tapit taking breeders and buyers into the stratosphere at keeneland september

When a stallion has been the country’s leading sire for three years running, one expects certain things. For one, the highest stud fee around. Then, the best mares around. And it goes without saying that the combination gives you the highest proportion of premium sales yearlings around.

It also goes without saying that the stallion is Tapit.

The handsome gray son of leading sire Pulpit (by A.P. Indy) is out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels, who also passed along her gray coat to her famous son. Tapit combines some of the greatest Thoroughbred lines, and the horse has parlayed his unique genetic heritage into a spectacular stud career.

After a freshman sire season that placed him atop the leader board with champion filly Stardom Bound, Tapit has never looked back.

The stallion’s consistency is exceptional, his percentages of stakes horses are very good, and the Tapits race effectively wherever they are called on. They perform early, show speed, train on, and stay a distance.

As a result, Tapit has sired three of the last four winners of the Belmont Stakes: Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017). It took Horse of the Year American Pharoah and his Triple Crown triumph to prevent that being four in a row. Tapit’s son Frosted was second in the 2015 Belmont.

As a result of consistency and quality, Tapit commands an exceptional book of mares annually at Gainesway Farm, where he has stood since retirement.

At the 2017 Keeneland September sale, there are 23 Tapit yearlings consigned to Book 1 alone. There are 21 more in the rest of sale, with 18 of them in Book 2.

Nice, eh?

One of the nicest of the nice is Hip 69, a full sister to Grade 1 winner Cupid. The filly was bred by owners who “have a very large construction business in south Louisiana,” according to George Waggoner, who bred Yes It’s True, among other good horses. Waggoner said, “Pretty ‘n Smart has the prettiest Tapit filly I’ve seen. She is big, tall, stretchy, and muscular. Better than Cupid when he sold. She is purely outstanding, and I have no financial interest in her, other than the pride of seeing her raised on my farm.”

Waggoner owns a farm north of Lexington on Paris Pike where Tom Gentry bred and raised numerous top racers, and Gentry’s son Olin manages the bloodstock for the breeders of this filly. Waggoner said, “I told Olin that this filly would be the highest-priced Tapit filly out there. Maybe the highest-priced Tapit period.”

Those are great expectations, but Tapit is the sort of sire who generates the feeling that anything is possible. Often enough, Tapit delivers with stock that can make good on those high hopes, and for that, people will pay a premium.

Where else can you find an evolving store of hope that might make your dreams come true?

And with Tapit siblings to major performers like Honor Code, Commissioner, Mohaymen, New Year’s Day, and Sweet Lulu in the September sale, who’s to say how high they will take the lucky buyer.

[The preceding was written and published in PR Special at Keeneland September on the day of the first session. At that session, three Tapits sold for more than $2 million:

Hip 69 filly out of Pretty ‘n Smart, sold to M.V. Magnier $2.7 million

Hip 49 colt out of Miss Besilu, sold to Whisper Hill Farm LLC $2.6 million

Hip 105 colt out of Tiz Miz Sue, sold to Shadwell Estate Co. $2.5 million.]


Spinaway and Debutante feature a tale of two fillies from different sides of the sales ring

Two talented fillies with radically different sales histories became Grade 1 winners on opposite ends of the country on Sept. 2. A sales ring star with a $650,000 price tag at Fasig-Tipton‘s Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, Moonshine Memories (by Malibu Moon) won the Del Mar Debutante. At Saratoga, not only across the country but from the other side of the tracks, Lady Ivanka (Tiz Wonderful) won the historic Spinaway Stakes after being a sales-ring refugee.

The latter filly went unsold in her first two trips through the ring, when she was an RNA (reserve not attained) for $21,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November Sale in 2015, then for $11,000 a year later at the Keeneland September Sale.

After those two experiences, the buff bay Lady Ivanka could have been forgiven if she had felt a little pouty: “Nobody loves me; everybody hates me; guess I’ll go eat worms.”

Fortunately, Lady Ivanka and her people persevered. Brought to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of juveniles in training at Timonium in May, the filly worked a quarter-mile in :21 2/5 and showed good internal numbers and stride indicators from DataTrack International’s digitally gathered information that indicated she was a filly with promise.

After that work, the filly went through the ring for $80,000 out of the SBM Training & Sales consignment, and now she is unbeaten in two starts and a G1 winner for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC, Michael Imperio, and Susan Montanye.

The Del Mar Debutante winner Moonshine Memories is likewise unbeaten from a pair of starts and a G1 winner. Moonshine Memories, however, was a filly that nearly everybody liked.

At the Saratoga select sale, she was one of the hottest lots on the historic grounds, and after the bidding stopped, only eight yearlings at the auction brought more than Moonshine Memories. The fetching bay filly sold to Bridlewood Farm and M.V. Magnier out of the Lane’s End consignment on a bid of $650,000.

