tapit juveniles adding spice to the holiday season

Those terrific Tapit 2-year-olds! America’s three-time leading sire is setting up a deep bench of impressive young prospects who appear to have great potential to excel over the coming months and further enrich their sire’s legacy as the leading active sire of classic quality here in the States.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, Winter Sunset won a maiden at Fair Grounds on Thanksgiving Day; Wicked Indeed won a maiden at the same racetrack the following day; and on Saturday, Dec. 1, Kingly at Del Mar and Kentucky Wildcat at Aqueduct won their maidens on opposite coasts. And one of the most-discussed maiden winners of the late fall came on Nov. 17 at Del Mar, when Tapit’s son Coliseum won his debut by 6 ¾ lengths and was reported as being listed at 20-1 by an offshore bookmaker for the 2019 Kentucky Derby before that race.

Out of Grade 1 winner Game Face (by Menifee), Coliseum is owned and bred by Godolphin, and the handsome gray son of Tapit was heavily favored at 1-2 in his debut on the West Coast for trainer Bob Baffert.

Even among the dozens of notably pedigreed, highly valued, and handsomely conformed young steeds in the Baffert barn, Coliseum has already risen to a point of prominence as potentially “one of the ones” who go on to contest the most important races of the coming year. A colt with plenty of natural speed who twice breezed handily from the gate in less than a minute prior to his debut, Coliseum appears most likely to reach his optimum form in races at a mile and farther.

Another factor in the colt’s favor is that Godolphin has placed him with the most successful classic trainer in America today.

Thankfully for the colt’s mental composure, Coliseum is unaware of the great hopes and expectations for his future success.

The intense pressure for classic competition – and success – is less a concern for Winter Sunset, owned by Coffeepot Stables and Phillips Racing Partnership. First of all, she’s a filly and won her debut on turf. More specifically, co-owner Robert Cummings said that the ownership of the Winter Sunset “is not setting out a big plan yet. We’re leaving the management to trainer Wayne Catalano, who’s done such a wonderful job bringing this filly along and winning her debut really well.

“Our focus is on the long-term. Having a sound and happy racehorse who can compete at the best of its ability is a great reward in this game, and we have been lucky enough to have enjoyed some wonderful horses and successes” with the Coffeepot Stables that Cummings owns and operates with wife Annette Bacola.

Just last year, “at the 2017 September sale, we bought a Candy Ride filly [later named Liora] that won the Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill” last month, and other important horses raced by Coffeepot Stables include Farrell (Malibu Moon), winner of the G2 Golden Rod, Rachel Alexandra, Fair Grounds Oaks, and Chilukki Stakes, with earnings of more than $1 million; and Imposing Grace (Empire Maker), winner of the G3 Arlington Matron.

Bacola and Cummings have been involved with racing horses since the mid-1990s, and some of their greatest thrills have come in connection with the Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams, the dam of G1 winners Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) and J.B.’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch), as well as multiple G2 winner Farrell, which Coffeepot Stables races.

Through the Beau Lane Bloodstock consignment, Coffee Pot Stables sold Carpe Diem to Northwest Stud for $550,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. Subsequently pinhooked for $1.6 million at the 2014 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March auction of 2-year-olds in training, Carpe Diem won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and is one of the promising young sires standing at WinStar Farm. His first foals are 2-year-olds of 2019.

Cummings continued: “We sold Carpe Diem’s full sister [now named I’m Wonderful] at the 2017 September sale” for $700,000, the second-highest price for a Giant’s Causeway yearling last year. As part of Beau Lane’s consignment, Coffeepot’s filly was stabled in Barn 6 at Keeneland, which faces Barn 1, where Darby Dan’s consignment was stabled for owner John Phillips.

“I had seen John’s filly walking and showing,” Cummings said, and after the gray daughter of Tapit had been bought back at $900,000, “we got to talking about her. I have known John since our boys played sports together, and he is a gentleman and a sportsman of the highest standards. She seemed like a really likeable prospect, and she’s from a family that has been a foundation stone at Darby Dan for generations. So when we had the opportunity of partnering with John on this filly, it seemed like a mutually beneficial idea that has worked out really well to this point.”

Winter Sunset is the second foal out of the 10-year-old Winter Memories (El Prado), winner of the G1 Diana and Garden City Stakes. Winter Memories was the best racer produced by Memories of Silver (Silver Hawk), winner of the G1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup and Beverly D Stakes. Third dam All My Memories (Little Current) was out of Java Moon (Graustark), one of three stakes winners and four stakes-placed runners produced by Golden Trail (Hasty Road), whom John Galbreath had acquired for Darby Dan Farm in the early 1960s from the dispersal of Brookmeade Stable.

