phipps family breeding is at the bottom of flightline’s ascent toward greatness

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To win a race so impressively that it’s fleetingly compared to one of the great events, like Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes, is a major accomplishment for a racehorse and its owner and caretakers. To actually run a race that is comparable … boggles the mind.

Yet that is what Flightline did in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on Saturday, Sept. 3.

In winning the race by 19 ¼ lengths in 1:59.28, the dark bay son of Tapit (by Pulpit) ran his unbeaten career race record to five and added a third G1 to previous top-level victories in the Malibu and Metropolitan Handicap.

A $1 million sale yearling from Fasig-Tipton‘s Saratoga sale from three years ago, Flightline was bred in Kentucky by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Farm and is an athletic son of one of the farm’s premium producers, Feathered, herself a daughter of leading sire and broodmare sire Indian Charlie (In Excess) and Receipt (Dynaformer).

Summer Wind’s farm manager, Bobby Spalding, said that “Flightline was always a nice, level-headed colt who impressed you with his natural athleticism, but when you’re watching them grow up, you don’t know that one of them is going to win a Grade 1 by nearly 20 lengths. That’s just amazing!

“[Trainer] John Sadler has done a marvelous job with this colt, and he’s grown up to be a grand individual. I think they said he was 16.2. His mamma’s only just 16 hands, maybe, but she’s the kind of mare that I like, not too big, not out of proportion anywhere. Just real nice, and this is a wonderful family,” Spalding concluded.

This is a wonderful family, full of high-quality racehorses and producers, that had been in the hands of the Phipps family from the mid-1960s.

The Phipps patriarch Ogden Phipps, breeder and owner of champion Buckpasser, was always open to freshening the broodmare band and took the opportunity to purchase 1966 champion 3-year-old filly Lady Pitt (Sword Dancer). A winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks, Delaware Oaks, and Mother Goose, Lady Pitt was a medium-sized chestnut more notable for toughness than brilliant speed. Bred in Kentucky by John W. Greathouse, Lady Pitt was a stakes winner at two, but she came into a higher level of form at three, finishing first in six races, including the Alabama (disqualified to second for bearing in on second-place Natashka).

The daughter of 1959 Belmont Stakes winner Sword Dancer was elected champion of her division over Natashka (Dedicate) and Phipps’s Destro (Ribot), and the great racing commentator Charlie Hatton noted that Phipps thought Lady Pitt deserved the award due to her consistency, being in the money 12 times from 16 starts. She stood 15.3 hands at the end of her 3-year-old season.

The owner-breeder stood behind his assessment and added the mare to his broodmare portfolio at Claiborne Farm when the opportunity came. Bred to Buckpasser, Lady Pitt produced Bank of England in 1970, and she is the ancestress of the four-time Grade 1 winner and 2022 freshman sire Oscar Performance (Kitten’s Joy). Six years later, Lady Pitt foaled the notably talented Blitey (Riva Ridge).

A winner of the Test, Ballerina, and Maskette before any of those three were elevated to Grade 1 races, Blitey produced the highly accomplished Dancing Spree (Nijinsky), who won Grade 1s at six furlongs (Breeders’ Cup Sprint), seven furlongs (Carter), and 10 furlongs (Suburban). His full sisters were Grade 2 winner Dancing All Night and Oh What a Dance, the dam of champion Heavenly Cause (Seeking the Gold).

A half-sister to this trio was Fantastic Find (Mr. Prospector), who won the G1 Hempstead and was second in the G1 Test and Ballerina after they went to the top-level designation. Fantastic Find is the fourth dam of Flightline through her daughter Finder’s Fee (Storm Cat), winner of the G1 Matron at two, the G1 Acorn at three.

A major disappointment as a producer, Finder’s Fee did not produce a stakes winner, but the mare’s most successful racer, stakes-placed Receipt, is the second dam of Flightline.

Receipt was third in a listed stakes at Saratoga, as well as fourth in a Grade 2 there, but her branch of the family might have appeared to be going stale, because the Phipps Stable chose to sell her, in foal to Indian Charlie, at the 2012 Keeneland January sale. The mare brought $350,000 from St. Elias Stable. Five months later, she produced Feathered.

Bred by Teresa Viola Racing Stable, Feathered was a May foal, like much of this family, but nonetheless was progressive enough to be a featured prospect at the 2014 OBS March sale from the late J.J. Crupi’s New Castle Farm, agent, and sold for $300,000 to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Feathered won her second start, a maiden special at Saratoga, then showed high form in a trio of Grade 1 races, finishing third in the Frizette, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and second in the Hollywood Starlet.

The following season, Feathered won a couple more races, including the G3 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs, and ran second in the G1 American Oaks. Retired and sent to leading sire War Front (Danzig), Feathered was sold through the 2016 Keeneland November sale, with Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales as agent, for $2.35 million to Summer Wind.

The mare’s first foal was the bay filly Good on Paper, a winner at three who earned $52,940. She was sold privately before racing to Glen Hill Farm.

The second foal out of Feathered was Flightline.

Feathered has a 2-year-old full brother to Flightline named Olivier, who was a $390,000 RNA at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. The colt most recently worked at Keeneland on Sept. 3 (five furlongs in 1:02.2) and has been retained in a partnership. Feathered has a yearling colt by Curlin (Smart Strike), a filly at side foaled on May 17 by Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), and was bred to Tapit.

Spalding said that the initial thought “had been to leave Feathered open and breed the next year, but Mrs. Lyon asked about sending her to Tapit. We only had time for a single cover, but she had the right idea. Unfortunately, the mare did not get in foal.”

Flightline is one of 95 Northern Hemisphere-bred graded winners for Tapit and one of 152 black-type winners for the three-time national leading sire, who stands at Gainesway.

jack christopher continues to star for elite sire munnings and is the link to broodmare sire half ours

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If there was much doubt about the best 3-year-old sprinter this season, Jack Christopher (by Munnings) cleared it up with a strong victory over fellow Grade 1 winner Gunite (Gun Runner) in the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga on Aug. 27.

Bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate, Jack Christopher has been an active advertisement for the best qualities of his sire Munnings (Speightstown), and no son could be more like the sire. Munnings was such a precocious and talented prospect that he brought $1.7 million from Demi O’Byrne, agent, at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of juveniles in training.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Munnings won his debut on July 26 for owners Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith with six furlongs in 1:09.84 and jumped straight into G1 company, finishing third in the Hopeful, then second in the Champagne. A disastrous result in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (10th) was followed by a layoff of more than seven months. When Munnings returned at three, he won the G2 Woody Stephens and Tom Fool Stakes, then had a trio of thirds in Grade 1 races: the Haskell, King’s Bishop, and Vosburgh.

At four, Munnings added a third Grade 2 triumph with the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, then another Grade 1 third in the Carter, but the massively constructed chestnut did not truly prosper in his final season and retired to Coolmore’s Kentucky stud, Ashford, without the highly coveted Grade 1 victory.

We cannot praise the stallion more highly than to say that it didn’t matter. Munnings has become a necessary addition to any breeding program wanting fast horses.

His son Jack Christopher is now a three-time Grade 1 winner (Champagne, Woody Stephens, and Jerkens Memorial), and the flashy chestnut is being pointed for a date with the Breeders’ Cup, either in the Dirt Mile or the Sprint. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint would bring a confrontation with older sprinters, including division leader Jackie’s Warrior (Maclean’s Music), who finished second to Cody’s Wish (Curlin) earlier on the Travers card.

From the eighth crop by Munnings, Jack Christopher is out of Rushin No Blushin, a mare who ran second once in eight starts, earning $5,766. A half-sister to the two-time Grade 1 winner Street Boss (Street Cry), Rushin No Blushin is by the little-known stallion Half Ours (Unbridled’s Song), who is the answer to an interesting trivia question.

Who is the highest-priced colt of racing age ever sold at Keeneland? Half Ours was not a 2-year-old at the time of sale, and several distinguished race fillies have brought more, but the gray son of Unbridled’s Song is the answer.

At the 2006 Keeneland November sale, Half Ours was sold to dissolve a partnership between co-owners Aaron Jones and Barry Schwartz. At the time, Half Ours was three. The imposing colt had been a spectacular early 2-year-old, winning a mid-April maiden special at Keeneland by 10 3/4 lengths and coming back the first week of May to take the listed Juvenile Stakes at Churchill by 4 1/4 lengths.

From May of 2005 to November 2006, the colt had not raced again. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Half Ours was doing well, however, and both owners were well aware that the colt was progressing nicely.

When the bidding began, it became obvious how well aware of the colt’s well-being the co-owners were.

Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Farm recalled the situation. “Half Ours was a really talented colt,” he said, “and Barry and Sheryl were perfect partners, but Mr. Jones wanted to direct the racing program to maximize the colt’s stallion potential.

“So a sale at auction was the simple solution.” Taylor was there to bid with Jones; Buzz Chace was bidding for Schwartz; and Coolmore was part of the bidding, as well, Taylor recalled. “I told the bid spotter that as long as Mr. Jones’s hat was on, he was bidding.

“The bidding started at $100,000, $200,000, going up quickly,” Taylor recalled. The bids crashed past $1 million, then $2 million, and the bidding became a runaway train, fueled by the desire of each man to own the colt outright.

“Then, Coolmore got in and stayed in with the bidding till $5 million to $5.5 million. Mr. Jones had just been sitting there with his hat on, and he looked over at me and said, ‘I don’t like this plan. I like bidding,’ and he started bidding by hand with the spotter.

“Buzz had the bid at $6 million for Barry, and I looked at Mr. Jones and said, ‘That’s plenty. You’re getting full value if you let him go.’ He just grinned back at me and threw his hand in the air.”

Jones was the winning bidder at $6.1 million.

Slightly more than a month later, Half Ours returned to racing at Aqueduct and won a six-furlong allowance by a neck in 1:10.96.

The colt came back in February to win an allowance at Gulfstream going a mile, then won the G2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship. Unbeaten in five races, Half Ours was targeted for major “stallion” races but lost his unbeaten status in the G3 Alysheba at Churchill, his prep for the Metropolitan Handicap. Second as the favorite in the Alysheba, Half Ours came back in the Met Mile and finished 7th behind a string of future Kentucky-based stallion prospects.

The winner was Corinthian (Pulpit) over Political Force (Unbridled’s Song) and Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr), with Sun King (Charismatic), Latent Heat (Maria’s Mon), and Silver Wagon (Wagon Limit) next.

Half Ours raced no more but was retired to Taylor Made Farm south of Lexington, where the good-looking colt’s sire stood at stud. Half Ours attracted some notice, being a fast and attractive son of a highly commercial sire, and Rushin No Blushin was one of the horse’s first crop of foals.

Neither Half Ours nor his superiors in the Metropolitan remained active stallions in Kentucky, although Lawyer Ron, for one, was not sold but sadly died very young. Corinthian went first to Pennsylvania, then was sold to stand in Turkey. Half Ours was sold to Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana, became one of the leading sires in that market, and died last year at age 18.

Yet a bit of the legacy and lore surrounding Half Ours lives on in Jack Christopher.

superstar frankel is proving nearly as good at stud, logs his 100th stakes winner, and is represented by multiple potential champions

Horse of the Year, Horse of the Century, Horse of the World. Unbeaten champion, son of a great sire and sire of sires. A horse of exceptional character and strength, Frankel received the highest ever rating from the decades’ old Timeform organization. For talent, pedigree, and physical presence, Frankel stood apart.

So, how has he done at stud?

