The Coolmore program earned an extraordinary dividend on Saturday when American Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile) became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Even before the historic accomplishment, however, American Pharoah was assured an elite place at stud because Coolmore had already purchased stallion rights to the colt.
Winning the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown moves up the colt’s fee when he goes to stud in Kentucky at Ashford Stud next year, and it also moves up the purchase price. As reported in the New York Times, the purchase price for the colt was $9.8 million, and it increased by $4 million because American Pharoah won the Triple Crown.
With the acclaim accorded a Triple Crown winner, plus the extra stud fees and greater mare quality, the higher price for a Triple Crown will be worth every penny to the Coolmore operation.
American Pharoah is not the only colt whose stud career took a sharp step up as a result of racing results from Saturday, either.
One of the best-bred colts in training, Honor Code (A.P. Indy), won the G1 Metropolitan Handicap in smashing style and a fast time. As races that “make” stallions go, few have a higher reputation than the Met Mile, which has been won by some of the greatest sires in the breed, including Native Dancer, Buckpasser, In Reality, and Fappiano.
Bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm and racing for Dell Ridge and Lane’s End Racing, Honor Code is special for a lot of reasons. Not least of these is that the victory in the Metropolitan goes a long way toward fulfilling the hopes held for Honor Code since his juvenile campaign two years ago.
In his maiden victory at Saratoga, Honor Code came from more than 20 lengths behind to win, then finished a sharp second in the G1 Champagne and won the G2 Remsen over the highly regarded Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile).
An injury sent Honor Code to the sidelines for much of his 3-year-old season, and neither he nor Cairo Prince made the Kentucky Derby won by California Chrome last year.
Since returning to the races this season, however, Honor Code won the G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March, but then floundered in the Alysheba at Churchill Downs on Derby weekend, finishing 5th in the worst finish of his eight-race career. Well-bred and well-regarded, Honor Code needed to step up in an unequivocal fashion to be widely regarded as a serious stallion prospect for 2016.
The Met Mile made that seem a mortal lock.
Trailing a blazing pace set by last season’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and G1 winner Private Zone, Honor Code punched his ticket to stud with a sharp finish to win the Metropolitan by three and three-quarter lengths over 2014 Belmont Stakes victor Tonalist (Tapit), another who will be of interest to breeders worldwide for his pedigree and racing record.
After three-quarters in 1:08.74, Honor Code kicked home to win in a time of 1:33.18, with a final quarter of 24.44 to hold favored Tonalist at bay.
The striking dark brown is expected to target major events such as the Whitney, Woodward, and Breeders’ Cup Classic through the rest of the year in preparation for entering stud at Lane’s End next year. With five victories and two seconds from eight starts and earnings of $1.3 million.
And with his pedigree, Honor Code will rightly have a great deal of interest from breeders. He is one of the two last important sons of the great sire A.P. Indy still racing. The other is last year’s Belmont Stakes second Commissioner, and sons of A.P. Indy are among the most coveted stallion prospects available. The sire of important sires like Pulpit and Malibu Moon, A.P. Indy is known as a source of speed that carries a distance, as well as uncommon quality.
Furthermore, Honor Code is out of a storied female family.
His dam is the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Serena’s Cat, also the dam of G2 stakes winner Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song), and the mare’s weanling filly by Tapit sold for $3 million at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. Purchased for $1.4 million by Dell Ridge as a weanling herself, Serena’s Cat is a half-sister to G3 winner Vocalized (Vindication) and won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes.
Serena’s Cat is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Serena’s Tune, a winner three times in listed stakes. This makes Serena’s Tune one of five stakes winners out of champion Serena’s Song (Rahy).
A winner of $3.2 million and a winner of 11 G1 races, Serena’s Song was a landmark mare, both on the racetrack and at stud. Her best produce include G1 winner Sophisticat and G2 winner Grand Reward, both by leading sire Storm Cat, who clearly fit well with this family.
With this level of quality and depth in his pedigree, Honor Code might even rival American Pharoah for the attention of breeders if his racing success continues like his results in the Metropolitan.