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The following post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

The result of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Saturday proved fine racing drama. Plum Pretty, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, threw down the gauntlet to her competition while rating in front, and It’s Tricky, winner of the Acorn Stakes over Turbulent Descent, battled with the leader through the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length.

The winner of the historic CCA Oaks, now transplanted to Saratoga from Belmont Park, races for Godolphin and was bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable. In fact, It’s Tricky is among the last crop of foals bred by Stonerside, which sold its entire breeding and racing operation – farm, training center, racehorses, and bloodstock – to Sheikh Mohammed in 2008.

This proved an unqualified boon to the racing fortunes of the Godolphin and Darley stables that are supplied from the vast international studs of Sheikh Mohammed.

Among the young stock on the track at the time of the sale was the Unbridled’s Song colt Midshipman, who later that year won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was voted the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old colt. The chestnut horse entered stud this year at Darley’s Jonabell stallion farm in Lexington.

And three years ago, when Midshipman was just getting traction as an important young athlete, It’s Tricky was a weanling in the spacious pastures at the Stonerside Farm property in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Years earlier, Bob and Janice McNair had acquired Stonerside and begun their racing and breeding operation quietly, working with established and reputable horsemen.

As a result of time, money, and continuous application, the McNairs’ racing fortunes prospered. Much of their farm land had been purchased from the operation of Arthur Hancock III, and some of Stonerside’s most select mares were owned in partnership with Hancock, including Angel Fever, the dam of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

Such was their reputation that when the time came that the McNairs chose to turn their attention to other sporting endeavors, they were able to sell their entire operation in one parcel.

While It’s Tricky may be one of the last major stars bred by Stonerside to stand in the winner’s circle, the farm’s bloodstock will continue to prove of value to the breed and to Darley for years to come. Catboat, the dam of the once-beaten It’s Tricky, is a graded stakes-winning daughter of Tale of the Cat. She won six races during her three seasons of racing, and the best of the lot was the G3 Arlington Oaks.

She was a nice mare, but in the larger scheme of the Stonerside package, Catboat was only one of many nice mares. She stands out a bit more now.

It’s Tricky is Catboat’s second foal and her first foal to race. The mare produced a year-older colt by Congaree that has not been named. Since It’s Tricky, Catboat has a 2-year-old filly by Successful Appeal named Jellicle, was empty in 2010, and has a filly of 2011 by Medaglia d’Oro, who is the sire of Plum Pretty, second in the CCA Oaks.

In addition to highlighting the class and ability of It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty, the CCA Oaks also proved a showcase for the massive and widening influence of A.P. Indy in American racing.

Plum Pretty and third-place Royal Delta (by Empire Maker) are both out of A.P. Indy mares, and It’s Tricky is by A.P. Indy’s son Mineshaft, Horse of the Year on the racetrack and one of A.P. Indy’s more successful sons at stud.

To date, A.P. Indy’s most celebrated stallion son has been Pulpit, and his son Tapit was represented by the high-class Joyful Victory in the Oaks and by G1 winner Zazu, who won the Hollywood Oaks, was second in the Santa Anita Oaks, and ran third in the Kentucky Oaks, in other racing for 3-year-old fillies this year.

Although pensioned from breeding earlier this year, AP Indy has a lot of acorns who have become mighty competitors in the Oaks across the country.