From seven crops of racing age, Frankel has logged 100 stakes winners already. Among them are Japanese champion Soul Stirring (Japan Oaks), Aussie star Hungry Heart (Australian Oaks), and European highweights Cracksman (Champion Stakes twice) and Hurricane Lane (Irish Derby). Other offspring of the great champion have won the English Derby (Adayar), Oaks (Anapurna), Irish 1,000 Guineas (Homeless Songs), Irish Derby (Westover), and Prix de Diane (Nashwa). With more than two dozen Group 1 or Grade 1 winners, that is only scratching the surface of quality performers by last year’s leading sire in England.

In addition to breaking the century mark for stakes winners, over the last week, Frankel had a pair of Group 1 winners (Inspiral, Prix Jacques le Marois; Alpinista, Yorkshire Oaks), a G3 winner (Chaldean, Acomb Stakes), a pair of G2 seconds (Hans Anderson, Futurity Stakes at the Curragh; With the Moonlight, Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga), plus a second (Time Lock, Galtres Stakes) and a third (Martel, Prix Michel Houyvet) in listed stakes.

The sire’s 100th stakes winner came on Aug. 17 with Chaldean, the winner of the G3 Acomb Stakes at York.

Chaldean, a flashy chestnut, sold for 550,000 guineas at the Tattersalls December foal sale. Consigned by breeder Whitbury Manor Stud, the handsome colt was purchased by Juddmonte Farms, which races him.

A mid-May foal, Chaldean has been given the opportunity to show his talent at 2 but will not be overtaxed. Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon said that, “I’d imagine he has quite a bit more developing and growing to do. So we won’t overrace him this year.”

The racing manager noted that Juddmonte would purchase 10 or fewer horses annually, but that “when we see something that looks nice and can enhance our stable, the family are keen to add to it. [Chaldean] will have no problem staying a mile, and who knows, he could even get a bit further next year.”

In addition to the promise and potential of Chaldean, Frankel has one or more racers in contention for leadership of nearly every division in European racing. Winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, Inspiral made a bold statement of her position among all milers with a brave victory in the Marois, and Alpinista, now the winner of five G1 races, may try to scale an even higher peak: to be the best horse in Europe, bar none.

The gray 5-year-old is pointed for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and would be one of the stronger contenders. Certainly, trainer Mark Prescott is making no secret of his ambitions for the lovely mare bred and owned by his long-time client Kirsten Rausing of Lanwades Stud.

The trainer has plainly stated he has two wishes for the Arc: quick ground and no Baeed. The latter is most likely going to the Champion Stakes; so Prescott is halfway home on his wish list.

A victory for Alpinista in the Arc would be a long-awaited vindication for those who believed that, under similar course conditions, Frankel himself could have won the race. For most of his career, Frankel was viewed as a miler, and indeed he was and was an extraordinary one too. The steady hand and watchful eye of trainer Henry Cecil kept the great horse at his peak and delivering winning performances, and when they set him new tasks as a 4-year-old in the Juddmonte International at York and the Champion Stakes, Frankel was both ready and superb.

Sent to stud at Juddmonte Farms’s Banstead Manor in Newmarket, Frankel has been a steady draw for racing fans and breeders looking for foals of high ability. Although some observers quibbled and squawked about the stallion’s early foals and yearlings, because they came in all colors and shapes, the test that mattered was the one on the racecourse.

Frankel and his offspring have answered that in the same fashion that the great horse did in each of his races, and he has proven the co-fastest sire to 100 stakes winners, in a tie with his grandsire Danehill.

There are further fields of glory and more conquests to make. Two of the steepest challenges are 1) getting a racehorse equal to himself and 2) getting sons and daughters who carry on the next generation at the highest level. Whereas the first is nearly impossible, I’d say the second is becoming more probable every day.

florida-bred damon’s mound is named for a spot in texas but has national ambitions

The dramatic maiden special winner Damon’s Mound (by Girvin) came out of Kentucky with a big reputation, almost as big as that for Gulfport (Uncle Mo), who had won a fancy-looking maiden and then followed with a powerful victory by 12 ¼ lengths in the listed Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs.

In the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on Saturday, Aug. 13, Gulfport was the favorite at 45 cents to a dollar, with Damon’s Mound a good second choice. At the finish of the race, Damon’s Mound won by 3 1/4 lengths, and there was no doubt that they were the two best colts in the race, as Gulfport finished seven lengths clear of third-place Super Chow (Lord Nelson). The relative merits of the first two will be disputed, however, because the deviant son of Lord Nelson swerved out in front of Gulfport, causing that colt to check sharply and lose momentum.

The winner of the Special is a son of freshman sire Girvin, who now ranks fifth on the list of leading first-crop sires, with earnings of slightly more than a half-million to date. The stallion had the first stakes winner among the freshmen sires of 2022 and now has seven winners and two stakes winners from 17 starters from his first crop of 72 foals.

Girvin’s leading racer is named for a place in Texas. Damon’s Mound is a geological feature in Brazoria County, south of Houston. The mound is a limestone formation that rises 146 feet above the surrounding land and covers 3,000 acres. The mound is a source of limestone and site of mineral springs, according to the state historical society.

Damon’s Mound the horse was bred in Florida and is out of the Stroll mare San Antonio Stroll. The Saratoga Special winner is the first foal and stakes winner for the dam and is in fact the first stakes winner for generations in the direct female line.

San Antonio Stroll was the first step in rehabilitating the family’s fortunes, as the daughter of Stroll (Pulpit) won three of 14 starts, with a second in the La Senorita at two and a third in the Fiesta Mile at four, both at Retama Park, with earnings of $75,001.