With each of her first five dams being producers of distinction for Darby Dan, Winter Sunset may now be ready to create some winter memories for the owners gathered round the coffeepot of friendship and community.

Advertisements

midshipman is part of a lasting legacy for sportsman bob mcnair

With a victory in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23, Princess Warrior became the 19th stakes winner for her sire, 2008 champion 2-year-old colt Midshipman (by Unbridled’s Song).

A good-sized, scopy chestnut, Midshipman is one of three stakes winners foaled from graded stakes winner Fleet Lady, a daughter of the Seattle Slew stallion Avenue of Flags and the Roberto mare Dear Mimi. This is a quality family developed by the California- and Kentucky-based owner-breeder John Mabee.

Mabee did not breed Midshipman, nor any of Fleet Lady’s foals, however, because he sold the young mare to the Stonerside Farm of Janice McNair and her husband Bob, who died last week.

Stonerside’s longtime bloodstock adviser John Adger recalled: “Dick Lossen called me up and said that we needed to buy this mare Fleet Lady that he was authorized to offer from the breeders. I knew Fleet Lady because she had outrun Stonerside fillies several times in graded stakes on the West Coast. So, my only question was, ‘Why in the world would John Mabee want to sell a nice young mare like this?’

“Dick said he didn’t know why they wanted to sell but they wanted $1.2 million. I called Bob and said there was a mare we needed to buy today. When I mentioned how well Fleet Lady had performed against some of our home fillies, he said, ‘Go ahead and do the deal. See if we can get it done.’ She had just been covered by Deputy Minister and was carrying her first pregnancy, and the foal she was carrying turned out to be Fast Cookie,” who became a graded stakes winner and important producer.

Midshipman was Fleet Lady’s sixth live foal, but by the time the sharp-looking chestnut was a 2-year-old in the summer of 2008, the McNairs were looking to get out of horse racing. Adger went looking for someone who would buy the entirety of the Stonerside property, bloodstock, and racing stable and found that investor in Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, who operates an international breeding establishment in the name of Darley and typically races under the banner of Godolphin.
“When we made the deal with John Ferguson [in the summer of 2008], I told him that this was going to be a good deal for both parties,” Adger said, and the bloodstock and racehorses were a major success for the new owner from the first. On Sept. 3 at Del Mar, Midshipman was the last G1 winner for Stonerside Stable, winning the Del Mar Futurity. At the Breeders’ Cup races a few weeks later, Midshipman earned Sheikh Mohammed a first G1 from his new acquisitions with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and subsequently the Eclipse as leading juvenile colt. [Another horse from the Stonerside deal, the 3-year-old Elusive Quality colt Raven’s Pass, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the colors of Princess Haya.]

The Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award proved to be the peak of Midshipman’s racing career, which was limited to four starts and two victories, plus a third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, over the next two years, but at stud, the charming chestnut has proven himself very nearly, if not the, best stallion son of Unbridled’s Song to date.

Adger noted that, in the negotiations to sell Stonerside, Fleet Lady and her G1-winning son were key horses in the deal. Notably, this family has also continued to provide successes in breeding and racing. This weekend, for instance, Godolphin’s juvenile filly Elsa (Animal Kingdom) won the Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar over a mile on turf. Elsa is out of a half-sister to Midshipman. Their eldest half-sister, Fast Cookie, is the dam of two stakes winners, most notably Frosted (Tapit), winner of the G1 Metropolitan Handicap, Whitney, and Wood Memorial.

Second in the 2015 Belmont Stakes behind American Pharoah, Frosted is a stallion at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, where he stands alongside kinsman Midshipman. An additional half-sister to Midshipman, Fast Cookie, and others is the unraced Storm Cat mare Surf Song, the dam of Solomini (Curlin), who has been second or third in four G1 races and earned more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

In summing up the impact of Stonerside, Adger suggested its value came from the commitment of its owners, Bob and Janice McNair. “Bob McNair was a very special man,” Adger commented, “both to me professionally and to the sport. You know, he didn’t want to get too involved in racing. [Adger laughed.] Early on, he said he didn’t want more than 10 horses and didn’t want a farm. Then it grew.”

