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The Candy Stripes horse Equal Stripes had a landmark day at last Saturday’s Carreras de las Estrellas in Buenos Aires. It was so impressive that he is the subject of negotiations over Northern Hemisphere rights.

That may not happen, however, because the difficulties of moving a horse between hemispheres are not on one side, and the massive bay stallion has risen like a rocket on the stud charts for Haras Abolengo, which also stood the horse’s sire Candy Stripes and broodmare sire Equalize.

Narrowly pipped for leading freshman sire last season by the Southern Halo horse Sebi Halo, Equal Stripes has continued his fierce competition with that other homegrown star through this season’s racing. But the evidence of the Estrellas has tipped the balance in favor of the big bay son of Candy Stripes.

Best known in the States as the sire of champions Invasor and Leroidesanimaux, Candy Stripes was a very classy racehorse whose best effort was probably his second in the French classic Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

Leroidesanimaux has begun his stud career with promise from his first foals that are now 3. And Horse of the Year Invasor has his first yearlings coming to the sales.

Of the two, Leroidesanimaux is physically more similar to Equal Stripes, who is a very handsome and strongly made animal with bone in proportion to his hefty top. Invasor is more lightly made — like a natural distance horse — and showed his best form at 10 furlongs.

Equal Stripes and Leroidesanimaux, on the other hand, were top-class milers. Equal Stripes ran second in the Estrellas Juvenile in 2001 and twice won at G2 level the next year when the colt was undefeated. In all, Equal Stripes for four of his seven starts from 2 to 4, which indicates a great deal of talent but also some underlying issue that kept him from racing as much as a horse of his natural ability should have done.

Since there is no obvious conformational problem with Equal Stripes, one possibility is that he simply became too heavy and that his great muscle power kept jarring him just enough under racing conditions to keep him on the sidelines.

That is not ideal in a stallion, and when he went to stud, there was little fanfare for the handsome bay. But with his first runners, breeders began taking notice of him last year. He covered a good book of mares in the 2009 breeding season, and after the display at the Estrellas, he will get even better mares in 2010.

The stallion’s offspring swept five races on the card, including both of the G1 juvenile events. The stallion’s son Paulinho was immensely impressive, and the sign of a truly important stallion is taking goodish mares and moving them up with premium offspring. Equal Stripes is doing that and is adding a further rich dimension of the Blushing Groom male to Argentine breeding.

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