lockdown raises hopes for the future and memories of a historic past with victory in the busanda stakes

The 2017 Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct is named for a mare who was born 70 years ago. By Triple Crown winner War Admiral (by Man o’ War) and out of the Blue Larkspur mare Businesslike, Busanda was bred by Ogden Phipps from some of the exceptional stock that he acquired from the estate of E.R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Farm.

The Bradley estate sold the bloodstock in a private transaction to Greentree Stable, King Ranch, and Phipps, and all the parties reaped dividends. None did better than Phipps, however.

Busanda was the fifth foal of her dam Businesslike, who was the seventh foal of the great broodmare La Troienne (Teddy) and was a nonwinner from only two starts on the racetrack. Businesslike was a half-sister to four stakes winners, including champion Bimelech (Black Toney), and a full sister to stakes winner Bee Ann Mac, winner of the Selima at 2 and third in the Alabama Stakes at 3.

war-admiral

War Admiral – the Triple Crown winner of 1937 – was a son of the great Man o’ War and was the sire of Busanda, the dam of Horse of the Year Buckpasser.

 

So Businesslike would have had considerable appeal as part of the Phipps broodmare band, and Busanda was her first stakes winner. As a racehorse, Busanda was a winner at 2 and 3rd in the Selima. She then progressed notably at 3 to become one of the better fillies of her generation.

The black filly hit the headlines with a victory in the Alabama Stakes at 3, when she was also 3rd in the Coaching Club American Oaks; won the Suburban Handicap and Saratoga Cup against colts at 4, plus the rich New Castle Handicap and Top Flight against mares; and was again victor in the Saratoga Cup as a 5-year-old.

In all, Busanda won 10 of 65 starts, with 18 more finishes in 2nd or 3rd. She was tough and game, had superior stamina, and was beautifully pedigreed. What a broodmare prospect she was.

Possessing more stamina than speed, Busanda was sent first to Native Dancer’s sire Polynesian, and her first foal was stakes winner Bureaucracy, winner of the National Stallion Stakes at 2, the Dwyer at 3, and second in the Travers. The mare’s next four foals were all by Nasrullah, the best stallion in America during his lifetime, and the results were disappointing: a pair of minor stakes-placed colts and a pair of nonwinning fillies. Returned to a more specifically speed influence, Busanda produced 1963 Futurity Stakes winner Bupers (Double Jay) and champion 2-year-old colt Buckpasser (Tom Fool).

Buckpasser progressed like his dam, although starting from a higher perch on the handicap at 2 and becoming Horse of the Year at 3 after scintillating victories in the Travers, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and many other races. A winner in 25 of 31 starts, Buckpasser was one of the greatest American racehorses, and Busanda was his dam.

These horses raced for Phipps, and it is fitting that one of the great international owner-breeders, Juddmonte Farms, bred and races the winner of the 2017 Busanda.

This is the dark brown filly Lockdown, a full sister to champion Close Hatches, both by the Unbridled’s Song stallion First Defence. A winner five times at the G1 level, Close Hatches was a big, slashing sort of filly with a big stride and the ability to carry her speed around two turns.

Lockdown, now twice a winner from three starts, looks a lot like her full sister and became a stakes winner in the Busanda. That makes Lockdown the second stakes winner from her dam, the Storm Cat mare Rising Tornado.

Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke said, “Lockdown is very close to her sister. They were like replicas till January of Lockdown’s 2-year-old year, when she seemed to grow taller, more like the Unbridled’s Songs. Close Hatches is thicker, with a touch more of the Storm Cat, but they may be coming back together” in their development now.

Rising Tornado is a winning daughter of the stakes-placed mare Silver Star (Zafonic), a full sister to English highweight 2-year-old colt Xaar. They are out of the outstanding producer Monroe (Sir Ivor), dam of group stakes winners Masterclass (The Minstrel), Diese (Diesis), and Xaar, who won the G1 Dewhurst and Prix de la Salamandre at 2.

Winner of the G3 Ballyogan Stakes and second in the G1 Phoenix Stakes, Monroe is one of four stakes winners out of Best in Show, dam also of G3 winner Malinowski (Sir Ivor) and Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom).

Monroe is also the point at which Juddmonte bought into this family. Brought to sale as a yearling, the bay filly was a full to Malinowski, as well as to stakes-placed Minnie Hauk, and Monroe went through the 1978 Keeneland July sale for $300,000, the fourth-highest price for a Sir Ivor that year.

Generation after generation, this outstanding family has given racers of the highest class to Juddmonte’s international racing and breeding operation, and Lockdown is another link in this chain of excellence.

In addition, her dam Rising Tornado has a newly turned 2-year-old filly by Tapit named Hail and a yearling colt by Pioneerof the Nile. She is in foal to Malibu Moon.

magic millions attracts buyers from around the world to rich pool of super-fast prospects

The Magic Millions is a fascinating concept. And dead simple. One of the horses in this sale is going to win a race worth $1 million. As a means of selling horses and promoting racing, the Magic Millions has come a long way since its inception in 1986. From that first catalog came the following year’s Magic Millions Classic winner Snippets, who developed into a star performer on the racecourse and at stud.

