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There were three sons of Giant’s Causeway who entered stud in 2011 at three different establishments. This trio is:

Eskendereya (2007 ch by Giant’s Causeway x Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew)  Taylor Made $30,000

Hold Me Back (2006 dk b by Giant’s Causeway x Restraint, by Unbridled’s Song) WinStar $6,000

Neko Bay (2003 dk br by Giant’s Causeway x Brulay, by Rubiano) Wintergreen Stallion Station $7,500

Of the three, Eskendereya was the most acclaimed on the racetrack, as he was co-favorite for the Kentucky Derby until declared out of the race. The strongly made chestnut did not race again but entered stud at Taylor Made Farm, where he stood for $30,000 live foal in 2011.

Eskendereya, like all these horses, shows a noteworthy influence from his broodmare sire. In Eskendereya’s case, that is Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, who proved himself both a very good sire and a very good broodmare sire. Seattle Slew tended to produce offspring with some natural speed, as well as the ability to carry it, and that quality was a notable facet of the talent that made Eskendereya a premium contender for the classics.

A scopy horse with good bone, Eskendereya has the look and race record of a horse who was supposed to race over middle distances, and he should prove an interesting sire if mated with stock that should complement that quality, as well as to insure that the necessary speed and ruggedness for competition are not lost.

Hold Me Back is a really big horse made along the lines of his broodmare sire Unbridled’s Song (and his sire Kentucky Derby and BC Classic winner Unbridled). Hold Me Back showed good racing ability to win at the G2 level, as well as classic potential with second-place finishes in the 2009 Travers and Blue Grass.

In racing style and physique, Hold Me Back has a great deal of Unbridled’s Song about him, and that is one of the peculiarities of Giant’s Causeway, who is a sire of undenied international importance. Yet Giant’s Causeway does not produce them like cookies cut all in one mold; there are a wide variety of types and styles among his progeny, although the better of them tend to have good racing speed, stamina, and the class to compete in graded or group company.

This does, however, leave breeders with something of a puzzle. What do you send to a son of Giant’s Causeway?

In these cases, I believe it is more about racing class and aptitude of the mares than about a particular line or pedigree nick. And with the differing physical types that Giant’s Causeway is siring, the sons should be mated as individuals for their own type first of all. Then, there are some common threads that seem to repay attention when breeding to Giant’s Causeway.

One of those is the importance of speed. The other is the importance of toughness.

By speed, I would distinguish between mares who are genuinely limited to six furlongs or shorter and are simply little bullets and those who have natural speed, whether displayed at short distances or longer. The latter type is much preferred for breeding to the Giant’s Causeway sons, in general. In specific, always consider the physical type of the stallion you’re sending the mare to.

The matter of toughness is much simpler.

The third horse in this group is Neko Bay, and the question of toughness is central to anyone’s perception of him as a stallion prospect. On the one hand, Neko Bay is a lovely animal: beautiful balance and scope, good muscle with medium bone, and the mental balance to suggest he should have been a truly top-class animal.

And he quite nearly proved it, with a victory in the G2 San Pasqual and four seconds in stakes, including the G1 Santa Anita Handicap to the immensely talented Misremembered (by Candy Ride).

A hard-nosed assessment of his race record suggests that the only thing he lacked was the toughness to keep on keeping on when he was in peak form. He didn’t break down, at least not by the usual standards. But each year, the horse came out; made 2, 3, or 4 starts; and accomplished a good deal in these brief forays.

What might he have done with just a touch more durability?

Neko Bay does, at least, have a good body to begin with as a sire prospect and does have the necessary athletic talent and does have the family to suggest there is much to build on. In short, whether you are trying to breed yearlings or racehorses, Neko Bay is what you want. He is a fine specimen.

I believe breeders will find the mares to fire the magic within.