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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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sky mesa gets third g1 winner with spinaway winner perfect alibi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bricks and mortar going to the greener pastures of japan as a 2020 stallion prospect

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The Grade 1 Arlington Million became the 10th victory in 12 starts for Bricks and Mortar (by Giant’s Causeway), who is a virtual certainty to be divisional champion and is also a serious contender for Horse of the Year.

Not since Kotashaan (Darshaan) in 1993 has a turf champion exerted the prowess to become Horse of the Year without racing on dirt, as well. [Wise Dan was a multiple graded stakes winner on dirt, including the G1 Clark Handicap, although he did not race on that surface in 2013, the season he won his second Horse of the Year title.]

In 1993, however, after winning six of nine North American starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Kotashaan was sold to a Japanese breeding group and sent to Japan. There he ran second in the Japan Cup, then was retired to be a stallion at Lex Stud in 1994.

Now Shadai Farm in Japan has announced that it has acquired the breeding rights to Bricks and Mortar and will stand the son of Giant’s Causeway at its stallion station on Hokkaido in 2020.

One reason that Shadai, rather than a Kentucky farm, will send Bricks and Mortar to stud next year is that Bricks and Mortar is considered a “turf horse,” just like Kotashaan was 26 years ago. The prejudice against turf horses as sires in North America is too entrenched to be argued away.

But let me point out that Sir Gallahad III, Bull Dog, Blenheim, Heliopolis, Nasrullah, Vaguely Noble, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky II, and Giant’s Causeway were turf horses. And all became leading sires.

Overall, those sires were not influences for purely six-furlong dirt speed. But good Thoroughbreds are good Thoroughbreds, and good sires are good sires. The subtleties of what makes one individual better suited to one surface or another are too intricate for generalization.

In a breeding environment that tries to pigeonhole sires, Giant’s Causeway is a paragon of versatility. His sons and daughters have won major stakes on all surfaces, at all ages, and at nearly all distances. The best Giant’s Causeway juvenile in North America was surely First Samurai (Champagne and Hopeful), best juvenile filly was Take Charge Brandi (champion 2-year-old filly, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies), but Brody’s CauseCarpe Diem, and Creative Cause were all G1 winners at 2 and are all young sires. Giant’s Causeway has more than two dozen other G1 winners around the world, including the Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite of Passage.

And as a racing proposition, Bricks and Mortar is closer to his sire than many of the others. His best form is clearly 8 to 10 furlongs, and the good-looking horse has the patience to lay off the pace and finish with great intensity, as well as the natural speed to press it when called upon.

So he should have a good chance to make a noteworthy sire for insightful Japanese breeders. Horsemen in Asia are especially conscious of Giant’s Causeway and his sons due to the exploits of such racers as Able Friend, a multiple G1 winner and racing legend in Hong Kong, Pakistan Star, a multiple G1 winner in Hong Kong, and Dunboyne Express, a multiple G1 winner in Hong Kong and Singapore. All are by classic winner and leading sire Shamardal, the most commercially vital son of Giant’s Causeway.

A winner of the Dewhurst Stakes at 2 and the French colts classics at 3 (Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club), Shamardal is one of the most robust sources of speed in Europe, and the bay stallion has sired classic winners like Lope de Vega, now a successful sire, as well as the speed sensation of 2019 in Blue Point, who won the G1 King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee during the Royal Ascot meeting two months ago.

But the stallion managers of Kentucky noted that, unless Bricks and Mortar raced outside of the turf division and won at the highest level with aplomb, he would not be a commercial prospect for the Bluegrass. The key to that reasoning is that a contemporary stallion’s book is not filled by 20 to 40 syndicate members sending one or two mares apiece to the horse.

That was the book size from 30 and 40 years ago, but today that wouldn’t warm up a booking secretary when books for popular stallions regularly fill with 125 to 250 mares annually. The larger volume of mares doesn’t guarantee greater profits because the larger stud fee earnings cause the purchase prices for stallions to increase correspondingly.