As managing director Vin Cox said, “Having Snippets gave the Magic Millions a platform to attract more and better stock,” which the sales and racing scheme has multiplied year by year to its present status.

The sale earned its status as a leading auction Down Under by becoming the prime hunting ground for star juveniles, and then enough of them became important sires and dams to make breeders and buyers recognize that this wasn’t simply a sale about a single day of racing.

It was another avenue, another angle, for finding the fastest horse.

As a conjunction of racing and breeding, the Magic Millions has proven a force for shaping the breed in Australia. For 30 years of breeding, it has been a powerful financial incentive to produce a hardy, precocious, and race-ready type of yearling.

Much like the American yearlings of old, these Australian youngsters are brought to the Magic Millions in January – almost identical in timing to the Keeneland July sale – and to be truly sales-worthy the yearlings have to be well-grown and look like ready, young racehorses.

Or, at least that’s what they’ve had to look like in the past.

Cox said, “Although long a one-dimensional sale, the Magic Millions has evolved to the point of getting horses of differing types. Not just the big, forward types that you expect to sell well, but the nice prospects by sires like So You Think, Dundeel, and Shamus Award that get later-maturing stock have a place now.

“Last year was the first [Aus]$10 million race day, and it has been game changing for the sale and for the sport. Many are being kept in active training with this day of racing in mind, and so many more are eligible to participate” because of the larger race card.

Whereas the Magic Millions began with the emphasis on a single race and massive payout for the winner, the card this year features nine races with $10 million in prize money to share. Five of the races offer purses of $1 million, and two more, the Magic Millions Classic (2yos) and the MM Guineas (3yos), are worth $2 million, plus prizes. All the runners are Magic Millions sale graduates, except for winners of a special quartet of races for homebreds, and “this year, only three runners entered for the day were not sold at the Magic Millions,” Cox said.

Plus, the distances and conditions of the races allow different ages, sexes, and types of horses to partake in some of the wealth generated by the Magic Millions. The 2,200-meter event (1 3/8 miles) is the only race at a significant distance, but that is an intriguing addition for a sale that has long been the home of the “forward” horse.

And make no mistake, that is the goal of the Magic Millions consignors – selling the fastest horse. They have taken some of the lessons of American early-summer sales and bred up an indigenous auction with a winning streak at the highest level.

Cox proudly noted that 10 of the last 13 winners of the Gold Slipper, typically regarded as Australia’s most important race for juveniles, were sold at the Magic Millions.

The 2015 winner of the Golden Slipper was a dark bay colt by Medaglia d’Oro named Vancouver, who sold at the Magic Millions, was unbeaten at 2, and was hailed a juvenile star. After covering his first book of mares for Coolmore in Australia in 2016, Vancouver will be a newcomer in Kentucky at Ashford for the 2017 Northern Hemisphere season.

Further connections to Kentucky breeding in the Magic Millions are yearlings by shuttle sires Animal Kingdom, Bernardini, Congrats, Medaglia d’Oro, More Than Ready, The Factor, and Uncle Mo. One unexpected sire is the non-shuttler Tapit, who has a pair of yearlings in the sale. Both were conceived in Kentucky on Southern Hemisphere time. Hip 165 is a good-sized gray filly out of the stakes winner Leinan (by Ready’s Image). This is the first foal of the dam, who is out of a stakes winner and half-sister to a pair. The second Tapit is a chestnut colt, Hip 532, out of the stakes-winning mare Touch Love, by Not for Love. A half-brother to stakes winner Starfish Bay, this is a flashy colt with three white stockings, similar to California Chrome, who has four white legs, and is by a son of Pulpit (Lucky Pulpit) out of a mare by Not for Love (Love the Chase).

Perhaps the lucky buyer will name this one Aussie Chrome.

midnight storm is part of the rising tide from the ‘nile’

The leading sire in America for 2017 is Pioneerof the Nile. The sire of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah had a good year with runners in 2016, but anyone counting crops, like me, knew that the stallion’s third-crop 3-year-olds were on deck last year, with the 2-year-olds coming from Pioneerof the Nile’s fourth crop.

Those third- and fourth-crop foals are normally from smaller crops than the preceding two, reducing the chance of striking the steel for that living spark to light another bonfire of success. Pioneerof the Nile, however, did just that.

In the last quarter of 2016, Classic Empire came to the fore of the juvenile crop with a pair of Grade 1 victories in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. Now the champion pro-tem among the 2-year-old colts, Classic Empire is a well-regarded prospect for the classics of 2017.

Before the arrival of Classic Empire, one of the stallion’s first-crop performers, G1 winner Midnight Storm, admirably filled some of the gap last season left by American Pharoah, and Midnight Storm again did the honors on the first day of the New Year, putting his sire atop the leading sires table with a front-running victory in the G2 San Pasqual Stakes.

Moreover, Midnight Storm has won five of his last six starts: a G1, a trio of G2s, and a G3. His only loss came in November’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, in which he was third behind Tourist (by Tiznow) and champion filly Tepin (Bernstein), winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile when held at Keeneland.

