Very few stallions sire a classic winner, and those who sire two are special animals. With the success of Super Saver in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, Maria’s Mon joined that exclusive club of such horses as Bull Lea, Exclusive Native, Seattle Slew, and Mr. Prospector, who have sired two or more winners in the classics.
I recall the first time I saw the gray son of Wavering Monarch in the flesh. It was at a stallion show for the horse after he had retired and shipped to Kentucky in the fall of 1996.
Clifford Barry, farm manager at Pin Oak, recalled how the farm came to stand the horse. “It all started,” he said, “on our visit to Florida in 1995. Suzie and Pug Hart broke him as a yearling, and we were down there to look at some Caller ID yearlings that were being broken.
“He was a really nice horse, and we remembered the colt when he started doing well on the track. And after Maria’s Mon won the Champagne, Mrs. Abercrombie approached Dr. Hart about buying a piece of the horse with a view to standing him at Pin Oak down the road,” Barry said.
And that’s how the deal came about that eventually brought Maria’s Mon to Pin Oak. There was also great potential left unrealized on the racetrack.
Barry said, “Everything he was doing at 2 was just on natural ability. Everything about him said that he was a horse who was going to progress and be 3-year-old. But the 3-year-old season never really happened due to an injury, and then we were always going to stand him.”
In the fall of his 3-year-old season, the owners shipped the stallion prospect to Pin Oak, where I was among the crowd of breeders, owners, reporters, and advisers who came to inspect and evaluate the previous year’s champion 2-year-old colt.
The two things that most forcefully struck me at the time were his relaxed but independent attitude and the great physical quality that he possessed. The big gray was an elegant animal: well-balanced, strong across the hips, with a good length of leg, and a bold eye.
The breeders assembled at Pin Oak liked what they saw, and Maria’s Mon was on his way. Barry said that Pin Oak owner Josephine Abercrombie “always has wanted to set the stud fee right and attract the kind of mares who help the horse, because that was the goal, not the money, at the end of the day. For a horse starting at $7,500, he managed to accomplish a lot.”
Among those accomplishments was Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos in the stallion’s first crop, which quickly pushed him into elite territory as a stallion.
Barry said, “Maria’s Mon was held in partnership with Pin Oak and the Rosenthals, and a few years into his stud career, Stonerside bought a small piece of him and became big supporters of the stallion too. Then Overbrook bought a piece, although Pin Oak remained the majority owner. It was always the intent to have those high-powered mares from Stonerside and Overbrook committed to him. The quality of the mares he was getting at the time he died was incredible, as well as the quality of the breeders. They were the breeders you hope to get to your horse.”
So, when Maria’s Mon died on September 14, 2007, he left a lot of unrealized hopes at Pin Oak. Super Saver is from the stallion’s next-to-last crop that was weaned not long before his death.
“Regardless of getting two classic winners,” Barry said, “he was a special horse to be around on a daily basis. You try not to get too attached to them, but he was one of those who gets to you. He was a very quiet, professional, personable horse. He loved the attention and he really was smart. You could have taught him to do tricks. And he was never hard to handle or rough. A real gentleman. We were blessed to have had him.”