unbeaten magnum moon heads to the kentucky derby as a million-dollar winner with a bit of family history

Victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby brought the winner, Magnum Moon, to the top of the tree among Kentucky Derby prospects by classic points with 150. The handsome bay is bred to be a classic colt, with the 1992 Kentucky Derby early favorite A.P. Indy being his male-line grandsire.

In addition to winning the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic, then being elected Horse of the Year, A.P. Indy has become a milestone, a marker of excellence, in breeding history. An exceptionally well-made and beautifully pedigreed animal, A.P. Indy sold to his fine looks, ran to the heights of expectation, and then delivered as a stallion of the highest caliber.

One of his acclaimed racing sons, however, is not the sire of Magnum Moon. Instead, the Arkansas Derby winner is by Malibu Moon, winner of a maiden special at Hollywood Park in the horse’s second start on May 31, 1999. He won by 1 ½ lengths over 5 furlongs on dirt in :57.41.

That is not the expected profile of a future top classic sire.

Yet Malibu Moon has been a success from the start, siring champion juvenile Declan’s Moon (G1 Hollywood Futurity) while standing in Maryland, then expanding his success with prominent national racing stars like Life at Ten (G1 Beldame Stakes), and such recent premium performers as Gormley (2017 Santa Anita Derby), Carina Mia (G1 Acorn Stakes), and of course 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

Especially after Orb’s success, Malibu Moon became one of the sires most strongly sought after at the sales, and so it proved with Magnum Moon.

Bred in Kentucky by Ramona S. Bass LLC, Magnum Moon was a popular colt at the sales and yet seems a “value buy,” perhaps in part due to his May foaling date, which many people still discriminate against.

Jacob West, bloodstock agent and racing manager for owners Robert and Lawana Low, found the bay son of Malibu Moon at the 2016 Keeneland September sale. West said, “We had made a big run at some colts in Book 1 but had gotten blown out of the water. So I started working through Book 2, and this colt was one of the top-rated colts in my mind.

“He was a May foal and wasn’t as forward in his maturity. But he was a nice representation of what a two-turn colt would look like when he grew up and filled out that big frame. He has worked out beautifully,” West concluded.

A good-looking yearling who sold for $380,000, Magnum Moon was a May 9 foal and is the third winner from three foals to race out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song mare Dazzling Song.

There is further good looks and good performance in the colt’s family because his dam is out of G3 stakes winner Win McCool (Giant’s Causeway). Win McCool is one of four stakes winners out of her dam, the stakes-winning Win Crafty Lady (Crafty Prospector). She produced G1 winner Harmony Lodge (Hennessy), as well as the full siblings Graeme Hall and Win’s Fair Lady (both by Dehere).

Harmony Lodge produced graded stakes winner Stratford Hill (A.P. Indy), and Win’s Fair Lady produced G3 winner First Passage (Giant’s Causeway) and stakes winner Berned (Bernardini), also G2- and G3-placed.

Graeme Hall was a high-class racer, winning the 2000 Arkansas Derby prior to that year’s Kentucky Derby, when the handsome chestnut was eased. Fortunately, Graeme Hall returned to race successfully, winning the G2 Jim Dandy at 3, then the G2 Eclipse Handicap at Woodbine and the G3 Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct at 4. In all, Graeme Hall won 7 of 22 races, earning more than $1.1 million.

Now unbeaten in four starts this year, including the G1 Arkansas Derby and G2 Rebel, Magnum Moon has earned almost exactly the same sum as his Arkansas Derby-winning relation, with $1,177,800 in the account to date.


the hardest-working classic sire in america has a weekend to remember

Over the past 50 years, American racing has become increasingly more compartmentalized, with “turf horses” and “classic horses” and “2-year-old speed horses,” as if horses do not transcend categories. And the most intense emphasis has come to be placed on the small cohort of classic horses, especially classic colts, because those have the potential to soar in value and prestige to a level that is giddy even to think about.

Just over a quarter-century ago, the prince of this particular set of elite Thoroughbreds was a grand bay by the name of A.P. Indy. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at 2, A.P. Indy went on to become the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, only to be scratched just before the classic by trainer Neil Drysdale due to a sore foot.

The big horse with the big talent came back fine and won the Belmont Stakes, then the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Horse of the Year. Along with his near-contemporary Unbridled (by Fappiano), this pair have dominated classic racing and performance through much of the next 20 years.

Unquestionably, Unbridled had the most individual success in siring winners of the classics, with Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, Preakness winner Red Bullet, and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker. Grindstone sired Belmont winner Birdstone, who in turn has sired Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird.

Empire Maker sired a pair of colts who went second in the Kentucky classic, and of those, the young classic stallion Pioneerof the Nile did the near-impossible and sired the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, American Pharoah.

In addition, we regularly see up to a third of the field for individual classics made up by descendants of A.P. Indy, led by three-time top sire Tapit, sire of three winners of the Belmont Stakes; Malibu Moon, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb; and now Take Charge Indy, whose first crop of 3-year-olds includes Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy.

The horse who is looking to take a piece of the classic pie from the Seattle Slew – A.P. Indy and Mr. Prospector – Unbridled clan is also a descendant of Mr. P.

By the Mr. Prospector stallon Smart Strike, Curlin is the hardest-working classic sire in America.