Midnight Storm and Classic Empire are the two U.S.-raced G1 winners in 2016 by Pioneerof the Nile. The stallion’s third G1 winner of last year is La Alpujarra, winner twice at the premium level in the Clasico Hipico Nacional and the Clasico Cruz de Avila, both at La Rinconada in Venezuela.

Midnight Storm and La Alpujarra come from the first crop by their sire, who went to stud in the dark depths of the Great Recession, and that first crop is also represented by graded stakes winner Cash Control, who most recently won the G3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs in November.

They are evidence that the stock by Pioneerof the Nile possesses some excellent qualities for sturdiness and longevity in their racing, and the better ones are also noteworthy for their good looks.

I will never forget the first time I saw Pioneerof the Nile led out of his stall. His head and neck came out, then his shoulders, then the dark horse’s dark midsection, and finally the horse’s great length of hip went past. It was more like being passed by a ship than a horse. Pioneerof the Nile is a big boy.

Then, as the sizable colt stood quietly in the half-light of the Vinery stallion barn, his near-black coat gave off gleams like highly polished mahogany. He was a memorable sight. His length and height, scope and length of rein, and depth of hip and shoulder fitted together so perfectly that there was no indication of his size till standing next to him, and the horse’s good manners were an indication that he put his energies into racing.

Winner of the G1 Hollywood Futurity at 2, the Santa Anita Derby at 3, then second in the Kentucky Derby, Pioneerof the Nile possessed a high degree of precocity and speed, stamina and class.

He has passed on these qualities to his best progeny. The most notable of them is American Pharoah, who was never better suited than in his races for the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when he was allowed to power along with an enterprising ride that put his large stride and metronomic cadence to best effect.

That same approach to racing fits Midnight Storm equally well, and he has employed his speed and maneuverability to great effect. He has controlled the lead in each of his five victories mentioned above, and in his only loss, the third to Tourist and Tepin, Midnight Storm tracked the flaming pace (:21.81, :44.61, 1:08.59) and was pegged back to third in a final time of 1:31.71.

The good-looking Midnight Storm had his most impressive victory in the G3 Native Diver Stakes, which was less than a month after the BC Mile and preceded the San Pasqual. Racing nine furlongs on a “good” surface that looked a bit tiring, the son of Pioneerof the Nile powered away from his opponents to win by 7 ¾ lengths.

A May foal, Midnight Storm has strengthened and improved throughout his 5-year-old season, and he may be one who finds his true medium is racing nine furlongs or longer under testing conditions that put a premium on stride, sturdiness, and a game attitude.

elite new stallions for 2017: kentucky derby winners california chrome and nyquist, preakness winner exaggerator

The entering group of stallion prospects for 2017 is not large, nor should it be. There are nine new boys for the upper tier of the stallion market, and by stud fee, these are Frosted (by Tapit; $50,000), California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit; $40,000), Nyquist (Uncle Mo; $40,000), Exaggerator (Curlin; $30,000), Air Force Blue (War Front; $25,000), Lord Nelson (Pulpit; $25,000), Runhappy (Super Saver; $25,000), Flintshire (Dansili; $20,000), and Mshawish (Medaglia d’Oro; $20,000).

frosted02

Frosted – shown at Darley’s Jonabell shortly after his retirement, is the high-priced entering stallion for 2017. A multiple G1 winner, Frosted is a son of supersire Tapit. BITB photo

One reason for the small number of stallions at the top – and this is not a new situation – is the number of mares each of these horses will cover in his first season at stud. Expecting good fertility and good fortune for each, this group will likely average 125 to 150 mares apiece. That translates to about 1,200 to 1,400 mares that will be bred to this elite set of young, unproven sires in 2017.

Those stats indicate that, second only to the upper-level proven sires, the largest segment of mares bred in Kentucky will go to the entering first-year stallions. The competition for mares at this level of the supercharged stallion environment is intense beyond reason. That has been the case for at least a quarter-century because the first-year stallions are the most popular subset of the commercial market, especially when sales prices are compared to stud fees.

Why are breeders so excited about the new boys as stallions of today and potential supersires of tomorrow?

It’s simple. Buyers love them.

Year after year, the most popular segment of the foal market, of the yearling market, and of the 2-year-old market is for prospects by new sires. And the driving force behind the commercial popularity of new sires and the demand for their first-crop colts and fillies is the in-training sales market.

The sales of 2-year-olds drive the yearling sales. Period.

Without a resale market, the commercial marketplace today could not supply an outlet for the volume of yearlings produced, and the bloodstock industry as a commercial marketplace would not have recovered from the Great Bloodstock Depression of the late 1980s. The tax law changes from the Reagan administration were so adversarial to horse owners and horse ownership that the regulations literally burned out the core and structure of the breeding business.

Not surprisingly, it collapsed, and it would not have risen from the ashes – certainly not in the strength and volume that it did through the 1990s – if the 2-year-old sales market had not been there to inject cash and create demand for certain types of young horses.

