By the “ice”-hot sire Curlin, Keen Ice struck the pinnacle of his career with a victory in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Following a third in the Belmont Stakes to American Pharoah and Frosted and then a second in the Haskell, Keen Ice was one who had stood poised to do better when conditions suited.

The 2015 Travers winner was bred in Kentucky by Glencrest Farm, which has a lengthy history of breeding quality racehorses. One of the historic farms of the Bluegrass, Glencrest sold Keen Ice as a weanling, then the colt resold as a yearling.

Farm founder John W. Greathouse bred Venetian Way, winner of the 1960 Kentucky Derby, and Glencrest has bred such other stars as Lady Pitt (1966 Coaching Club American Oaks and champion 3-year-old filly), Wavering Monarch (1982 Haskell), Roamin Rachel (1994 Ballerina), Pike Place Dancer (1996 Kentucky Oaks), and Adieu (2005 Frizette).

The elder Greathouse died in 1995, and his sons John, David, Allen, and Edward have continued the operation. David Greathouse, a founding partner in Four Stars Sales, died in October 2013, just 11 months after Four Stars had consigned the future Travers winner and his dam to the 2012 Keeneland November sale.

Allen Greathouse recalled that “we sold the colt to help sell the mare,” Medomak, that Glencrest had acquired at the November sale in 2010. A daughter of leading sire Awesome Again, Medomak “was a nice-looking mare and well worth the money we paid for her,” Greathouse said. Glencrest had paid $17,000 for Medomak as a broodmare prospect out of the Middlebrook Farm consignment. The then-3-year-old filly was a half-sister to graded stakes winner Coal Play (by Mineshaft), who also ran second in the G1 Haskell. This is the great Middlebrook family of Too Chic (Blushing Groom) and her daughters Chic Shirine and Queena, both by Mr. Prospector.

Brought to the November sale two years later, when economic conditions had improved, Medomak brought $80,000 in foal to Horse of the Year Mineshaft, and her weanling colt by Horse of the Year Curlin sold for $48,000, the fourth-highest price for a weanling from the sire’s third crop.

Chad Schumer bought Medomak for his “Saudi clients,” who sent the mare overseas, and she died in Saudi Arabia. Noting the great misfortune of the mare’s death, Schumer said that she “was 16.1, very stout and correct, with a lot of [broodmare sire] Kris S. about her.”

The mare passed on a great deal of that substance and scope to her only foal, Keen Ice, who was purchased as a weanling by Chesapeake Farm. Brought back to the sales the following season, with Three Chimneys as consignor when the colt was a yearling, Keen Ice went through the September sale and brought $120,000 from Donegal Racing.

As a yearling, the bay had progressed well and showed good length, good shoulders and hindquarters. He was typical of the better-looking stock by Curlin, which tend to have a good deal of size and substance, although they are not especially precocious in type or general appearance.

Bloodstock agent Conor Foley had selected the colt for Donegal at the September sale and recalled Keen Ice as having a “great frame, lots of bone, but immature. He was clearly going to be a later-maturing colt, and we’ve been really blessed to see that he has taken every step without a problem, has strengthened greatly this season, and has really progressed under the training and management program for Donegal Racing.”

Keen Ice has clearly come a long way, and Foley believes that the colt “will continue to improve, which is scary.” Other good performers by Curlin, such as Belmont Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind, and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Curlina likewise have progressed well.

The prospect of further good things to come makes the loss of the colt’s dam even more unfortunate. Allen Greathouse said, “Years ago, people bought mares and held onto them till they died. Now the market tells you to be flexible. Here’s a case where it comes back to bite you. The reason for buying her in the first place was that she was a nice mare, an attractive mare, and she had a very decent first foal.”

That first foal is looking very decent indeed, and he is a further tribute to the depth of family that farms like Glencrest and Middlebrook seek out and try to develop.

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