The filly is by the highly successful A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, champion juvenile Declan’s Moon, and G1 winners such as Life at Ten, Carina Mia, and Gormley, winner of this year’s Santa Anita Derby.

On her dam’s side, Moonshine Memories is a half-sister to stakes winner Indian Evening (Indian Charlie) and stakes-placed Mo for the Money (Uncle Mo). Their dam is the Unbridled’s Song mare Unenchanted Evening, who won at 3 but has shined as a producer. Unenchanted Evening is one of four stakes producers out of her dam, the stakes-winning mare Evil Elaine (Medieval Man).

Although the dam of five stakes horses, Evil Elaine is best known as the producer of Horse of the Year Favorite Trick (Phone Trick), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Hopeful, and Breeders’ Futurity during his unbeaten juvenile season.

This is a family with a lot of speed and juvenile class, and Moonshine Memories was a stellar example. A beautifully proportioned filly with excellent power, Moonshine Memories is built to corner like a sports car, and she did just that in the one-turn Debutante. She handled the track and competition well to remain unbeaten.

In contrast, Lady Ivanka had success in the sales ring only after she was nearly the proven item as a racing prospect, and a good part of the explanation for that is the general lack of demand for young stock who aren’t by the most successful sires and out of proven or highly promising dams.

By the Tiznow stallion Tiz Wonderful, a graded stakes winner at 2, Lady Ivanka is one of her sire’s two most-accomplished performers, along with G1 Spinaway Stakes winner Condo Commando. Those are the stallion’s only two winners at the premium level, and he is represented by a scant few, such as Hunter O’Riley (G2 Bowling Green) and My Happy Face (G3 Tempted), who are graded or group winners.

In 2014, Tiz Wonderful was sold to Korea, and Lady Ivanka is from the stallion’s last crop in the States. The Spinaway winner is among 61 foals from that crop, which includes five winners to date.

Despite their differing past histories, both Moonlight Memories and Lady Ivanka will be among the favored prospects for the Breeders Cup. This time, they both will be in the spotlight.

flatter sharing the love, coast to coast

With a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, West Coast defeated each winner of the 2017 classics, as well as the winners of the Haskell and Jim Dandy.

Now a winner in five of his seven starts, West Coast never has finished worse than second, and his earnings to date stand at $993,800. That makes him the most accomplished racer yet from the now-19-year-old mare Caressing (Honour and Glory), who won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was the Eclipse Award winner as top 2-year-old filly.

Bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds LLC, the bloodstock holdings of breeder Carl Pollard, West Coast was foaled and raised at Hermitage Farm, and Hermitage’s general manager, Bill Landes, said the colt’s victory put him right up with the best historic Hermitage had produced. Landes said, “As I was telling Doc Lavin yesterday, West Coast’s picture goes right up there on the wall next to Dark Star.”

Likewise bred and raised at Hermitage, then sold for $6,500 as a yearling to Harry F. Guggenheim’s Cain Hoy Stable, Dark Star upset the 1953 Kentucky Derby with a nose victory over champion Native Dancer, and Dark Star went to stud at Claiborne Farm, which was a significant step for breeder Warner Jones and his relationship with the Hancock family of Claiborne.



Flatter – Claiborne’s son of A.P. Indy is continuing a decades-old successful association with Hermitage Farm, through the Carl Pollard-bred and Hermitage-raised Travers winner West Coast, a top sales yearling who earned a first Travers for Gary and Mary West (Claiborne photo)


Landes said, “Mr. Jones and Mr. Hancock (both Bull Hancock and his son Seth) were lifelong friends, and when I came to Hermitage in 1977, Mr. Jones told me that when working on matings, look to Claiborne.” Carl Pollard succeeded Jones as owner of Hermitage (now owned by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson), and Seth Hancock succeeded his father at Claiborne (now presided over by Walker Hancock).

So, four years ago, Landes looked to Claiborne and their good sire Flatter for Carl Pollard’s mare Caressing. They were looking for a stallion who could help the mare to get the right kind of foal.

Landes said, “The mare started off slow. She got a couple of small ones, including a Storm Cat that we foal-shared with Overbrook, but she is now a graded stakes producer over in Japan.” The Storm Cat, a filly named My Goodness, sold for $475,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2006, and that was a year when the super sire’s yearlings averaged more than $1.25 million.

My Goodness and the mare’s next foal, a Distorted Humor filly named Fun Affair, became winners on the racetrack. Only slightly more than 40 percent of the annual foal crop does that, but so much more was expected of Caressing’s early foals that the mare was beginning to look like a disappointment.

Then she came up with a pair of useful stakes-placed horses in Gold Hawk (Empire Maker), plus Juan and Bina (Indian Charlie). Both placed in graded stakes and earned more than $150,000 apiece; so all the breeder and farm manager needed was to get a correct and strong colt.

They got him from the mating with Flatter that resulted in West Coast.