From his first crop came Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. From the third came Travers winner Keen Ice and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Curalina, as well as champion filly Stellar Wind; from the fourth came 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, along with Mother Goose winner Off the Tracks. From the fifth came 2017 Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry.

This year, Curlin’s contingent has been even more dominating.

In the April 7 classic preps at Keeneland and Aqueduct, a pair of robust chestnuts added victories to resumes that buff their classic credentials to a pleasing shine. On Saturday in Kentucky, 2017 champion juvenile colt Good Magic won the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, and in New York, Curlin was represented by a second consecutive winner of the G2 Wood Memorial, Vino Rosso.

There is one more G1 classic prep, the Arkansas Derby on April 14, and Curlin’s son Solomini will be trying to take the points and the prestige at Oaklawn. His primary competitor is expected to be the unbeaten Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon), who defeated Solomini in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn last month.

With a string of successful performers like that, Curlin has had a hearty rise in demand for his services. From a high of $60,000 as a stallion entering stud in 2009, Curlin had dropped in fee substantially during the Great Recession, but the horse’s big winners on the racetrack have begotten sales successes, and those drive stud fees ever higher.

For 2018, Curlin stands for $150,000 live foal at Hill ‘n’ Dale. If one of the Curlin contingent is the victor in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, not to mention the subsequent classics, that figure is certain to rise for next year.

Bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm next door to Keeneland, Curlin is now 13, and from the rising tide of good stock by him, his best years should lie ahead.

The handsome chestnut is a muscular and deep-bodied individual who stands over a lot of ground. His best stock sometimes resemble him in type; others do not. This year’s classic crew of three chestnuts most resemble their famous sire, with the shiny red coat and robust physique of their sire.

In his own makeup, Curlin is cast more in the mold of his broodmare sire Deputy Minister and his quite large and quite successful sire Vice Regent (Northern Dancer), more than the medium-sized bay Smart Strike. Both sides of the family, however, contribute to class and to classic performance, and in that regard, Curlin is the model – par excellence.

mendelssohn orchestrates a dramatic rise as uae derby victory propels him toward the kentucky derby

If you threw a bucket of mud in my face, perhaps I’d run bucking down the stretch at Churchill Downs, like Thunder Snow (by Helmet) in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby last year, but the handsome colt cast those memories aside as he raced to victory in the G1 Dubai World Cup on March 31.

Earlier on the same card, however, the colt with 2018 Kentucky Derby prospects swept to an overpowering 18 ½ length success in the G2 UAE Derby, won last year by Thunder Snow. Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) had earned G1 brackets last year with victory in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and after that race, trainer Aidan O’Brien said, “We knew he was a real American dirt horse [on pedigree], but we didn’t want to stop the progression, so that’s why we left him on the grass as maybe he wasn’t ready” for a switch of surface last year.

The group at Coolmore do not rush headlong into serious decisions, and the choices of what to do with Mendelssohn were serious. He is a good-looking horse who was a star yearling, and if he made a major success on the racecourse, he would be very valuable at stud.

In keeping with a formal evaluation of the realities of racing and breeding at the highest levels, the trainer at Ballydoyle said, “We had it in our head that maybe we could train Mendelssohn for the Kentucky Derby especially now we have the trials at home.

So the process was started last year, with the recognition that Mendelssohn was better suited, at least potentiallly, to dirt, and then the option to try the Kentucky Derby trials in Europe (or Dubai) offered that potential to work on things without jumping the pond and doing everything in one lick.

For Mendelssohn’s 2018 debut, the dark bay colt went to the Patton Stakes at Dundalk on synthetic. This was a prep, not the Guineas, and the colt looked professional but not spectacular in winning his race by three-quarters of a length.

That race was a sufficient step along the path, however, for Coolmore to take Mendelssohn to Dubai, rather than keep him in Ireland for a local prep for the classic in Kentucky.

That was a positive decision because this good-looking young athlete has not been the quickest learner. O’Brien said, “He’s a bit slow mentally to grasp what’s required.”

Last year at Santa Anita, Mendelssohn had taken his race well, but “when he got his head in front he wasn’t quite sure what to do.” Still, the colt had the natural ability to win his race. O’Brien said, “We felt he was still a bit green, but he was learning and getting better all the time.”

The race at Meydan represented a two-fold challenge for Mendelssohn. First, the UAE Derby was his debut on dirt, and second, it is raced at the longest distance of any of the Kentucky Derby preps at a bit more than 9 ½ furlongs. If the colt had any issues with either the surface or distance, this race should have found him out.

The result surely outshone anything the Coolmore crew could have hoped for.

Mendelssohn led soon after the break, after three furlongs was clear of his competitors, and from there on, the dark colt drew farther and farther away. By the time he broke the beam at the wire, Mendelssohn was more than 18 lengths clear of his nearest pursuer, the Tiz Wonderful filly Rayya, and won the race in local record time of 1:55.18.

It was the sort of lopsided victory that is at once hard to evaluate and yet hard not to be swayed toward enthusiasm.

“He came forward lovely from his run at Dundalk a few weeks ago,” O’Brien said. “We weren’t sure how he would handle the distance, but you have to say he saw it out pretty well.

“He is naturally quick and has a lot of tactical early speed. He did it the hard way, but he did it so easily. He is very well bred, he has a great physique, and you can see why he cost the lads a lot of money at the sales. We will look forward to going to Kentucky with him now. He is a terrific horse, really very exciting.”

