Somewhere in horse heaven, Storm Cat is gloating.
His branch of the Northern Dancer line hung up big wins over the weekend in the two most important stakes for 3-year-old colts, the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park and the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.
At the Spa on Saturday, Good Samaritan (by Harlan’s Holiday) ran down Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) and Preakness winner Cloud Computing (Mclean’s Music) to mirror the race’s namesake, who defeated 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox (Sir Gallahad III) and the previous season’s top juvenile Whichone (Chicle) in the Travers Stakes 87 years ago.
The following day at Monmouth, Girvin (Tale of Ekati) uncorked a strong four-furlong run to win the Haskell by a nose from the widely respected McCraken (Ghostzapper) and Practical Joke (Into Mischief), with Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry (Curlin) fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC, Good Samaritan is out of the Pulpit mare Pull Dancer, a stakes-placed mare who ran second in the Alywow Stakes at Woodbine and the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park. Pull Dancer is the most successful racer out of Mayhavebeenthebigone (Arch), a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Wiseman’s Ferry (Hennessy). This is the family of champion filly Outstandingly (Exclusive Native), winner of the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; the important sires Bernstein (Storm Cat) and Sky Mesa (Pulpit); and the graded winners Caress and Country Cat (both by Storm Cat).
Good Samaritan is the third foal out of his dam, who has an unraced juvenile colt by Pioneerof the Nile named Brave Nation. The Jim Dandy winner began his career racing for WinStar and China Horse Club, winning his debut and the G2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine; then SF Racing bought into the colt before the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, when Good Samaritan was third in the BC Juvenile Turf.
Head of Plains Partners came on board thereafter, and the good-looking bay has raced for a quartet of owners at 3.
Storm Cat stands atop the third generation of Good Samaritan’s pedigree as the sire of the short-lived Harlan, sire of Harlan’s Holiday. The son of Storm Bird stands in the same position of Girvin’s pedigree, as Storm Cat’s good son Tale of the Cat is sire of Tale of Ekati, winner of the G1 Cigar Mile and Wood Memorial at 3, plus the G2 Futurity Stakes as a juvenile. Girvin is his sire’s first G1 winner, although Tale of Verve ran second in the 2015 Preakness behind Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah.
Girvin was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte and sold to Brad Grady (Grand Oaks) for $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale of 2015.
Grady said, “We knew this colt because my farm manager Bobby Dodd and I saw the colt at the Keeneland September sale; we really liked him but didn’t get him bought. We thought he was going to be too much money to try bringing back to the 2-year-old sales. Then, Bobby saw him in October, thought he had improved, moved forward from what he’d been in September, and he had been good then and said we ought to buy.”
Once he purchased the colt, Grady planned to resell the handsome dark bay in training. He said, “Everything I buy is intended for the 2-year-old sales. This colt was entered for the April sale at OBS, and he was training great, just beautiful. But then he stepped on his coronet band, it blew up, and we couldn’t get him to a sale. Bobby said, ‘I’ve been known to take horses I couldn’t get sold to the races, and I think this is a good prospect for that.’”
Grady did just that. Girvin won his debut in December last year at 2, and “the rest is history,” the happy owner said.
Including his victory in the $1 million-added Haskell, Girvin has won four of seven starts, earning $1,574,400. Earlier this year at the OBS April sale, Grand Oaks sold a colt in training for $2.45 million to John Moynihan, agent for M.V. Magnier. The colt by Tiznow out of Moonbow (Distorted Humor) has been named Conquistador.
Asked which circumstance was better, Grady said, “I like to do both. Winning my first Grade 1 with Joe Sharp, and this was his too, was really special. He’s a great guy and a hard worker. Our families are close, and something like that makes a wonderful experience even better.”