The type most in demand, and I’m talking broadly across the market for yearlings and weanlings, was the good-sized, thick-bodied, progressive-looking yearling from the first crop by higher-profile sires. That is the prototype for the “2-year-old sales horse.”

Which of the stallion prospects for 2017 will most appeal to the commercial market? Surely, the best juveniles in the group – Eclipse Award winner Nyquist, top European 2-year-old Air Force Blue, and good 2-year-old performers Frosted and California Chrome – will be very popular.

runhappy02

Runhappy – enters stud at Claiborne for 2017. He was champion sprinter of 2015, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. BITB photo

Likewise, top sprinters Runhappy and Lord Nelson will be odds-on selections to draw interest both from breeders looking to add speed to their programs, as well as from breeders wanting to sell young horses that are very likely to be popular in the sales ring.

In addition to speed and early maturity, the next most-popular qualification for a higher-end sire is classic success. For that, this group includes two Kentucky Derby winners: 2016 winner Nyquist and 2014 winner California Chrome. The latter also won the 2014 Preakness, and 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator also will be entering stud for next year.

Soundness and toughness are factors of significance to breeders, and California Chrome will be one to take high marks in this category. Also important for these factors and for pushing the market to accept “turf horses” are hickory tough performers Flintshire and Mshawish.

Each of these horses has shown the ability to perform at an exceptional level, and those who can pass along those most desirable of traits with some consistency will have caught lightning in a bottle for lucky breeders and buyers, and those young stallions will take their place in lighting the way for future racing generations.

coming up chrome in the bluegrass

In preparation for next month’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, there was a considerable amount of saber-rattling this weekend. The object of this demonstration was Arrogate (by Unbridled’s Song), winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita and the highest-ranked horse on the listing of Longines Best Racehorses for 2016.

The horse that Arrogate dethroned as king of the mountain in the Breeders’ Cup was California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit). He made his return to the races and prep for the Pegasus in the Los Alamitos Challenge on Dec. 17, and California Chrome did not leave his fans with any doubt of his overwhelming superiority on Saturday.

Racing with dead aim on the leaders but five to seven paths wide, California Chrome went around the final turn as if he were on ice skates, threw a sub-23 second quarter at his competition, and trotted home by 12 lengths, according to the Equibase chart.

The race should provide an adequate tightener for California Chrome, and his chief opponent is expected to race before the Pegasus, perhaps in the G2 San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1. Past the Pegasus, the chestnut son of Lucky Pulpit will most likely be heading to Kentucky and a large book of select mares for the 2017 breeding season.

california-chrome-2016b

California Chrome – classic winner and champion pictured at Taylor Made Farm, where he is expected to stand in 2017 for a $40,000 stud fee. Photo courtesy of Taylor Made.

Travis White, the stallion nominations manager for Taylor Made, said California Chrome would “probably breed 150 mares” next year, depending on how quickly the stallion settles his first 50 mares or so.

 

There has been considerable breeder interest in California Chrome, no doubt due in part to the horse’s durability to race effectively through his 5-year-old season and maintain soundness and high form. The horse is owned by a syndicate of more than 20 outside shareholders, not counting Taylor Made or co-breeder Perry Martin.

White said “Taylor Made will retain its existing equity” in California Chrome but also noted that Martin “might consider selling out some of his shares to the right people.”

The shares in California Chrome carry a single breeding season per year, plus proportional receipts from the bonus season pool which will be substantial. The reason for the value of the bonus pool from seasons is that there would be about three times the number of seasons sold as used by shareholders, and that money is split among the equity holders.

In addition, the initial shareholders have essentially cleared their investment in California Chrome just from race earnings to this point. Eighteen months ago, the decision to buy into the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner was a gamble that not everyone felt was worth the risk. At the time, California Chrome had taken some licks to his reputation and appeared to be facing an uphill battle to regain his championship form.

In hindsight, the purchases of shares in California Chrome seem almost like getting in on Polaroid or Microsoft before the marketplace appreciated their value.

Nobody is underappreciating the flashy chestnut grandson of Pulpit now.

And a whole bunch of mares are set to be covered by Chrome in his first season. If all goes as anticipated, he will return to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky after the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28, and then around the middle of February, when the Thoroughbred breeding season starts, California Chrome will begin covering mares.

White said “California Chrome has had the needed vaccinations already, and we can start test breeding when he arrives.” This is an important consideration because if the horse had to be vaccinated, stay in quarantine, and then be test bred before he started on his regular book of mares, he would be losing a big chunk of time and would be pushing his mares into an even shorter time frame for covering.

The Taylor Made crew, however, has all of its ducks in a line and are prepared to have a busy and highly successful breeding season with its star retiree come mid-February. Then 11 months later, they and the rest of the racing world will begin to see the first foals by California Chrome.

If the horse marks his foals with his own bold white markings, looking across a field of his offspring might make us believe that everything will be coming up Chrome.

Frankel becomes leading freshman sire, gains first G1 winner with Soul Stirring

Frankel. They called him the greatest ever. Judges as time-tested as Timeform rated Frankel as the absolute best, and writers with decades of experience in watching races and racehorses were bowled over by the bay colt’s pace and class.