Landes recalled the Travers winner was a “May 14 foal, and when we showed him to Keeneland, that foaling date was the big concern for placement (in the catalog) and what he could do (in price). He was nice all along and just blossomed coming into the September sale. He looked just wonderful when he went through the ring on Saturday (5th session) at the sale, just wonderful, and the price reflected that.”

West Coast brought $425,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale, which made him the co-second highest-priced yearling by Flatter that year. The other yearling at the same price was the filly Your Love. Steve Young bought her as Hip 1030 out of the Claiborne Farm consignment, and Your Love races for Paul Pompa, with Chad Brown as trainer. She has won two of her three starts. Her only loss came when she was sixth in the G1 Test Stakes earlier this month.

The high-priced yearling by Flatter in 2015 was the colt later named Hot Sean. He sold for $550,000 out of the Bluewater consignment to Three Amigos Stable (Pegram, Watson, and Weitman), with Bob Baffert training. Hot Sean won two of four starts last year, was second in the G3 Delta Jackpot, and has been training steadily in 2017. He has eight works in the last eight weeks.

A big, ruggedly made horse, Flatter tends to get strong stock that race effectively. They have speed, and they can carry it. They race early, and they frequently last several seasons, like multiple G1 winner Flat Out, whose first foals are now 2.

As a son of Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, Flatter has inherited some of his sire’s most effective qualities as a breeding horse, but Flatter did not enter stud as a star with a high fee.

A winner in four of six starts, Flatter was third in the G2 Washington Park Handicap. If he hadn’t shown high ability, however, he wouldn’t have gone to stud at all. Claiborne had enough faith in the big brown horse’s class to give him a shot, and Flatter entered stud for $5,000 live foal.

Carl Pollard bought a share in the syndicate that supported the horse. Landes recalled Claiborne’s Bernie Sams “syndicated Flatter the night that Mr. Robert Courtney was honored at the Thoroughbred Club of America dinner. Bernie went around the room and syndicated the horse in one night with the people there for the TCA dinner. It was an old-fashioned kind of syndication, just talking to people who like horses and breed horses. So we’ve bred to him every year, and Mr. Pollard has been very lucky with him.”

Indeed. West Coast is the second G1 winner that CFP Thoroughbreds has produced from a mating to Flatter. The first was Paola Queen, winner of the 2016 Test Stakes at Saratoga. Racing for Grupo Seven C Stable, Paola Queen was also second in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks and sold to SF Bloodstock for $1.7 million at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

With an annually improving sire profile, Flatter has established himself as a significant stallion. Landes concurred and said, “Claiborne has done marvels with this horse, and they keep on getting good horses, year after year.”

As Bernie Sams said, Flatter “has done nothing but good for everybody who’s been involved with him.”

second painting of eclipse shows wildman and sons with unbeaten marvel

In last week’s post about the unbeaten Eclipse (Marske x Spilletta), I included a digital reproduction of a contemporary painting of the great horse by George Stubbs, and in the comments on that post, reader E J C Blackwood noted that he had another image of the horse that included Wildman and his young sons.



Eclipse – unbeaten racer with William Wildman and sons. (Courtesy of E J C Blackwood)


William Wildman was a livestock dealer from Smithfield, England, and in 1765, he bought Eclipse as a yearling for 75 guineas from the estate of breeder Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

Wildman kept the colt, had him brought to the races, then sold half of the promising young racer after his second start and victory to Dennis O’Kelly (50 percent in June 1769 for 650 guineas, the remaining 50 percent in April 1770 for 1,100 guineas).

Thus, O’Kelly is more frequently associated with Eclipse, but both men played very important roles in the horse’s life.

Both paintings of Eclipse show a scopey, good-sized chestnut horse with a significant amount of white on his face, plus a white stocking on his right hind that extends nearly to the hock. Both paintings indicate the elegance of Eclipse’s construction, the leanness of sinew and the refinement of bone. They also give an indication of a certain temperament, if the pinned ears are the telling indicator one expects from the acute observation of the painter. A further image of Eclipse, this one of his skeleton, is reproduced below.



a quarter-millennium ago, one horse was born during an eclipse, and he casts a long shadow even today

The most significant event in Kentucky over the coming week (Aug. 21) is the full solar eclipse, and the Bluegrass State is dead-center for viewing a total eclipse of the sun. The Bluegrass, more than most portions of the Earth, should be eclipse conscious because the pattern and character of the Thoroughbred today is significantly shaped by a single horse named after a similar event 253 years ago.

The great English racehorse and sire Eclipse (by Marske x Spilletta, by Regulus) was foaled during the great English eclipse of 1764. That event was memorialized in the unbeaten racehorse’s name.

eclipse at newmarket

Eclipse – the unbeaten racehorse did not lose even a single heat and was immortalized in the phrase, “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.” The image above is of a painting by the noted anatomist and artist George Stubbs, who painted Eclipse and other 18th century horses.