Then it grew.

flatter colt apparently locks up championship title with coronation futurity victory

Flatter – the massively constructed son of A.P. Indy and the Mr. Prospector mare Praise has become one of the leading sires at historic Claiborne Farm, as well as nationally, due to the consistency and quality of his offspring. (Claiborne photo)

Could the hulking Claiborne Farm stallion Flatter, the sire of 50 stakes winners to date and a half-dozen winners of $1 million or more, be having a better year? Yes, but only a bit. If the stallion’s 2017 champion 3-year-old star West Coast had lived up to half-expectations, the massive son of A.P. Indy would really be flying high.

In 2017, West Coast came on strong during the second half of the year to win the Eclipse Award as leading 3-year-old colt, and that grand-looking athlete’s much-abbreviated 2018 season of racing – four races in Florida, UAE, California, and Kentucky – was one of the disappointments of the racing year.

Beginning his 2018 season with a good second in the Pegasus to Gun Runner, West Coast ran a respectable race in the Dubai World Cup to finish second behind Thunder Snow, then was unraced for six months. Returning in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, West Coast ran another creditable race to finish second by 2 ¼ lengths to divisional leader Accelerate. The colt’s final start came in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which resulted in a surprising 7th place finish at Churchill Downs after pressing the strong pace of Mendelssohn.

Now, West Coast goes to stud for the 2019 season at Lane’s End Farm outside Versailles, Ky. He will stand for a fee of $35,000.

But with eight stakes winners this year, Flatter did not depend solely on West Coast and currently ranks 10th among all North American stallions on the general sire list. One of the features of Flatter’s sire record this year is a quintet of stakes juveniles, including Stifling, winner of the My Dear Stakes at Woodbine, and Cassies Dreamer, third in both the G1 Spinaway and G1 Frizette. Both are out of mares by leading sire War Front.

Flatter – follows 2017 U.S. champion 3-year-old colt West Coast with the probable Canadian champion juvenile colt Avie’s Flatter. (Claiborne photo)

And on Nov. 18, Avie’s Flatter ran his juvenile record to three victories from four starts with a success in the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine. Winner of the Cup and Saucer Stakes on Oct. 7, Avie’s Flatter clearly relishes a mile and more, and that is entirely appropriate to his pedigree, as both his grandsires won the Belmont Stakes. A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) won the longest classic in 1992, as part of his 3-year-old campaign that made him champion of his division, as well as Horse of the Year following a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Empire Maker (Unbridled) won the Belmont in 2003 but lost the Eclipse to fan favorite Funny Cide (Distorted Humor), winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Their descendant Avie’s Flatter has the potential to play a role in the 2019 classics, either in the States or Canada.

Bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, Avie’s Flatter races in the name of his breeder.

David Anderson of Anderson Farms and breeder of 2018 Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot commented on his fellow breeder. He said, “Mr. Dalos is one of Canada’s premier breeders. Year in and year out, he is breeding some of the country’s best Thoroughbreds. Avie’s Flatter stems from one of Tall Oaks good female families, and his win in the Coronation Futurity was very impressive. That should definitely cement him as the champion 2-year-old colt in Canada and likely the winter book favorite for the Queen’s Plate.”

The pro-tem champion is the fourth foal and second stakes winner out of his young dam, the Empire Maker mare Avie’s Empire. The mare had previously produced Avie’s Mineshaft (Mineshaft), winner of the Wonder Where Stakes; ran second in the Princess Elizabeth, Bison City, and Carotene Stakes; and was third in the Fury Stakes.

Their dam is the unraced Avie’s Empire, and she was bred at Tall Oaks as well. She’s a half-sister to stakes winners Avie’s Tale (Tale of the Cat; Blushing K.D. Handicap) and Avie’s Quality (Elusive Quality; Display Stakes).

Their dam was the Lord Avie mare Fly for Avie, a graded stakes winner of more than a half-million who became one of the foundation mares of the breeding operation at Tall Oaks. The mare’s most significant achievement on the racecourse was a victory in the G1 E.P. Taylor Stakes in 2000 when the mare was a 5-year-old.

Fly for Avie was the only foal of her dam, the Arctic Tern mare Fly for Baby, that raced in the States. Bred and raced by Landon Knight, Fly for Baby was sold to Indian interests after producing her first foal, and in her new home, Fly for Baby produced three stakes winners, including Acrobat (Chief’s Crown), winner of the Poonawalla Trophy and the Knock Out Million, and Allaire (Razeen), winner of the Kingfisher Derby and the Bangalore Oaks.

