war of will is a triple crown teaser for leading international sire war front

Unbeaten in 2019 after winning the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, War of Will (by War Front) has pushed some buttons for handicappers in search of challengers for the division leaders Game Winner (Candy Ride), Improbable (City Zip), Instagrand (Into Mischief), and Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man).

Only the last has raced in 2019, when he won the G2 Bob Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 2. With the exception of Mucho Gusto, all these horses are sired by stallions who were principally milers with excellent speed. That, however, is the norm with most contemporary classic contenders, unless they are sired by Empire Maker or his son Pioneerof the Nile; by a son of A.P. Indy like Bernardini, Congrats, Flatter, and Malibu Moon; or by Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, who has sired a pair of classic winners.

As a racehorse, War Front was a very fast miler who won a G2 race and was second in the G1 Forego at Saratoga over seven furlongs. Had he won the latter race, his initial position at stud would have been stronger, but War Front’s good looks, good speed, and good pedigree made him an attractive proposition for savvy breeders when the husky bay went to stud at Claiborne Farm in 2007.

The farm priced the shares in the horse right, and he proved very popular. His stock made an immediate hit at the sales, and then they made a bigger hit at the races with first-crop standouts like The Factor. Since then, War Front has sired high-class performers such as Air Force Blue, Roly Poly, U S Navy Flag, Brave Anna, and Declaration of War.

War of Will was bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited, the bloodstock operation of the Niarchos family, and the attractive bay was an RNA at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale at $175,000. Taken to France and consigned to the 2018 Arqana May breeze-up sale under the banner of Oak Tree Farm, War of Will sold to Justin Casse, agent, for 250,000 euros and races for Gary Barber.

At the Arqana sale, War of Will was a well-grown and progressive bay with good length through the body, a good length of neck that balanced well with his body, allied with a shoulder and hindquarter that were strongly muscled without being coarse.

The colt progressed nicely and was initially tried on turf by trainer Mark Casse, where the colt ran second in the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine, then ran acceptably but unplaced in the G3 Bourbon Stakes and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. War of Will won his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24 on the dirt and is since unbeaten. Plans for him include the G2 Louisiana Derby on March 23 before the race at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

A success in the Kentucky Derby would make War of Will a very richly pedigreed classic winner. His dam, the Sadler’s Wells producer Visions of Clarity, won the listed Prix de Bagatelle at Maisons-Laffitte and has produced three stakes winners to date. The most notable of these is the Distorted Humor colt Pathfork, who was unbeaten in three starts as a juvenile in Ireland, when he headed the Irish Free Handicap following victories in the G1 National Stakes and G2 Futurity Stakes.

Spinning World — shown at Hollywood Park before winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He is a half-brother to the dam of War of Will.

Visions of Clarity is a half-sister to Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Spinning World (Nureyev), who also won the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Prix Jacques le Marois twice, and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. An elegant chestnut with a considerable personality, Spinning World was a highweight in Europe at 3 and 4 from 1400 to 2000 meters.

He and Visions of Clarity are out of the Riverman mare Imperfect Circle, winner of the Firth of Clyde Stakes and more importantly second in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes at 2. She was one of three stakes winners out of G1 winner Aviance (Northfields), who also produced Denon (Pleasant Colony), winner of the G1 Turf Classic, Manhattan Handicap, Hollywood Derby, and Charlies Whittingham Handicap; and highweight Chimes of Freedom (Private Account), winner of the G1 Coronation Stakes and dam of G1 winners Aldebaran (Mr. Prospector; won Metropolitan Handicap) and Good Journey (Nureyev; Woodbine Mile).

Racing on turf, primarily in Europe, this family is notable for its inherent miler-hood. The very best of them, however, including Chimes of Freedom, Denon, and Spinning World, were capable of stepping past that. So, the great question for War of Will is whether the switch to dirt and American pace tactics truly will place that 10th furlong within his grasp.

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sparky ville heats up the slop at santa anita, adds another good racer for sire candy ride

At the finish of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita, Sparky Ville (by Candy Ride) was the upset winner, fourth choice in a field of five, but he wasn’t a wild longshot, starting in the race at odds of only 7.4-1. The chestnut’s form was respectable, with two victories from seven starts last year, including a success in the listed Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita.

More importantly, the gelding had been second to Instagrand (Into Mischief) in the G2 Best Pal Stakes and third behind Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) and Savagery (Bellamy Road) in the G3 Bob Hope Stakes.

Now, Sparky Ville is a graded stakes winner and will no doubt be asked to create a few sparks along the Triple Crown trail. He will not be the only son of leading sire Candy Ride vying for classic success this season because the crop’s champion from last season is the unbeaten Game Winner, also a son of the Argentine champion.

Unbeaten in his homeland and in his three starts in North America, Candy Ride most famously won the 2003 Pacific Classic against Medaglia d’Oro. Sent to stud, Candy Ride has had a good and steadily rising profile among sires of significance. He had his first champion racer with Shared Belief, a second with Gun Runner in 2017, and a third last year with Game Winner.

The sire of eight stakes winners in four of his first five crops, Candy Ride has been a most successful representative of his male line, Mr. Prospector descending through Fappiano and his son Cryptoclearance. From a dozen crops of racing age, Candy Ride has 78 stakes winners to date, with Sparky Ville being the latest to add graded black type to his sire’s record.

Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones LLC, Sparky Ville went to the 2017 Keeneland September sale as part of the extensive Taylor Made consignment but was passed in RNA at $170,000.