Going backward in the female line, there isn’t another stakes horse until the fourth dam, True Love Sue (Temerity Prince), produced Pronto Paco (The Prime Minister), who was third in the Texas Stallion Consolation Stakes. The fifth dam, Dancing Katie (Prince Street), produced Amazing Allison (Bayou Hebert), who ran second in the Louisiana Futurity at the Fair Grounds.

No matter how plebeian a family seems to be, going back far enough will turn up a fine specimen of the breed, and the ninth dam of the Saratoga Special winner is no less than Carrozza, a daughter of Derby winner Dante (Nearco) who won the 1957 Oaks for owner-breeder Queen Elizabeth II.

Carrozza was out of the Hyperion mare Calash, a full sister to Sun Chariot, who won the 1,000 Guineas, as well as the war-time replacements of the Oaks and St. Leger that were run at Newmarket in 1942. Calash and Sun Chariot were out of Clarence, one of only three foals from the very quick juvenile stakes winner Nun’s Veil (Friar Marcus). Although she died at age six, Nun’s Veil overcame the long odds of continuing a female line and is the 12th dam of Damon’s Mound. In addition, Nun’s Veil is a half-sister to the great sire Blandford (Swynford), and their dam Blanche (White Eagle) is the 13th dam of the Saratoga Special winner. This is the Black Cherry family that has produced such important racers around the world.

In its more distant generations, this was clearly a thoroughly distinguished family, with classic winners along with quality performers in juvenile competition and high-class older horses.

To upgrade the more recent stock, the addition of Pulpit’s high-class son Stroll, winner of the G1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, and G1 Haskell Stakes winner Girvin to this female line has infused qualities that brought this line back into top-class competition.

naughty gal and the broodmare sire influence of unbridled’s song

Unlike the situation with his sons, which are not well represented with stakes winners in the male line, the daughters of Unbridled’s Song are treasures as producers. It is also noteworthy that daughters of the sons of Unbridled’s Song are making a mark.

Among those representing Unbridled’s Song in the broodmare sire line over the weekend, the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga went to Golden Pal (Uncle Mo), who is out of Lady Shipman (Midshipman); the Lure Stakes, also at Saratoga, went to Dynadrive (Temple City), who is out of Harbingerofthings (Rockport Harbor); the Incredible Revenge Stakes at Monmouth went to Bay Storm (Kantharos), who is out of Stormy Regatta (Midshipman); the Indiana First Lady Stakes went to Climber (Divining Rod), who is out of Gazeley (First Defence); and the Searching Stakes at Laurel went to Music Amore (Mshawish), who is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Rhapsody Queen.

Five stakes winners in a weekend is a pretty good haul, and these are not the only ones out there. Would any of them, however, have greater promise than Naughty Gal?

At Saratoga in the G3 Adirondack Stakes, Naughty Gal (by Into Mischief) won by 2 ½ lengths as the race favorite. A winner of her maiden in her second start at Churchill Downs on July 4, Naughty Gal now has won two of her three starts.

The only difference between the latter and the five stakes winners above is that Naughty Gal’s broodmare sire is a full brother to Unbridled’s Song named Spanish Steps, and Naughty Gal is the first graded winner out of a Spanish Steps mare.

Bred in Florida by Loren Nichols, Naughty Gal is out of Conway Two Step, who was a stakes winner at two in the Brave Raj Stakes and twice stakes-placed at three, earning $102,605. Nichols bought Conway Two Step for $11,000 as a broodmare prospect at the OBS winter sale in January 2013.

To date, the mare has produced five winners from seven to race, including Naughty Gal’s full brother Good Clean Fun, who was a $475,000 yearling at the 2018 Saratoga select sale. Nichols sold the Adirondack winner as a weanling at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale for $200,000; the filly was bought back for $240,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale and then sold at the OBS March auction of juveniles in training earlier this year for $350,000 to Holy Cow Stables, which races the Adirondack winner.

Naughty Gal is the sixth filly in succession to win stakes for this female family, extending back to fifth dam Distonia, a Uruguayan-bred filly foaled in 1964 who won the Premio Carlos Zuluaga in Venezuela. Imported to race in the States, Distonia produced Ruddy Belle Handicap winner Distant Voyage (Admiral’s Voyage), who produced Starfire Voyage (Fire Dancer), winner of the Discovery Stakes at Tampa and the dam of multiple stakes winner Nancy’s Glitter (Glitterman).

The latter was a smashing 2-year-old stakes winner, taking the laurels in the My Dear Girl, Susan’s Girl, and Desert Vixen stakes among her five victories as a juvenile, when she earned just shy of a half-million. As a producer, Nancy’s Glitter had only one stakes winner, Conway Two Step, but she also produced a pair of stakes-placed racers, including Glittering Tax (Artax), the dam of three stakes winners. Among those, Glittering Tax foaled G1 winner Miss Temple City and G3 winner Pricedtoperfection, both by Temple City (Dynaformer).

Now a third granddaughter of Nancy’s Glitter has become a graded stakes winner. Since producing Naughty Gal, Conway Two Step has a yearling filly by Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) and a filly of 2022 by Omaha Beach (War Front). The mare was bred back to Practical Joke (Into Mischief) for 2023.

Naughty Gal is the 112th stakes winner and 52nd graded winner for Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), who represents the most vibrant branch of Storm Cat in contemporary breeding.

stakes-winning double for the late champion arrogate boosts the stallion on the second-crop list of leading sires

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With stakes winners on the West Coast and the East Coast on successive days, at Del Mar on July 28 and at Saratoga on July 29, Arrogate (by Unbridled’s Song) doubled his total number of stakes winners.

Arrogate at Juddmonte Farm in Lexington. The champion son of Unbridled’s Song died near the end of his third season at stud, and his last crop of foals are now yearlings. (Juddmonte Farm photo)

From the sire’s first crop, now three, Arrogate’s first stakes winner, Alittleloveandluck, came on New Year’s Day, then subsequent Grade 1 winner Secret Oath won the G3 Honeybee on her way to victory in the G1 Kentucky Oaks and becoming one of the best fillies of the year, and a third filly, Fun to Dream, won the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar on Thursday.