Even Tony Morris, who saw Sea-Bird win the 1965 Derby at Epsom and never had seen a racer he thought more talented, finally gave pride of place to Frankel as the best horse of his experience.

And those of us on this side of the pond, who saw Frankel live or on replays by means of the Internet or international racing services, came to believe that the mighty bay son of Galileo was special beyond the norm of elite racehorses. I thought he was a fair sort myself.

Then, after three seasons of racing and unbeaten in 14 races, Frankel went to stud.

Bred in England by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, Frankel went home to stand at Banstead Manor outside Newmarket. The horse’s initial books of mares were large and well-filled with choice producers and highly pedigreed racemares. What else was worthy to be bred to Frankel the Unbeaten, the Unbeatable?

frankel06

Frankel – when words fail. Juddmonte Farms photo.

 

Greatness in racing is not a guarantee of outstanding success in breeding, however, and when the first crop of yearlings by Frankel went through the sales last fall, the rumor mill was rumbling.

The most persistent knocks against the young stock by the great champion were that they came in all shapes and sizes. All colors and physical types. Some were bay and others chestnut. Some were tall, some were broad, and some were in between.

Knockers, being knockers, had to find something to crab on.

A year later, the tune has changed.

Buyers are mad to get at the great racehorse’s offspring, and trying to get a season to Frankel is past difficult.

The reason for the change of attitude has been the outstanding performance of Frankel’s first-crop juveniles this summer and fall. To date, Frankel has six group stakes winners, a listed stakes-placed colt, and 11 additional winners.

That is an excellent beginning, and from the evidence of Frankel’s own racing career, his pedigree, and the general progress shown by his racers in their first season, it will be a tremendous shock if there is not improvement to come from the Frankels in their second season and later.

Frankel made greater than average progress from 2 to 3 and 4. That is typical of the stock sired by Galileo. Like their sire, the Galileos tend to be improving athletes when they have greater maturity and distance to race over.

Galileo’s top juvenile sons before Frankel, such as Teofilo and New Approach, have already sired classic winners.

And this weekend, Frankel got his first G1 winner, the Japanese-bred filly Soul Stirring won the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Stakes on Dec. 11 by 1 ¼ lengths over the Heart’s Cry filly Lys Gracieux. Out of the high-class racemare Stacelita (by Monsun), Soul Stirring is unbeaten in her three starts.

In addition to Soul Stirring, the stallion is represented by G2 winner Queen Kindly (Lowther Stakes) and G3 winners Fair Eva (Princess Margaret Stakes), Frankuus (Prix de Conde), Mi Suerte (Kyoto Sho Fantasy Stakes), and Toulifaut (Prix d’Aumale).

Soul Stirring is her sire’s first-crop leader to this point and has long been highly regarded. Bred in Japan by Shadai Farm and raced for Shadai Race Horse Company Ltd., Soul Stirring is the second foal out of Stacelita. By the great German classic sire Monsun, Stacelita showed a good turn of foot and has a quality pedigree. A winner six times at the G1 level, Stacelita was most effective from 9 to 11 furlongs. She included the Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille, and Beverly D among her most important victories.

Shadai purchased Stacelita privately at the end of her racing career, and the mare’s second foal has turned the spotlight onto Japanese racing and breeding for its competitiveness and class.

With Stacelita’s ability to race around the world and reproduce her form in differing environments, it will be very interesting to see if Stacelita’s daughter Soul Stirring takes her G1 form on the road in the future.

Admiral’s Voyage takes us on a quest with Sir Gallahad III

Getting a pair of Grade 1 stakes winners over the weekend was a feather in the growing headdress of the young sire Temple City (by Dynaformer). The 3-year-old Annals of Time won the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar; that was the colt’s first stakes victory. The 4-year-old Miss Temple City won the Matriarch, which was the filly’s third victory at the premier level.

And in Miss Temple City’s pedigree, we find inbreeding to a horse who is rarely duplicated in pedigrees: Admiral’s Voyage (Crafty Admiral). The dark bay horse’s main claim to pedigree fame is being the broodmare sire of Danzig, the broodmare sire of Temple City.

Being Danzig’s broodmare sire puts Admiral’s Voyage in a ton of pedigrees because the chubby dark bay son of Northern Dancer is one of the most prolific names in bloodstock around the world. Normally, when we do see Admiral’s Voyage duplicated, it is through inbreeding to Danzig, rather than inbreeding to Admiral’s Voyage.

The stallion is also the sire of Miss Temple City’s fourth dam, Distant Voyage. Born in 1976, Distant Voyage won nine of 25 starts, including the Ruddy Belle Stakes, and was second once, third twice in stakes. Distant Voyage and Pas de Nom were two of their sire’s eight stakes winners, and he was at stud for a very long time, living to age 30.

A foal of 1959, Admiral’s Voyage was bred and raced by Fred Hooper. The colt would be ranked as the best son of sire Crafty Admiral, along with Neptune, winner of the 1957 Prix Robert Papin and Prix Morny in France.