So, the good-looking colt with all the promise will be coming back to his birthplace in Kentucky and representing his breeders, owners and fans in the Run for the Roses.

Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Mendelssohn is out of 2016 Broodmare of the Year Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek. He is a half-brother to both champion Beholder (Henny Hughes) and to the highly regarded sire Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), whose 3-year-old son Audible won the G1 Florida Derby on the same day as Mendelssohn’s success in Dubai.

Consigned by Clarkland to the 2016 Keeneland September sale, Mendelssohn sold for $3 million to the Coolmore partners.

Taken to Ballydoyle in Ireland for training and preparation, the colt broke his maiden in his second start but then finished off the board in the G2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster after “he knocked himself coming out of the stalls,” according to rider Ryan Moore. In his fourth start, Mendelssohn was second to divisional leader US Navy Flag in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, then came to Southern California and captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Moore assessed the UAE Derby result and the colt’s prospects: “He’s a horse with a lot of speed. He still feels like there’s more physical improvement in him. There’s more strengthening to come; he’s going to get better.”

Those might be the scariest words of all.

take charge indy beaming with pride from current base in korea

March 24 was a smashing day for the A.P. Indy tribe, and it was most exceptional for the A.P. Indy son Take Charge Indy, a winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby during his racing career who went to stud at WinStar Farm in Kentucky but who is now standing in Korea.

The Pulpit set of A.P. Indy, primarily through leading sire Tapit, shook the trees and gathered the fruit with their usual enthusiasm. Synchrony won the G2 Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, and Madison’s Luna won the G3 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park to remain unbeaten. Good Samaritan (out of a Pulpit mare) won the G2 New Orleans Handicap from the Tapizar horse Hollywood Handsome and the Tapit gelding Scuba.

Among the other sons of A.P. Indy, there were good results, including in the G2 Louisiana Derby, won by Take Charge Indy’s son Noble Indy, now a winner in three of his four starts. Second in the race was Lone Sailor, by the A.P. Indy stallion Majestic Warrior, and third was My Boy Jack (Creative Cause), out of a mare by the A.P. Indy stallion Mineshaft.


take charge indy01

Take Charge Indy: at WinStar Farm during his three-season tenure in Kentucky (photo courtesy WinStar; Louise Reinagel photo)


Take Charge Indy’s first crop of foals raced last year at 2, and the results were acceptable, not notable. But getting early juveniles is not the profile of the typical A.P. Indy stallion. Instead, they tend to sire stock that comes to hand at the end of their juvenile season, improves markedly through the first half of their 3-year-old form, and frequently continues to improve with maturation.

Noble Indy became the second graded stakes winner by his sire with victory in the Louisiana Derby; the other graded success came last month in the G3 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream. C.S. Incharge won the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay, and on Saturday, Split Time won the Maddie May Stakes at Aqueduct.

These are the four 2018 stakes winners by Take Charge Indy.

The tall, scopy son of A.P. Indy would be one of the “in-demand” sires in Kentucky this year, except that he is standing at Jeju Stud Farm in South Korea.

On Nov. 23, 2016, WinStar announced that the Korea Racing Authority had purchased Take Charge Indy with an “offer that was too good to turn down,” according to WinStar president Elliott Walden. After covering three books of mares at the farm, averaging 133 mares per book, taking the offer was not an easy call.

Reached in between sets of juveniles in-training at Fasig-Tipton‘s Florida sale, Walden said, “Financially, we had to take a look at the offer and make a judgment on the soundness of selling or not selling. Although the farm and the syndicate had supported the horse well, the commercial buyers were not as receptive. The horse’s yearlings tended to be big, kinda lanky horses that looked like they wanted two turns. With that type, the pinhookers weren’t strongly involved in buying them.”

In addition, Take Charge Indy was coming up to his fourth season at stud, and the fourth year of a young sire’s tenure at stud is always the most difficult because nobody wants to be stuck with foals from a sire that the marketplace has deemed “a failure.” When that happens to breeders, the options are to sell for less than the cost of production or to take the young animals home and race them. Neither is a happy business decision in most cases.

Bloodstock consultant John Stuart is a principal in Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, and among their clients is “Merriebelle Stable, who owned a quarter of the horse,” Stuart said. “I brokered the horse for owner Chuck Sandford with WinStar.

“We liked what we got from the horse,” Stuart continued. “But the commercial market got it wrong on the stallion, for whatever reason, and I think the reason is that they were leggy and immature horses [as yearlings], which is typical of the sire line. As a result of the market taking it the other way, we went along with the deal to sell the horse but only because we knew there was the option to get him back if he was a star.”

Walden concurred: “The only way the deal was going to go through was for there to be a buy-back clause. It’s something that’s out there; it’s something we’re thinking about. But we’re not at a point of making a decision about that.”


But the dark brown son of A.P. Indy has four stakes winners so far this year. He’s the leading sire among second-year stallions by 2018 earnings, and his half-brother, Travers winner Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) is one of the favored prospects for leading freshman sire in 2018. Their half-sister is champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway), and the trio are out of the exceptional racemare Take Charge Lady (Dehere).