Bred in California by Bob Baffert and Connie Pageler, Fun to Dream is unbeaten in two starts. The filly made her debut on May 28 at Santa Anita and won the maiden special by 6 ¼ lengths as the odds-on favorite while trained by Sean McCarthy.

Back to being trained by Baffert after his return from the wilderness, Fun to Dream made her second start in the Fleet Treat, an event restricted to California-bred or -sired fillies, and again was favored. This time, the gray filly won by 9 ¾ lengths in 1:22.67 for seven furlongs.

The dam of Fun to Dream, Lutess (Maria’s Mon), was claimed by Bob Baffert on behalf of Live Your Dream Stable for $8,000 on Feb. 17, 2012, and Lutess thus became a broodmare. Fun to Dream races for Pageler and Natalie Baffert.

The day after Fun to Dream became her sire’s third stakes winner, Artorius won the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga and became the first son of Arrogate to win a stakes.

Bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, “Artorius isn’t an overly big horse,” according to Juddmonte farm manager Garrett O’Rourke, “and he isn’t especially heavy either. He’s more of a greyhound type, very athletic. He had shins, and things like that delayed his progress.”

Now a winner in two of his three starts, Artorius is clearly progressive and drew off to win the listed Curlin Stakes at Saratoga by 4 ¾ lengths in 1:50.34. The dark bay colt was the second choice in the field of eight.

Artorius had been second in his debut on April 16 at Keeneland, then came back on June 10 to win a maiden special at Belmont, racing a mile in 1:35.07. The colt seemed notably professional in racing inside, then between horses, before going on to win his race. Furthermore, the form seems solid, with Preakness third Creative Minister (Creative Cause) finishing 6 ¼ lengths back of the winner.

The Curlin was the third start for Artorius, and the race was both a step up in class and forward in distance. And it is tempting to say that the Arrogate stock want distance, but Fun to Dream showed plenty of speed in California, racing the six furlongs in 1:09.53 before finishing the seven furlongs in quick time.

Juddmonte supplied a substantial portion of Arrogate’s book each year the gray champion was at stud, and O’Rourke has seen as many of the horse’s offspring as anyone. He said that, in addition to the farm’s 3-year-olds, “we have plenty of 2-year-olds and plenty of yearlings. I always felt our 2-year-old crop was deeper than the 3-year-olds. Some of the 2-year-olds have already gone into training.

“The pattern that I think is emerging is giving them time, and when you get a good one, it’s worth the wait. That was what we found with Arrogate himself. Shins were the problem with Arrogate at two that prompted Bob to send him back to the farm. Then when he went back to training in California, he was ready.”

After winning a maiden and a pair of allowances as a 3-year-old, Arrogate went to Saratoga for the 2016 Travers, where he scorched the earth in a memorable performance. From then through the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus to his victory in the Dubai World Cup, Arrogate was the best horse in the world.

And Juddmonte was planning for the day when he went to stud.

The farm acquired Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper) privately from breeder Vincent Scuderi after the G2 winner had finished a good third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly Sprint, then won the Garland of Roses in December 2016. The filly promptly continued to compile a four-race winning streak, earning victories for Juddmonte in the G1 Madison at Keeneland, the G1 Distaff at Churchill Downs, and the G2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga.

Paulassilverlining ran below her best form in her final two starts, the G1 Ballerina and G1 BC Filly Sprint. Then both she and Arrogate were retired to stud in Kentucky, and Artorius was the result of the mare’s first mating. The multiple G1 winner has a 2-year-old filly named Parameter (Into Mischief) with Chad Brown, like the half-brother.

The second-crop sires all toil far in arrears of record-setting Gun Runner ($7.5 million), but Arrogate is a highly respectable third behind Keen Ice (Curlin) ($3.9 million) with $3.5 million in his sire account so far this year. Those are the only second-crop sires with more than $3 million in progeny earnings for 2022.

Arrogate has the smallest number of starters among the top 10 sires on the list; so to be ranked that highly, and with only four stakes winners, the colts and fillies winning maidens are clearly doing so in good company and for good purses. The likelihood is that we will be able to assess the stallion’s overall contribution to greater advantage in 18 to 24 months.

haskell exacta offers continuing insight on gun runner’s elevation to leading sire

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With a one-two finish in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 23, Cyberknife defeating Tiaba by a head, leading sire Gun Runner (by Candy Ride) is wading into the subtle distinctions that separate truly important sires from the select few who transcend the breed and reshape the sport in their own images.

It is too early to say that, with only one crop at age three, but Gun Runner is stacking up accomplishments that bear scrutiny against the great sires of the past.

One of the most important of those accomplishments is getting multiple top-class performers. That’s what makes a sire great – highest-quality offspring – but it’s so rare and difficult to achieve.

Thirty-four years ago, Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) had the one-two in the 1988 Haskell. In one of the great rivalries of the 1980s, Forty Niner, the previous year’s champion juvenile colt, and Seeking the Gold, a lightly raced and improving 3-year-old, showed the speed and determination that made Mr. Prospector one of the greatest sires in history.

The sons of Mr. Prospector – the chestnut and the bay – turned the 1988 Haskell into one of the best horse races in history. It was a truly thrilling event rarely matched in sport, and yet the same pair of colts came back three weeks later in the Travers at Saratoga and restaged their epic duel with the same result.

In both races, Forty Niner was the winner by a nose.

Twenty-two years earlier, Bold Ruler (Nasrullah) had the one-two finishers in the 1966 Garden State Stakes. Some bold planning in the early 1950s had allowed Garden State Park to boost the purse of their Garden State Stakes to be the richest racing event in the world for 2-year-olds. It drew big fields of the top talent to race over a mile and a sixteenth, and it stood for a generation as a championship deciding event, much in the fashion of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile today.

