A wide-margin victory in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar confirmed the grand-looking bay colt Instagrand (by Into Mischief) is a force of significance among the current 2-year-olds racing on the West Coast, a group which appears freakishly loaded with quality and talent.
In both his debut on June 29 and in the Best Pal on Aug. 11, Instagrand showed speed from the start, controlled the pace and tempo of the race, then pulled away to win by 10 lengths in his debut, by 10 ¼ in the graded stakes. In each race, Instagrand was the odds-on favorite and performed like it.
The powerfully built bay is yet another indication that owner Larry Best (OXO Equine) is doing good work in selecting and purchasing premium racing prospects.
Best buys top-tier stock that look the part, act the part, and that produce on the racetrack. At the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training back in March, Instagrand breezed a furlong down the stretch at Gulfstream in :10 flat. In doing that, the handsome bay showed a stride length of nearly 25.5 feet, and his efficiency and mechanical function earned him a top ranking as a Group 1 horse for DataTrack International. I know all these details because I am a part of DataTrack, but we did not assess this colt for Mr. Best.
Others were not behind in giving Instagrand high marks, and the son of Into Mischief brought the co-high price of the sale at $1.2 million.
As part of its approach to buy the best, OXO Equine is a major player at the top of the sales market. In addition to the immediate successes of Instagrand, OXO Equine also races the Arch colt Instilled Regard, a winner of the 2018 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Best purchased the colt for $1.05 million at the OBS March sale of select 2-year-olds in training.
Best has another impressive juvenile winner, the Medaglia d’Oro filly Brill, who won her debut at Del Mar on July 18 by 1 ¼ lengths. She sold for the top price of $1 million at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton July sale, and at the Saratoga select yearling sale on Aug. 6, Best paid $1.2 million for a filly by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) out of multiple G1 winner Life at Ten (Malibu Moon).
OXO Equine has already collected a group of good performers and potential stars, but the brightest light of the moment is Instagrand.
Bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm, the colt is out of the Lawyer Ron mare Assets of War. A longtime breeder and owner, Stoneway “sells most of its colts,” according to Terri Burch, racing manager for the operation based in LaGrange, Ky., between Lexington and Louisville.
Their introduction to this family was partly due to another longtime owner-breeder, Dreabon Copeland. Burch said, “Dreabon was a dear friend who took (owner) Jim (Stone) and me under his wing so that a good deal of credit in our success goes to him. Dreabon also was a filly man. He taught me how to pick out fillies, and a lot of the farm’s early success we attribute to Dreabon, who had a lot of good sport with his fillies and the families that he developed.”
One of the first fillies that Stoneway acquired was the winner Added Time (Gilded Time), a full sister to G2 stakes winner Added Gold and a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Added Asset (Lord at War). Added Time also brought Stoneway its first top-level victory as a breeder with the filly Irish Smoke (Smoke Glacken), winner of the G1 Spinaway Stakes in 2007.
Stoneway had pursued a reasoned policy of selling the early foals out of Added Time, which included a pair of stakes winners, but those early sales horses also accounted for all three of the mare’s only fillies.
Burch said, “When Added Time was getting a little older and wasn’t giving us girls, we bought Assets of War strictly to get back into the family” because Assets of War is out of Added Time’s half-sister Added Asset, winner of the G3 Arlington Oaks.
Added Time had been a $170,000 2-year-old at the Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training back in 1999, and Stoneway purchased Assets of War for $165,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale in 2011.
By the champion racehorse Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr), Assets of War is from her sire’s second crop, and Burch said “Assets of War looks like a Lawyer Ron: a lengthy, medium-sized mare with a good hip and a good head. She looks definitely two-turn, not a sprint kind of horse. Kind of a heavy body and good length. Added Time had a heavy body but was a sprinter type; six furlongs was about as far as she could go.”
The mare’s length and strength were assets when mated to leading sire Into Mischief, and the result was Instagrand. The farm still owns the colt’s 3-year-old full sister, Aerial Assets, who is a winner.
Assets of War has a yearling colt by Cairo Prince who is consigned to the Keeneland September sale, where he will sell in the four-day Week 1 book, and the mare has a weanling colt by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (GB). Earlier this year, Assets of War was bred back to Creative Cause.