The larger books, however, give stallions a much increased opportunity to have a larger number of attractive yearlings, to have more starters and winners, and perhaps even to sire the star performer that is a young sire’s license to remain viable and perhaps even rise to the top of the heap like Scat Daddy and many another before him.

mckinzie building plenty of ‘street cred’ for a stallion career

A three-time winner at the Grade 1 level (Los Alamitos Futurity at 2, the Pennsylvania Derby and Malibu Stakes at 3), McKinzie added a fourth G1 to his record with a smart-looking victory in the Aug. 3 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.

As a highly regarded member of his crop at 2 and 3, McKinzie was generally considered a very good thing as prospective divisional champion this season, but the handsome dark bay son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (by Street Cry) ran second in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, won his first stakes of the season at Churchill Downs in the G2 Alysheba Stakes, and then ran second on merits against Mitole in the G1 Metropolitan.

With another much desired G1 victory, McKinzie is now looking more and more like the powerful divisional presence he was expected to be, as well as an increasingly desirable stallion prospect.

As an unbeaten juvenile and a two-time G1 winner at 3, now adding a fourth G1 at 4 with $2.2 million in earnings from seven victories in 12 starts, McKinzie clearly has the athletic credentials to make a stallion. As a handsome and charismatic animal, he is appealing as a physical specimen, and costing $170,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, he brought the sixth-highest price for a Street Sense yearling among 47 sold that year.

So the commercial market gives him a thumbs up.

And despite what anyone might think about the commercial market endorsement, it is essential for a young stallion who might become “big time.” For a stallion like American Pharoah, for instance, the dictates of sales might have somewhat less effect because there is considerable cachet just to having a ‘pharoah.’

For nearly every other young stallion entering the profession, however, being on the positive side of the equation with commercial breeders means the young horse gets the most appealing mares, the fullest books, the best receipts at sales, and typically the most desirable stock goes to the more successful buyers, trainers, owners, and jockeys.

With only one stallion in 10, at best, making a success, every single advantage counts.

And with all the excellent qualities that McKinzie possesses, he will get a major shot at sire success when he goes to stud.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, McKinzie is out of three generations of stakes-winning mares. The dark bay colt’s dam is Runway Model (Petionville), winner of the G2 Alcibiades Stakes, second in the G1 Ashland, and third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Runway Model was a very high-class racer, and her son is cut from the same cloth.

In pedigree, McKinzie is linebred to the mighty Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) through Petionville’s sire Seeking the Gold and through Street Cry’s sire Machiavellian. Seeking the Gold and Machiavellian were high-class racers who became eminent sires in international racing. In addition to siring champions in the States, Seeking the Gold is best known as the sire of the once-beaten Dubai Millennium, a horse of exceptional ability who tragically was struck down part-way through his first and only season at stud. Yet Dubai Millennium’s branch of Mr. Prospector has a first-rate sire in Dubawi, whose son Too Darn Hot won the G1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 31.

Less renowned than Dubai Millennium, Petionville proved a good sire, and Runway Model was one of his best. Likewise, Street Cry and Street Sense represent the best qualities in their line of descent from Mr. Prospector and Machiavellian.

A highly talented juvenile who ran second in the Del Mar Futurity and third in the BC Juvenile, Street Cry won the UAE 2,000 Guineas at 3 but then missed nearly all of his second season. Returning at 4, Street Cry won his first three starts at 4: the G2 Maktoum Challenge, the G1 Dubai World Cup, and the G1 Stephen Foster before finishing second in the G1 Whitney of 2002 and being retired to stud.

Standing for Darley at their Jonabell facility in Lexington, the massively proportioned Street Cry became an immediate success. His first crop included Street Sense, winner of G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Eclipse Award as top juvenile colt. Street Sense proceeded to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby and Travers, finishing second to Curlin in the Preakness. In the slop at Monmouth, Curlin won the BC Classic, with Street Sense fourth, and that success brought the chestnut son of Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) both the divisional title and Horse of the Year. The month after Street Sense ended his career on the track, a filly from their sire’s first crop won her debut at Hollywood Park; 19 victories and three years later, Zenyatta was a legend. Her storied successes kept her sire in the limelight, and this cast benefits and glory on Street Cry’s sons like champion Steet Sense.