Frank Taylor of Taylor Made said, “He was a nice colt and has now won a nice race. I don’t know how he ended up going RNA because he was worth the money, but it happens.”

The young prospect ended up changing hands not long after going through the ring, however, in part because of the work that Taylor Made puts into moving its horses that don’t meet their reserves. Taylor said, “We work at selling RNAs a little harder than most. Every horse that goes through Taylor Made has a photo, pedigree, and video online, and every day after the auction, we go through a list of potential buyers to try to get those RNAs sold, working back from people who’ve shown interest in the horse while at the barn.

“Then, on the second week of the sale, we have an RNA party out at the farm and get a lot of them sold that way. Especially the first week, it’s hard to get a horse [RNA] sold while you’re showing the ones coming up to their sale day and sending others up to go through the ring. But we keep trying.”

From the September sale, Sparky Ville went into the hands of trainer Jeff Bonde for owner Del Secco DCS Racing, which races the progressive chestnut.

Sparky Ville races like a miler who carries his speed, typical of this sire, as well as broodmare sire Storm Cat (Storm Bird). This is a compatible match for the dam, Lorelei K, and Taylor said, “I’ve bred several Storm Cat mares to Candy Ride; they all seem to look good and sell good.” That was true of Sparky Ville, as well as his full sister Sweet Fortune, who sold for $250,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September sale and was a respectable winner of three races from 12 starts.

Their dam, Lorelei K, was a tremendous sales yearling at Keeneland September in 2007, bringing $1.5 million, the third-highest price among 26 Storm Cat yearlings of that sales season. Taylor noted that “Lorelei K came from a real good Melnyk family but got hurt and didn’t run.

“As sometimes happens, she developed laminitis after foaling in 2017 and we lost her. Lost the foal too.”

That was a serious blow to a robust commercial operation like Aaron and Marie Jones LLC, but now the mare’s last foal is a graded stakes winner, and the breeder has the honor of sending out another graded stakes winner. Fans of cute names and chestnut closers will be watching his progress over the coming months.

cambridge stud carries its legacy forward with the energy and commitment of new owners

One of the primary goals for Brendan and Jo Lindsay when they purchased the Cambridge Stud from Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan in 2018 was to continue the legacy of the historic establishment. At the conclusion of Book 1 of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka yearling sales, the torch seems to have passed without a flicker.

The leading breeder in New Zealand for decades as a direct sequel to importing the great sire Sir Tristam (by Sir Ivor) and then breeding and standing his best son Zabeel, Hogan was also known as both a great character, raconteur, and salesman.

Not surprisingly, Hogan’s consignments to the Karaka sales produced both some exciting prospects and some big prices, and one of the questions among horsemen was how the transition from one owner to the next would impact the sales consignment.

At the 2019 Karaka yearling sale, 489 horses sold in the four days of Book 1 produced gross revenue of $67,206,500, an average price of $137,437 and median of $100,000. The sale’s clearance rate was 77 percent, but for the Cambridge Stud consignment, the percentage sold was 100.

That is quite an accomplishment at any sale, perhaps more so at one when the offerings are toward the elite end of the spectrum and consignors may be tempted to retain one if it doesn’t bring perceived value.

Scott Calder, who moved from a position with Coolmore in Kentucky for the opportunity to work with Cambridge Stud, said that “Brendan and Jo were very clear from the outset that the horses were there to sell. As it was their first time selling under the Cambridge Stud banner, they wanted to not only put forward a quality product but also be seen as realistic sellers. To have a 100 percent clearance rate for a 50-horse draft is a big achievement and sends a message that if buyers are interested in a Cambridge Stud yearling, it will have a modest reserve and Brendan and Jo, along with our clients, are willing to meet the market to get them sold.”

When the Lindsays purchased Cambridge Stud, the transaction included the bloodstock owned by the stud (stallions, mares, and foals), while Hogan retained mares owned in partnership and fillies in training. So there were some familiar names among the dams of the Cambridge Stud yearlings offered at Karaka.

Scott Calder, head of sales for Cambridge Stud, said “we were able to bring a sizable draft of yearlings, primarily bred by Cambridge, to the marketplace. Our leading sire Tavistock and the Cambridge Stud families were the backbone of the draft, but the addition of Brendan and Jo’s bloodstock also added a new flavor. We were very happy with the results, particularly having the top-priced colt and filly of the first session. Now we can look forward to following the success of all the horses on the track for their new owners.”

The first Cambridge consignment under the new ownership was surely and simply a success. Among the highlights of the results for the Karaka sale were a Redoute’s Choice colt sold for NZ$800,000, a Zoustar filly who brought NZ$600,000, and a Snitzel filly sold for NZ$500,000. To add greater satisfaction to the accomplishment, the Redoute’s Choice colt and the Zoustar filly are out of mares owned by the Lindsays before they acquired Cambridge Stud.

Shortly after the acquisition of Cambridge Stud, Brendan Lindsay announced a significant “refurbishment of the stud” planned over several years because the new owners want to “continue to operate Cambridge as a premier stallion and broodmare operation, doing what the stud has done best for 40 years, while our Karaka farm will be integrated with the stud.”

The most obvious element of integration into the Lindsays’ existing operation are the stallions.

Standing a leading New Zealand stallion in Tavistock (Montjeu), plus the good horses Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice) and Highly Recommended (Fastnet Rock), Cambridge Stud also added European champion Almanzor (Wooton Bassett) to its roster in 2018.

The stallions are the most public part of Cambridge Stud. The demands of buyers and breeders require fresh sires nearly every year, and acquisitions require infusions of cash.

