When Gunnevera caught Recruiting Ready (by Algorithms) in the final strides of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on Aug. 14, his sire Dialed In (Mineshaft) became the first stallion from the current set of freshmen sires to get a graded stakes winner.
Now these are early days for the freshman class of 2016, but Dialed In has five winners to date, including two stakes winners. Other freshmen sires with early returns: Hansen (Tapit) with 6 winners, including Iowa Cradle Stakes winner Han Sense; Stay Thirsty (Bernardini) with 6 winners and a stakes winner; Shackleford (Forestry), Maclean’s Music (Distorted Humor), and Algorithms (Bernardini) with 6 winners; plus Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway), Tapizar (Tapit), Astrology (A.P. Indy), and The Factor (War Front) with 5 winners each.
Each of these stallions required support from breeders in the form of good mares, and one of the elements behind the support for Dialed In was that Darby Dan Farm instituted a share the upside program with the horse when he went to stud. By paying the advertised stud fee of $7,500 for two live foals, breeders received a perpetual breeding right in Dialed In. Darby Dan sold 50 breeding right seasons in the horse, and three entities took multiples, according to the farm.
One of those entities was Brandywine Farm, owned by Jim and Pam Robinson, and Pam Robinson said they “supported Dialed In because he was a great-looking horse that we loved, and the first season we sent him an older mare and a maiden,” a full sister to G1 winner Danza named Champagne Sparkle.
Bred in Kentucky by Brandywine Farm and Stephen Upchurch, Gunnevera is out of the older mare Brandywine sent, the Unbridled mare Unbridled Rage. The chestnut colt sold for $16,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale and races for Peacock Racing Stables.
The dam of the Saratoga Special winner came from the third crop of foals sired by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. The massive son of Fappiano had sired Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song and Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone in his first crop and was on the way to becoming an even greater success at stud than he had been on the racetrack.
Unbridled Rage did not contribute to that, however. She ran unplaced in a single start and then became a broodmare. By the time Brandywine acquired Unbridled Rage at the 2005 Keeneland January sale, the mare was a 10-year-old in foal to D’wildcat, and she already had produced stakes-placed Minstrel Queen (Cherokee Run).
Unfortunately, the mare did not produce another black-type performer until Gunnevera. Foaled in 2014 when Unbridled Rage was 19, the chestnut is his dam’s last foal.
Pam Robinson said, “The mare hemorrhaged after foaling Gunnevera. We took care of her, and she was normal for a week, then just died.”
Unbridled Rage had been the best producer by her dam, the stakes-placed chestnut Suite, a daughter of leading sire Graustark (Ribot) and full brother to leading sire His Majesty, who is a more familiar name in pedigrees nowadays thanks to the stallion success of His Majesty’s classic-winning son Pleasant Colony.
On the racetrack, Suite developed into a useful 5-year-old, placing second in a trio of listed stakes. In her only foray against G1 competition, she was fifth in the Shuvee behind Missy’s Mirage (Stop the Music), Harbour Club (Danzig), and Versailles Treaty (Danzig). The first three were separated by a nose and a head, but Suite and the others in the race were many lengths behind.
As we can see in the pedigree of Unbridled Rage, the upper half of Gunnevera’s pedigree chart has a considerable number of classic performers or classic sires. Dialed In won the G1 Florida Derby, then was 4th in the Preakness, 8th in the Kentucky Derby. Dialed In’s sire was a Horse of the Year and champion older horse and his paternal grandsire A.P. Indy was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old after winning the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat are in the preceding generations.
About the only close-up influences for precocity in Gunnevera’s pedigree are Dialed In’s broodmare sire Storm Cat and second dam, the champion 2-year-old filly Eliza (Mt. Livermore). In addition to winning four of her five starts at 2, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Eliza trained on at 3 to win the G1 Santa Anita Oaks, then ran third in the Santa Anita Derby and second in the Kentucky Oaks.
Both Storm Cat and Eliza possessed notably more early speed than Gunnevera showed in the Saratoga Special. In this instance, the raced played to the chestnut colt’s strengths after suicidal early fractions of :21.69 and :45.04. Although the winner’s trainer called him “slow,” the colt maintained his strong gallop around the turn and through the stretch to catch Recruiting Ready near the finish and win the race.
The first three home in the Special were all by freshmen sires. In addition to the winner, second-place finisher Recruiting Ready is by the Bernardini stallion Algorithms, although Recruiting Ready was disqualified to fourth. Behind him was Tip Tap Tapizar, a son of freshman sire Tapizar, who was moved to second.