With her victory in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx on Sept. 23, It Tiz Well became the latest G1 winner for the Kris S. stallion Arch. A striking horse, Arch was a top sales yearling of 1996 when Seth Hancock bought him for $710,000 out of the King Ranch consignment from breeders Helen Alexander and Helen Groves.
Arch proved Hancock’s confidence in the colt’s potential with five victories from seven starts, including the G1 Super Derby. Racing for co-owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Arch won his maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 25 almost exactly 20 years ago, and I was there to see him do it.
The near-black colt marched through his first half-dozen races with only an inexplicable second in a Saratoga allowance, a streak that included victories in the Super Derby and G2 Fayette Handicap, where he defeated the previous year’s Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold (by Deputy Minister).
In the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic, another son of Deputy Minister, Awesome Again, won the race from Silver Charm and Swain, and Arch was far back. All 10 of the runners in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup went to stud, but only Awesome Again and Arch had stallion careers that placed them at the top of their cadre.
Arch’s career at stud ended on Jan. 20 last year with an apparent heart attack. The horse was 21, and his final crop of foals were born in 2016 and are yearlings this year.
Although the stallion’s progeny statistics won’t be final for several more years, Arch has sired 60 stakes winners, including Canadian champion Arravale, European highweight sprinter Les Arcs (July Cup), and multiple G1 winner Pine Island (Alabama Stakes), plus Blame, the Eclipse Award winner as top older horse and victor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The latter horse is important because Blame is the best son of Arch at stud and is having the best year of his stallion career in 2017. In addition to classic winner Senga (Prix de Diane), Blame also has a half-dozen other stakes winners this year, including two who won stakes on the same day as the Cotillion. Those were the 4-year-old Firsthand Report (Alphabet Soup Stakes at Parx) and the 2-year-old Noblame (Rachel’s Turn Stakes at Charles Town).
Both of those stakes winners, like every other stakes winner by Blame in 2017, is a filly. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, Blame also sires colts who win stakes like March (G2 Woody Stephens Stakes) and Far From Over (G3 Withers).
Blame and his sire are further important because they are part of the best remaining members of the Turn-to branch of the all-conquering Nearco – Phalaris – Bend Or male line.
Arch stood his entire stud career at Claiborne, which co-bred and co-raced Blame with Adele Dilschneider. Claiborne also stood Turn-to during his highly successful early seasons at stud before a blow-up between Bull Hancock and Turn-to’s principal owner Harry Guggenheim sent all the latter’s horses to competitor Spendthrift Farm.
Among the best horses sired by Turn-to at Claiborne was Christopher Chenery’s champion juvenile colt First Landing, later the sire of champion Riva Ridge. Part of the Turn-to syndicate, Chenery also bred and raced Turn-to’s high-class son Sir Gaylord. Sir Gaylord went to stud at Claiborne after a brief but unbeaten season at 3, when he was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was injured just prior to the race.
At stud, Secretariat’s older half-brother, Sir Gaylord, was a greater success than First Landing. Habitat and Sir Ivor were the best stallion sons of Sir Gaylord and were major contributors to the concept and the fact of the “international Thoroughbred” that carried elements from around the globe and found success on all types of surfaces and in multiple racing jurisdictions.
Neither got a son of equal importance, and instead, Turn-to’s other son Hail to Reason has carried on the line through Halo, the sire of American classic and Japanese supersire Sunday Silence, and through English Derby winner Roberto, a horse of high class and high quality.
Roberto’s surprisingly big and moderately successful racing son Kris S. became a tower of strength for breeding by generating typically large, rugged horses who loved to race 8 to 12 furlongs. These included champion 3-year-old filly Hollywood Wildcat, 1998 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Prized, a pair of champion juvenile colts in Brocco and Action This Day, Arch, and the non-stakes winner Vertigineux, who became the dam of Horse of the Year Zenyatta.
Arch, through the quality and speed of his high-class dam Aurora (by Danzig our of champion Althea, by Alydar), sired some horses that were even quicker and more “American adaptable” than himself.
And It Tiz Well that Arch’s daughter took her turn in the Cotillion to remind us of his valuable contribution.