Calder said, “Brendan and Jo have brought a huge amount of enthusiasm to the farm since taking over in April. They have already invested heavily in infrastructure, as well as bloodstock, in a quest to take Cambridge Stud into the future. We are very fortunate to have Tavistock headlining the stallion roster as he is one of the premier stallions in the country and is embarking on a very exciting time with his best crops coming through. The addition of European champion Almanzor to the Cambridge Stud roster last year was also a major boost for the New Zealand industry and an indication of the calibre of horses that Brendan and Jo intend to have standing here.”

As further evidence of their long-term commitment to racing and breeding, Cambridge Stud purchased seven yearlings at the sale including a daughter of unbeaten champion Frankel (Galileo) out of the listed stakes-placed mare Assume (Fastnet Rock) for NZ$500,000.

quality road standing tall with city of light and others

When the slop settled at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, City of Light (by Quality Road) took home the gold and glory after bolting home by 5 ¾ lengths over a talented outsider in Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul) and race favorite Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky).

And just like that, the first and third horses in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational will leave racing and toddle back to Lexington, where they will enter stud next month at Lane’s End Farm. Each of the horses received recognition that will serve well for their first season at stud. Last week, Accelerate was officially recognized as the Eclipse Award winner for older horse, and on the wet track at Gulfstream, City of Light led all his competition by the nose and scored a powerful victory in 1:47.71 for the 9 furlongs.

Now, City of Light will not only shift his attention to mares, but the attention of mare owners will shift to him. He enters stud at Lane’s End as an unusually accomplished young horse, with earnings of $5.6 million and four Grade 1 victories, and he won those important races at 7 furlongs (Malibu and Triple Bend), 8 furlongs (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile), and 9 furlongs (Pegasus).

Here is a horse with the speed to defy sprinters and the stamina capacity to stretch his best form to at least the extended mile. Added to his racing quality, City of Light was also a striking young horse who sold for $710,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. With good looks, speed, and the capacity to carry that speed, City of Light has proven such a tempting prospect for breeders that he enters stud for $35,000 live foal.

Other fast, good-looking, and accomplished racers do not enter stud with such a strong fee. So what are the other recommendations that City of Light brings to his second career?

Of central importance to breeders is the horse’s sire, Quality Road. A towering 17-hand, dark bay horse of exceptional speed, Quality Road was one of the best racehorses of his crop. A strongly progressive 3-year-old, Quality Road won the G2 Fountain of Youth and G1 Florida Derby in the lead up to the 2009 Triple Crown. Quality Road was generally accepted as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby until a quarter crack sidelined him from the classics. In his absence, the 2009 Kentucky Derby went to 50-1 outsider Mine That Bird (Birdstone) over Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker).

After returning with a victory in the Amsterdam, Quality Road was third to Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird (Birdstone) in the Travers, then second to the same colt in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. That sequence of performances gave Summer Bird the divisional championship and ensured that Quality Road would come back to racing for his 4-year-old season.

And what a season it was.

Quality Road won four of his first five starts at 4 in 2010, including the Hal’s Hope, Donn (by 12 ¾ lengths, 9 furlongs in 1:47.49), Metropolitan (8 furlongs in 1:33.12 after getting the 6 furlongs in 1:08.57), and Woodward (by 4 ¾ lengths, 9 furlongs in 1:50). The only loss in that series was the Whitney, when Blame (Arch) ran one of the two best races of his career, closing two lengths on the strong-running leader from the stretch call to win by a head from Quality Road in 1:48.88.

In their mutual career finale, Blame ran the best race of his career to win the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic in a display of extraordinary gameness and ability to hold off Zenyatta (Street Cry) by a head. Quality Road was essentially eased in last.

Sent to stud at Lane’s End, Quality Road was immediately popular at $25,000. He had exceptional speed at 7 to 9 furlongs, which translated into exceptional speed figures and speed ratings from all the services that produce them. The grand-looking son of Elusive Quality (Gone West) appeared not to stay 10 furlongs at the top level, although his form with Summer Bird indicated it was more a matter of degree of dominance, rather than absence of staying power.

Since his first crop have come to the races, Quality Road has been among the leading sires, in the top 10 sires by North American earnings in both 2017 and 2018, and he now has a long lead on all competitors after City of Light’s performance in the Pegasus. With G1 winners Bellafina, Hootenanny, Spring Quality, Salty, Klimt, and Illuminant in his early crops, Quality Road also had Eclipse champions Caledonia Road (2-year-old filly) and Abel Tasman (3-year-old filly) to raise his profile even higher, and now with an overall leading sire title for 2019 within his grasp, Quality Road himself will be standing for $150,000 live foal in 2019.

kukulkan – star of racing and breeding in mexico – seeks test in pegasus

There actually are two colts who were foaled in 2015 and named Kukulkan. The Florida-bred by that name is a son of Corfu, and from 16 starts, he has finished second in 6 but has never won a race. The other Kukulkan was foaled on Jan. 30 in Mexico and has never lost a race. From 14 starts, he is perfect to date and has won a half-dozen Grade 1 stakes in Mexico: two as a juvenile (Classico Roberto A. Ruiz and Futurity Mexicano) and four as a 3-year-old in 2018 (Jockey Club Mexicano, Gran Premio Nacional, Derby Mexicano, and Clasico Criadores Mexicanos), including the Mexican Triple Crown.