Coming into the 1966 Garden State, the leading colt was Successor, a full-brother to 1964 juvenile champion Bold Lad. Successor had defeated Dr. Fager (Rough’n Tumble) in the Champagne Stakes, then had a shocking reverse in the Pimlico Futurity when second by a neck to In Reality (Intentionally). Yet a success in the lucrative race in Jersey probably would clinch the divisional championship for the bay colt. (Dr. Fager did not race again in 1966 after the Champagne, which was his only loss at two.)

In the Garden State, Successor ran one of the very best races of his career and won by three lengths over the Bold Ruler son Bold Hour, who had six lengths on the colt in third. Earlier that year, Bold Hour had won the Hopeful and the Futurity; so his second in the Garden State was positively good form. As a 4-year-old, Bold Hour also won a race at Garden State Park called the Amory L. Haskell Handicap, well before that race swapped names with the Monmouth Invitational.

Successor profited from his extra racing at 2 to become the divisional champion of 1966, although he struggled thereafter. Dr. Fager, Damascus, In Reality, and Bold Hour made life tough for everyone else in the division too.

Of all the one-two finishes by great sires of the past, the greatest pairing in the greatest race came in 1948.

Juvenile champion Citation had not met the 3-year-old sensation Coaltown until the Kentucky Derby, when trainers Ben and Jimmy Jones sent both sons of Bull Lea (Bull Dog) out together on one of the worst tracks ever for the Kentucky classic. Churchill Downs that day was a muddy mess.

Coaltown possessed exceptional speed, which he had willingly displayed during his spring preps in Kentucky, and his front-running efforts at Keeneland had swayed local horsemen and observers to believe that not even Citation could cope with his kinsman’s ability to turn on the speed early and continue through to the finish.

Both owned by Calumet Farm, Coaltown and Citation ran coupled for betting and were odds-on in the field of six. The unbeaten Coaltown broke alertly and sped away to an open lead by the time he passed under the finish wire the first time. Coaltown continued to lead through quick fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 3/5, by which point Coaltown had whistled away to a six-length lead over the sloppy track.

Citation was racing in second under the capable hands of Eddie Arcaro, however, and the master jockey wasn’t going to be trapped into a speed duel with a stablemate. He understood pace far too well. Coaltown’s next two quarter-mile fractions of six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 and a mile in 1:38 brought him back to the field, and Arcaro had only to use a hand ride to catch Coaltown by the time he reached the stretch call.

Citation drew off to win “handily” by 3 ½ lengths in 2:05 2/5, and yet none of the other horses could close effectively over the tiring track. That left Bull Lea’s two great sons to take the first two positions in the Derby, and Citation went on to win the Triple Crown impressively. The next season, when Citation was on the sidelines regaining soundness, Coaltown took over as champion of the division and Horse of the Year in one of the year-end polls.

One of the barriers to clear comparisons between sires of the past and those of the present is that none of these older sires covered books nearly so large as those of the present. A book of 25 to 40 mares was considered adequate, even preferable, but stallions today are presented with a minimum of 125 mares annually, and some cover close to double that number.

Clearly, there could be some dilution of quality in the mates with such policies, as well as concentration of the top breeding stock in a smaller circle of bloodlines. But it does allow a stallion with the genetic and phenotypic excellence to be a super sire to get more top horses earlier than ever before.

Among contemporary sires, both Tapit (Pulpit) and Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) started off far from the perceived “best” stallion prospects of their crops and had some relatively small early crops from relatively moderate mares. Even Curlin (Smart Strike) had quite a bit of commercial pushback until his early crops began to display consistent classic potential.

Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) and Gun Runner have had the steadiest volume in their books of mares and the best results for quality among the stallions with very large books from the start of their breeding careers. Uncle Mo has proven himself both a commercial star and sire of champions, and there seems no reason to expect anything less from the chestnut newcomer to the ranks of leading sires.

report card for 2022 freshmen sires: part 1

The current crop of sires with their first runners at the racecourse this year now include five freshman sires located in Kentucky or Florida who have already been represented by a stakes winner: Justify (by Scat Daddy), Sharp Azteca (Freud), Good Magic (Curlin), Girvin (Tale of Ekati), and Free Drop Billy (Union Rags).

The leader by number of stakes winners, with two, is Justify, and the chestnut stallion stands at Coolmore’s stateside operation, Ashford Stud, outside Versailles, Ky., for a 2022 fee of $100,000.

Justify at Ashford: the chestnut son of leading sire Scat Daddy is an impressive figure at Coolmore’s Kentucky stallion station and is the current leading freshman by number of stakes winners. (Coolmore photo)

The 2018 divisional champion and Horse of the Year struck first with Statuette, a half-sister to G1 winner Tenebrism (Caravaggio). Both are out of G1 winner Immortal Verse (Pivotal). Statuette won the G2 Airlie Stud Stakes at the Curragh on June 26, and on July 14, the sire’s daughter Just Cindy won the G3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga to become Justify’s first stakes winner on this side of the Atlantic.

Just Cindy is a homebred for Clarkland Farm, which bred the filly from the stakes winner Jenda’s Agenda (Proud Citizen). A winner in four of her eight starts, Jenda’s Agenda is out of G2 Molly Pitcher winner Just Jenda (Menifee), and this family traces back to fourth dam Fulbright Scholar (Cox’s Ridge), winner of the Busher at Aqueduct and a half-sister to G1 winner Bachelor Beau (Raised Socially). Fulbright Scholar became a major producer with three stakes winners: Seeking Regina (Seeking the Gold), Tutorial (Forty Niner), and Oxford Scholar (Seeking the Gold).

