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The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.

One of the signal events of the past two years or so has been the continued advance of young sires taking prominence in breeding, from now-established stars like Street Cry, Medaglia d’Oro, and Tapit, to a growing crowd of promising new contenders like Congrats, War Front, Pomeroy, and Bernardini.

The latter, in particular, has attracted the admiration of breeders from the time of his retirement, and their faith in the champion son of A.P. Indy has been rewarded. The stallion’s first crop of juveniles included a European Group 1 winner, as well as AZ Warrior, winner of the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park.

The most intriguing quality about the initial Bernardini runners was that most were bred for two turns and figured to be better going a mile or more, yet showed plenty of speed and natural athleticism. Their earlier maturity and innate finesse have raised expectations for the stallion to the point that he was chosen as the first mate for Horse of the Year Zenyatta. That is high praise indeed.

And in one of the first major strikes likely to raise the stallion’s profile ever higher, Bernardini’s son Stay Thirsty won the Gotham Stakes from a pair of improving colts who look certain to stay 10 furlongs or farther. Stay Thirsty had 3 1/4 lengths on Norman Asbjornson (by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet) and another length on Toby’s Corner (by Wood Memorial winner Bellamy Road).

With a second in the G1 Hopeful last year, Stay Thirsty had shown he had class, and the elegant bay colt won the Gotham in his seasonal debut. There was nothing in the Gotham with the pace of Soldat (by War Front), who left Bernardini’s son To Honor and Serve in third place in last weekend’s Fountain of Youth, but this race appears to be a sound barometer for upcoming tests of maturity and stamina in the classics.

In addition to Stay Thirsty, Bernardini had a litter of impressive maiden winners, such as the weekend winners Break Up the Game and Wilburn, as well as a G1 third with AZ Warrior in the Santa Anita Oaks.

The Oaks winner at Santa Anita was the Congrats filly Turbulent Descent. The dark bay held on in a determined effort to defeat the Tapit filly Zazu by a neck. The pair had a bit more than five lengths on AZ Warrior and appear to have the remaining 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita over a barrel.

Both Congrats and Bernardini are sons of the preeminent sire A.P. Indy, whose sons and grandsons are gaining increasing influence in the breed.

Another established male-line influence is the great sire Danzig, whose son War Front is represented by Soldat and The Factor.

Pomeroy, a son of the Danzig stallion Boundary standing at Vinery Florida, is another young sire from this line whose success has grown as his stock have matured.

This weekend, the stallion’s Positive Response won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway by seven lengths from the Tapit colt Taptowne. As a sprinter, Pomeroy is surprising some breeders by getting stock that tend to show more ability at a mile than at pure sprints.

That perhaps should not be such a surprise, since Pomeroy improved notably at 3 to win the G1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga for owner Michael Tabor. During the colt’s 4-year-old season, bloodstock advisers Bob Cromartie and Alan Briggs negotiated the purchase of Pomeroy for David Hutson, owner of Silverleaf Farms in Florida.

Cromartie noted that “following a consultation with Dr. Johnny Mac Smith, we removed a chip and rehabilitated Pomeroy for a return to the races” the following year. At 5, Pomeroy won the G1 Forego Handicap, defeating the Danzig horse War Front, who is now also Pomeroy’s competitor as a stallion whose first runners are 3.

In the meantime, Hutson had sold Silverleaf and sent his mares to Briggs and Cromartie’s Ardmore Stud and retired Pomeroy to stand at nearby Cloverleaf Farm. Cromartie recalled that “we chose to stand Pomeroy at Cloverleaf because of its proximity to Ardmore, our relationship with Brent Fernung standing other stallions we managed, and the anticipated synergy with other young stallions Wildcat Heir and Congrats,” also at Cloverleaf.

When Cloverleaf closed its operations, Vinery purchased equity in Pomeroy, and the stallion moved there.

For Vinery, Claiborne, and other farms with prominent young sires, this classic season is one of great expectations and increasing excitement, as Soldat, Stay Thirsty, Turbulent Descent, and others test their mettle.

 

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