should be.

And, in doing the right thing for the breed, both breeders and the Jockey Club will have done themselves a favor as well.

sky mesa gets third g1 winner with spinaway winner perfect alibi

Sky Mesa (by Pulpit) got his third U.S. Grade 1 winner from 13 crops of racing age when Perfect Alibi won the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 1 after a game contest with the Into Mischief fillies Frank’s Rockette and Figure of Speech. On the same day, Sky Mesa’s juvenile daughter Sky Kitten finished third in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth.

Both of the sire’s previous G1 winners in the States came from his second crop, foals of 2006. Sky Diva won the 2008 Frizette Stakes and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; the next season, 3-year-old General Quarters won the Blue Grass Stakes, then the next year won the Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs.

With G1 winners from his second and 13th crops, Sky Mesa is an anomaly among contemporary stallions, and as part of the Kentucky corps of veteran sires, the powerful son of Pulpit is a definite outlier. In particular, the contemporary stallion market is so skewed in favor of the young and unproven sires that a horse must score and score well with his initial stock to remain in favor with breeders. Otherwise, he’ll be sent packing to a new home.

Of the 40-odd stallions who entered stud in Kentucky in 2004, today only five are at stud. They are classic winner Empire Maker (Unbridled), standing for $85,000 at Gainesway, and the once-unheralded Flatter (A.P. Indy), $40,000 at Claiborne. At a mid-range stud fee, there is Horse of the Year Mineshaft (A.P. Indy), standing at Lane’s End for $20,000, and the unbeaten juvenile Sky Mesa, standing at Three Chimneys for $15,000, with champion juvenile Macho Uno (Holy Bull), rounding out the group at Adena Springs for $10,000.

The Pulpit stallion Sky Mesa is one of five remaining Kentucky sires from the entering sires of 2004 and fills an important niche as a sire of consistent, athletic performers. He recently had his third G1 winner in Perfect Alibi. (Three Chimneys photo)

There is no simpler way to illustrate the ultra-competitive nature of the stallion business than to see how a large group of stallion prospects is winnowed down so emphatically to a select few.

Sky Mesa has remained because he has maintained a high consistency of quality and competitiveness among his foals, and even today his sales yearlings garner interest from buyers.

When Perfect Alibi came to the sales just over a year ago, she was a lovely sort of sales horse, and at the Saratoga select yearling auction, she brought $220,000, the second-highest price of the year for a Sky Mesa yearling. The buyer was owner Tracy Farmer, who earlier this year won the Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston (Awesome Again).

Bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud, Perfect Alibi comes from a family that has long been a part of the Pin Oak story. The Spinaway winner’s fourth dam is the marvelous T.V. Lark mare Miss Carmie. A winner of the Clipsetta Stakes during her racing career, Miss Carmie produced champion Chris Evert (Swoon’s Son) as her second foal, and the mare’s fourth foal was stakes winner All Rainbows (Bold Hour), who later became the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors (Caro).

In between, Josephine Abercrombie, owner of Pin Oak Stud, had become part of the Miss Carmie Partners that owned the very valuable and successful producer. In all, Miss Carmie produced 10 daughters, and nine produced stakes winners.

The mare’s 13th named foal, born in 1985, was a bay filly by French champion Blushing Groom (Red God) later named Missed the Wedding. A non-winner from two starts, this mare was a “nice, Blushing Groom type of mare,” according to Pin Oak farm manager Clifford Barry. “As I recall it, Ms. Abercrombie bought out the partners in the filly, and that’s how she came to Pin Oak.”

Like her dam and half-sisters, Missed the Wedding was a good producer. Her first foal was the Storm Cat filly Missed the Storm, who won the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga, and her third foal was the multiple graded winner Green Means Go (Green Dancer).

One of the mare’s non-winners was Rumors Are Flying (Kris S.), who produced the stakes winner No Use Denying (Maria’s Mon) as her fourth foal. No Use Denying is the dam of the Spinaway winner, who is the latest of five winners from five foals to race from the dam.