But from Fly for Baby’s single American acorn, there is now a forest of Canadian tall oaks.

knicks go is an unqualified endorsement for the kra genetics selection program

In a stunning wire-to-wire performance, Knicks Go won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity by 5 ½ lengths on Oct. 6 at Keeneland to become the first Grade 1 winner by first-crop sire Paynter (by Awesome Again).

Sent off at 70-1 odds largely because he had been beaten into fifth in the G3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, then finished third in the listed Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 8, Knicks Go has now won two of his four starts and simply outran his opponents to win the G1 stakes and earn a place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile next month.

Bloodstock consultant Jun Park, who works with the Korea Racing Authority in selecting horses, said: “Knicks Go had been training well at Keeneland, and that was the reason we wanted to try this race. He will definitely be going to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile,” where the chairman of the KRA will be in attendance also.

Racing in the name of KRA Stud Farm, Knicks Go is part of a long-term plan by the KRA to improve their racing and breeding stock and to make Korean-bred Thoroughbreds more internationally prominent. A racing organization that has long been recognized for its international interest and long-term planning, the KRA is a multi-layer entity that has put a significant number of important people to work on this strategic plan. A key component of the overall plan is a genetic-testing program developed by Jin Woo Lee of the KRA.

“They developed their own genetic test in Korea,” Park said, and as part of this approach, “I go to the farms before the sale, collect the hair samples for them, and we submit those to the company that analyzes the genomes. It takes at least three weeks to analyze the entire genome. In that regard, it’s much different from the companies that take samples and run the genetic results overnight.”

The goal of this sophisticated process, Park said, “is to buy potential stallion prospects as yearlings, then prove them by running in the United States. The Breeders’ Futurity was the right circumstance.”

Winning a G1 race to prove a potential stallion’s quality “is their purpose in doing this,” Park said, “and they consider a lot of other factors, but they want a good stallion. That is their main goal. According to them, the stallion prospect will have good genes to transfer to the foal; so it would succeed as a stallion, as well.”

Park noted that the “person in charge of the genetics operation is the inventor, Jin Woo Lee,” who also developed the quite user-friendly KRA website, and the Breeders’ Futurity winner is named for this genetics program – “K” Nicks.

Knicks Go is one of two yearlings that the KRA bought in 2017 to race in the U.S., and he is meeting all expectations and then some.

Bred in Maryland by Angie Moore, Knicks Go was sent to the 2016 Keeneland November sale as a foal and sold for $40,000 out of Bill Reightler’s consignment to Northface Bloodstock. The colt was resold the following September at Keeneland through Woods Edge Farm and brought $87,000 from the Korea Racing Authority.

When the KRA came over to purchase Knicks Go at the September sale, they brought a crew of professionals from the organization to inspect the yearlings and finalize the list. After they were successful in acquiring Knicks Go, “we sent him to Nick deMeric, who broke the colt in Florida and took him through his early training. Knicks Go looked like a nice prospect fairly early,” Park said.

UPDATE: Sporting the owner line of KRA Stud Farm, Knicks Go will continue to race here in the States, and then, once the colt’s racing career is over, Park reports, the KRA would like to stand a stallion here in the U.S. With proven G1 merit and the genetics to back up his potential as a sire, Knicks Go could fit the profile for this brave new venture of international racing and breeding.

Given the colt’s excellent second in his subsequent start, the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Knicks Go is a live contender for greater acclaim next year and a serious prospect as a potential stallion prospect for either the U.S. or Korea.

the effects of size on the soundness of the thoroughbred racehorse

Unbridled’s Song – provoked a bidding frenzy for his sire Unbridled after victory in the BC Juvenile against the Storm Cat colt Hennessy, who later became the sire of international champion Johannesburg

Several times over the past weeks, readers have commented on the look of the contemporary Thoroughbred in comparison with horses of past years. In particular, readers have noted that racers today appear to have lighter bone than the horses of yesteryear who raced so successfully season after season.

From my personal experience in measuring horses over the past decade and a half, I would concur there are differences between horses of today and those of 50 or 60 years past. From that past era, DataTrack has measurements of a sizable minority of horses, typically important racehorses, who were foaled in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as many more from more recent years.

The surprise, I suppose, is the difference in bone is not what an interested observer would expect. The typical circumference of the cannon bone (long bone immediately below the knee in the foreleg) among horses of the 1960s and 1970s ranges from 8 to 8.5 inches. Secretariat, for instance, had a front cannon circumference of 8.25 inches. Northern Dancer was 8 inches, as were Lyphard, Mr. Prospector, and Danzig.

