Among the stallions whose stock enjoyed success at the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, Darley‘s Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium) clearly scored the most with three winners: Yibir (in the Turf); Space Blues (Mile); and Modern Games (Juvenile Turf). All three victories came on the turf course at Del Mar.
In other stallion news, Gun Runner confirmed his position as the top freshman sire with Echo Zulu’s impressive victory in the BC Juvenile Fillies, which almost certainly will translate into an Eclipse Award for champion juvenile filly, and Quality Road had a correspondingly impressive winner with Corniche, who is a virtual certainty as the Eclipse Award winner for champion 2-year-old colt.
Of all the sires of winners at the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, however, the one who added luster to his resume at a most opportune time was the 17-year-old Danzig stallion Hard Spun, who stands at Darley’s Jonabell in Kentucky.
Hard Spun has had a really good year as a sire in 2021, with Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Silver State and a half-dozen other stakes winners, including Grade 1-placed Caddo River. At the Breeders’ Cup in full view of all the most important breeders and against the strongest competition, Hard Spun captured a major share of the limelight with the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in Aloha West, whose victory pushed the sire into the top 10 stallions nationally by total progeny earnings for 2021.
Second in the Kentucky Derby to Street Sense and second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic of 2007 to Curlin, Hard Spun was part of the splendid three-year-old crop of 2007 that included other star sires of the present like Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike) and champion juvenile Street Sense (Street Cry). All three are important stallions in the immensely competitive Kentucky sire pool.
And of the three, Hard Spun would be viewed as the value play by many breeders, standing for $35,000 live foal in 2021 and 2022. For next year, Street Sense is set for a stud fee of $75,000, and Curlin is $175,000.
And yet Hard Spun has proven he can get the major racers, with 87 stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Questing (Alabama Stakes), Wicked Strong (Wood Memorial), Silver State, and others.
Bred in Maryland by Bob Manfuso and Katharine Voss, Aloha West is out of the Speightstown mare Island Bound. The dark bay colt brought $160,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale, selling to Gary and Mary West, with their agent Ben Glass signing the ticket.
Various setbacks kept the handsome colt from racing at two and three, and he won his debut on Feb. 7 of 2021. Trainer Wayne Catalano noted that Eclipse Stables’s “Aron Wellman spotted the colt after he won, and he inquired about buying the horse. The Wests and their agent Ben Glass always want to know if anyone wants to buy a horse, and they say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about selling a horse. They sell a lot of horses. They don’t know at the time just how they will turn out, and this one turned out really well. But Mr. West is a business man, and he makes business decisions.
“These are all wonderful people to train for, and sometimes, when the Wests are willing to sell a horse, I try to find owners to keep them in house. Mr. West is a great guy about allowing me to do that.”
Catalano said that he was especially happy to keep Aloha West, as the lightly raced 4-year-old colt “has a world of speed, and we knew there was ability there. But that colt has really shown so much willingness that he deserves to compete with the best.”
A nose away from winning three of his first four starts, Aloha West has also won three of his last four starts, but the Breeders’ Cup Sprint was his first stakes victory. The dark bay has now won five of nine starts, all in 2021, and earned $1.3 million.
Aloha West is the second winner of a Breeders’ Cup race for Hard Spun. His son Spun to Run won the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and stands at stud at Gainesway in Lexington.
With the pedigree and speed of Aloha West, there is clearly a spot at stud for him sometime in the future, but Eclipse Thoroughbreds has indicated that he will race in 2022, when he would obviously compete for further glory at sprints…and perhaps at somewhat longer distances.