With all these considerations, bringing a horse back after a sale abroad requires the marketplace to reverse its assessment of a sire’s stock, and that is accomplished first on the racetrack, then franked by a positive reception in the sales ring.

blame finding success at stud through no ‘fault’ of his own

With a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita on March 17, Fault became the second G1 winner from the third crop of racers by champion Blame (by Arch). Last year, 3-year-old Senga won the G1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly racecourse in France and pointed out the principal pedigree line absent from her sire, A.P. Indy / Seattle Slew.

Senga is out of a mare by Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, and two other graded stakes winners by Blame are out of a daughter and a granddaughter of the Belmont Stakes winner. Additionally, among Blame’s stakes winners, one is out of daughter of Flatter (A.P. Indy) and another is out of a granddaughter of Seattle Slew.

In contrast, Fault does not have A.P. Indy nor his famous sire in her pedigree but does reinforce some of the eminent lines that Blame already possesses. The son of Arch and the Seeking the Gold mare Liable already possesses inbreeding to Raise a Native, Northern Dancer, Nashua (2) and his sire Nasrullah (4 times), among others.

The only branches of Phalaris not in the immediate pedigree of Blame are those from A.P. Indy and Storm Cat (and the latter’s grandsire Northern Dancer is there twice).

So, Fault adds presences of only Northern Dancer, Raise a Native, and Nashua.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and sold for $120,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September, Fault is on the light side of inbreeding for Blame. And there appears to be a conscious effort to limit inbreeding in this match by taking a daughter of South African champion Horse Chestnut to the stallion.

A massively talented racehorse who won the South African Triple Crown and 10 of 11 starts, including two here in the States, Horse Chestnut brings in the Sadler’s Wells line of Northern Dancer but also introduces the robust strains of Washington D.C. International winner Wilwyn, Sham’s sire Pretense, Kentucky Derby winner Swaps, and 1955 English highweight 3-year-old colt Acropolis.

In addition to the outcross potential in Horse Chestnut, Charming N Lovable, the dam of Fault, was a stakes winner at Hollywood Park. The other unarguable quality of this pedigree is the outstanding racing ability of the sires of the dams in this family line. In addition to a Southern Hemisphere Triple Crown winner, there is second dam sire St. Jovite (Pleasant Colony), winner of the 1992 Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and his daughter St Lucinda was twice stakes-placed at Keeneland and produced three stakes winners.

Neither Horse Chestnut nor St. Jovite were nearly as good at stud as on the racetrack, but the same would not be said so strongly of third dam sire Majestic Prince (Raise a Native), winner of the 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, or fourth dam sire Nashua (Nasrullah), Horse of the Year and winner of the 1955 Preakness and Belmont.

This is in sum, a very classic pedigree. A very classy pedigree.

And it is not one that should create visions of sprint performance or unusually early maturity.

Those are traits that do not seem widely present among the offspring of Blame. A few of them can win sprinting, but Claiborne’s Bernie Sams said, “Trainers are learning how to get the best out of them. But they’ve had to change their attitudes about how to train and race them. Blame’s stock want some distance; they want to get some maturity in them. And if you are patient and give them what they want, they can be really good horses.”

Because of all these factors coming together, “the horse has been hot as fire the last few weeks,” Sams continued, but that is also partly about achieving a critical mass of the sire’s stock that are being trained the right way for them and pointed to the right races.

As a result, in addition to 4-year-old Fault, Blame has three 3-year-old stakes winners of 2018. Maraud won the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream. Then the fillies are represented by 2018 stakes winners Ms Bad Behavior and Blamed, plus Daisy, who won the G3 Tempted in November 2017 and was second in a stakes last month.

With the volume of success coming his way, Blame is getting more attention from breeders and is expected to get a book of 110 mares this season.

sons of medaglia d’oro take the spotlight with victories in classic preps

Coming up with the victors on March 10 in both the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita, Medaglia d’Oro (by El Prado) had his most impressive showing to date as a sire of classic colts. Already a star as a sire of champion fillies, Medaglia d’Oro has gotten colts who have been good, but either timing or talent or aptitude have not connected them to the Triple Crown in the resounding way that Enticed and Bolt d’Oro have announced themselves for the 2018 classics.

Bolt d’Oro started favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year at Del Mar, on a day when several strong favorites seemed to have a hard time getting hold of that track. The third-place finish cost the big bay the Eclipse Award as 2-year-old champion, and instead, the winner Good Magic also toted home the trophy at the Eclipse Awards ceremony.

After overcoming a minor setback, Bolt d’Oro had prepared with increasing intensity for the coming challenges on the road to the Triple Crown with improving works, and the colt staged a mighty tussle through the stretch with the highly talented McKinzie (Street Sense), who finished in front by a head but was disqualified for interference.

Both colts pulled away from the quick and capable Kanthaka (Jimmy Creed), who was 6 ½ lengths behind in third, and only a head separated Bolt d’Oro and his nemesis. They are expected to return for the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, and that should provide both another thrilling race, as well as a serious update on their progress toward the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar from the A.P. Indy mare Globe Trot, Bolt d’Oro is bred on a similar pattern to Enticed and the Medaglia d’Oro filly Wonder Gadot. The Gotham winner is out of a daughter of A.P. Indy’s Horse of the Year son Mineshaft, and Wonder Gadot is out of a daughter of champion Vindication, a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew like Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.