Street Sense has been popular and successful at stud, with McKinzie, Sweet Reason (G1 Acorn, Test, and Spinaway), Wedding Toast (G1 Ogden Phipps and Beldame), Aubby K (G1 Distaff), Callback (G1 Las Virgenes), and Street Fancy (G1 Hollywood Starlet) being his top-tier winners in the States, plus Sense of Occasion (G1 Doomben Cup), Hallowed Crown (G1 Golden Rose and Randwick Guineas), Politeness (G1 Myer Classic), and Dixie Blossoms (G1 Tad Kennedy Stakes) in Australia.

Street Sense stands for a 2019 stud fee of $50,000 at Darley’s operation in Kentucky, and the horse ranks 9th on the leading sire list for 2019.

jim dandy winner tax is a claim to fame for owners and breeders, as well as his historic family

Not many winners of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga begin the racing careers in a claiming race, but this year’s winner did. Just like G1 Haskell winner Maximum Security (by New Year’s Day), Tax (Arch) made his debut in claiming company.

Maximum Security had massacred his competition for maiden claiming $16,000 by 9 ¾ lengths in the time of 1:16.84 for 6 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream. And he wasn’t claimed. The rest is history.

In Tax’s case, his debut came in a $30,000 maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs, and the dark bay son of Arch (Kris S.) ran second to the race favorite as a 10.60-to-1 shot himself. In his second start, he jumped sharply to maiden $50,000 at Keeneland, and starting as the 2-to-1 favorite, Tax won by two lengths.

But Tax was claimed. Trainer Danny Gargan picked up the nice young prospect for Hugh Lynch from the breeders, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Now a G2 winner at Saratoga, Tax placed third in the G2 Remsen Stakes in his first start for his new connections, and the good, progressive young athlete then won the G3 Withers in his 3-year-old debut.

Since then, Tax has run second in the G1 Wood Memorial, had a difficult passage in the Kentucky Derby (14th), and was a quite respectable fourth in the G1 Belmont Stakes. In the latter, he was 1 ¾ lengths behind Tacitus (Tapit), who had beaten Tax by a slightly smaller margin in the Wood. This makes the form of the Jim Dandy look pretty solid, as Tacitus was three-quarters of a length behind Tax after a poor start in which the gray colt gave away ground to his competitors.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne and Dilschneider, Tax is the best performer to date from a family that has yielded bonus dividends for the breeders. Tax is the first stakes winner and first graded winner for the Giant’s Causeway mare Toll, who won a pair of races as a 3-year-old and earned $62,340. Prior to Tax, Toll had been a muddlesome and disappointing broodmare, with only a trio of winners (including Tax) from seven foals and four runners.

There is much more to say about the second dam, multiple graded stakes winner Yell (A.P. Indy), who won the G2 Davona Dale and G3 Raven Run, as well as placing second in the G1 Mother Goose and third in the G1 Kentucky Oaks.

As a broodmare, Yell has done well. She is the dam of stakes winner Cheery (Distorted Humor) and her full brother Shrill, who was third in the Hot Springs Handicap and the Don Bernhardt Stakes. Their best half-sibling is Chide (Blame), who was third in the G1 Mother Goose and second in the G3 Dogwood Stakes. Their winning sibs include Sentence (Blame), Squeal (Tiznow), Veracity (Distorted Humor), and Holler (Strong Hope), all fillies.

The last bit may be of significance to the future because Cheery, for instance, is the dam of Elate (Medaglia d’Oro), winner of the G1 Beldame and Alabama Stakes. One suspects that further exposure to Medaglia d’Oro or his sons, as well as Arch’s champion son Blame is in the cards because following what works has done so well with this family.

In addition to Wild Applause being bred to A.P. Indy to produce Yell, for instance, several members of the immediate family went to champion son of Seattle Slew. This has resulted in leading sire Congrats, leading sire Flatter, and the multiple stakes-placed Meghan’s Joy, the dam of six stakes winners to date, and five of those were graded winners.

The cornerstone of these various successes and these good horses was Wild Applause (Northern Dancer), the third dam of Tax who was purchased by Seth Hancock for $1.1 million at the Rokeby Stable dispersal in 1992. Already the dam of G2 Futurity Stakes winner Eastern Echo (Damascus), the lovely young mare had won half of her 10 starts, including the G2 Diana and G3 Comely, as well as earning another placing in the G1 Mother Goose, the third for members of this immediate family.