Tough and competitive, Admiral’s Voyage won 12 of his 52 starts in four seasons of racing. Third in the Arlington Futurity at 2, Admiral’s Voyage progressed rapidly at 3, with his most important victory coming in the Wood Memorial. In that race, he dead-heated with Sunrise County, but that colt was disqualified to second for bumping his opponent.

Admiral’s Voyage raced head-to-head with Sunrise County for much of the Wood, and he likewise showed his gameness once again in the Belmont Stakes. Trying to lead the whole way, Admiral’s Voyage finished second by a nose to Jaipur (Nasrullah) in the final classic.

From 14 starts at 3, Admiral’s Voyage won the Louisiana Derby; was second in the Hollywood Derby, Jersey Derby, and Santa Anita Derby; and was third in the Florida Derby. In the Derby that counted most, however, he finished 9th.

Admiral’s Voyage maintained his competitive form at 4 and 5, winning the Carter Handicap and the San Carlos Handicap, among other races. He also finished second in such events as the Massachusetts Handicap and Hollywood Express, as well as third in the Los Angeles Handicap.

Whether sprinting or racing classic distances, Admiral’s Voyage was an admirable performer, and his natural ability, allied with great competitiveness, earned him a place at stud, first in Kentucky, then in Florida, and finally in Louisiana.

That sequence indicates that the horse did not make a success of his second career, and like most horses sent to stud, Admiral’s Voyage proved an unsuccessful stallion. Siring only three percent stakes winners from foals, he would seem to be unexpectedly disappointing, given his own good speed and stamina.

sir-g-iii2-in-training

Sir Gallahad III – shown here as a racehorse in training, was a high-class son of the great sire Teddy. Imported to stand at Claiborne, Sir G III sired our second Triple Crown winner, Gallant Fox, in his first American crop.

 

This horse, however, was one of the final blips on the radar for one of the celebrated male lines of French-American breeding of the 20th century, that of Teddy through his very fast son Sir Gallahad III. Brought to stand in Kentucky at Claiborne Farm, Sir Gallahad III sired Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in his first U.S. crop, plus additional Kentucky Derby winners Gallahadion (1940) and Hoop Jr. (1945).

One of the era’s great broodmare sires, the male line of Sir Gallahad III tended toward the fast fade. Gallant Fox had a useful stud career, but his sons, including Triple Crown winner Omaha, were past dismal. Gallant Fox’s full brother Fighting Fox was not as good on the racetrack but was tough and game and fast. The two brothers were almost identical at stud, getting six percent stakes winners during their years at stud.

Gallant Fox sired a trio who were top class: Omaha, his full brother Flares, and 1936 champion 3-year-old colt Granville. Fighting Fox got the high-class Bonnie Beryl (Frizette), Fighting Step (American Derby), and Crafty Admiral, winner of the Brooklyn and Washington Park handicaps, as well as 16 other races.

But through their sons, the male line of Sir Gallahad III hit the windscreen of time like a night bug. The great sire and his descendants have bred on through the internal lines of pedigrees so that less-familiar horses like Admiral’s Voyage still can play a part in the bloodlines of top-class performers.

sunday silence’s progeny speak volumes

Perhaps you’ve read praise of Sunday Silence, champion racer in the US and Horse of the Year. Perhaps the gentle reader has even perused my comments on the degree to which the black son of Halo changed the breed and changed breeding in Japan.

The saga of Sunday Silence began 30 years ago in Bourbon County and ended in Japan on the northern island of Hokkaido. Or at least the life of Sunday Silence ended there and then.

The legend lives on.

And so does Sunday Silence’s inestimable genetic legacy. On Nov. 27 at Tokyo, Sunday Silence’s grandson Kitasan Black (by Black Tide) won the G1 Japan Cup after leading all the way in the 2,400- meter race, defeating numerous other grandsons of Sunday Silence.

Racing and breeding in Japan are still dominated by the grandsons and sons, as well as the granddaughters and daughters, of Sunday Silence, who set records for quality on the racecourse and for earnings by his many winners.

From Japan Racing Association data on the stallion’s 12 crops, Sunday Silence sired 1,514 foals. Of those, 1,386 raced (91.5 percent), 1,067 won (70.5 percent), and overall, the offspring of Sunday Silence earned a smidge more than 80 billion yen ($713 million), and the grand stallion, whose last crop was foaled in 2003, had a winner in 2016. This boot-leather tough old warrior is a 14-year-old horse named Bullet Liner, and he has won 21 races from 166 starts.

The raw statistics give an unwavering assessment of both the quality of Sunday Silence’s stock, as well as their hardy constitutions.

The second-generation stock from Sunday Silence have proliferated to a remarkable extent and virtually fill the racecards for much of racing in Japan. They race well and often. The Japan Cup winner is a 4-year-old, winning at the G1 level for the third time, and he is expected to race next year at 5.

Kitasan Black is the best racehorse from his sire Black Tide, who bears a striking resemblance to his famous sire. From Sunday Silence’s 2001 crop and bred by Northern Farm, Black Tide was a striking colt who sold for 101.85 million yen (about $900,000) at the 2001 annual select foal sale, selling to Makoto Kaneko. Black Tide brought the fifth-highest price of any foal at the sale, and 10 of the 12 most expensive were by Sunday Silence.