On the same day as the Santa Anita Derby, Enticed is expected to return in the April 7 Wood Memorial, same day as the Santa Anita Derby, and thence to Kentucky. A G2 winner at 2 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Enticed is a proven graded winner at Churchill Downs, which is a consideration because some horses like the surface and others do not.

Enticed is also a rugged and robust individual who is expected to thrive on his racing. As a Darley homebred, Enticed races in the blue silks of Godolphin, and the good-looking dark bay is following in the path of Frosted (Tapit), who prepped for the classics here in the States with a victory in the Wood Memorial prior to a fourth in the Kentucky Derby and a second in the Belmont Stakes (behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah). Frosted then trained on to multiple G1 successes at 4 before retiring to stud at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Kentucky.

A similar destination would be desirable for Enticed, especially if he can participate in a classic exacta with another son of Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro. Acquired by Darley in a private transaction after his first crop rocketed to the top and made him leading freshman sire, Medaglia d’Oro has become a staple sire of quality horses who can go two turns and have versatility to race on turf or dirt.

The stallion’s first crop was led by champion and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, who was elected Horse of the Year. Subsequently, he has had multiple champion Songbird, and the presence of those headline fillies has caused their sire to be misunderstood as a stallion with a bias toward fillies of quality.

Doubtless he does sire excellent fillies, but like Darley stallion Street Cry, who sired champions Zenyatta and current Australian star Winx, Medaglia d’Oro does sire more than star fillies. The problem for him is that the fillies have burned so much more brightly than any colts to date.

Bolt d’Oro is at work to rectify that perception.

Street Sense did his part to make breeders aware that Street Cry was not a filly sire by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, becoming champion 2-year-old colt, then winning the Kentucky Derby the following year.

At stud, Street Sense has been a remarkably steady sire of stock that show form at 2, then improve at 3. McKinzie has been a model of that trend, and he is a serious competitor for the Kentucky Derby, despite the result at Santa Anita.

Both he and Bolt d’Oro showed classic form, and it is really a question of improvement and further development in the coming weeks that will tell us which should be the master of the classics in 2018.

frizette proved herself an historic find among selling racers a century ago

One of the lines of commonality between Grade 2 Fountain of Youth winner Promises Fulfilled (by Shackleford) and Davona Dale winner Fly So High (Malibu Moon) is a famous old mare who became a landmark producer, so important that the G1 Frizette Stakes for 2-year-old fillies is named in her honor.

Bred in Kentucky by James R. Keene at Castleton Stud, Frizette was a foal of 1905 by the important stallion Hamburg (Hanover) out of the St. Simon mare Ondulee. Keene had purchased Ondulee the previous fall out of the dispersal of the bloodstock of W.C. Whitney, who had died and whose estate was being liquidated. 

The high price of the sale was Hamburg at $70,000, selling to Harry Payne Whitney, but Ondulee was strongly sought after and brought $14,000 from Keene.

The resulting filly of the mating was a precocious, sound, and reasonably talented filly named Frizette. At 2, she won the Rosedale and Laureate Stakes. Frizette, however, was by no means the best filly in the Keene stable, and she was sent into the Troy Claiming Stakes, where she won and was claimed for $2,000 by J.A. Wernberg. 

Claiming races of the early 20th century were not like ours today. There wasn’t a fixed price, and a claim did not mean that ownership of the horse changed at the start of the race. Instead, after the race, the winner was presented to the other owners and trainers of horses in the race, and if any chose to, they could offer the sum for which the runner had been entered.

But even that did not mean the horse changed hands.

If anyone offered to buy the horse for the claiming price, the existing owner then could bid to retain the horse, and the price could run up far above the entered claiming price, sometimes even higher than the sum of the purse won and the claiming price together. This more personal and contentious manner of “claiming” horses led to numerous backstretch feuds and considerable ill will.

Not so with Keene. When one of his was entered for a tag, it was considered surplus to requirements.


And so Frizette proved. 

Although quite a useful filly who won a dozen races from 36 starts at 2 and 3, placing second in eight and third in seven, Frizette was largely competing in allowances and claiming stakes, which were the high end of the claiming scheme in America.

frizette 1908 selling race chart

On June 24, 1908, the Keene filly Suffragette won the Surf Stakes, worth $3,970 to the winner, and on the same card at Sheepshead Bay racecourse, Frizette won a selling race against a field of older colts and fillies that was worth $550.

At 3, Frizette raced 27 times, and after the Seabreeze Stakes at Gravesend racecourse in New York, “she was claimed by Herman B. Duryea, one of several horsemen troubled by the condition of New York racing at the time,” according to Liz Martiniak.

The reason for concern about racing was logical because anti-gambling crusaders were working to change laws that would eventually eliminate gambling and therefore most of the funding related to horse racing.

So Duryea took evasive action and moved to France, taking Frizette along with him near the end of 1908. At Duryea’s French stud, Haras du Gazon, he sent the mare to his high-class American-raced Irish Lad, and the result was Banshee, winner of the classic Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas).

In addition to Banshee, Frizette produced four more stakes winners, and her offspring and their sons and daughters enriched both European racing, as well as that in the States. Marcel Boussac, in particular, profited from acquiring members of the family that produced such standouts as his good racehorse and important sire Tourbillon. John Madden bought the mare’s 1916 daughter Frizeur, from whom descend Myrtlewood, Mr. Prospector, and Seattle Slew.

