When it comes to pure eye candy with hooves, it is not easy to surpass Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (by Forestry), and his Grade 1-winning son Promises Fulfilled might be even fancier.

Surely, when pulling away to win the Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont on July 6, Promises Fulfilled not only filled the eye but also appeared to be making a step forward to fulfill the considerable promise that the flashy chestnut colt has offered his fans and intimate connections.

Owned by Robert Barons and trained by Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled has been highly regarded since winning his first two starts, a debut maiden special at Churchill Downs and then a first-level allowance at Keeneland, as a 2-year-old.

A third in his only stakes start at 2 was a temporary chuckhole in the road to success, but the handsome chestnut looked like a potential classic contender in his 3-year-old debut victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth last year against the speedy Strike Power (second) and the previous year’s juvenile champion Good Magic (third).

Subsequent unplaced efforts in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, however, sent the glamorous colt a different direction, and he has since campaigned at distances at a mile or less. Following the Derby last year, Promises Fulfilled was third in the Woody Stephens, then won the Amsterdam and the H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, plus the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland. That sequence of sprint performances made Promises Fulfilled the third-favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year, where he finished fourth. The winner Roy H. had been the second choice, and race favorite Imperial Hint was third, with Whitmore putting in his typical tremendous finish to split the top choices.

Having squarely established himself at the top of the tree among 3-year-old sprinters, Promises Fulfilled took a trip to Dubai for the Golden Shaheen and tackled the leading older horses in the Metropolitan. He was disgraced in neither, with a pair of fourths. On returning to his preferred territory – seven furlongs in New York, the handsome colt has had his picture taken again in the winner’s circle.

If it seems surprising that a Preakness winner is the sire of a colt with such speed, Shackleford earned his credits with speed. He possessed the pace to place himself second in the Preakness of 2012, grabbed the lead in the stretch, and held off Animal Kingdom to win by a half-length; the following year, the handsome son of Forestry won the Metropolitan at a mile and the Clark Handicap at Churchill at nine furlongs, leading at every call in each race.

Bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs, Promises Fulfilled was a May 11 foal and didn’t set commercial buyers alight when presented as a yearling. Romans picked up the colt for only $37,000 at the Keeneland September sale, and Promises Fulfilled has since earned $1.4 million.

Promises Fulfilled is out of the Marquetry mare Marquee Delivery, who was stakes-placed four times, including a second in the G3 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park and a third in the G3 Arlington Oaks. A winner of $264,901, Marquee Delivery was quite nearly the same class as her dam, the multiple listed stakes winner Fast Delivery (Little Missouri), who won $263,835.

Fast Delivery produced only the single black-type winner in Marquee Delivery, but the latter has foaled a pair of stakes winners. In addition to Promises Fulfilled, Marquee Delivery has produced the multiple listed stakes winner Marquee Miss, as well as the stakes-placed Marquee Cal Gal (both by Cowboy Cal). The difference in production success may lie in the sire of Marquee Miss, which is the high-class and very fast performer Marquetry (Conquistador Cielo).

A horse of electric coloring and personality, Marquetry was a striking chestnut with bold white markings on his legs, as well as on his face and belly. He was the sort of horse you couldn’t miss on a dark night, and with his performances on the racetrack, nobody was missing the fast chestnut who raced for Juddmonte Farms, Dale Engelson, Morley Engelson, and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel told me years ago that turning Marquetry into a top-tier American horse, after a moderate and rather brief career in England, was one of the simplest tasks he had faced. “We knew he had talent; he was a really nice horse. And once I quit trying to make him a turf horse here, he jumped up and won the Hollywood Gold Cup” and a good portion of the $2.8 million in earnings that the fancy chestnut earned.

In fairness to Frankel, Marquetry was also a smart turf horse, winning the G1 Eddie Read after he had shown his dirt capability, and Marquetry was a serious contender among the top older horses of the early 1990s on any surface.

Sent to stud in Kentucky, the great-looking chestnut made a few contributions to the breed and added speed to pedigrees, most notably through his high-class son Artax, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Vosburgh, and Carter and the Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter of 1999; Marquetry sired a second sprint champion in Squirtle Squirt, winner of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and King’s Bishop.

The plans for Promises Fulfilled include a trip to the BC Sprint after his victory in the Nerud.

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