For Claiborne, Wild Applause bred Yell and G2 winner Roar (Forty Niner), who went to stud and became the broodmare sire of champion Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro).

Exceptionally desirable at the time of her purchase, today the pedigree of Wild Applause makes her an acquisition of even greater quality. She is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero (Polish Navy) and a full sister to G1 winner Hero’s Honor, plus four other stakes winners.

This was one of Rokeby’s most wonderful families, coming from fourth dam Glowing Tribute (Graustark), whom Paul Mellon had bred from Admiring (Hail to Reason), whom Mellon had purchased from the Hirsch Jacobs dispersal. Jacobs bred Admiring from Searching (War Admiral), whom he had claimed from breeder Ogden Phipps, and Phipps had bred Searching from E.R. Bradley’s mare Big Hurry (Black Toney), who was a daughter of La Troienne (Teddy). Phipps acquired Big Hurry and other splendid animals from the private dispersal of the Bradley bloodstock that primarily was split between Phipps, Greentree Stable, and King Ranch.

from the family of champion sky beauty, unbeaten guarana is putting the heat in summer racing

For the last three years running, and in five of the last nine racing seasons, a filly has won both the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park and the Coaching Club American Oaks, now contested at Saratoga.

This year, undefeated Guarana (by Ghostzapper) added the Oaks to her previous blowout success in the Acorn. In winning both these races, she is succeeding divisional champions Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) and Abel Tasman (Quality Road) in 2018 and 2017. Previously, Curalina (Curlin) in 2015 and It’s Tricky (Mineshaft) in 2011 had paired the races.

To find another comparable instance, one has to look back to 1993, when multiple Grade 1 winner Sky Beauty (Blushing Groom) won both races. Although disqualified to third in the G1 Spinaway at Saratoga, Sky Beauty finished first in all five of her races at 2, including the G1 Matron and G2 Adirondack.

Sky Beauty did not race in the BC Juvenile Fillies, which was won by Eliza (Mt. Livermore), and that filly was named divisional champion. The next season, Sky Beauty won five major stakes in a row, including the Triple Tiara (Acorn, Mother Goose, CCA Oaks), Alabama, and the G2 Rare Perfume the month before the Breeders’ Cup.

In the Distaff, Sky Beauty ran unplaced for the first time and lost the Eclipse Award to her prime competitor Hollywood Wildcat (Kris S.), winner of the Distaff by a nose from Paseana, the 1992 and 1993 Eclipse Award winner as best older mare.

Sky Beauty came back at 4 to win five races in a row – the G3 Vagrancy, then the G1 Shuvee, Hempstead, Go for Wand, and Ruffian – before having the worst finish of her career (ninth) in the 1994 BC Distaff, won by One Dreamer (Relaunch), with old rival Hollywood Wildcat sixth. The Eclipse voters, however, put Sky Beauty over the top as champion older mare of 1994.

The elegant bay tried to repeat her previous season in 1995, but after victory in the Vagrancy, she finished second and third in the Shuvee and Hempstead. The winner of the Shuvee was Inside Information (Private Account), who went on to win the 1995 BC Distaff and the Eclipse Award as top older mare, and the winner of the Hempstead was Heavenly Cause (Seeking the Gold), who was second in the Distaff. Racing from 2 to 5, Sky Beauty won 15 of 21 starts, with a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds, for earnings of $1.3 million.

Bred in Kentucky by Sugar Maple Farm, Sky Beauty sold for $355,000 as a Saratoga select yearling to Georgia Hofmann, who bred and sold her dam, the Nijinsky mare Maplejinsky. Hofmann sold Maplejinsky to Susan Kaskel for $750,000 at the 1986 Keeneland July sale, and the striking bay won the G1 Alabama. Then Sugar Maple sold Maplejinsky to Osamu Yasuda for $2.7 million at the 1994 Keeneland November sale in foal to A.P. Indy.