Another branch that returned to America is in the family of Aspidistra, dam of Horse of the Year Dr. Fager and champion Ta Wee, whose son Great Above is the sire of Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Another daughter is the female line connection to champion Dahlia.

As a result of these and their many pedigree ties, the mare that changed hands and continents so readily has made on the Thoroughbred a lasting mark that spans oceans and time.

top young horses, such as air force blue, hold the key to war front’s prospects as a sire of stallions

The next step in the evolution of a stallion’s reputation, from becoming a leading freshman sire to a leading sire, is to become a leading sire of stallions.

Each step in a stallion’s rise to prominence is challenging, the barriers to success increase in difficulty, and the outcome is not easily evaluated till years have passed. As a result, a stallion is often not truly appreciated until well into his stud career.

Examples such as Storm Cat and Tapit rise to mind of horses who started out with good support but no better than average interest from the movers and shakers of the commercial market.

So it is interesting to put a bit of thought into War Front and his sons who are still in the early innings of their time at stud.

Although not a top 2-year-old himself, War Front marked his stock from the beginning with the speed and versatility most remarkable in the Danzig line. I well remember the explosion of excitement that Danzig himself caused with his first crop of runners. They had been pleasantly received as yearlings, and yet as 2-year-olds, their speed and quality were the cause of amazement.

Nobody expected them to be that good.

The chubby bay stallion picked up winner after winner from that first crop, highlighted by champion Chief’s Crown and Grade 1 winner Stephan’s Odyssey. Both were homebreds, but their success shone a spotlight on the following yearling crops by their sire that made him one of the most commercially successful stallions in history.


Then, toward the end of Danzig’s stud career, after years of siring champions and classic winners, important stallions and broodmares, Danzig sired War Front, who was a useful racehorse and a near-clone replica of his famous sire.

So there he stands today at Claiborne Farm, like his sire before him, and there in the second generation of War Front’s pedigree is none other than Northern Dancer, and this is as close to the great little bay as American breeders can get today.

Given this, the results of the sons of War Front have more than passing interest to the breeders of America and Europe, as well as to our sport’s fans. So far, the results are quite limited but promising.

The first sons to stud in Kentucky were The Factor (winner of the Grade 1 Malibu and Pat O’Brien) in 2013 and then Data Link (G1 and two G2 victories) and Declaration of War (G1 Juddmonte International and Queen Anne Stakes) in 2014. The Factor got G1 winner Noted and Quoted (Chandelier) in his first crop, as well as 2017 Illinois Derby winner Multiplier. With their first crops now 3, Data Link has a stakes winner and pair of stakes-placed runners; Declaration of War has G3 winners Speed Franco and Actress and four other stakes horses.

Additional War Front sons Summer Front and Jack Milton entered stud in 2016 and have yearlings this year. And the two most prominent sons of War Front to enter stud in 2017 were European champion Air Force Blue and G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb.

Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, Air Force Blue is out of the Maria’s Mon mare Chatham from the family of champion Flanders and sold to Coolmore for $490,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Breeder Arthur Hancock said, “Air Force Blue was a 2-year-old champion, was very fast, was a grand-looking horse, and is out of what I think was one of Bill Young’s best families. None of us know for sure, but I’d look for him to have a big chance.”

Having bred and sold the horse, Hancock sent a mare to Air Force Blue as part of the horse’s first book and got a “really nice foal” that is one of the 25-30 so far on the ground from the first crop by Air Force Blue.

What breeders have seen so far is positive, and Hancock is planning to send more mares to the horse in 2018. He said, “I’m going to breed a couple more mares to him this year, based on what I’ve seen so far. As the man said, ‘You pays your money and takes your chances.’”

Hancock acquired the dam of Air Force Blue out of the Overbrook dispersal because “Bill Young and I were friends,” he said, “and I knew how good they thought Flanders was, and this was a good-looking mare with speed. That was all the planning that went into the purchase, and I was very fortunate to get her.”

Chatham has proven herself a very good mare for Stone Farm, and she has a yearling full sister to the G1 Dewhurst winner “who’s as good-looking as any horse on Stone Farm,” Hancock said.

Dermot Ryan of Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, where Air Force Blue stands, said this of the young stallion: “Air Force Blue showed a huge amount of ability on the racetrack, he wasn’t just a standout in his own year but he’s right up there with the best 2-year-olds that have raced in Europe in recent years. Outside of Frankel he still has the highest Timeform rating as a 2-year-old in the last 20 years so he had serious talent and as far as his first foals go, the early reports couldn’t be any better. We’ve already got about 10 of our own on the ground by him and I don’t think we’ve ever had such a consistently good group of foals this early in the season. They are all exceptional lookers with loads of quality, correct legs and even at a young age you can see they are good movers just like he is.”

With more of the first-crop foals by Air Force Blue arriving weekly, breeders will be making their mating plans in accord with the quality they see in those foals.

Likewise, the good juvenile racehorse Hit It a Bomb is getting his first foals on the ground this year, and breeders feel positive about them also.

Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm, which stands Hit It a Bomb, said “We’ve been very eager to get a son of War Front because we believe he has a great chance to be a sire of sires. And we wouldn’t hesitate to add another one, if it was the right horse.”