Born April 1 of 1764, Eclipse was bred by the Duke of Cumberland (Prince William Augustus) and was foaled at Cranbourne Lodge in England. The future racing star did not start for his breeder, however, because the Duke died the following year when Eclipse was a yearling, and the chestnut colt was sold to a livestock dealer named William Wildman for 75 guineas.


Wildman brought the handsome chestnut to the races as a 5-year-old, a circumstance virtually outlawed today but relatively commonplace 200 years ago when races were much longer. Eclipse’s debut was in a race over four miles, best two of three heats. Eclipse won handily and after winning his second race, this time at two-mile heats, Dennis O’Kelly purchased half the horse for 650 guineas.

Eclipse continued to win races; all comers and distances were the same to him. In an era long before airplanes, horses typically walked to their own races, and Eclipse is estimated to have walked around 1,400 miles to races across England.

The big chestnut horse won them all.

He made 18 starts in two years, at distances from two to four miles, typically in heats. Eclipse never had to race the ultimate number of heats because he never lost one, and such was his dominance that he walked over – no opposition available to oppose him – eight times among the 18.

O’Kelly had purchased the remaining 50 percent of the horse for 1,100 guineas in April 1770, and after his 6-year-old season, Eclipse was retired because the difficulty in finding competition for him was too great.

In 1771, O’Kelly stood Eclipse at his Side Hill Stud near Epsom, and the horse became an immediate success at stud. His fee rose eventually rose as high as 50 guineas, and Eclipse moved to Cannons Stud in 1788 at age 24.

On 27 February the next year, Eclipse died from colic. He was 25.

At stud, Eclipse sired 344 winners, including three winners of the English Derby: Young Eclipse (1788), Saltram (1780), and Sergeant (1781). Eclipse’s most important sons at stud over the long term proved to be his second-crop son Pot-8-Os and fourth-crop son King Fergus.

Pot-8-Os is the male-line ancestor of Bend Or, Phalaris, Nearco, and a domineering portion of the breed. King Fergus proved to be the male-line ancestor of Galopin and his great son St. Simon, which are represented in more contemporary pedigrees through Ribot and Princequillo.

Derby winner Saltram sired some good horses in England and then was exported to Virginia at age 22. The stallion sired the dam of the important American racer Timoleon, who sired the great four-mile heat racer Boston, winner in 40 of 45 races and later the sire of Lexington, the greatest American sire of the 19th century.

As a result of these and other Thoroughbreds of enduring importance to the breed, Eclipse came to be regarded as one of the three most important Thoroughbred sire lines: those of Herod, Matchem, and Eclipse.

Eclipse’s influence on the breed spread far and wide, and the stallion’s male line has become the predominant male line in the breed, representing something in the neighborhood of 95 percent of modern Thoroughbreds. He is in the pedigree of every Thoroughbred I can find, although it is just possible that somewhere a Thoroughbred exists without a cross of the great chestnut who was named after the great astronomical event more than 250 years ago.

Since the Northern Hemisphere breeding season of 2017 is well past, however, there will be no Kentucky foal born on Aug. 21 with a destiny written in the stars.

dissolution of idle hour farm proved a boon to major breeders greentree, king ranch, and ogden phipps

E.R. Bradley died on Aug. 15, 1946, and in November, the estate announced that the entirety of Idle Hour Farm and its stock had sold to a syndicate of horse breeders. King Ranch, Greentree Stud, and Ogden Phipps were the buyers.

The gross price for land and horses was $2,681,545, “approximately,” as it was reported.

The syndicate members retained ownership of the young stallion Bimelech, stood him at Greentree for the remainder of his stud career. The 20-year-old stallion Blue Larkspur became the property of King Ranch and remained at Idle Hour (partitioned, sold to Edwad S. Moore, and renamed Circle M Farm) till the horse died in May of 1947.

The Circle M property changed hands several times and eventually became what is largely Darby Dan Farm today. The other portion of the land of Idle Hour went to King Ranch and became its Kentucky division for several decades.

King Ranch acquired the following mares: Bee Mac (in foal to Bull Lea), Be Like Mom (Blue Larkspur), Baby Sister (War Admiral), Buginarug (barren), By Appointment (Questionnaire), Bird of War (Questionnaire), Bond Buyer (Bimelech); these horses in training: Bridal Flower, But Why Not, Blind Frenzy, Bee Ann Mac, Better Value; two yearlings and three weanlings.

Greentree acquired the following mares: Blade of Time (Bimelech), Big Event (Devil Diver), Beanie M. (War Admiral), Blinking Owl (Bimelech), Bright Green (barren), La Troienne (Blue Larkspur); these horses in training: Blue-Eyed Momo, Bimlette, Blue Border; three yearlings, and three weanlings.

Ogden Phipps acquired the following mares: Baby League (War Admiral), Bloodroot (Bull Lea), Businesslike (War Admiral), Babys Breath (Bimelech), Black Helen (barren); four yearlings and three weanlings.