Just Cindy is the first foal from Jenda’s Agenda, and the leggy bay filly went to the Keeneland September yearling sale last year as part of the annual Clarkland Farm consignment. When the bidding stalled at $140,000, the breeders brought her home and have been amply repaid. Unbeaten in two starts, Just Cindy has earned $165,710 and now has a value that is … well, let’s say, substantially higher.

Whereas Justify has the most stakes winners to date, the first freshman sire with a 2022 stakes winner was Girvin, whose daughter Devious Dame won the Astoria Stakes on June 9. Based in Florida at the O’Farrell family’s Ocala Stud, Girvin became a minor celebrity and a quality surprise this spring with his first juveniles in training. They looked the part of enterprising racehorses and sold like it. The horse stands for $6,000 live foal in 2022.

Two recent freshmen sires with stakes winners are Sharp Azteca, who stands for a 2022 stud fee of $5,000 at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., and Good Magic, who stands for a current season fee of $30,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa in Bourbon County north of Paris.

Sharp Azteca is among the newer members of the fraternity for sires of stakes winners. On July 9, Tyler’s Tribe won the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows. The gelded son of Sharp Azteca won the race by 8 ½ lengths. The Iowa-bred is now unbeaten in two starts and was the top-priced yearling at $34,000 in the 2021 Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders’ October sale. Tyler’s Tribe was bred by Clifton Farm and Derek Merkler from Impazible Woman (Mission Impazible).

On the same day at Pleasanton racetrack in California, Good Magic’s daughter Vegas Magic won the Everett Nevin Stakes by a nose from Fumano’s Girl, with a colt a length back in third. Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, Vegas Magic is out of multiple stakes winner Heidi Maria (Rockport Harbor). The juvenile filly sold for $130,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale, then resold as a 2-year-old in training earlier this year at the OBS March sale for $100,000.

The fifth freshman with a stakes winner is the Spendthrift Farm sire Free Drop Billy, whose daughter Free Drop Maddy won the Texas Thoroughbred Association Futurity on July 17, making the son of Union Rags the latest sire to get a 2022 stakes winner. Bred in Louisiana by Clear Creek Stud, Free Drop Maddy sold for $10,500 as a yearling, then resold earlier this year at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale for $200,000. Second on debut at Churchill Downs, Free Drop Maddy won her second start, in the TTA Futurity, by 1 ¾ lengths as the slight favorite.

In other points of interest among the leading freshmen, the list leader by number of winners is Sharp Azteca with 12 from 27 starters. The son of Freud has the second-highest percentage of winners from starters, behind only Girvin, who leads freshmen by percentage of winners at 50 percent, five winners from 10 starters.

A point of particular irony among the leaders on the freshman list is Bolt d’Oro, who stands at Spendthrift along with Free Drop Billy. Despite not yet having a stakes winner, Bolt d’Oro is the overall leader by earnings with $476,249.* The son of Medaglia d’Oro has only a modest lead over Justify at this stage, with eight winners, and none has come back to win a second race. Yet.

The stallion’s son, Owen’s Leap, was second in the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs on July 4, and the stock by Bolt d’Oro, despite being very quick and early to train, appear likely to improve notably as they find distances beyond six furlongs through the late summer and fall.

These sires should help make some exciting sport.

*Current stats as of July 18, 2022

top european fillies continue challenging the colts successfully for g1 honors

One of the everlasting assets of racing in North America, both in the States and in Canada, is the extensive and fairly lucrative racing program restricted to fillies.

This allows breeders and owners to place their fillies in conditions that allow them to race effectively and win. Overall, the filly restricted races make owning fillies a sound financial decision, and the program allows breeders to evaluate the athletic potential of fillies, especially those who are a cut or two below the best, and then to use the racing test as a means for selecting good broodmare prospects.

In Europe, this is not so consistently the case. Not only is the purse structure quite meager for races that are not sponsorship events, but to a notably greater degree, fillies and mares have to compete against colts if they want a share of the rewards.

The upside of that situation is that fillies more often prove their ability to compete and win in open company, even at the Group 1 level. Over the past weekend, a pair of fillies did just that.

On July 9 at Newmarket, the 4-year-old filly Alcohol Free (by No Nay Never) showed speed in advance of her coltish comrades to win the Group 1 July Cup at six furlongs. This race was the fourth victory at the G1 level for the talented racer. Previously, she had won the Cheveley Park at two, the Sussex and Coronation Stakes last year at three, and the July Cup was her first success at the premier level this season from four starts that also include a third in a G2 and a fourth in the G1 Lockinge behind the top colt Baaeed.

The following day at Deauville, Tenebrism (Caravaggio) thumped the colts in the G1 Prix Jean Prat at seven furlongs. This was the third victory and second G1 from five lifetime starts for the highly talented filly. She won the G1 Cheveley Park last year as an unbeaten juvenile.

And a victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes is not the only point of similarity between these two talented fillies. Each is by a son of the late and much-lamented leading sire Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), and both sons are part of the Coolmore international circle of stallions.

No Nay Never, winner of the G1 Prix Morny at two, won four of his six starts and was second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Sent to stud at Coolmore in Ireland, No Nay Never is one of the most powerful horses imaginable, with tremendous muscular development, and he has been a roaring success from his first crop of racers. Alcohol Free was a member of her sire’s third crop, foals of 2018. No Nay Never stands in Ireland for a fee of 125,000 euros.

A gray son of Scat Daddy out of a Holy Bull mare, Caravaggio had an extraordinary reputation on the gallops and won seven of his 10 races, including the G1 Phoenix Stakes at two and the G1 Commonwealth Cup at three. Caravaggio entered stud at Coolmore in Ireland, then the horse was transferred to Coolmore’s Kentucky stud, Ashford, in 2020 and has proven popular there, as well as with Irish breeders.

Tenebrism is a member of her sire’s first crop and is one of his three group winners to date. Caravaggio stands at Ashford for $35,000 live foal.

