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“We might never have known how good this filly was on dirt,” Price Bell pondered at Fasig-Tipton on Monday, where I quizzed him about the latest graded stakes winner for Mill Ridge Farm’s young sire Oscar Performance, “if only Churchill Downs had had a turf race for her.”

Oscar Performance is getting graded stakes winners from his first crop of racers, now 3, and he represents a branch of Sadler’s Wells and El Prado, through Kitten’s Joy, that is gaining new respect among breeders by showing versatility for quality performance on turf or dirt. (Photos by Z / courtesy of Mill Ridge Farm)

Sometimes you’re lucky; sometimes you’re good. The filly in question, Red Carpet Ready, is both.

Already the winner of the 2022 Fern Creek Stakes at Churchill on Nov. 26, Red Carpet Ready was making her 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream and is now unbeaten in three starts. The good-looking dark bay had won her first start by 10 last year, racing six furlongs on dirt at Churchill, then had come back in the 6 ½-furlong Fern Creek, and the seven furlongs of the Forward Gal posed no problem. After attending the pace to the half-mile, Red Carpet Ready punched away to a 2 ½-length lead and maintained her dominance while ridden out through the finish.

Lucky as Red Carpet Ready is, her owners – Glenn Bromagen and Patrick Lewis – may be even luckier. Bromagen had gone to the Saratoga select sale in 2021 with a plan: “I had identified the horses I wanted at Saratoga, and Oscar Performance was the level of sire power that I thought I could buy there. I thought $200,000 was enough to buy probably the best Oscar Performance, as opposed to being what you’d pay for a bottom-level yearling by a more established sire.”

Red Carpet Ready certainly qualified as a top yearling for her sire. Beautifully balanced and proportioned, she had a very good shoulder and hindquarters, as well as a lovely, athletic walk. Yet, “when she was in the ring,” Bromagen recalled, “from the pacing I felt I was bidding against the reserve. Then when I pulled up at $170,000, I thought she went RNA and was heading out to Mill Ridge to ask about buying her. And as I was going out, I saw Deuce Greathouse signing the ticket.

“That was a sinking feeling, but I went up to Deuce and asked who he was going to send her to. He said he wasn’t sure because he’d bought her on ‘spec,’ and I said I really liked her.

“He said, ‘Well, you can buy her from me.’ I asked how much he wanted: $190,000. You know, I was prepared to go to $200,000 for her; so I bought her, and she’s been a wonderful filly at every step of the way.”

The buyer noted that Greathouse went back and bought the full sister in last year’s Saratoga sale for $65,000. “He may be the smartest of us all,” Bromagen said. “My partner Patrick Lewis had been talking about getting into the game, called me up after I’d bought this filly, and this is his first flat-racing Thoroughbred. I’ve ruined him because now he thinks the game is easy” with an unbeaten filly who’s just won a graded stakes.

Bred in Kentucky by Lynn Schiff, Red Carpet Ready is the second winner from three foals to race out of Wild Silk, an unraced daughter of champion 2-year-old colt and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (by Street Cry) and the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Spun Silk.

Although no granddaughter of Arlington Million winner Kitten’s Joy (El Prado) and Street Sense would qualify as “sprint bred,” there is certainly plenty of speed in this filly’s heritage. The speed begins with her sire, who must have given his jockey a whiplash when racing a mile in record time of 1:31.23 to win the G3 Poker Stakes at Belmont.

The filly’s third dam is stakes winner Spunoutacontrol (Wild Again), a half-sister to leading sire Tale of the Cat (Storm Cat) and European highweight Minardi (Boundary), as well as to the dam of champion Johannesburg (Hennessy). The fourth dam of Red Carpet Ready is a full sister to G1 winner Preach (Mr. Prospector), the dam of leading sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy).

A G1 winner four times, Oscar Performance won three of his four starts at two, including the G3 Pilgrim and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He followed up with Grade 1 victories in the Belmont Derby, Secretariat, and Woodbine Mile, among other graded successes. The handsome bay out of the Theatrical mare Devine Actress earned $2.3 million for Amerman Racing LLC and retired to stud at Mill Ridge Farm, where he was syndicated into 40 shares and entered stud at a fee of $20,000 live foal.

With five graded stakes performers from his first crop so far, Oscar Performance is booked full with a limit of 140 mares for 2023 and stands for the same fee ($17,500 to those who have previously bred to the horse).