The syndicate sold on 14 mares to Moore, plus 10 yearlings and 10 weanlings. Of the mares, eight were in foal to major stallions; six were barren at the time of sale. The mares were: Bazaar (Bimelech), Big Doings (Fighting Fox), Bitindependent (Whirlaway), Born Fool (Shut Out), Boys I’m It (War Admiral), Bright Blue (Pharamond II), Bubblette (Bimelech), Clonaslee (Bimelech), plus the barren Barn Swallow, Best of All, Bird Flower, Bit o’ Love, Bridal Colors, and By Mistake.

The syndicate sold three 3-year-old colts to Charles S. Howard and four 2-year-olds, and also sold the yearling full brother of Horse of the Year Busher to Maine Chance Farm (Elizabeth Arden / Elizabeth Graham).

Among Moore’s in-foal mares, Bazaar, winner of the 1933 Hopeful Stakes and dam of the good stakes winner Best Seller, had not had a foal for seven years. Her foal of 1947 was Our Tops (Bimelech), who was stakes-placed at 2 and 4. Bazaar never produced another foal. Clonaslee had produced three stakes winners but was 24 at the time of sale. She produced two more foals. All in all, these mares were culled for reason by whomever was advising the syndicate, and the barren mares were even less productive than those in foal.

But Moore did much better among his younger horses. Chief among them was Relic (1945 War Relic x Bridal Colors), who won five of seven starts, including the 1947 Hopeful Stakes. And Maine Chance got a star in buying the colt later named Mr. Busher. The purchase price was steep at $50,000, but the colt won three of his four starts at 2, his only season to race, including the Arlington Futurity, earned $83,875, and became a useful sire.

The three syndicate members did best, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this because the nuggets from their acquisition of Idle Hour bloodstock formed the kernel of a good portion of American racing history over the past half-century.

At the time of sale alone, Blade of Time was carrying Guillotine (Bimelech), winner of the 1949 Futurity for Greentree; Businesslike was carrying Busanda (War Admiral), winner of the Suburban and later dam of Buckpasser and Bupers, for Ogden Phipps; Baby League was carrying Striking (War Admiral), a stakes winner and later a Broodmare of the Year, also for Phipps; and King Ranch got immediate results with But Why Not, champion 3-year-old filly of 1947, and longer-term success with Better Self, a major stakes winner and sire, who was a yearling in 1946.

Bradley’s bloodstock, exceptional as it was, seemed to prosper even more in the hands of these three major breeders over the intervening decades, and Bradley’s name and the names and deeds of the horses he bred are an inextricable part of the fabric of racing history and of racing’s future.


freshmen sires stepping out with stakes winners, currently led by kentucky derby winner animal kingdom

The freshmen sires of 2017, those with their first racers breaking from the gates this season, are gaining momentum and credit. Already, there are 10 sires who have sired a stakes winner from their first crop at the races.

Ranked in order of their total earnings, the stallions with first-crop stakes winners already are Violence (by Medaglia d’Oro); Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor); Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux), who is the only sire with two stakes winners yet; Justin Phillip (First Samurai); Morning Line (Tiznow); Declaration of War (War Front); Point of Entry (Dynaformer); Poseidon’s Warrior (Speightstown); Liaison (Indian Charlie); and Big Lightning (Bernardini).

These are positive indicators for the potential success of this class of young sires, several of whom are not especially precocious in physical type or in their own performances on the racetrack.


animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom – Kentucky Derby winner is the current leading freshman sire of 2017, ranked according to the number of stakes winners. (Darley photo)



In particular, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and top-class turf performer Point of Entry would be rather surprising successes to find on this list because neither was notably precocious in the usual sense, and both are sizable, rangy animals that took a bit of time to come to themselves fully. Yet they have sired horses with considerable precocity.

The potential of this pair to sire quicker horses than expected was one of the features of the 2-year-old in training sales earlier this year, which also exposed some very progressing-looking and appealing specimens by Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Orb does not yet have a stakes winner, but he does have four winners and a stakes-placed horse that have placed him fifth on the freshman sires list by total earnings.

Two of the other members of this quintet – Overanalyze and Shanghai Bobby – do not yet have a stakes winner, but both those young sires have a pair of stakes-placed performers and are sure to get a winner before much longer.

Overanalyze (Dixie Union) has the most winners of any freshman sire with 11 from 29 starters. And he is leading the freshman list at this point with just less than $400,000. Overanalyze stands at WinStar Farm near Lexington for a $10,000 fee and has 88 named foals in his first crop. With more than a third of those already starting, precocity is clearly going to be a trump card with this young sire.

In second place on the list is Violence, who stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale for $15,000, and he has 101 foals in his first crop. He has the second-highest number of starters (24) and ranks second by winners (9). His stock at the 2-year-old sales tended to be large, sometimes very big, and yet they are showing ability quite early.