The colt’s first 13 starts all came at Hippodromo de las Americas in Mexico City. Then in late 2018, Kukulkan (Mex) roamed north to Gulfstream Park, where he won the Caribbean Classic by 10 ¼ lengths from the Venezuelan horse Bukowsky, with fellow Mexican-bred Kandinsky in third.

The margin of the bay colt’s victory in the Caribbean Classic surely was a factor in convincing his connections to bring him back to Florida this month for the G1 Pegasus World Cup, where Kukulkan will meet expected Eclipse Award champions Accelerate (6-year-old by Lookin at Lucky) and City of Light (5, Quality Road), along with the 2018 Triple Crown-placed Audible (Into Mischief) and Bravazo (Oxbow), plus Gunnevera (5, Dialed In), who was second to Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

That is stepping into the big leagues, and if Kukulkan performs admirably, he will have confirmed his own class, plus adding a mark of vast accomplishment to breeding and racing in Mexico.

By itself, 2018 was a very good year for racers bred in Mexico, which included a pair of winners at the competitive Caribbean Classic series, held at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 8 last year. In addition to Kukulkan in the Classic, Jala Jala won the Confraternity Caribbean Cup, Magno was second in the Caribbean Cup Speed Stakes, Kandinsky was third in the Classic, and Etruska was third in the Lady Caribbean Cup.

Overall, 29 racers bred in Mexico ran in the States last year, made 89 starts, winning 12, in the money in 24 more, with gross earnings of $434,001, according to statistics from our friends at Equibase. Those are very respectable results from a small group of racers led by Kukulkan and Jala Jala.

Bred by Cuadra San Jorge, Kukulkan is named for the plumed serpent worshipped by the Mayan peoples of the Yucatan peninsula. The good-looking bay colt is raced by Rancho San Jorge, which also bred and races Jala Jala. Both are by the G3 stakes winner Point Determined. A strikingly handsome colt, Point Determined sold for $290,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September sale, then resold as a 2-year-old in training for $750,000 to Bob and Beverly Lewis at the 2005 Barretts March sale. Placed in a single start at 2, the son of Horse of the Year Point Given came around nicely at 3, when he won the G3 Affirmed at Hollywood Park and was second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby earlier in 2006.

Unraced as a 4-year-old, Point Determined was sent to the 2007 Keeneland November sale, where the colt sold to Dr. Oscar Benavides, agent, for $100,000.

Benavides said, “I bought Point Determined for the St. George Stables of German Larrea,” a man of vast wealth who lives in Mexico City, where he oversees operations of Mexico’s train service, as well as copper interests in Mexico and South America.

Racing for Larrea, Point Determined was unplaced in his three starts of 2008 as a 5-year-old.

Sent to stud in 2009, Point Determined initially stood in Kentucky at the Montesacro Farm of Dr. Benavides and is last reported standing at Rancho Natoches in Mexico.

The man who bought mares and stallions for Larrea for 14 years, Benavides noted that all those horses went to Mexico, where Larrea races as Rancho San Jorge with horses like Kukulkan and Jala Jala to represent him.

As a result, Benavides said, “Larrea is the leading owner in Mexico by races won, by money won, and he is much the leading breeder. These were good horses that he bought. They could have stayed in Kentucky, but Larrea lives in Mexico and wants to breed and race there.”

Furthermore, Larrea has not reached the heights of leading owner and breeder in Mexico by trading in cheap stock. Through Benavides, St. George Stables purchased the dam of Kukulkan, the Bernardini mare The Real Mayo, carrying her first foal on a cover to leading sire Exchange Rate, for $105,000 at the 2012 Keeneland November sale.

The next year, The Real Mayo produced her first foal, Invasor G, who won his only start in Mexico, and Kukulkan is the mare’s third foal.

He is the one that counts, however, and this weekend, we will see if the plumed serpent can fly with Pegasus.

adding graded black type is no ‘clause’ for confusion

A sales catalog pedigree is a physical image of accomplishments on the racetrack, and sales catalog pages emphasize racing success by using black type for stakes and grading numbers that roughly correspond to stakes of greater or lesser import.

For instance, in the pedigree of Escape Clause, winner of the Grade 3 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on January 12, the 5-year-old daughter of the Unbridled’s Song stallion Going Commando and the Circulating mare Danger Pay, there are not any graded stakes horses in the first three generations of the female family, the part of the pedigree that shows on the catalog page.

As a result, Escape Clause’s accomplishment is a step up for the quality of the catalog page for this family, and Escape Clause is an outstanding example of a racer who is improving her pedigree. She has won 19 of 28 races, including three stakes, two last year and the La Canada on Saturday, earning $423,500. She is a full sibling to stakes winner Danger Rulers, winner of the restricted J.W. Sifton Stakes and an earner of $127,105, and they are out of the stakes winner Danger Pay, who won a restricted stakes and was second and third in two more.

Quite possibly the most talented racer on the dam’s side of the pedigree in the three generations seen on a sales page is Circulating, a high-quality son of Bold Ruckus who won the Coronation Futurity at 2 and the Plate Trial at 3. He’s the sire of Danger Pay, who has been key to upgrading the fortunes of this family.

Danger Pay’s dam is the stakes-placed Anotherbuck (by Aferd), a half-sister to Winnipeg Futurity winner Buckpiat (Gallapiat), and both of those are out of the winning mare Choo Choo. Each generation back to Choo Choo in the third echelon behind Escape Clause is a step down in racing class, from stakes winner (Danger Pay) to stakes-placed (Anotherbuck) to winner (Choo Choo).

