When he rolled down the stretch to win the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 1, Max Player became the first stakes winner and first graded stakes winner for his sire, champion older horse Honor Code (by A.P. Indy).
Now a winner in two of his three starts, Max Player has promoted himself to the leader of the first crop by his sire, who had a noticeably quiet freshman season with his 2-year-olds. Honor Code, however, is following a fairly standard pattern for the A.P. Indy tribe in not getting precocious juveniles but instead getting horses that make progress near the end of their juvenile season and especially in the first half of their 3-year-old season.
Max Player is one of nine winners by the sire who have taken their maiden special victories in the last 10 weeks. So, it appears the strikingly handsome Honor Code is following the “A.P. Indy pattern” of maturation in detail. Clearly, breeders and owners of promising stock by the sire hope this trend continues unabated.
One further reason to hope for good things here is that Max Player is out of a storied female family that comes from Stonerside Farm, Elmendorf Farm, and the Windfields Farm of E.P. Taylor.
Taylor got into this family in the early 1950s with the seventh dam Reply, an unraced mare by the little known stallion Teddy Wrack. The mare’s first foal for Taylor was the stakes winner Windy Answer (Windfields). With that, Taylor and this family were off to the races.
Windy Answer produced three stakes winners, including the top Canadian colt Cool Reception (Nearctic), who ran second in the 1967 Belmont Stakes behind Damascus, and Ciboulette (Chop Chop), the dam of three stakes winners, including champion filly Fanfreluche (Northern Dancer).
This became one of the best Windfields families, and Reply’s eighth named foal was the winning mare Respond (Canadian Champ), who went back into the Windfields broodmare band and produced a pair of stakes winners, as well as the small, unraced filly Cold Reply, a foal of 1972 by Northern Dancer.
Her first foal was the multiple stakes producer Question d’Argent (Tentam) and her fourth was the stakes winner Halo Reply (Halo); so a great deal was expected of the mare’s eighth foal, a pint-sized full sister to Halo Reply named Halory.
As with most of the Windfields yearlings, Halory went to the sales, and with this family behind her, she sold for Can$180,000 (about US$150,000) to Jack Kent Cooke, the entrepreneur and sportsman who had purchased historic Elmendorf Farm from the estate of Maxwell Gluck.
Racing for Cooke, Halory was a complete bust, winning nary a race from 14 exposures to the starting gate. Then she came back to Elmendorf, where broodmare manager Hume Wornall recalled that “when she came off that van, she wasn’t much bigger than a shepherd dog. You’d just look at her and shake your head, but Bob Bricken was the brains behind the Elmendorf matings and had picked her out at the sales.”
Despite the busted hopes for Halory on the racetrack, she didn’t disappoint again.
From the mare’s first eight foals, seven were winners, four were graded stakes winners, and two more were stakes-placed. That’s about as good as a mare can do.
As part of getting out of the sport, Cooke sold the entirety of the Elmendorf Farm broodmares to the Stonerside Farm of Bob and Janice McNair in a private transaction valued well into seven figures.
The Stonerside adviser John Adger said, “The key to the whole package was Halory and Mari’s Sheba, and there were 35 mares, as I recall. I noticed that Halory had produced a Grade 3 stakes winner by Procida, who was an awful sire. After we bought the package for Stonerside, Halory’s young runners kept winning stakes; Mari’s Sheba produced Congaree for the McNairs; and we had a lot of good mares to work with. And to top it off, farm manager Bobby Spalding moved from Elmendorf over to Stonerside, where his knowledge of the mares was really helpful.”
Two things made Halory successful: according to Wornall, “they were all sound. No problems with feet, ankles, knees. Just solid racehorses;” and “they were good-looking, well-balanced athletes,” Spalding recalled.
Spalding said, “Halory wasn’t pretty, but she was very special, had the sweetest personality, and threw gorgeous foals.”
The prettiest of them all was a big, chestnut colt by Storm Cat. The transfer to Stonerside had brought a different set of sires to Halory, including Mr. Prospector and Storm Cat. The Storm Cat colt was Van Nistelrooy, and Spalding said, “Van Nistelrooy was an extraordinary foal, just a beautiful individual,” and he sold for $6.7 million at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale. The price more than paid for the entire package of mares that Stonerside purchased.
Van Nistelrooy went on to become the fifth graded or group stakes winner out of the mare, and Halory’s second foal, the stakes-placed Speak Halory (Verbatim), produced the French Deputy mare Parlez. She became the family’s next star producer with three stakes winners, including Louisiana Derby winner International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus) and Fools in Love (Not for Love), who is the dam of Max Player.
One of four stakes horses out of five foals to race from Fools in Love, Max Player has clearly benefited from the class in the family and should have good racing in his future.