Now a winner in three of her four starts, Perfect Alibi has earned $380,988. Pin Oak “has just weaned a lovely Flatter filly out of No Use Denying,” and the mare is back in foal to freshman sire Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) for next year.

code of honor stakes out new territory for galileo’s branch of sadler’s wells male line

Victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga made Code of Honor (by Noble Mission) the seventh 3-year-old colt of 2019 to win a G1 stakes in the States at nine furlongs or farther on dirt. The others are Maximum Security (Florida Derby, Haskell), Roadster (Santa Anita Derby), Omaha Beach (Arkansas Derby), Country House (Kentucky Derby), War of Will (Preakness), and Sir Winston (Belmont).

That’s not a shabby lineup, but it’s worth noting that none of the other six started in the Travers. That fact kept the key race at Saratoga from being a longed-for divisional championship, but some of the half-dozen mentioned above hope to make the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Handy, handsome, and sound, Code of Honor is certain to start for the Classic if all goes well for the chestnut son of Noble Mission (Galileo). Usually referred to by his official nickname, “full brother to the unbeaten superhorse Frankel,” Noble Mission is easing out from under the towering shadow of his famous brother and beginning to cast some shade of his own.

Three-time G1 winner Noble Mission is the first son of Galileo (by Sadler’s Wells) to get a G1 winner on dirt in the U.S. (photo courtesy of Lane’s End)

For instance, Noble Mission is the first son of Galileo to sire a winner of a G1 race on dirt that I can find record of. This is not a minor accomplishment. Neither Galileo nor his famous sire Sadler’s Wells sired a G1 winner on the dirt courses of America, either. The primary reason for that is the sons and daughters of those two great sires were campaigned almost exclusively in Europe, which has no G1s on dirt, and darned few of those were sent to test the dust of American dirt racing.

The only son of Sadler’s Wells who has set up camp in America and prospered is El Prado, a highweighted juvenile in Ireland at 2 who did not train on at 3. As a result, El Prado was sold to the U.S., beginning his career at Airdrie Stud at a modest stud fee and earning his way to stallion stardom through the speed, tenacity, versatility, and soundness of his offspring. They race with excellence on dirt, as well as on turf.

Ever so fitting, El Prado has a pair of top-tier sons, one associated mostly with turf and the other mostly with dirt. The turf son of El Prado is champion turf racehorse Kitten’s Joy, who has shown much of his sire’s versatility for distance in his progeny but has gotten by far the best results with them on the grass. The other top-class stallion son of El Prado is Medaglia d’Oro, who was a first-class racer on dirt and then became the leading sire with a first-crop classic winner and champion in Rachel Alexandra (G1 Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Haskell, etc.). Medaglia d’Oro is entirely in line with the Sadler’s Wells tribe regarding the distance preferences of his progeny, with most excelling at a mile or more, but the seal-brown son of El Prado has shown his versatility by getting stock that are competitive on differing surfaces and around the globe.

Now Code of Honor has stuck his flag in the soil of North America for the Galileo branch of Sadler’s Wells, and it would not do to underestimate the elegant chestnut.

Second in the G1 Champagne Stakes at 2, Code of Honor has won three of his six starts this season, including the G2 Fountain of Youth and G3 Dwyer to go with his G1 Travers. In addition, Code of Honor was third in the G1 Florida Derby and second in the G1 Kentucky Derby.

Bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, Code of Honor is out of the stakes-winning Dixie Union mare Reunited, winner of the G3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. The mare has a yearling colt by Karakontie, foaled a full brother to the Travers winner this year, and was bred back to Quality Road for 2020.

Like most Lane’s End yearlings, Code of Honor was sent to the yearling sales but was RNA for $70,000 at the Keeneland September auction. Presumably, the modest response to the good-looking colt was due to his being a May 23 foal, and trainer Shug McGaughey has commented publicly both on the colt’s immaturity and on the progress he has made over the past few months.

Given that Code of Honor’s sire improved markedly with age and the colt’s own proven ability at 2 and earlier at 3, Code of Honor would appear to be a racer who could become a performer of exceptionally high merit in the coming months.

