aruna, bc sprint, crusade, desert stormer, gone west, jamaica stakes, middle park stakes, Mr. Greeley, Rob Whiteley, sire lines, sire success, sires of multiple g1 winners, spinster stakes, stallion evaluation, suzie picou-oldham, versatility among stallions, western aristocrat
The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
The late sire Mr. Greeley earned his ranking as one of the best sires in the world the old-fashioned way: he earned it.
Retired to stud for 1996 with good looks, a good pedigree, and speed as his primary credentials, the son of Gone West made his mark as a sire of international importance by getting sound and athletic individuals who were highly competitive in many different racing environments and on all surfaces.
That was nowhere more evident than in the results of racing over this weekend, as offspring of Mr. Greeley won a trio of G1s, on synthetic at Keeneland and on turf at Belmont in the Jamaica and at Newmarket in the Middle Park.
The juvenile Crusade won the Middle Park well enough while staying on over the rising ground at Newmarket to suggest he will get a mile. His year-older kinsman Western Aristocrat won the Jamaica, and the 3yo has followed a pattern of racing and development similar to Spinster Stakes winner Aruna. Both began their racing abroad, found success, then were repatriated for G1 victory. In the case of Western Aristocrat, he was a winner in his début last season in England, then group-placed before reaching the States.
The 4-year-old Aruna returned to her homeland last year and has finished first or second in every start since. The dark bay scored a G1 for the first time in the Spinster, but she was already a winner at G2 and G3 level, as well as second in the G1 Diana at Saratoga .
Stakes winners of this quality have populated the stallion career of Mr. Greeley, who went to stud as “only” a G3 winner, although he was also a head second to Desert Stormer in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in his final start.
Suzie Picou-Oldham, now with Darby Dan Farm but with Dixiana when Mr. Greeley retired to stud, recalled the stallion. She said, “When he first came off the track, he had a beautiful shoulder and a nice frame, but he was not the broad, heavy-bodied horse he came to be when he was a stallion. He had a very good disposition and was a very cooperative horse to work with.”
Mr. Greeley made stallion promotion seem easy with first the physical appearance and then racing success of his early stock. Picou-Oldham recalled that, “as a stallion, it was obvious he was going to stamp his foals because a lot of them came out looking more like Mr. Greeley the stallion than Mr. Greeley the young racehorse.
“They would have a lovely top line, a toned shoulder, and a big and muscular hip.
“We started him out at $10,000 in 1996. He was an easy sell because of his looks, his sire was being sought after, and he was a very handsome horse. He had a look and a presence that you want in a horse.”
One of the breeders who was attracted to Mr. Greeley as a young stallion with great promise was Rob Whiteley, owner of Liberation Farm.
Whiteley described Mr. Greeley as a “prototype of what I’ve always tried to produce: a well-balanced athletic miler with speed who had versatility on different surfaces and whose offspring can carry their speed beyond an optimal distance.
“I was lucky enough to be able to breed quite a few mares to him when he was still affordable for me, and I discovered that in addition to what he passed on to the offspring, he could help out the mares with a little extra leg and a little help with the knees.”
Although Whiteley summarized Mr. Greeley as a “great loss for commercial breeders,” the stallion had priced himself out of the market for most breeders before his death. The stallion’s fee reached $125,000, then the international financial markets collapsed in 2007, forcing stud fees down precipitously.
In contrast, the quality of mares bred to Mr. Greeley remained high, and the stallion’s impact on breeding is continuing through his sons and daughters. In addition to his sons El Corredor and Whywhywhy, the daughters of Mr. Greeley have been especially successful. Last weekend, Zazu (by Tapit) won the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita, and she is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Rhumb Line, whose first foal is the group stakes-placed Art Princess and whose third is multiple G1 winner Zazu.
So far, Mr. Greeley has sired 57 stakes winners to date from 1,424 foals, including his 2-year-olds, yearlings, and weanlings. There will be no further offspring from the powerful chestnut stallion, but as this weekend’s racing shows, there will be more glory.