Choo Choo was not simply a winner, a designation that applies to only slightly more than 40 percent of the breed, but she won six races and earned about a third more than the average horse when she was racing in the late 1970s.

Even though she was a competitive athlete, the fact that she wasn’t more of a racehorse resulted in her being bred to horses like Gallapiat, a beautifully pedigreed son of Buckpasser who managed to win a single stakes. Likewise, her daughter was bred to the well-pedigreed (and unraced) Hoist the Flag stallion Aferd, who was a pretty good sire. This trend of mares with modest recognition being bred to stallions with moderate demand at stud is typical of this family, including the mating that produced Choo Choo.

She is by the beautifully pedigreed O’Hara out of the unraced King’s Darling (King of the Tudors). O’Hara is the most talented racehorse among the sires in this female line and has quite possibly the best pedigree too. Bred in England by Greentree Stable, O’Hara was a foal of 1962 by European champion Ballymoss out of Track Medal, a stakes-winning full sister to Horse of the Year Swaps (Khaled), and their dam was a half-sister to 1957 Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege (Bull Lea).

Now that’s a pedigree.

Furthermore, each of the first four of Track Medal’s foals to race was a major stakes winner. The mare’s first foal didn’t race. The second was Tutankhamen (Nasrullah), winner of the Manhattan Handicap at 4 and the Donn Handicap at 5; the third was Fool’s Gold (Tom Fool), winner of the Musidora Stakes at 3; the fourth was Outing Class (Nasrullah), winner of the Hopeful at 2 (also second in the Futurity and third in the Champagne); and the fourth was O’Hara, who was stakes-placed each year from 2 through 6 but won only the Sunset Handicap at 4.

One of the most interesting things about O’Hara is that he was part of an incident in his 5-year-old season, when he finished first in the 1967 Hollywood Gold Cup in a five-horse field that included the great fan favorite Native Diver (Imbros). At the start, O’Hara dumped rider Milo Valenzuela. In typical fashion for the near-black winner of the 1965 and 1966 Gold Cups, Native Diver went tearing away like this was a seven-furlong race, and with a small field, the race proceeded uneventfully until the far turn, when second favorite Pretense, later to sire Santa Anita Derby winner Sham, rapidly closed most of the ground between him and Native Diver.

O’Hara had been racing outside of Pretense around the turn, and coming into the stretch, Pretense appeared to have the momentum to carry on to victory. Native Diver wasn’t having any of that nonsense and turned back the effort of Pretense. O’Hara, however, kept going right on and finished ahead of the strong-willed Native Diver by about three-quarters of a length.

The stewards, of course, placed O’Hara last for carrying about 100 pounds less than his assigned weight, but the horse had shown his grit and his good training by continuing on to finish first in the race and without fouling anyone in the process.

So, while pedigrees carry an indelible record of accomplishments, there are many stories that don’t show up on the page.

cross traffic first leading freshman sire for unbridled’s song

The leading freshmen sires of 2018 were notable on a couple of counts, and not the least of these is that the leader is the Unbridled’s Song stallion Cross Traffic, sire of the likely juvenile champion filly Jaywalk and the first son of his fabled sire to lead a national sire list in North America.

Winner of the 2013 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, Cross Traffic is a gray like his sire but is notably closer to average in size and much more elegant in build. Unbridled’s Song was a towering figure, literally in the flesh and figuratively in his eminence at the sales.

Despite that, none of his many good sons had made the ultimate grade as a sire, until now. On the basis of his first crop’s outstanding performances: 91 foals, 47 runners, 18 winners, five stakes winners and three stakes-placed horses for gross earnings of slightly more than $2.1 million, Cross Traffic will stand the 2019 season at Spendthrift Farm for a fee of $25,000 live foal.

Cross Traffic was more than $700,000 clear of his nearest freshman rival, the Into Mischief stallion Goldencents, who likewise stands at Spendthrift Farm. Spendthrift not only took the top two spots on the freshman list but also stands Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) in 19th; Can the Man (Into Mischief) 26th; and Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute) 27th.

Along with Can the Man, Goldencents is the first important son of Into Mischief at stud, and the results of that pair, especially two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, is a massively positive result for the young son of Harlan’s Holiday because it appears the sons of Into Mischief have inherited some of the magic genetics of their overachieving sire.

This is not a knock on Into Mischief. He’s a first-rate sire. Period. But he was nothing like that dominant as a racehorse. Good horse certainly, perhaps a very good horse as a racer, but he has been a revelation of superior performance at stud.

And from the performance of his first pair of stallion sons, Into Mischief appears to be the opposite of Unbridled’s Song in getting stallion success from sons.

In fairness to Unbridled’s Song, most sires do not get more than one or at most two good sons. And if this crop of freshmen had  come from the early crops of Unbridled’s Song, we would be singing his praises because he not only had the leading freshman sire, but fifth on the list is 2013 champion 3-year-old colt Will Take Charge, winner of the Travers and a gorgeous chestnut very much in the mold of his famous sire.

A massively constructed horse with the glamor and good looks of a movie star, Will Take Charge had taken the yearling sales by the scruff of the neck and given them a good shake when his first yearlings came to market in 2017. They have followed through acceptably with their first season of racing, and from 104 foals and 44 starters, Will Take Charge had 14 winners, one stakes winner, and five stakes-placed racers. As big as some of them are, should we expect they will improve with age and that some of those stakes-placed horses and maiden winners will progress to greater things in the future?