That’s usually where the story ends for horses sold to Japanese breeders, but after a few years in Japan, Maplejinsky returned to the States. After her sale, Maplejinsky produced Lord Maple, the A.P. Indy colt she was carrying, and he won three races in Japan and earned $219, 282.

Exported to Japan in 1996, Maplejinsky produced a pair of fillies by Sunday Silence, Silence Beauty and Million Gift, plus a filly by Brian’s Time named Lady Seraphim. After being purchased in a private transaction, Maplejinsky returned to Kentucky and produced her final two foals, the Swain colt Amenable and the Rahy filly Crimson Maple, who is the dam of current multiple stakes winner Goldwood (Medaglia d’Oro).

The first of the Sunday Silence fillies, Silence Beauty, came to the States in 1998, when she sold for $1 million at the Keeneland July yearling sale to the Oaks Horse Farm Corp. and raced under the name of Thomas Liang. She made three starts, was third once. Then precious gems magnate Chuck Fipke purchased her for $525,000 at the 2004 Keeneland November sale in foal to Tale of the Cat (Storm Cat) and bred Tale of Ekati, winner of the G1 Wood Memorial and Cigar Mile, earning $1.1 million.

Nor is Silence Beauty the only other daughter of Maplejinsky to enliven American racing. The mare’s second foal, born two years after Sky Beauty, was the Pleasant Colony filly Our Country Place, who was unraced but was acquired privately by the Phipps family.

In terms of volume, Our Country Place wasn’t that big a deal, but her quality was outstanding. She had only six foals, but the first and last of those were graded stakes winners by Seeking the Gold: Country Hideaway (G2 First Flight twice, G3 Vagrancy, three times G1-placed) and Pleasant Home (G1 BC Distaff, second in both the G1 Spinster and Ballerina).

In contrast to Country Hideaway, the dam of two graded stakes winners, and their full sister Matlacha Pass, dam of two G1 winners, Pleasant Home was a disappointing broodmare, and to date has only one black-type performer, the Medaglia d’Oro gelding Hereditary, who has two seconds and a third in minor stakes.

In 2016, judged surplus to need, Pleasant Home was sold at the Keeneland November sale, and Chuck Fipke bought the 15-year-old mare for $530,000. Having purchased the mare’s unraced first foal S’ Avall (Awesome Again), Fipke bred a pair of black-type horses, Tale of S’ Avall and Pleasant Tales, both by Fipke’s stallion Tale of Ekati, who is out of a half-sister to Our Country Place.

The Phipps Stable also disposed of some of the other stock out of Pleasant Home, including her winning daughter Magical World (Distorted Humor). The latter went to Three Chimneys Farm, which bred and races the mare’s unbeaten 3-year-old Guarana, now the winner of a pair of G1s, and the 2-year-old filly out of Magical World, the unbeaten Magic Dance (More Than Ready), winner of listed Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs after winning her debut on June 7.

As hot as this family has become during the heat wave of 2019, there may be more fireworks to come.

saratoga juvenile stakes winners include a first for freshman sire constitution and link to racing history

The first 2-year-old stakes races at the 2019 Saratoga meeting went to bright, unbeaten young things sired by a first-year stallion and by a proven sire of the highest order.

In the meet’s opening day Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes on July 11, Comical (by Into Mischief) won the six-furlong dash by a neck in 1:11.66 from Kiss the Girl and Shippy. A G1 winner on the racetrack, Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) has proven one of the best stallions in the country with the speed and consistent quality of his racers. Standing for $150,000 live foal at Spendthrift Farm in 2019, Into Mischief is a stallion that breeders obviously want for their mares.

Into Mischief has sired 51 stakes winners to date from eight crops of 805 foals of racing age, and he stands in second position among the leading sires of 2019, after being fourth on last year’s general sire list.

In contrast to the well-proven son of Harlan’s Holiday, Constitution (Tapit) has only his first crop of racers now on the track, but his juvenile son By Your Side became the sire’s first stakes winner and graded winner with a three-length victory in the G3 Sanford Stakes on July 13.