In addition to winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland in 2015, Hit It a Bomb ran in the frame of a pair of group races in Ireland at 3 but didn’t recapture his better juvenile form. In the meantime, however, the horse’s full sister, Brave Anna, became a G1 winner in the Cheveley Park Stakes and was ranked the best juvenile filly in Europe.

So, in addition to the attention paid to sires of young stallions, Hit It a Bomb had other recommendations, and Toffey said, “This horse reminds me of Jimmy Creed: tremendous pedigree, good-looking horse, son of a really good stallion, and Grade 1 ability.”

The farms standing these young stallions are planning further support for them, and then only time will tell which of the War Front sons have the genetic and physiological traits that transmit consistently to the next generation.

Toffey said, “War Front’s having too great an influence around the world not to see some of them emerging successfully.”

Ashford’s Ryan added: “We are very high on War Front’s prospects as a sire of sires. We’ve been very encouraged by what Declaration of War has achieved so far with two graded stakes winners from his first crop already and the reports on War Command and Air Force Blue’s stock has been very positive. War Front is obviously an exceptional sire as he showed again last season with the likes of US Navy Flag and he is from such an influential sire line. You can really see the similarities between War Front and Danzig so it makes sense that War Front would pass that influence down the line through his sons. With the quality of colts War Front has in the pipeline we couldn’t be higher on the future of his sons at stud.”

monomoy girl could fulfill hopes for young sire tapizar with her performances through the spring

A young stallion with his future on the brink and an older, proven star of the stallion ranks sired the winners of the two important 3-year-old preps at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The once-beaten Monomoy Girl is a second-crop daughter of the Tapit stallion Tapizar, whose offspring so invigorated buyers at sales of yearlings and 2-year-olds in 2016 and 2017. The chestnut filly won the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths from a field of six competitors.

Now a winner in five of her six starts, Monomoy Girl is out of the Henny Hughes mare Drumette and was bred in Kentucky by FPF LLC and Highfield Ranch.

The co-breeders of the filly are Brendan and Olive Gallagher of Frankfort Park Farm (formerly Jim Plemmons’s Old Frankfort Stud) and Michael Hernon under the name of Highfield Ranch. Hernon, who is responsible for sales of seasons and shares for Gainesway Farm, which stands Tapizar and his illustrious sire Tapit, said that the effort by Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra was important because she “raced in a much different style, not trying to wire the field as she did in the Rags to Riches (at Churchill Downs last year). Instead, she rated behind and finished well. That should give her more versatility and perhaps allow her to go a bit farther.”

As a result of their athletic looks, “This mare’s foals are proving very popular with buyers,” Hernon noted. The breeders bought Drumette carrying Monomoy Girl and sold the filly at the 2016 Keeneland September sale for $100,000 to Liz Crow, agent. Since then, Gainesway consigned the full brother to Monomoy Girl to the Fasig-Tipton October sale last year, where he sold for $175,000, the highest price for a Tapizar yearling in 2017.

Hernon said that Drumette “is a good-sized, attractive mare who looks particularly good this morning. She gets an appealing, athletic type, and they are racing to their looks.”

Racing to their looks is the one thing needed for the young sire Tapizar, whose first foals raced in 2016, when 21 of his juveniles in training sold for an average price of $117,533, a massive advance on a $15,000 stud fee.

On the racetrack, Tapizar did not do badly with the initial crop that so many buyers loved. But he fell victim to what a good friend of a psychological bent described as “the disconfirmation of expectations.” People expected great things, and good to average were the results.

From the young stallion’s second-crop results, he ranked 11th nationally in 2017, and Tapizar currently ranks fifth among third-crop sires. If Monomoy Girl keeps ascending the ladder of class and success, she is going to have a strong influence on the fortunes of her sire.

Tapizar’s situation as a sire on the cusp of something important underscores the magnitude of what it takes to become a national leading sire.

Like Awesome Again.

Also at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Awesome Again’s son Bravazo upset all the apple carts in the G2 Risen Star Stakes with a nose victory over the 41-to-1 shot Snapper Sinclair (City Zip). Allowed to race at odds of 21-to-1, Bravazo had finished second to Free Drop Billy in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity last season and was winning for the second time in two starts at 3.

Bravazo is the latest significant son of the outstanding racehorse and sire Awesome Again (Deputy Minister), winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1998 and the sire of 64 stakes winners and the earners of nearly $87 million. A tidily made stallion produced by the Blushing Groom mare Primal Force, Awesome Again is also a half-brother to the good sire Macho Uno (Holy Bull), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and champion of his division at 2.

At stud at Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs, Awesome Again is best known for siring horses who need at least a mile, if not further, to show their top form. His best is doubtless Horse of the Year and leading sire Ghostzapper, but the dapper bay stallion also is responsible for champion Ginger Punch (BC Distaff and five other G1s) and million-dollar winners Game on Dude (Pacific Classic, Santa Anita Handicap three times, Hollywood Gold Cup twice), Awesome Gem (Hollywood Gold Cup), Wilko (BC Juvenile), and Round Pond (BC Distaff), among others.

Among the others are Preakness winner Oxbow and Haskell winner Paynter. Of even more interest in relation to the Risen Star winner, each is out of a mare by the California-based stallion Cee’s Tizzy (Relaunch), who is best known as the sire of Horse of the Year Tiznow. And the dams of Oxbow and Paynter are full sisters to Tiznow.