The stallion who challenged Will Take Charge among the sires of first-crop yearlings was the Pioneerof the Nile stallion Cairo Prince, a high-class juvenile from the first crop of his now-famous sire. Winner of the Nashua Stakes and the narrowest of seconds to Honor Code in the Remsen at 2, Cairo Prince progressed so well in the early months of his 3-year-old season that he was the subject of enormous offers that ended with a majority interest in the gray being sold to Darley. The horse then fell victim to injury, never raced again, and went to stud at Airdrie.

The quiet end to his racing career proved the opposite to the opening of his stallion career, with first-crop yearlings selling for an average of nearly 14 times the horse’s stud fee, and with a median price of nearly 10 times the stud fee. Nearly every one made a profit, and that prompted a rise of Cairo Prince’s stud fee to $25,000.

In the early days of the freshman sire race, Cairo Prince was nowhere. Couldn’t find him with a map. Then, he started picking up a winner or two. There were a rash of maiden special winners in the last three months of the year that propelled him to 19 winners from 61 runners out of 120 foals. From those, the pick was Cairo Cat, winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 15, and Giza Goddess, winner of the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 30, plus Pakhet, who was second in the G2 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 10. All these black-type races were at a mile or mile and a sixteenth.

More clearly than a trail of bunny tracks through the snow, the stock by Cairo Prince are improving with age and distance and maturity. And better things will be coming their way.

On Jan. 5 at Gulfstream, the freshly minted 3-year-old Mihos (Cairo Prince) won the Mucho Macho Man stakes at a mile after winning his maiden at six furlongs on Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. The horse for whom that stakes is named is also a freshman sire of 2018, and he finished 9th on the list, just behind the well-respected Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) and Verrazano (More Than Ready) and just ahead of the lamentably deceased Tritap, a son of Tapit who stood in Maryland and proved the great surprise of the top 10, with 10 winners from 17 starters and 34 foals for earnings of $591,049.

The only other non-Kentucky stallion among the top 10 freshmen is New York-based Central Banker (Speightstown), who stands at McMahon Thoroughbreds of Saratoga and upstaged some quite pricey young sires with 10 winners from 36 starters out of 75 foals. He has two stakes winners and year earnings of just more than $1 million. A salty start for a young horse standing for $7,500 live foal.

The remaining stallion in the top 10 is number six, the English-bred Noble Mission, who is a full brother to superstar racer and sire Frankel and who has begun his stud career here in the dirt-track world of Stateside racing with the best freshman effort ever for a son of the great sire Galileo.

The stock by Noble Mission are virtually guaranteed to improve at 3, when they will also encounter greater opportunities for turf racing. Maturity and longer distances should aid some other stallions, like Cairo Prince, Cross Traffic, and Will Take Charge, and the performances of the two sons of Unbridled’s Song should hearten the breeders using Liam’s Map and Arrogate, a winner of the Whitney Stakes (and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile) and a winner of the Travers and champion 3-year-old like Cross Traffic and Will Take Charge.

Liam’s Map will have his first racers in 2019, and the first foals by Arrogate will arrive this year.

smiling tiger bags first g1 as a sire with his first-crop filly spiced perfection

With a victory in the Dec. 26 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita, Spiced Perfection became the first Grade 1 stakes winner for her sire Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger). The fast bay filly also is from the stallion’s first crop of runners, which propelled him into 19th place among freshman sires in 2017, and the chestnut grandson of Storm Cat is currently 15th among all second-crop sires in America.

Those are national rankings, not regional or state rankings, where Smiling Tiger leads his crop-rank contemporaries by a mile. In addition, he is the only in-state stallion who has sired a 2018 G1 winner that’s bred in California.

Bred in California by Premier Thoroughbreds LLC, Spiced Perfection comes from the moderate-sized but upwardly mobile broodmare band of Phil Lebherz, who bought and raced Smiling Tiger with Alan Klein. In various partnerships, Lebherz has raced stakes horses Epic Honor (Honor Grades; 1999 Golden Gate Derby), Sierra Sunset (Bertrando; 2008 Rebel Stakes), Sway Away (Afleet Alex; three times G2 second, including the 2012 San Carlos), and Smiling Tiger’s half-sister She’s a Tiger (Tale of the Cat).

A filly of exceptional speed, She’s a Tiger won the G1 Del Mar Debutante and finished first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies of 2013, only to be disqualified, but gained the Eclipse Award as the top 2-year-old filly of the year. She’s a Tiger made a single unsuccessful start at 3 and sold as a broodmare prospect at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale for $2.5 million to Katsumi Yoshida.

In 2017 and 2018, Lebherz and Klein raced one of their first homebreds, Miss Sunset, a California-bred daughter of Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), who was trained by Jeff Bonde and won the G2 Raven Run at Keeneland in October. The following month, she sold to Breeze Easy LLC for $825,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s November sale.

In contrast to all the fancy prices, Spiced Perfection sold for only $6,500 as a yearling in the Barretts October sale, then resold for $50,000 at the 2017 Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Dennis Yokum, the farm manager for Premier Thoroughbreds, said that “there wasn’t anything the matter with Spiced Perfection as a yearling, although she was a little small,” but several of the offspring by Smiling Tiger have sold better as 2-year-olds than in the yearling market.

Yokum noted that “we sold three at the 2-year-old sale this year, two by Smiling Tiger and one by Violence; all previewed well, are winners now, and both the Smiling Tigers have won stakes.”

Those two by Smiling Tiger are Cruel Intention, winner of the Golden State Juvenile on Nov. 3, and Naughty Tiger, winner of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes on Aug. 1.