With a freshman crop of 123, Constitution has had 11 racers so far, with five winners, including By Your Side, who is unbeaten in two starts. Expectations have been high for the first crop by Constitution, as indicated by the sales results for his first batch of juveniles in training. This year, 41 of them have sold for an average price of $110,844 and a median figure of $70,000. Those are strong numbers for a contemporary stallion standing for $15,000, but as a son of leading sire Tapit and a winner of the G1 Florida Derby, Constitution was well-supported with mares and buyers.

Bred in Kentucky by Columbiana Farm, By Your Side is out of the grand-looking Dixie Union mare Revered that Jay Em Ess Stable bought for $300,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2009. Twice third from six starts, Revered was sold as a broodmare prospect to Sequel Stallions New York at the 2014 Fasig-TiptonKentucky February sale for $52,000; then at the 2017 Keeneland January sale, the mare brought $50,000 from Berkey Bloodstock, agent for Columbiana. Revered was in foal to Constitution and carrying her second foal, later named By Your Side, and Columbiana sold the smart-looking colt to Anderson Stables for $240,000, the second-highest price for a Constitution yearling in 2018.

Revered has a yearling filly by Temple City (Dynaformer) and a weanling colt by Dialed In (Mineshaft).

The Schuylerville winner is out of Kayce Ace (Tiznow), and she is a stakes-placed full sister to major winner and sire Colonel John (G1 Travers and Santa Anita Derby; 2nd G1 Hollywood Futurity) and to Mr. Hot Stuff (3rd G1 Santa Anita Derby). Kayce Ace wasn’t a G1 performer herself, but she did finish second in the Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland and earned $151,190.

Comical is her dam’s first winner and stakes winner, but the eighth and 10th dams of the Schuylerville winner were two of the best mares of their generations around a century ago.

The eighth dam is Untidy, a bay mare bred in Kentucky by Greentree Stable in 1920 by leading sire Sweep (Ben Brush) out of Café au Lait (Meddler). As a juvenile, Untidy won a maiden at Saratoga, but as a 3-year-old, she bloomed into a first-class performer in 1923, winning the Alabama Stakes at the Spa, along with the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and the Gazelle. In addition, Untidy was second in the Lawrence Realization against colts and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

Untidy’s grandam was, if anything, even more highly regarded.

Bred in Kentucky by John Madden, Gunfire was foaled in 1899 from the first crop by Hastings (Spendthrift) out of Royal Gun (Royal Hampton). Gunfire was impressive enough as a 2-year-old that Madden sold Gunfire to W.C. Whitney for $10,000, and the filly became a multiple stakes winner at 3.

The mare reached her greatest form at 4 and 5. On May 7, 1903, she won the Metropolitan Handicap in an effort that the Daily Racing Form described as “lucky and superbly ridden,” then was second in the Brooklyn Handicap, presumably not just by luck. Both of those and nearly all the significant racing opportunities at the time for older fillies and mares were against colts.

That Gunfire was persevered with at 4 and 5 indicates both her considerable natural ability and her hardiness for competition. She came by both naturally.

From the first crop by her sire, Belmont Stakes winner Hastings, Gunfire was only one of a lively first set of racers that made their sire the nation’s leading sire with only juveniles and 3-year-olds at the races. Hastings was so effective as a sire that, aside from 1913 (ranking 14th), he was among the top 10 sires from 1902 through 1917, the year that he died.

That is also the year that his famous grandson Man o’ War (Fair Play) was foaled. Hastings had the same number of starts (21) as Man o’ War, winning 9 and placing second in 8. Hastings led the national sire list for the second time in 1908, when his son Fair Play was a 3-year-old, and Fair Play succeeded his sire as the leading influence at August Belmont’s Nursery Stud in Lexington.

The smooth stability of a life in Lexington was not the fate of the first famous daughter of Hastings. Gunfire was sold at the Whitney dispersal to Herman Duryea, then passed into the stud of Clarence H. Mackay, who bred Café au Lait, the dam of Untidy. Due to the restrictions and near elimination of racing due to the gambling blackout in New York and other jurisdictions in the first decade of the 20th century, Gunfire went to France for stud in 1910, but Café au Lait returned to her homeland and became the primary line of descent to the present for this talented mare.

promises fulfilled in metropolitan handicap

When it comes to pure eye candy with hooves, it is not easy to surpass Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (by Forestry), and his Grade 1-winning son Promises Fulfilled might be even fancier.