Bravazo offers further reason for deep consideration of Cee’s Tizzy because the colt is out of yet another broodmare by that Relaunch stallion.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm and racing for the breeder, Bravazo offers yet another classic prospect for the grand tradition of Calumet Farm and Awesome Again.

kanthaka has the speed and quality to propel his sire jimmy creed into a serious role as a young stallion

One of the surprise successes of the 2017 sales season for 2-year-olds in training was the depth of quality and athletic ability found among the first-crop juveniles by the Distorted Humor stallion Jimmy Creed.

In 2017, Jimmy Creed was an inexpensive stallion standing at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. He had been a nice racehorse, had a good pedigree, and really looked the part of an athlete when he went to the sales as a yearling and again when he showed up in the winner’s circle.

Every year, however, nice-looking horses go to stud and get little more than animals who fill races.

So, the response to the first juveniles by Jimmy Creed merited attention.

Of the sire’s 26 2-year-olds who went through the ring for in-training auctions last year, 21 sold for an average of $87,570 and a median of $60,000, from an entering stud fee of $12,500.

A third of those brought $100,000 or more, including Kanthaka, who sold for $140,000 at the 2017 Barretts March sale of select 2-year-olds in training to West Point Thoroughbreds. On Feb. 10, Kanthaka won his second race in three starts when the handsome chestnut came home first in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.

At the Barretts sale, Kanthaka pointed himself out as a good prospect with a stride length of nearly 25 feet and such excellent stride component factors that he earned a BreezeFig of 65 and was among the select group of work horses who earned a Group 1 ranking from DataTrack International.

Kanthaka is now the third graded stakes winner for his sire, who last year was represented by G2 Sorrento Stakes winner Spectator and by Star Galicia, a G3 winner in Panama.

Graded stakes speed was the key quality of Jimmy Creed during his own racing career.

A winner of the G1 Malibu Stakes at 3 and the G2 Potrero Grande at 4, Jimmy Creed was also third in the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship at 3 and the G1 Bing Crosby at 4.

The handsome chestnut had been a $900,000 September sale yearling in 2010 for the racing stable of Wayne Hughes, and when the colt went to stud at Spendthrift Farm, Jimmy Creed proved popular with breeders.

Part of the way Spendthrift operates its stallion business is to sell breeding rights in the “Share the Upside” program, and season and shares representative Mark Toothaker said the breeding rights sold in Jimmy Creed numbered “somewhere in the high 30s.”

When a young stallion prospers, the breeding rights become a commodity of their own, and Toothaker noted there is a “resale market for them, with the most recent trading at around $60,000 each.”

With that level of interest and the stallion standing at $15,000 live foal, he is going to receive a markedly stronger book of mares than in earlier years. And the horse will receive more mares, as well. Jimmy Creed covered 67 mares in 2017 and will breed a book of around 130 this year.

In addition to having his sire stand at Spendthrift, the San Vicente winner has further ties to the history of the farm.

Kanthaka goes back in the female line to the excellent producer Mellow Marsh (by Seaneen), who was bred by Harbor View Farm, which bred and raced many notable horses, including Triple Crown winner Affirmed (Exclusive Native), and was a decades-long Spendthrift client, standing Raise a Native and Exclusive Native there as well.

At Spendthrift, Mellow Marsh foaled five stakes winners from 14 foals, nine of whom were fillies.

Spendthrift Farm owner Leslie Combs acquired Mellow Marsh and bred the stakes-winning fillies Yale Coed (Majestic Prince), Active Voice (Pretense), Brorita (Caro), and Manicure Kit (J.O. Tobin), plus the colt stakes winner L’Natural (Raise a Native), from Mellow Marsh.

Even more amazing, seven of Mellow Marsh’s nine daughters produced stakes horses, including Yale Coed, the dam of four-time G1 winner Interco (Intrepid Hero), and Alyne Que (Raise a Native), who foaled G3 winners Descent (Avatar) and Muscovite (Nijinsky).

One of the two who didn’t produced a stakes horse was Alyne Que’s full sister Raise an Heiress, who was bred by Spendthrift, won twice from seven starts, and is Kanthaka’s third dam. The mare ended up consigned by Wayne Lukas and L.R. French to the second Night of the Stars sale at Fasig-Tipton in 1988, and the young mare, in foal to leading sire Caro, sold for $650,000 to Frances A. Genter Stable.

So, a family which made a mark at Spendthrift decades ago, now has success anew with Spendthrift’s new guard of sires, including Jimmy Creed.

[Note: Some readers wondered how many mares Jimmy Creed had covered during his early seasons at stud. Although the data didn’t fit comfortably in the story above, from his first crop, foals of 2015, Jimmy Creed covered 141 mares, with 102 reported in foal, and 91 live foals, per the Jockey Club. For his second crop, the horse covered 147, with 90 reported in foal, and 81 live foals of 2016. With his third book of mares, Jimmy Creed covered 72 mares, with 43 reported in foal, and 37 live foals last year that are now yearlings. The fourth-crop coverings are mentioned above, and those will be arriving this spring.

Typically, third- and fourth-year books decline precipitously because only breeders strongly committed to the horse or planning to race the offspring themselves want to risk having yearlings and 2-year-olds by horses that the marketplace will already have judged successful or not.]