As a racehorse, Black Tide was a G2 winner of the Spring Stakes at Nakayama as a 3-year-old. A winner in three of his 22 starts, Black Tide was a thoroughly useful performer: winner at 2, G2 winner at 3, G3 placed at 3 and 5, and second or third in listed company on five occasions. The handsome black horse was not able to crack through at the premier level, however, and he would not have been an automatic breeding selection for his homeland’s stallion stations, which were not light on stallions and stallion prospects by the famous sire.

But Black Tide is the year-older full brother to Deep Impact.

Deep Impact was the best racehorse sired by Sunday Silence, and coming to the races after his sire’s death, the excellence of Deep Impact was a final gift to the sport in Japan from the horse who kept on giving. The tremendous bay Deep Impact won 12 of his 13 starts in Japan, winning the Triple Crown and the Japan Cup. Standing at Shadai Stallion Station, he has bred large books of excellent mares and has made an impact on the breed in Japan surpassed only by his sire.

When his elder brother retired to stud, the situation was different. Black Tide was good enough to take a chance on, many breeders reasoned, and his books were well filled at Breeders Stallion Station. The top mares were not his, however, and Black Tide has had to earn his reputation through the athleticism and consistency of his offspring.

From his sire’s third crop, Kitasan Black is the star racer for Black Tide. So far. The Japan Cup winner has been victor in 8 of his 13 starts, and he is one of more than 200 winners for his sire.

This year, Black Tide ranks 12th on the general sire list in Japan, and Deep Impact ranks 1st. In one of the most competitive stallion markets, that is a fair assessment. Black Tide stood for 3 million yen this year, and greater acclaim and more accomplished mares will give him the opportunity to maintain a significant position in the ranks of stallions in Japan.

‘Mastery’ is the term for Hancock breeding

That man in Bourbon County. The one who bought in Sunday Silence at the Keeneland July sale, discovered that he had bought the colt for himself because the breeder didn’t want to retain him, and then watched the colt win two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Well, that horse-breeding Arthur Hancock is at it again, and he has not misplaced his lucky rabbit’s foot.

The latest stakes winner bred by Hancock is Mastery (by Candy Ride), who won the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes over 7 furlongs at Del Mar on Nov. 20. Unbeaten in two starts, Mastery is one of the progressive juveniles who will keep racing fans’ interest high in the coming months as he progresses toward the classics.

Last year, Hancock was the breeder of international champion Air Force Blue (War Front), a bay colt of striking quality and ability. Hancock sold Air Force Blue through his Stone Farm consignment for $490,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September sale to the lads at Coolmore. Racing in their dark, dark blue silks, Air Force Blue was a three-time winner at the Group 1 level as a 2-year-old, and he sealed the deal as his generation’s top juvenile performer last season with an impressive victory in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

Virtually conceded the mile classics in 2016, the good-looking colt did not train on, never showed his proper form this season, and will enter stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky for the 2017 breeding year.

At this point in the colt’s career, Mastery is several steps behind where Air Force Blue was a year ago, but the handsome son of Candy Ride has looked like a top horse in the making with his two victories from two starts to date.

In his debut at Santa Anita on Oct. 22, Mastery rated in front on a narrow lead, then drew off in the stretch to win the six-furlong maiden special by 4 ¼ lengths in 1.09.56. In the Bob Hope, Mastery ran against horses who had won, but only one of them, the quick California Diamond, was well-backed against him at 3.10-to-1.

Breaking smoothly, Mastery held the lead narrowly in the early going, rated in front like a professional racehorse, and was farther from his competition at the end of the race than at any other point of call, winning by 1 ¼ lengths from California Diamond.

Now, there are hopes abounding for Mastery, and the colt’s victory makes him the second stakes winner out of his dam, the Old Trieste mare Steady Course.

At the 2009 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Hancock acquired Steady Course. She was one of three broodmares Hancock bought from the Overbrook dispersal, and those were the only mares Hancock purchased at the November sale. Steady Course was the least expensive. The most costly was the Mr. Prospector mare Especially, dam of two graded stakes winners and in foal to Bernardini, at $350,000; second was the 10-years-younger Chatham (Maria’s Mon), in foal to Arch, for $190,000; and Steady Course was $20,000, although she was barren to Yes It’s True at the time of sale.

At the auction, Steady Course’s first foal, the non-winning 3-year-old in training Clear Sailing (Empire Maker), sold for $255,000, and the next season, as a 4-year-old, Clear Sailing became a stakes winner.

No, Mr. Hancock was not asleep at the wheel.

Mastery is the third foal Hancock has bred from Steady Course, and the May foal was such a striking yearling that he brought $425,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. Cromwell Bloodstock, agent, bought Mastery, and the colt races for Cheyenne Stables LLC.

Steady Course is out of the stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Steady Cat, who is also the dam of the important racehorse and sire Jump Start (A.P. Indy). Steady Course is by A.P. Indy’s son Old Trieste; so the siblings are closely related.