The sire in third place after these early rounds in the stallion sweepstakes is the surprise performer Jimmy Creed, who stands at Spendthrift Farm for $5,000, the smallest stud fee among the leading freshmen. Jimmy Creed is also a son of the splendid old sire Distorted Humor like Maclean’s Music, a leading freshman last year by earnings and number of winners, and he is the sire of 2017 Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. Both sons of Distorted Humor were very fast racers themselves, and it is clear that their offspring are using that ability to great effect.

Jimmy Creed has some other distinctions. He has more stakes horses (4) than any other freshman sire, and he is co-leader for graded stakes winners (1) after the success of his daughter Spectator in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. Now unbeaten in two starts, Spectator is out of the Henny Hughes mare Diva’s Tribute and is performing just like she should with Jimmy Creed and Henny Hughes as sire and broodmare sire.

Furthermore, the speed of Jimmy Creed has placed his offspring in the hands of good owners and trainers, and the stallion’s racers have sped their sire into prominence at the top tier of the sire list.

There is, in fact, less than $50,000 difference among the top three sires on this list. It is clearly quite competitive among this group, but there is a $100,000 difference between third and fourth rankings.

The second tier, at this early stage, is led by champion juvenile colt Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday), who stands at Ashford for $25,000 and has 85 named foals in his first crop. Of those, 18 have started and 5 have won.

Shanghai Bobby has two stakes-placed runners, and his exact contemporary Orb (Malibu Moon) has one. Standing at Claiborne for $25,000, Orb has 15 starters out of a crop of 79 named foals, with four winners.

One of the fascinating elements of these comparisons is noting that among the dozen and a half freshmen sires, only two have average winning distances longer than six furlongs.

Orb has the longest average winning distance of 6.75 furlongs, and his comrade in the six-plus furlong ranking is Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

The latter has really bolted out of the gate in the freshman sire sweepstakes and already has two stakes winners, with his second coming when Continental Divide won his maiden in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Although these are early furlongs in the great stallion race, it is interesting to see those who are quickest out of the gate and especially to note those, like Orb and Animal Kingdom, who are pressing early with nice young stock that seem certain to excel in time.

saratoga select yearling sale puts a spotlight on young sires, plus it bids adieu to a leading sire lost too early

Among the highlights of Fasig-Tipton’s annual Saratoga select yearling sale that was held on the evenings of Aug. 7 and 8, one of the premium items of interest is the quality and market reception of young sires with their first-crop yearlings.

Will Take Charge is one young stallion in this class who has received a lot of praise, despite the challenges for any horse becoming a successful sire, or for any successful sire becoming for the success of his sons.

One of the greatest attainments of a leading sire is to become known as a “sire of sires.” This is particularly true for the commercial value of a stallion’s second-generation offspring and for the sales value of his colts, which will skyrocket if a sire’s initial sons gain early success.

The prototype of this is Northern Dancer, whose immediate success as a sire was bolstered by racing excellence of his great son Nijinsky, who then became a leading international sire. This created greater demand for succeeding sons and also gave them better opportunities at stud.

Usually, however, the opposite is true. A stallion’s first few sons do little to enhance his reputation as a sire of sires. That’s the norm because most stallions do not succeed at a grand level, and few sons of a great sire become very good or great sires themselves.

Unbridled, for instance, was an excellent sire, one of the most consistent sources of classic quality in American breeding. He got a boxcar full of sons, but it appears that his influence will be carried on principally by Empire Maker and Unbridled’s Song.

The latter came from Unbridled’s first crop and was notable both for his exceptional speed and for his size. Unbridled was big, his sire Fappiano was big, and Unbridled’s Song was thumping big, as well.

That has appeared to be something of a limitation for the sons of Unbridled’s Song, as they have tried to establish themselves as sires. Despite ability and opportunity, none has become a sire of great distinction to date, and most horsemen blame size and speed on that shortcoming.

But one of the most appealing young sires of the early sales scene is the Unbridled’s Song stallion Will Take Charge. A striking chestnut colt who emerged from the Triple Crown to become the late-season leader of his generation and eventually also the Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old colt, Will Take Charge is a “typical” son of his sire.

He is tall, long, and most horsemen would not want him to be any bigger.

So the impression of the first-crop yearlings by Will Take Charge means a lot. Grant Williamson of Three Chimneys Farm, which owns part of the stallion and stands him, has seen nearly all the stallion’s foals. He said, “They are good-sized, not oversized, athletic, and attractive individuals who have balance and quality. I would not be surprised if some of them make good 2-year-olds.”

Not surprisingly, a good number of the Will Take Charge yearlings have appeared at Fasig-Tipton’s July select sale and are cataloged for the Saratoga select sale, as well. There were a trio in July and 10 more are set for the Saratoga select auction.

Will Take Charge is the front man in a trio of the best stallion prospects sired by Unbridled’s Song. In addition to the chestnut champion, Liam’s Map, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has first-crop weanlings of 2017, and champion Arrogate, the leading racehorse of 2017, is expected to try to repeat his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory later this year and enter stud in 2018.