Descending from the Scat Daddy male line branch of Storm Cat and possessing a high turn of speed and precocity have distinguished this pair of accomplished fillies. In addition, they have some distinguishing characteristics, notably in their female families.

Bred in Ireland by Churchtown House Stud, Alcohol Free is from a good family but not one of particular distinction of late. There isn’t a racer of G1 caliber in the female line until the fifth generation. There, Special Account (Buckpasser) is a full sister to champion and major producer Numbered Account. The recent relative quietness in the family was one reason the filly brought only 40,000 euros at the 2018 Goffs November foal sale. The filly’s top-tier racing performances have caused a major advance in that valuation.

Tenebrism, on the other hand, is out of multiple G1 winner Immortal Verse (Pivotal), who was the highweight filly at three in England over seven to 9.5 furlongs. Immortal Verse won the G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, then won the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and was third in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes against colts.

Bred in Kentucky by Merriebelle Stables and Orpendale/Chelston/Wynatt, Tenebrism is the best foal of her distinguished dam, and the second dam is a listed winner by Sadler’s Wells and a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Last Tycoon (Try My Best) and to German highweight Astronef (Be My Guest).

Tenebrism joined the party as highweight juvenile filly last year in England and Ireland, and both she and Alcohol Free are outstanding indicators for the continuing influence of Scat Daddy.

charge it has the potential to change up and recharge the racing for seasonal honors

Winning the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes by an emphatic 23 lengths put Charge It (by Tapit) back in the picture as one of the leading 3-year-old colts of the season and shined the spotlight on his pedigree, especially his second dam Take Charge Lady (Dehere).

Twenty years ago, Take Charge Lady was one of the leading 3-year-old fillies of her crop, having won the G1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April. Later in the year, the filly would win the G1 Spinster; the previous year, Take Charge Lady had won the Alcibiades, and she won a second Spinster at Keeneland as a 4-year-old.

A striking bay, Take Charge Lady clearly loved Keeneland, and she was an athletic prospect who proved a strong sales yearling, bringing $175,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton July sale for breeder William Schettine and selling to trainer Kenny McPeek, agent.

Take Charge Lady raced for Select Stable, winning 11 of her 22 starts and earning $2.4 million. She was second seven times, including in the 2002 Kentucky Oaks, and oddly enough, of the filly’s four unplaced races, three were sixth-place finishes in the Breeders’ Cup: in the Juvenile Fillies, then the next two runnings of the Distaff.

Retired at the end of her 4-year-old season, Take Charge Lady was bred to leading sire Seeking the Gold (Mr. Prospector) and sold in 2004 at the Keeneland November sale. She brought $4.2 million from Eaton Sales, which has bred her foals. A top-class race filly, Take Charge Lady has proven, if anything, an even better broodmare.

Like her dam Felicita (Rubiano), Take Charge Lady has produced three stakes winner, but those from Take Charge Lady all won G1 stakes. Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) was the victor in the Travers and Clark Handicap, was second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and was named champion 3-year-old colt; Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy) won the Florida Derby; and As Time Goes By (American Pharoah) won the Beholder Mile.

In addition to the three G1 winners, other descendants from Take Charge Lady have earned high rank. Charming, the Seeking the Gold foal the mare was carrying at the 2004 November sale, brought $3.2 million at the 2006 Keeneland September sale, and she has produced a pair of Grade 1 winners: Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway) and Omaha Beach (War Front). Take Charge Brandi won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Starlet and was named champion juvenile filly. Omaha Beach won a trio of Grade 1s: the Malibu, Santa Anita Sprint Championship, and Arkansas Derby.

Seven years after producing Charming in 2005, Take Charge Lady foaled a filly by Indian Charlie, and she sold for $2.2 million as a Keeneland September yearling to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. Named I’ll Take Charge, this filly didn’t race until she was three, when she won a maiden special at Belmont Park in her second start, then was third in her three subsequent starts at three and four, earning $82,400.

Todd Quast, general manager of Whisper Hill, said that “I’ll Take Charge was a really good filly, better than the race record would indicate, and we were happy to keep her for the broodmare band. She’s matured into a broodmare upwards of 16.3 hands and gets a big, upstanding foal.

“The mare’s second foal was Charge It. He was a really nice colt from day one, and he was the colt that we decided not to sell that year. Due to a couple of small things, Charge It didn’t ship to Todd Pletcher’s barn until October of his 2-year-old year. He had an eye infection that we had to clear up so that it didn’t pose a long-term problem, and it delayed him. Then, Todd had high praise for Charge It from the start because he started outworking some very nice horses.”

Charge It made his debut on Jan. 8 at Gulfstream, finishing second, then returned to win a maiden on Feb. 12. His next start was the G1 Florida Derby on April 2, and the colt finished second. Charge It’s fourth start was the Kentucky Derby, in which he apparently displaced his soft palate and finished 17th. The Dwyer was the gray colt’s fifth start, and he earned a Beyer speed figure of 111 in the race, which is the highest fig of the year for any 3-year-old.

Charge It is the second foal from I’ll Take Charge, and her first foal, the Medaglia d’Oro filly Charging Lady, was third in a maiden special earlier on Saturday. Charge It is the second prominent racer of 2022 by Tapit from an Indian Charlie mare; Metropolitan Handicap winner Flightline is the other.

I’ll Take Charge foaled a colt by Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) earlier this year, and the mare is back in foal to Tapit.

Charge It is the 154th stakes winner for three-time leading national sire Tapit and the 96th graded stakes winner by the gray marvel. A year ago, Tapit had the leading juvenile colt of 2020 return and win the Belmont Stakes; Essential Quality went on to win the Jim Dandy and Travers, then was elected champion of his division.

In an even more open division this year, a similar result would cause some hootin’ and hollerin’ at Whisper Hill.