Cruel Intention is a full brother to Spiced Perfection, and, commenting on the differences between the siblings, Yokum said, “As yearlings, he had a much better hip. There’s a lot more to him physically. We kept him to sell as a 2-year-old because we thought he would be a fast horse and knew he would preview well at the in-training sales.”

They were right, and Cruel Intention sold for $200,000, the same price that Premier Thoroughbreds got for the Violence juvenile bred by the farm and sold at the same auction earlier this year.

So, both at the sales and on the racetrack, attention is swinging toward Smiling Tiger, which is a happy result for the program that co-owner Lebherz worked out to assist his stallion.

Yokum said, “Smiling Tiger was a really outstanding racehorse with three G1 victories and a world of ability. In addition, Phil has a real love for Smiling Tiger and wants him to succeed in this second career. And then, he wanted the horse to be a benefit to Cal breeding. Once Smiling Tiger came off the racetrack, the partners wanted to stand and support the horse. They stood him here at the farm the first year, and the numbers he has put up from that first year are impressive,” including his first-crop star Spiced Perfection.

“Now Smiling Tiger stands at Harris Farms, which is more centrally located and part of a well-regarded stallion roster,” Yokum said, “and we’ve got more good ones coming. We have purchased a good group of mares to help support the horse. We bought a number of mares in foal in Kentucky, and when those foals are born, they become Cal-breds so that we have some fancy Cal-breds to sell, and the mares went to Smiling Tiger to support him.”

An example of that program is the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Mourette, whom Yokum purchased in Kentucky at 2016 Keeneland November sale for $85,000. The mare’s first foal is Sir Anthony (Mineshaft), who upset Audible and others to win the G3 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream earlier this month. Mourette has a foal of 2018 by Smiling Tiger and is back in foal to Honor Code. Yokum added that the “mare will foal the Honor Code in Kentucky and will be bred back to West Coast.

“We’ve got some really nice-looking Smiling Tiger weanlings, including the one out of Mourette, that are going to be yearlings next week, and we’re confident that more good things are coming from them and this sire.”

Smiling Tiger, who stands at Harris Farms for $6,500, has five stakes winners of 2018 from his first two crops to race, and the stallion has numerous promising representatives from the good mares that Premier Thoroughbreds has purchased to support him.

Breeders in California and afar have noticed and with a rising tide of mares, there will be more quality and quantity to keep the Tiger smiling.

sir anthony stings fancied foes in harlan’s holiday and brings further acclaim to family of california chrome

Racing up the rail as swift and slick as a greased pig through a chute, Sir Anthony (by Mineshaft) won the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 15 under a gifted ride by jockey Brian Hernandez and defeated the odds-on favorite Audible (Into Mischief) by a half-length. Sir Anthony created the upset of the week and paid $53.80 to win.

The Harlan’s Holiday was the fourth victory in a row for the chestnut son of Horse of the Year Mineshaft (A.P. Indy). Sir Anthony’s first stakes success came in the Bruce D. Memorial on Aug. 11 at Arlington, then a pair of allowances prepped the ridgling for his graded stakes debut but apparently led the bettors into believing Sir Anthony had no hope against G1 winner Audible.

Mineshaft — son of Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and Horse of the Year himself in 2003 has sired 47 stakes winners, including Harlan’s Holiday winner Sir Anthony. (Lane’s End photo)

Unraced from the May 5 Kentucky Derby, when third, until a comeback victory in the Cherokee Run Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, Audible was expected to demonstrate a major leap forward in fitness with the Harlan’s Holiday and confirm his role as a most serious challenger to champion pro-tem Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky) in the Pegasus in January.

The Harlan’s Holiday result, however, threw a wrench in those expectations. Not only did the 1-10 favorite lose, but 20-1 Apostle finished third, only a length behind Audible, and second-favorite Village King was a neck back in fourth.

Although the form took a beating, Sir Anthony did not, and he is now a winner of five races with lifetime earnings of $202,220.

Bred in Illinois by owner Richard Otto Stables, the 3-year-old Sir Anthony is one of nearly four dozen stakes winner by champion Mineshaft, an elegant and scopy bay who improved with age and became Horse of the Year as a 4-year-old. From 12 crops of racing age, Mineshaft has sired 47 stakes winners, with total progeny earnings to date of more than $60 million. The stallion’s most noted performers have been Effinex (G1 Clark Handicap), Dialed In (G1 Florida Derby), and It’s Tricky (G1 Acorn).

Sir Richard is the first foal out of the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Mourette, who showed her stakes form at 4 and 5 with a second in the Indian Maid at Hawthorne as a 4-year-old, then a third in the Illini Princess the following year.

The year after producing Sir Anthony, Mourette and her weanling colt by Arch were sent through the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The mare sold for $85,000, and her weanling brought $90,000. The price of the mare was significantly lowered because she was not bred and therefore not in foal at the time of sale. Sold to Dennis Yokum, agent, Mourette produced a chestnut filly by the California-based sire Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger) earlier this year.

Mourette is one of three stakes horses from six foals out of Amourette, a stakes-winning daughter of the classic winner and all-around “gargous harse” El Gran Senor (Northern Dancer). One of the most talented sons of his great sire, El Gran Senor was a good sire of agonizingly marginal fertility. From 16 crops, the delightful bay beast sired 396 foals. From these, 316 (80 percent) started, 228 (72 percent) won, and 55 (17 percent) were stakes winners.

And El Gran Senor produced those results with books of mares of lesser quality than would have been his if not for the horse’s erratic fertility.

