The most striking point is that the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon was sire of the first and broodmare sire of the second. The winner of a 5-furlong maiden special at Hollywood Park as a juvenile, Malibu Moon is one of a handful of stallions in the past 100 years to retire to stud without a significant race record and yet make an indelible mark as a sire.
Of the other noteworthy stallions in this small group of overachievers, Danzig (Northern Dancer) and Drone (Sir Gaylord) were unbeaten; Alibhai (Hyperion) was unraced.
Today, I wonder where a stallion prospect of this ilk would even find a place at stud. It certainly wasn’t easy when B. Wayne Hughes sent Malibu Moon to stud at the Pons family’s farm in Maryland for the 2000 breeding season.
But the striking 3-year-old with the rangy frame went to stud for a modest fee, and due to the reputation of the Pons family and the quality of the colt’s pedigree, by Horse of the Year A.P. Indy out of a G1 winner by Mr. Prospector, Malibu Moon attracted sufficiently large books that resulted in 62 foals from his first crop and 66 in his second.
The star of the first crop was the early-maturing Perfect Moon (Hollywood Juvenile Championship), and from the second came champion 2-year-old Declan’s Moon (Hollywood Futurity, Del Mar Futurity), plus the later-maturing Malibu Mint (Princess Rooney).
Sid Fernando, a well-known pedigree commentator and president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, said Malibu Moon is an “incredible success story. Like Danzig and Drone, he wasn’t a stakes winner, but he has kept on improving his mares, not just the lesser mares he got earlier but also after he had success and got stronger books.”
Those better and better books of mares followed when the stallion was brought to Kentucky in the wake of the Eclipse Award season by Declan’s Moon in 2004, and the resulting racers have included Orb (2013 Kentucky Derby), Devil May Care (2010 Coaching Club American Oaks), Eden’s Moon (2012 Las Virgenes), Funny Moon (2009 Coaching Club American Oaks), and Gormley (2016 Frontrunner).
The latter is among the better classic prospects of the 3-year-old colts this season, just like Farrell has placed herself prominently among the classic fillies.
Bred and raced by Coffeepot Stable in Kentucky, Farrell is one of four stakes winners out of her dam, the stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams. The mare’s earlier foals include G1 winners Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) and J.B.’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch), both of whom won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, and Carpe Diem also added the Blue Grass Stakes to his resume before retiring to stand at WinStar Farm.
A similarly positive producer is Girvin’s dam, the Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon. Unraced, Catch the Moon has produced two graded stakes winners from her first two foals. The elder is Cocked and Loaded (Colonel John), who won the G3 Iroquois Stakes as a 2-year-old, and Girvin is the second.
The sire of Girvin is the Tale of the Cat horse Tale of Ekati, named after the famous Ekati diamond mines in northern Canada.
Bred and raced by Charles Fipke, Tale of Ekati won the G1 Wood Memorial and Cigar Mile, as well as the G2 Futurity and Jerome. An earner of nearly $1.2 million, Tale of Ekati ranked 12th among third-crop sires in 2016 and has been quietly tapping on the door as another quality sire son of Tale of the Cat, in addition to G1 winner Lion Heart.
Fernando, also a consultant to Fipke, said “Mr. Fipke supports his horse and believes in Tale of Ekati pretty strongly. He feels that the best is still to come. Last fall, the horse started a streak of stakes winners for Mr. Fipke, including Tale for Ruby and Verve’s Tale. Also last fall, we began to hear from trainer Dallas Stewart, whose own Tale of Ekati colt, Saint’s Fan, won nicely in a maiden special with a Beyer Speed Figure of 82 and has since become a stakes winner. Mr. Fipke has several more promising Tale of Ekatis who should be running soon.”
A handsome and strongly muscled bay who is very similar in phenotype to his sire Tale of the Cat, Tale of Ekati is out of a Sunday Silence mare (second dam is the Alabama Stakes winner Maplejinsky, by Nijinsky), and this brings in some interesting elements that are playing out in the progeny of the young sire.
Although Tale of Ekati looks like the quick and early type associated with Storm Cat and his son Tale of the Cat, Tale of Ekati is getting more than his share of performers who come to their best form at 3 and appreciate going a mile or more. From the stallion’s first crop, for instance, came Tale of Verve, who ran on through the stretch to be second in the 2015 Preakness Stakes behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
From the evidence of this and other racers by Tale of Ekati, the classic effects of Sunday Silence and Nijinsky are an important part of the contribution from the sire and should give Girvin the promise to improve as the distances lengthen.