The Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Jan. 8 told us several things, most prominently that Bob Baffert’s talented cadre of classic prospects includes some of the most expensive purchases in the crop and that they are very well chosen and prepared.
Three of the Baffert brigade filled the first three places in the Sham and cost $775,000 (Reincarnate [Good Magic] at the Keeneland September yearling sale of 2021), $850,000 (Newgate [Into Mischief] at the same sale), and $500,000 (National Treasure [Quality Road] the 2021 Saratoga select yearling sale).
The results of the Sham are also one more brick in the road toward proving that the sires in the 2022 freshman crop are among the best in the breed.
Such an accomplishment is not only difficult to achieve, but it is challenging to quantify, as well.
By one measure, we are seeing the racers by these new sires, such as former juvenile champion Good Magic (Curlin), win important races against the stock by other top-end sires like multiple leading sire Into Mischief and sire of champions Quality Road.
By another measure, the number of stakes winners by more than one or two of these young stallions is mounting up. At this point, Good Magic has the lead by number of stakes winners (seven). Until the Sham, he had been in a three-way tie for first in that regard with the two other sires atop the freshman sires list: first-place Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) and third-place Justify (Scat Daddy) with six each.
Fourth-place Army Mule (Friesan Fire) and fifth-place Girvin (Tale of Ekati) have five stakes winners each. The top 10 is rounded out with Sharp Azteca (Freud), Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy), Oscar Performance (Kitten’s Joy), Mo Town (Uncle Mo), and City of Light (Quality Road). Each of those have two or three stakes winners, and the top 10 freshmen account for 41 stakes winners, so far.
All other freshmen sires account for 18 more stakes winners, but it is becoming clearer by the day that the top 10 this year is a pack of salty dogs.
Among the stakes winners by Good Magic, for instance, are four other graded stakes winners, including the colts Blazing Sevens (G1 Champagne Stakes), Dubyuhnell (G2 Remsen Stakes), and Curly Jack (G3 Iroquois Stakes). Reincarnate makes five graded stakes winners for Good Magic, and he will be standing for a 2023 fee of $50,000 live foal at Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa in Bourbon County, northeast of Lexington.
Bred in Kentucky by Woods Edge Farm LLC, Reincarnate is the fourth foal out of the Scat Daddy mare Allanah, who won the Cincinnati Trophy during her racing career. This is a family of good racers and producers and traces back to an interesting fourth dam, Corner Table. Although she was unplaced in six starts, the chestnut mare was remarkable for a couple of other reasons. A foal of 1969, she was one of the earlier horses bred by John Gaines, and she possessed one of the typical Gaines pedigrees. He loved a big, active pedigree that was highly commercial.
Corner Table was by 1959 Horse of the Year Sword Dancer (Sunglow), who had sired 1966 champion 3-year-old filly Lady Pitt in his second crop and 1967 champion 3-year-colt and Horse of the Year Damascus in his third.
A winner in 15 of his 39 starts for owner Brookmeade Stable, Sword Dancer peaked at three and ran a very good second in the Kentucky Derby to winner Tomy Lee (Tudor Minstrel) and was second in the 1959 Preakness to Royal Orbit (Royal Charger). Trainer Elliott Burch then sent the small chestnut to challenge his elders in the Metropolitan Handicap, and Sword Dancer won the race.
Burch wheeled his colt back in the Belmont, and Sword Dancer won the 12-furlong test of the champion, with Royal Orbit third, and continued his 3-year-old season with victories in the Travers, Woodward Stakes, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. High class and a hardy campaign earned Sword Dancer the 1959 Horse of the Year title. At four, Sword Dancer won the Suburban and a second Woodward, as well as the title as champion older horse, but 1960 was the first year of mighty Kelso’s reign as Horse of the Year.
Sent to stud in 1961, Sword Dancer stood at Darby Dan Farm and sired Lady Pitt in his second crop, foals of 1963. She and Damascus were leagues better than the 13 other stakes winners sired by Sword Dancer, but their fame and ability was such that Sword Dancer enjoyed a significant, if temporary, vogue in the mid- to late 1960s, and John Gaines sent the dam of 1959 Preakness Stakes winner Royal Orbit to his competitor, Sword Dancer, and the mare’s 1969 foal was Corner Table.
Nothing as good as either of those 1959 classic winners has come out of this branch of the family since, but Reincarnate is doing his part to correct that situation.