Amourette was one of her sire’s 55 stakes winners, and she produced stakes winner Alette and G3 stakes-placed Lemonade Kid (both by Lemon Drop Kid).

And this brings us to a trivia question of some interest. What do Horse of the Year California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) and Sir Anthony share beside the A.P. Indy – Seattle Slew male line?

Well, just in time to help celebrate California Chrome’s return from Southern Hemisphere stud duty in Chile at Haras Sumaya, Sir Anthony brought another graded stakes success to the same female family as the chestnut champion. The two share the same third dam, the stakes-winning Sir Ivor mare Chase the Dream. A winner of the East View Stakes and Sag Harbor Stakes at Aqueduct, Chase the Dream was a thoroughly useful racehorse. In addition to her stakes-winning daughter Amourette, Chase the Dream produced the winning Chase it Down (Polish Numbers), who in turn produced the winning Love the Chase (Not for Love), the dam of California Chrome.

If this trend toward graded quality continues, what grand compliments will we find to praise this little-loved female family.

chasing yesterday becomes second g1 winner for star producer littleprincessemma

The victory by Chasing Yesterday (by Tapit) in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 8 brings up an interesting point of reference from earlier this summer at Saratoga. The Spa’s leading race for juvenile fillies, the G1 Spinaway Stakes, was won by Sippican Harbor (Orb), and behind her that day were 10 other fillies, including the favored Chasing Yesterday.

Of those 10 fillies, two are now graded stakes winners, two more are stakes winners, and six are stakes-placed. In order of their finish at Saratoga:

Restless Rider (Distorted Humor) won the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland, was second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.

Cassie’s Dreamer (Flatter) was third in the G1 Frizette, then fifth in the BC Juvenile Fillies, just ahead of Sippican Harbor.

Bella Ciao (Flatter) was third in the Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 8.

Nonna Madeline (Candy Ride) was second to Catherinethegreat in the G2 Schuylerville at Saratoga.

Reflect (Trappe Shot) was second in the G1 Alcibiades.

Chasing Yesterday is unbeaten since the Spinaway, winning in succession the Anoakia, Desi Arnaz, and Starlet.

Virginia Eloise (Curlin) was second in the G2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga.

Catherinethegreat (Uncaptured) won the G2 Schuylerville.

Baby Nina (Flatter) won the Miss Ohio Stakes and was third in the John W. Galbreath Memorial.

Guacamole (Flat Out) was third in the G2 Adirondack and third in the Stewart Manor Stakes.
That every filly in the race is a stakes horse is a credit to the quality of horses at the Saratoga meet, and that nine of the 11 are graded stakes horses makes the form for this race appear rather robust.

Since then, Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) has won the G1 Frizette Stakes and BC Juvenile Fillies and is a mortal lock as champion juvenile filly with a record of four victories from five starts, just like Chasing Yesterday.

But the Starlet winner has made strong and consistent progress from her much-watched debut last summer, and she holds a real chance to continue developing in such a way that she could challenge for divisional leadership next season.

Especially in light of the chestnut filly’s pedigree.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm and racing for the breeder, Chasing Yesterday is by three-time American leading sire Tapit, whose profile as a sire is littered with numerous good 2-year-olds who improved at 3.

In addition, Chasing Yesterday is a very nice specimen of the breed, with beautiful quality and length, confidence and strength.

When I first encountered Chasing Yesterday, she was a yearling at Summer Wind, and I was on the farm to look at some other horses. But across the barn aisle was this elegant chestnut. She kept an eye on me from the cool confines of her stall and had a rather inquisitive expression that might have been interpreted as something like, “What are you up to?”

So I asked the farm assistant with me at the time, “Who’s the nice-looking chestnut over there?”

“Oh, that’s American Pharoah’s little sister.”

One small infarction of horse envy later, I managed to croak out, “Oh, that’s nice.”

Out of the star broodmare Littleprincessemma (Yankee Gentleman), Chasing Yesterday carries the chestnut color seen in her dam, as well as the beautiful proportions and quality of her famous sire. A February foal, Chasing Yesterday is coming to hand slightly later than her half-brother American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), who won his first G1 at Del Mar during his juvenile season.

Their dam produced a pair of full siblings to the 2015 Triple Crown winner in American Cleopatra (2014), who was second in the G1 Del Mar Debutante, and St Patrick’s Day (2015), who was second in the G3 Renaissance Stakes in Ireland earlier this season, in addition to being third in another stakes.

Chasing Yesterday is the mare’s fifth foal and fourth consecutive black-type performer. The mare’s yearling is a full brother to American Pharoah named Theprinceofthebes, and she has a full brother to Chasing Yesterday who has been named Triple Tap.

Purchased by Summer Wind at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale for $2.1 million, carrying St Patrick’s Day, on the strength of American Pharoah’s juvenile victories, Littleprincessemma has come to look like an inspired broodmare purchase.

Every succeeding year has brought new improvements to the production record of the mare, and should American Pharoah get the results on the racetrack that are half as good as his results in the sales ring, even greater accolades lie ahead.

Although her Storm Cat sire Yankee Gentleman did not have enough success to remain in Kentucky, Littleprincessemma has become a producer of the highest significance through the consistent quality and high standard of her offspring.

American Pharoah — 2015 Triple Crown winner is a half-brother to the recent Starlet Stakes winner Chasing Yesterday. The first foals by American Pharoah, who entered stud at Ashford in 2016, will come to the races next season in 2019. (Coolmore photo)