The following post first appeared at Paulick Report last week.
It was another huge weekend beginning Sept. 22 for the deceased stallion Unbridled’s Song as his son Will Take Charge won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and his granddaughter Close Hatches (by the Unbridled’s Song stallion First Defence) won the Cotillion, which was the only G1 stakes on the day.
That pair of successes for Unbridled’s Song at Parx racetrack in Philadelphia will surely bring a few songbirds to sing the majesties of the stallion’s “line.” The continuity of bloodlines, however, and especially the succession of male lines, is a tricky and humbling business.
Unbridled’s Song provides a case in point.
After the big gray had begun his innings at stud with honor and success, getting G1 winner Songandaprayer in his first crop, among others, Unbridled’s Song became an increasingly popular and important sire in the commercial market and at the racetrack.
When Songandaprayer became a leading freshman sire, Unbridled’s Song began to be called a “sire of sires.” So are a lot of horses.
As a result of that early success, there was a point, and it wasn’t all that long ago, when nearly every stallion farm thought it had to have a son of Unbridled’s Song on its roster. Generally, they were big, impressive, showed speed, and got sizable offspring that sold well.
But then came the racing results.
The toxicity of some of the early sons of Unbridled’s Song nearly ruined the sire. Need I say more than “Buddha” or “Eurosilver,” to mention two offenders of the common weal?
Despite those early negative examples, breeders and buyers couldn’t help themselves when they saw the trademark size, scope, and mass of an Unbridled’s Song yearling or 2-year-old at auction. They have continued to buy them and pay serious money for them.
Often enough, the buyers’ faith has been rewarded.
The stallion has 102 stakes winners to date, and even more importantly for the continuation of his male line, some of his sons have shown the ability to sire quality also. Of those in Kentucky, clearly Even the Score has been the consistent benefactor for breeders. Never the most fashionable of the sons of Unbridled’s Song, Even the Score does have the best average earnings index for a son of the stallion.
He has sired G1 winners and gets competitive racers with some soundness to them.
In addition, the sadly deceased Rockport Harbor continues to trot along the path to success with his sons and daughters. They are racing and getting some respect from trainers and owners.
But the real hopes for Unbridled’s Song, at least in the male line, are some of the young and relatively unproven horses at stud.
High among those is First Defence, who has a multiple G1 winner in Close Hatches from his first crop to race. First Defence stands at Juddmonte Farm in Lexington, where he was supported with good mares and received large books of them.
In addition, the freshmen sires Old Fashioned (standing at Taylor Made), Dunkirk (at Ashford), and Zensational (at Hill ‘n’ Dale) are ticking off winners from their first racers. Old Fashioned already has his first stakes winner, the Barretts Juvenile winner Hi Fashioned on Sept. 15, Dunkirk has stakes winner Dunkin Bend (Sapling Stakes on Sept. 1), and freshman sire Noonmark, standing in New York at Sequel Thoroughbreds, has the stakes-placed Noon Time Shower.
Among his current racing stock, Unbridled’s Song has such prominent sons as the Travers-Pennsylvania Derby winner, Donn Handicap winner Graydar, and Whitney winner Cross Traffic.
So the earlier flaming fashion for Unbridled’s Song may heat up once more.
One of the most honest and responsible bloodstock writers of my acquaintance has noted that it is impossible to evaluate the contribution of a sire to the breed till the horse had been dead 25 years, and what we may be writing about Unbridled’s Song in 2035 or so will be fascinating to read.