The geezer brigade of elder stallions made their presence and importance felt at the Breeders’ Cup over the weekend, and these include deceased sires like Smart Strike (Battle of Midway; BC Dirt Mile) and Unbridled’s Song (Forever Unbridled; Distaff). The oldest living sire of a Breeders’ Cup winner this year is the 24-year-old sire Northern Afleet (by Afleet x Nuryette, by Nureyev), whose son World Approval won the highly contentious Breeders’ Cup Mile like his half-brother Miesque’s Appeal (Miesque’s Son). Both are out of the With Approval mare Win Approval, who produced two other major stakes winners, including Za Approval (Ghostzapper), a multiple G3 winner who was second in the BC Mile and two other G1 races. Win Approval was 20 when she foaled the BC Mile winner.
Storm Cat’s outstanding stallion son Stormy Atlantic (23) is the sire of this year’s BC Turf Sprint winner, Stormy Liberal, who is one of 103 stakes winners by Stormy Atlantic. The latter has been one of the most consistent stallion sons of Storm Cat, whose other sons yet at stud include Giant’s Causeway and Tale of the Cat.
Out of the Seattle Slew mare Hail Atlantis, Stormy Atlantic was a stakes winner on the track who began his stud career in Florida at Bridlewood Farm. After early success, Stormy Atlantic transferred to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Kentucky and has climbed to the position of siring more than 100 stakes winners through the natural athleticism and sturdiness of his foals. Stormy Liberal, a 5-year-old bay gelding, was winning a G1 for the first time, and his racing record is one of continuing improvement as he has been a winner each year and graded-placed at 2 and 4.
In addition to the stallions above, More Than Ready (20) had a pair of Breeders’ Cup winners this year. Typically regarded as a “turf sire,” More Than Ready was a top-class juvenile performer on dirt, and his offspring at the Breeders’ Cup included performers on both surfaces.
The stallion’s first success came on Friday with Rushing Fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf, and the dark bay 2-year-old is now unbeaten in three starts. Sold for $320,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction, Rushing Fall was purchased by Mike Ryan, agent, and races for e5 Racing Thoroughbreds.
Bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding, Rushing Fall is out of the Forestry mare Autumnal and is a half-sister to stakes winner Milam (Street Sense) and to stakes-placed Autumn Song (Colonel John). The Breeders’ Cup winner has for her second dam the Mr. Prospector mare Marie J, who sold for $1 million at the 1997 Barretts sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Placed third in the G3 La Troienne Stakes, Marie J also produced the G3-placed Sisti’s Pride, a full sister to the dam of Rushing Fall and dam of stakes-placed Zermatt (Tiznow).
Although Rushing Fall has accomplished her noteworthy successes on turf, the second Breeders’ Cup victory of 2017 for sire More Than Ready came with Roy H over Del Mar’s dirt surface in the BC Sprint.
Bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass, Roy H was a $115,000 yearling at the 2013 Keeneland September sale who turned into a $310,000 2-year-old at Keeneland’s April sale the following year. The bay juvenile worked well, showing a stride length of nearly 25 feet, with thrust and stride efficiency coefficients that indicated he was a premium prospect.
He was also a good-sized young horse, with the size probably coming through his stakes-winning dam, the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Diva, a three-time winner at the G3 level who also ran third in the G1 La Brea Stakes.
Despite his good results at the in-training breeze and at the sale itself, Roy H didn’t make it to the races at 2, won only a maiden special at 3, and then didn’t win at 4. A lengthy layoff and some rehab put him on the right track, however, and he has won 5 of 6 starts this season, including a pair of G1 races, has earnings of more than $1.3 million, and is a strong candidate for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.
Time and patience have paid great dividends with Roy H, just as longevity and quality produce have made this group of senior stallions a significant repository of athletic ability in the Kentucky breeding pool. Cheers to the good old boys!