In contrast to the much-ballyhooed set of yearlings by Will Take Charge, this Saratoga sale also featured the last crop of yearlings by the Johannesburg stallion Scat Daddy.

The much-lamented Scat Daddy, who died in December 2015, has been having a brilliant year as a sire in 2017 with such stars as G1 winner Lady Aurelia, a winner of stakes across the globe, including the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in July.

There were, in fact, four Kentucky-bred winners at Royal Ascot this year: all by Scat Daddy. Those winners at Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes), Con Te Partiro (Sandringham Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes) – all showed speed and class. Two of them, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, are among the most widely praised speed horses in the world.

Given the sire’s high profile, one might have considered going to Fasig-Tipton’s July sale of select yearlings to pick out a Scat Daddy, but there weren’t any. None. Those wise purveyors of equine goodies have them all reserved for the Saratoga select sale of yearlings, and there are a dozen Scat Daddy yearlings cataloged for the Spa auction.

Only one consignor, Gainesway (3), has more than a single Saratoga yearling by this sire with the hottest hand in breeding at the moment. And the demand for the Scat Daddy stock isn’t declining; instead, it is ramping up because it’s a case of buy now or miss ’em entirely.

The last crop by Scat Daddy were foaled in 2016, beginning the month after the sire’s death, as the mares from Scat Daddy’s 2015 book began dropping foals. There are 147 foals in that crop, and every one that comes to auction will get a careful inspection by potential buyers.

That will be especially true of those young prospects good enough to qualify for the premium sales and sessions this year. At Saratoga’s select yearling auction, one of the lots sure to attract attention is Hip 106, a chestnut filly out of stakes winner Winning Season, by Lemon Drop Kid, consigned by Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services. The second dam of this filly is multiple graded stakes winner Topicount (Private Account), the dam of two stakes winners and three other daughters who are stakes producers.

One of the best pedigreed lots in the sale is Hip 140, a bay filly consigned by Brookdale for Audley Farm. This filly is the first foal of her dam, the Smart Strike mare Bilboquet. The second dam is stakes winner Handpainted (A.P. Indy), who also ran second in the G1 Selene. The next dam is the beautiful Deputy Minister stakes winner Daijin, a full sister to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and a half-sister to Canadian champion and classic winner With Approval.

One of Scat Daddy’s particular strengths as a sire was his ability to succeed with a variety of types of mares and with offspring who performed well in a variety of conditions. The European successes of his offspring such as Lady Aurelia, Caravaggio, and previously No Nay Never will surely bring lookers to Hip 216, a bay colt consigned by Gainesway and out of European stakes winner Kaloura, by the Arc de Triomphe winner Sinndar.

This colt’s dam is a half-sister to European highweight and American champion Kalanisi, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in the States, as well as the G1 Champion Stakes in England.


Hip 106 sold for $155,000 to Matt Schera.

Hip 140 sold for $600,000 to White Birch Farm.

Hip 216 sold for not sold for $195,000.

storm cat is basking in the sunshine after the successes of girvin and good samaritan

Somewhere in horse heaven, Storm Cat is gloating.

His branch of the Northern Dancer line hung up big wins over the weekend in the two most important stakes for 3-year-old colts, the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park and the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

At the Spa on Saturday, Good Samaritan (by Harlan’s Holiday) ran down Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) and Preakness winner Cloud Computing (Mclean’s Music) to mirror the race’s namesake, who defeated 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox (Sir Gallahad III) and the previous season’s top juvenile Whichone (Chicle) in the Travers Stakes 87 years ago.

The following day at Monmouth, Girvin (Tale of Ekati) uncorked a strong four-furlong run to win the Haskell by a nose from the widely respected McCraken (Ghostzapper) and Practical Joke (Into Mischief), with Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry (Curlin) fourth.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC, Good Samaritan is out of the Pulpit mare Pull Dancer, a stakes-placed mare who ran second in the Alywow Stakes at Woodbine and the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park. Pull Dancer is the most successful racer out of Mayhavebeenthebigone (Arch), a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Wiseman’s Ferry (Hennessy). This is the family of champion filly Outstandingly (Exclusive Native), winner of the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; the important sires Bernstein (Storm Cat) and Sky Mesa (Pulpit); and the graded winners Caress and Country Cat (both by Storm Cat).

Good Samaritan is the third foal out of his dam, who has an unraced juvenile colt by Pioneerof the Nile named Brave Nation. The Jim Dandy winner began his career racing for WinStar and China Horse Club, winning his debut and the G2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine; then SF Racing bought into the colt before the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, when Good Samaritan was third in the BC Juvenile Turf.

Head of Plains Partners came on board thereafter, and the good-looking bay has raced for a quartet of owners at 3.

