The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Racing and breeding are fields of endeavor that continually bring us up short, reminding us of the sharp-toothed realities of our beautiful sport. The reminders, however, aren’t always as grim as statistics or the deadly numerology of profit and loss reports.
More often with racing, reality sets in when the athletic filly that a breeder retires to the paddocks proves incapable of producing a single decent winner. The simplistic dream crusher of sporting hopes is that only one horse in each race wins, making the odds of visiting the winner’s circle in an eight-horse field at least 12 to 1, and probably longer for the majority of horses.
There always seem to be racers for whom things come a bit easier. They have better strides, more heart, better-balanced minds, and they win races. Consistently.
Likewise there are mares and stallions who produce better-class performers time after time. And the winner of Arlington’s Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes is a reminder that those producers can come from anywhere, including state-bred programs that generally attract little attention or respect.
The winner of Saturday’s race at Arlington was the Illinois-bred Leading Astray, a 3-year-old filly by the solid Danzig stallion Belong to Me and the Prized mare Taxable Deduction.
The chestnut filly is now the winner of five races from six starts for owner-breeder Team Block, and she defeated fillies bred in England, Kentucky, Ireland, and other jurisdictions more renowned for producing racehorses than Illinois, whose stock are sometimes unkindly referred to as “Ill-breds.”
Call Leading Astray what you will, she is one fine filly.
And her dam is a hell of a mare.
Leading Astray is the fourth stakes winner and the fourth graded stakes horse from Taxable Deduction’s nine foals of racing age.
Taxable Deduction’s first stakes winner was the dark bay gelding Corrupt (by Belong to Me), a full brother to Leading Astray who won a pair of stakes and was twice third at the G3 level. The next two stakes winners were multiple G3 stakes winner Free Fighter (Out of Place), winner of the Stars and Stripes Handicap and the Louisville Handicap, and multiple stakes winner Suntracer (Kitten’s Joy), who also ran second in last season’s G2 American Derby and G3 Hawthorne Derby.
The first gentle indication that Taxable Deduction might be a good broodmare was her own race record, which consisted of four victories from 18 starts, including a pair of minor stakes victories and five stakes-placings. That was decent form, but there was no indication that she would produce such a consistently useful level of racehorse as she has proven with foal after foal.
Of the mare’s five non-stakes-winning foals of racing age, three have earned six figures, including Stumbling Block (Out of Place), who won 20 races from 75 starts and earned $375,454.
Perhaps an even better indication of her potential as a broodmare can be seen in her sales price of $210,000 at the 1999 Keeneland November sale, carrying her first foal on a cover to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. That price was more than twice what Taxable Deduction had earned on the racecourse. It implies, however, that she was both an uncommonly attractive and appealing type of young broodmare. Just the kind the commercial market wants.
For Team Block, however, Taxable Deduction has not followed the contemporary trend of becoming a commercial producer. Until last year, none of her weanlings or yearlings had gone to auction. But in 2011, the mare’s Fort Prado weanling colt went through the Keeneland November sale and brought a price of $75,000.
In 2012, Taxable Deduction produced a filly by leading sire Giant’s Causeway, the most commercial sire that the mare has been bred to. The racing record of that youngster will be watched with interest.