The second dam of Steady Course produced four stakes horses, including stakes winner Apollo Cat (Storm Cat) and is a full sister to leading sire and broodmare sire Miswaki (Mr. Prospector).

With major performers and sires up close, this is a stallion pedigree, and if Mastery takes the next couple of steps successfully, this colt is going to be very exciting for everyone involved, as well as fans of the sport. And one of those cheering most robustly will be the man in Bourbon County.

If the breeder doesn’t carry a well-worn rabbit’s foot, I’m guessing he carries around the whole critter.

grass turning greener for turf sires?

Not long ago, being a turf horse was nearly the equivalent of being a gelding as a gauge for a racehorse’s prospects as a stallion in Kentucky or the primary regional markets.

A farm simply could not stand one and have any reasonable expectation of support from breeders.

This state of affairs always seemed strained to those of us with some knowledge of the breed’s history. Most horses run on turf; a lot of them even eat it. Several of the greatest sires never raced on anything else.

For instance, Nasrullah and Nijinsky were exceptional sires, stallions who sire stakes winners and champions on all surfaces. Numerous others, such as Lyphard, Blushing Groom, and Vaguely Noble, come to mind as superior sires who were turf racers and yet got stock with versatility.

But the perception – and perception was a firmer barrier than reality – was that “turf horses don’t make good sires.” Like glaciers thawing in the Arctic sun, however, that perception seems to be changing.

hit-it-a-bomb

Hit It a Bomb – son of leading sire War Front won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and enters stud for 2017 at Spendthrift Farm.

 

Spendthrift Farm General Manager Ned Toffey said, “Synthetic racing opened the door for some sires that were a little more turf-inclined, and although some of those surfaces are being replaced by dirt, there’s more and more turf racing all round. It’s different out there than it was years ago when people wouldn’t even look at a turf sire.”

And we’re going to “blame” this improving state of affairs on Lane’s End.

The Farishes’ farm just outside Versailles, Ky., stood the tremendous international sire Kingmambo (by Mr. Prospector) at a time when he was practically the only “turf horse” breeders could make money on at the sales. Then, the operation stood turf champion English Channel (by Smart Strike) and had success with him. They persevered and acquired Frankel’s full brother Noble Mission (Galileo), and the foals from his first crop have brought an average of $77,800 on a $25,000 stud fee, with a high price of $210,000.

So, the perceptions of negativity connected to turf sires appear to be breaking up like ice for the spring thaw, and it is opportune because more farms are standing turf performers.

For instance, Claiborne has Grade 1 winner Data Link (War Front); Airdrie Stud has Summer Front (War Front); Crestwood has Jack Milton (War Front); and Ashford has Declaration of War (War Front) and Air Force Blue (War Front).

And it does appear that War Front is significantly responsible for breaking up the logjam that was holding back the waters of reality and keeping “turf horses” from getting a chance at stud here in Kentucky.

That, at least in part, is surely due to the fact that War Front’s first two major performers – The Factor and Soldat – showed graded stakes-winning form on dirt. They were fast, versatile, and good-looking. The Factor, who stands at Lane’s End, has a G1 winner from his first crop, now 2, and that has not hurt the momentum for these horses, either.

Ashford is adding Air Force Blue, G1 winner on turf, to their roster for 2017, and Spendthrift Farm is also getting a son of War Front for next season with G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb.

Ned Toffey said, “War Front is a $250,000 stallion. He’s a really good horse and really popular in America and Europe. So, we’ve been looking for the right son to stand. You’d love to stand a horse whose accomplishments had come on the dirt. But conformationally, Hit It a Bomb is not a horse who indicates ‘turf,’ and my sense is that he would have made a very nice dirt horse if given the opportunity.

“As his Breeders’ Cup victory at Keeneland showed, this horse was so precocious and so talented, with an incredible turn of foot, that we thought he would be a serious prospect. He isn’t a horse who couldn’t cut it on the dirt.

“We were approached by an international agent who understands the kind of horses we’re looking for,” and the deal was completed shortly thereafter.

Europe’s top 2-year-old last year, Air Force Blue, will be wholly owned by Coolmore, but Spendthrift typically opens up access to its stallions through programs like the “Share the Upside” arrangement where breeders acquire a breeding right in a horse, usually by sending a mare to the horse in each the first two years and paying those stud fees.

“Normally, we think in terms of about half the horse for breeding rights,” Toffey said. “The numbers will vary with different horses, but with Hit It a Bomb, we’d be somewhere in the neighborhood of 70.” The bloodstock leviathan, which currently has the largest stallion roster (27) in Kentucky, then sells seasons to supplement the stallion’s book.

Toffey added, “Recently, we have discussed backing down the size of our books in an effort to create more value for breeders.”

Scarcity does increase value as we have seen with the closely held seasons to leading sire War Front, the son of Danzig standing at Claiborne Farm who is responsible for much of this increasing interest in turf-performing bloodstock. And if only a couple of his sons produce high-class racers with regularity, we will be seeing more interest in horses of this type and aptitude.