This would be great for racing and good for the owner-breeder when his G1 winner goes to stud at Lane’s End.

medaglia d’oro sweeps g1 double at del mar with higher power, cambier parc

The Darley stallion Medaglia d’Oro sired the winners of both Grade 1 events in California on Saturday, Aug. 17: the Pacific Classic and the Del Mar Oaks. One of the consistent factors in American breeding for top-quality stock that race well at distances of a mile and beyond, Medaglia d’Oro is a leading son of the top sire El Prado, also the sire of Kitten’s Joy, and El Prado was the best American-based son of perennial top European sire Sadler’s Wells, who was best represented abroad by the great sires Galileo and Montjeu.

They all descend in the male line from the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, the great Canadian-bred with the boisterous personality who became an international bloodstock legend through the excellence and consistency of his offspring.

Sadler’s Wells was a very good racehorse but wasn’t the very best racing son of Northern Dancer; that accolade would have gone to Nijinsky or El Gran Senor, both sires of very high quality themselves. But, along with Danzig, Sadler’s Wells shares the distinction of projecting the Northern Dancer line into the 21st century with greater success than any other son of the famous little bay from Windfields Farm.

As a result, we have Northern Dancer lines of various descriptions all around the world, and the ones here in the States tend toward the rugged and hardy form of their great progenitor.

Racing from 2 through 5, Medaglia d’Oro finished first or second in 15 of his 17 starts, earning $5.7 million. The near-black horse’s most important successes came in the G1 Travers at 3, the G1 Whitney at 4, and the G1 Donn at 5. He was also second in a half-dozen G1s, including the Belmont Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Dubai World Cup.

With the success of his first crop that included champion Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia d’Oro has ascended into the elite cadre of sires who stand for six figures and was at $200,000 live foal for the 2019 season at Darley’s Jonabell complex outside Lexington.

Medaglia d’Oro – Darley stallion has become a major force with racers that prosper at the highest level with distance aptitudes suitable to a mile and up. (photo courtesy of Darley)

There he has been covering large books of superb broodmares, and we see the results among the winners of the Aug. 15 G1s. The Pacific Classic went to Higher Power, who was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Farm and raced by the breeder till sold at the 2019 Keeneland April sale of horses in training. There the 4-year-old brought $250,000 from Hronis Racing.

Since his transfer to California and trainer John Sadler, Higher Power won a mile allowance in 1:34.63, ran second in the Wickerr Stakes at a mile in 1:34.44, and earned his first stakes victory in the Pacific Classic with 10 furlongs in 2:02.43.

Higher Power is the third stakes winner out of his dam, the Seattle Slew mare Alternate. She is also the dam of multiple G2 stakes winner Alternation (Distorted Humor), a Pin Oak stallion whose second crop includes 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress.

Behind Alternate and her G1-winning son are Pin Oak foundation mares Strike a Balance (Green Dancer) and her dam Strike a Pose (Iron Ruler). There are more than 45 black type horses descending from them, including Pin Oak stallion Broken Vow (Unbridled), champion Forever Together (Belong to Me), and 2019 graded winner Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man). These mares have quite literally been the foundation of a very significant part of the racing success of Pin Oak and those who buy stock from them.

The other G1 winner for Medaglia d’Oro on Saturday was Cambier Parc, who was bred in Kentucky by Bonne Chance Farm and who sold for $1.25 million in 2017 as a Keeneland September yearling to OXO Equine. In a similar fashion to the Pin Oak Stud mares above, the dam of Cambier Parc appears well on her way to becoming a foundation mare.

Winner of the Del Mar Oaks, Cambier Parc is the fourth graded stakes winner out of Sealy Hill, a Horse of the Year in Canada. The daughter of U.S. Horse of the Year Point Given (Thunder Gulch) is also the dam of G2 winner Hillaby (Distorted Humor), champion sprinter in Canada; and the G3 winners Belle Hill (Sky Mesa) and Gale Force (Giant’s Causeway).

The best racer out of stakes winner Boston Twist, a daughter of champion juvenile Boston Harbor, Sealy Hill will be aided in developing her foundation family by the fact that all her foals prior to 2018 were fillies, including all the graded stakes winners above.

The eldest of them is Hillaby, who has a 3-year-old colt by Malibu Moon named Fast Cash. And with Cambier Parc putting the G1 stamp of class on Sealy Hill’s produce, greater opportunities will be waiting.