The following article first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
The result of Saturday’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream confirmed two colts of classic caliber, although second-place finisher Violence (by Medaglia d’Oro) will not be continuing the trek toward Louisville and the Kentucky Derby due to a fracture to the medial sesamoid of his right foreleg.
The winner, Orb, placed himself among the leaders of the classic prospects with a determined late rally that prevailed by a half-length after a mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.24, and the top pair were 6 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Speak Logistics (High Cotton).
Bred in Kentucky by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable, Orb is a bay colt by the important A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty.
With speed, strength, and quality, the 16-year-old Malibu Moon sires stock that are popular at the sales, and they are popular with breeders who race their own with a goal of winning the premium races. The 16-year-old stallion currently has such prominent offspring as Kauai Katie (G2 Forward Gal), More Chocolate (G2 La Canada), Eden’s Moon (G1 Las Virgenes in 2012), and Prospective (G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G3 Ohio Derby in 2012).
The ability of his offspring has made Malibu Moon the current 2013 leader among all sires in North America, and after seasons of similar success, mares of proven excellence regularly fill his book for a fee that is $70,000 in 2013.
Four years ago, when Orb was conceived, Malibu Moon’s profile was nearly as high, and the Fountain of Youth winner’s dam was sent to him in the elusive quest for classic speed.
Orb’s dam, Lady Liberty, did not win black type on the racetrack, but there can be few mares who showed more ability without gaining some level of stakes success. From 23 starts, Lady Liberty won four times, was second four times, and third in four for earnings of $202,045. In stakes competition, she was twice fourth and twice fifth, including a fifth in the G1 Ogden Phipps Handicap of 2003 behind Sightseek.
Orb is the fourth foal of his dam, whose first foal is the Alphabet Soup gelding Cause of Freedom, who has won $105,834. The mare’s second foal is a nonwinner, the third is unraced, and Orb is a major step in the right direction.
Lady Liberty slipped in 2011 and 2012 but has already produced a half-brother to the Fountain of Youth winner by Claiborne stallion Flatter (A.P. Indy).
The family of Orb has a lengthy history at Claiborne Farm, just like the Janneys and Phippses. Orb and his dam Lady Liberty come from the famous family of champion Ruffian (Reviewer), whose dam Shenanigans (Native Dancer) is the fourth dam of Lady Liberty. Shenanigans also produced the important sire Icecapade (Nearctic) and the useful sire Buckfinder (Buckpasser), as well as the winner Laughter (Bold Ruler).
The latter is the third dam of Lady Liberty and was a cracking producer in her own right. The dam of five stakes winners, Laughter ranks as one of the best producing daughters of her great sire Bold Ruler. The best of her foals was Wood Memorial winner Private Terms, a good horse who started at the same odds for the Kentucky Derby as the victorious Winning Colors but finished ninth behind a field that included champion juvenile Forty Niner (second), 3-year-old champion colt Risen Star (third), and the major G1 winners Proper Reality (fourth), Brian’s Time (sixth), and Seeking the Gold (seventh). By the end of his career, Private Terms had won a dozen races and earned more than $1.2 million, then went on to become a good stallion.
Of Laughter’s five stakes winners, only one was a filly, and that was Steel Maiden (Damascus), who is the second dam of Lady Liberty. The family goes a little cold at this point, as Steel Maiden produced only one stakes winner, G2 winner Mesabi Maiden (Cox’s Ridge), the dam of Lady Liberty, and Mesabi Maiden has not produced any stakes horses.
One of the eccentricities of Thoroughbred families, however, is that they tend to get cold for a time, but if persevered with and bred to quality, they can come back. With a stretch finish that keeps on coming, Orb is the kind of colt who could light up a grand old family.