Storm Cat stands atop the third generation of Good Samaritan’s pedigree as the sire of the short-lived Harlan, sire of Harlan’s Holiday. The son of Storm Bird stands in the same position of Girvin’s pedigree, as Storm Cat’s good son Tale of the Cat is sire of Tale of Ekati, winner of the G1 Cigar Mile and Wood Memorial at 3, plus the G2 Futurity Stakes as a juvenile. Girvin is his sire’s first G1 winner, although Tale of Verve ran second in the 2015 Preakness behind Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah.

Girvin was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte and sold to Brad Grady (Grand Oaks) for $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale of 2015.

Grady said, “We knew this colt because my farm manager Bobby Dodd and I saw the colt at the Keeneland September sale; we really liked him but didn’t get him bought. We thought he was going to be too much money to try bringing back to the 2-year-old sales. Then, Bobby saw him in October, thought he had improved, moved forward from what he’d been in September, and he had been good then and said we ought to buy.”

Once he purchased the colt, Grady planned to resell the handsome dark bay in training. He said, “Everything I buy is intended for the 2-year-old sales. This colt was entered for the April sale at OBS, and he was training great, just beautiful. But then he stepped on his coronet band, it blew up, and we couldn’t get him to a sale. Bobby said, ‘I’ve been known to take horses I couldn’t get sold to the races, and I think this is a good prospect for that.’”

Grady did just that. Girvin won his debut in December last year at 2, and “the rest is history,” the happy owner said.

Including his victory in the $1 million-added Haskell, Girvin has won four of seven starts, earning $1,574,400. Earlier this year at the OBS April sale, Grand Oaks sold a colt in training for $2.45 million to John Moynihan, agent for M.V. Magnier. The colt by Tiznow out of Moonbow (Distorted Humor) has been named Conquistador.

Asked which circumstance was better, Grady said, “I like to do both. Winning my first Grade 1 with Joe Sharp, and this was his too, was really special. He’s a great guy and a hard worker. Our families are close, and something like that makes a wonderful experience even better.”

young sire lookin at lucky is ‘pickin’ up speed and successes with accelerate

The 4-year-old chestnut Accelerate certainly outperformed expectations with his victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Already a winner at the G2 level and now an earner of $607,480, Accelerate placed third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year, but few thought he had a chance against champion Arrogate. The gray son of Unbridled’s Song hadn’t been beaten since his debut more than a year ago, when he finished third to Westbrook and Accelerate.

Both colts have notably improved with maturity, and Accelerate put up the best performance of his career to date, even if you put a strike through the result for Arrogate. Allowing that Arrogate ran a stinker for unknown reasons, the winner crushed his other opponents, was 8 ½ lengths ahead of second-place Donworth.

In similar fashion to the San Diego Handicap winner, Accelerate’s sire, champion racer Lookin at Lucky (by Smart Strike), has been exceeding expectations as a sire, even though he’s gotten little recognition for it.

A top-tier racer who was champion at 2, then won the Preakness Stakes at 3, when he repeated as the champion of his division, Lookin at Lucky won five times at the G1 level and earned $3.3 million. Sound, game, and consistent, the bay son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike had more precocity than Smart Strike’s other champion son Curlin, Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Curlin, as time has proven, is one of the most respected influences for classic performance and reliable stamina in American breeding. From the stallion’s first crop came Belmont Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, and subsequent crops have resulted in Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, champion filly Stellar Wind, Curalina (Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Keen Ice (Travers), Off the Tracks (Mother Goose), and current season star Irish War Cry (Wood Memorial and second in the Belmont Stakes).

Those are the horses the breeding and buying public want: the stars and classic contenders. And the breeders and buyers pay when a horse delivers them.
For the 2017 season, Curlin stood at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for $150,000 live foal.
So where does that leave Lookin at Lucky?

Rather as a vaguely forgotten sire. One can’t say the stretchy, good-looking bay is laboring in obscurity with a stud fee of $17,500 because that is quite respectable in the contemporary market that values first-year sires with impeccable credentials and proven sires of champions.

Anything in between is dicey.

So the effect of Accelerate can only be beneficial to Lookin at Lucky, who is having a good year here in the States but is having an absolute banner year in Chile. Shuttled there like fellow Ashford stallion Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), Lookin at Lucky has lit up the results board in Chile much like his ill-fated companion at Ashford Stud.

This year alone, Lookin at Lucky has three G1 winners in Chilean racing: the 2-year-old Wow Cat (Tanteo de Pontrancas) and the 3-year-olds Kurilov (Gran Premio Hipodromo Chile) and Full of Luck (El Derby).

As we have seen with the progeny of both Smart Strike and Curlin, maturity improves this line of horses, and there is promise that Lookin at Lucky may follow suit.

Certainly, Accelerate has shown consistency this year, with all five starts in the money. Two seconds and two thirds, plus the victory in the San Diego. Four of those five starts came in graded company, and as a May foal, Accelerate could have further improvement both this year and next.