Let us then praise good broodmares. Theirs is the more dangerous and less celebrated part of the breeding equation. Yet without them, even the best stallions do not shine as brightly or accomplish so much.
Take, for example, leading sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday), who had his 50th graded stakes winner when Gerrymander won the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park on June 25.
A very good sire from the beginning of his career at stud, the bay titan from Spendthrift Farm really excelled when breeders recognized that here was a significant sire and began filling his book with mares of greater quality and potential.
From the stallion’s first four books of mares, he had crops of 41, 26, 37, and 37 foals that resulted in a strong showing from his first crop with seven stakes winners (17 percent). Only three, one, and two stakes winners came from the next three crops, but when that first crop of runners, which included three stakes winners at 2 in 2012, showed their stuff, both in early training and on the racetrack, breeders sent the horse a massive book of mares in 2013 for the foals of 2014, which resulted in 162 foals and 17 stakes winners.
Into Mischief has never since had fewer than 15 stakes winners per crop, and his genetics haven’t changed. Nothing changed except the volume and class of mares coming to him.
The result of those changes is the swelling tide of stakes winners and top performers from Spendthrift’s super sire. The leading sire in the country by gross earnings for three seasons, Into Mischief has become the best American sire in the male line descending from his great-grandsire Storm Cat (Storm Bird).
Twenty years ago, Storm Cat stood astride the world of breeding like colossus, the world his subject. Yet today, that line of Northern Dancer has gone quiet, significantly because several of the best sons of Storm Cat have not had a top stallion son here in the States. Storm Cat’s son Harlan, however, got a top sire son in Harlan’s Holiday, who was a step away from greater acclaim when he died while shuttling to Argentina.
Into Mischief has more than filled that gaping loss, getting sounder and somewhat more versatile stock than Harlan’s Holiday, and no stallion in the country is more acclaimed or more expensive to use than this successor to Harlan’s Holiday.
One of the stallion’s 174 foals of 2019, Gerrymander was bred in Kentucky by Town & Country Horse Farms and Pollock Farms. She is the second G2 winner out of the Hard Spun mare Ruby Lips, who ran third in the G3 Tempted Stakes at 2. Ruby Lips also produced Lone Rock (Majestic Warrior), who won the G2 Brooklyn.
Ruby Lips is a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners, including Like a Gem (Tactical Cat), who has produced a pair of stakes winners herself, including Hard Not to Like (Hard Spun), a three-time G1 winner (Diana, Gamely, and Jenny Wiley). The Mother Goose winner’s third dam, Likeashot (Gunshot), produced three stakes winners, including G1 winner Firery Ensign (Blue Ensign), winner of the Young America Stakes. This is the family of G2 Saratoga Special winner Run Away and Hide (City Zip) and Davide Umbro (In the Wings), winner of the G2 Premio Parioli (Italian 2,000 Guineas).
From four starts as a juvenile, Gerrymander won the Tempted Stakes, now a listed race, and was second in the G1 Frizette. The Mother Goose is her first victory of 2022, from a pair of starts.
As the newest graded winner for her sire, this filly helps to point out the significance of the research into stakes production and opportunity among sires and dams that was done by Joe Estes over his decades as the editor of The Blood-Horse from the early 1930s.
From the racing test, as Estes termed it, the chief researcher and his associates proved that fillies succeeded as broodmares in a direct line of rank according to their racing class: groups of stakes winners doing better than the groups of stakes-placed mares, which were better than plain winners, etc.
The primary detraction from this important application of research and statistics is that the better race fillies tend to go to the better stallions.
By applying the data from the other direction, how a stallion fares with lesser or better racing mates, the consensus is clear. Racing class does improve breeding success, and we can see the results clearly from the improvement in volume and class of stakes winners when better and better books became available to Into Mischief.