Surely, when pulling away to win the Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont on July 6, Promises Fulfilled not only filled the eye but also appeared to be making a step forward to fulfill the considerable promise that the flashy chestnut colt has offered his fans and intimate connections.

Owned by Robert Barons and trained by Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled has been highly regarded since winning his first two starts, a debut maiden special at Churchill Downs and then a first-level allowance at Keeneland, as a 2-year-old.

A third in his only stakes start at 2 was a temporary chuckhole in the road to success, but the handsome chestnut looked like a potential classic contender in his 3-year-old debut victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth last year against the speedy Strike Power (second) and the previous year’s juvenile champion Good Magic (third).

Subsequent unplaced efforts in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, however, sent the glamorous colt a different direction, and he has since campaigned at distances at a mile or less. Following the Derby last year, Promises Fulfilled was third in the Woody Stephens, then won the Amsterdam and the H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, plus the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland. That sequence of sprint performances made Promises Fulfilled the third-favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year, where he finished fourth. The winner Roy H. had been the second choice, and race favorite Imperial Hint was third, with Whitmore putting in his typical tremendous finish to split the top choices.

Having squarely established himself at the top of the tree among 3-year-old sprinters, Promises Fulfilled took a trip to Dubai for the Golden Shaheen and tackled the leading older horses in the Metropolitan. He was disgraced in neither, with a pair of fourths. On returning to his preferred territory – seven furlongs in New York, the handsome colt has had his picture taken again in the winner’s circle.

If it seems surprising that a Preakness winner is the sire of a colt with such speed, Shackleford earned his credits with speed. He possessed the pace to place himself second in the Preakness of 2012, grabbed the lead in the stretch, and held off Animal Kingdom to win by a half-length; the following year, the handsome son of Forestry won the Metropolitan at a mile and the Clark Handicap at Churchill at nine furlongs, leading at every call in each race.

Bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs, Promises Fulfilled was a May 11 foal and didn’t set commercial buyers alight when presented as a yearling. Romans picked up the colt for only $37,000 at the Keeneland September sale, and Promises Fulfilled has since earned $1.4 million.

Promises Fulfilled is out of the Marquetry mare Marquee Delivery, who was stakes-placed four times, including a second in the G3 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park and a third in the G3 Arlington Oaks. A winner of $264,901, Marquee Delivery was quite nearly the same class as her dam, the multiple listed stakes winner Fast Delivery (Little Missouri), who won $263,835.

Fast Delivery produced only the single black-type winner in Marquee Delivery, but the latter has foaled a pair of stakes winners. In addition to Promises Fulfilled, Marquee Delivery has produced the multiple listed stakes winner Marquee Miss, as well as the stakes-placed Marquee Cal Gal (both by Cowboy Cal). The difference in production success may lie in the sire of Marquee Miss, which is the high-class and very fast performer Marquetry (Conquistador Cielo).

A horse of electric coloring and personality, Marquetry was a striking chestnut with bold white markings on his legs, as well as on his face and belly. He was the sort of horse you couldn’t miss on a dark night, and with his performances on the racetrack, nobody was missing the fast chestnut who raced for Juddmonte Farms, Dale Engelson, Morley Engelson, and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel told me years ago that turning Marquetry into a top-tier American horse, after a moderate and rather brief career in England, was one of the simplest tasks he had faced. “We knew he had talent; he was a really nice horse. And once I quit trying to make him a turf horse here, he jumped up and won the Hollywood Gold Cup” and a good portion of the $2.8 million in earnings that the fancy chestnut earned.

In fairness to Frankel, Marquetry was also a smart turf horse, winning the G1 Eddie Read after he had shown his dirt capability, and Marquetry was a serious contender among the top older horses of the early 1990s on any surface.

Sent to stud in Kentucky, the great-looking chestnut made a few contributions to the breed and added speed to pedigrees, most notably through his high-class son Artax, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Vosburgh, and Carter and the Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter of 1999; Marquetry sired a second sprint champion in Squirtle Squirt, winner of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and King’s Bishop.

The plans for Promises Fulfilled include a trip to the BC Sprint after his victory in the Nerud.