The startling result of the data is the typical cannon circumference today is in the same range.

The difference between horses of a half-century ago and today is not in circumference of the cannon but in its length. Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, and Danzig had front cannons that measured 13.25 inches; Northern Dancer and Lyphard measured 13 inches.

In contrast, the cannon length of quite a number of contemporary horses is a fair bit longer. A significant source of this greater length is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and leading sire Unbridled’s Song. A really big, really fast, really dominant son of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, Unbridled’s Song was an exceptional individual at the 2-year-old in training sales, hammered down for seven figures before being turned back because a vet detected a “flake” in an ankle.

Owner-pinhooker Ernie Paragallo took the colt back and never had a luckier day. Unbridled’s Song proved as exceptional on the racetrack as he had been at the sales ring. A Grade 1 winner at 2 and 3, Unbridled’s Song promised even more than he proved on the racetrack, and that promise, along with his exceptional presence and visual appeal, earned the big gray a first-rate opportunity at stud on Taylor Made Farm.

In addition to becoming a first-tier sire, Unbridled’s Song was the near-contemporary of Storm Cat who vied most with that great sire as a superpower at the sales. Unbridled’s Song sired big, scopy stock with good bone. They had a lot of leg and stretch that made them visually impressive, and sales buyers could not help themselves. They bought the stock by Unbridled’s Song for big money; from 17 crops by the grand gray son of Unbridled, weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds in training by him sold for more than $296 million.

The Unbridled’s Song prospects sold for serious money long after it became clear that, talented as they undoubtedly were, they were less than the soundest racing propositions under contemporary conditions.

The fundamental reason they had trouble staying sound is that they were so talented; slow horses don’t put as much pressure on their structure and are less likely to break down.

This conundrum has long been a problem for leading sires because most of them sire stock that perform close to the physical limitations of the strengths of the materials that make up the Thoroughbred racehorse.

To the universal demands of high speed for racing success, Unbridled’s Song – and other big sires who tend to sire tall, strongly made horses – added the extra challenge of those long legs, and the sales buyers – who direct the breeding of horses to a great extent and have done so for 30 years or more – love to pay big money for tall, strongly built, athletic-looking young horses.

In contrast to the stallions of 50 years ago who would have cannon lengths of 13.25 inches or so, stallions today frequently have cannon bones an inch or more longer. Surely, that doesn’t make all the difference? Generally, not by itself.

The radius (bone immediately above the knee) is also longer, however, and the horses’ bodies are correspondingly lengthier and taller. With the extra bone and muscle, these brave new horses are also heavier. The extra weight, multiplied by the force of racing at high speed, pushes them ever closer to the structural limits of bone and sinew, and that’s the final problem for racing Thoroughbreds and keeping them sound and happy.

So, to encourage the breeding and use of horses that race often and effectively, I would propose the development of racing programs that reward horses for winning races, rather than so disproportionately rewarding those lucky enough to win the 3 percent of stakes races.

This sort of program would be 1) good for the breed because even horses who were a step off stakes quality would reward their owners, 2) good for breeders because their horses would be in greater demand and able to earn more, 3) good for the sales because increased rewards at the track would encourage a much deeper pool of buyers, and 4) good for the racetracks because there would be a more robust pool of racehorses to fill their cards and engender greater handle and more bettor enthusiasm.

Racing more often in a program such as this would help to return the breed to a greater functionality, thus enlivening the sport at every level and guaranteeing the positive progress of the Thoroughbred in the 21st century.

Unbridled’s Song – at Taylor Made Farm, where he became a vital force in racing and breeding for a generation. (Taylor Made photo)

leading european juveniles are a tale of two pedigrees

In looking at the winners of the two Group 1 races for juveniles at Newmarket, Iridessa (by Ruler of the World) in the Fillies Mile and Too Darn Hot (Dubawi) in the Dewhurst, I was immediately tempted to paraphrase Charles Dickens.

We shouldn’t say that “it was the best of pedigrees; it was the worst of pedigrees” because Iridessa is from the first crop of English Derby winner Ruler of the World (Galileo), and the grandly bred chestnut son of the great sire Galileo is half of Iridessa’s pedigree. But even though the pedigree of the filly’s sire is world-class, there’s no escaping the fact that Iridessa is only the second G1 winner in the female line for 10 generations.

The other is Iridessa’s granddam Starine. This French-bred mare was a listed stakes winner at 2, then was purchased near the middle of her 4-year-old season and imported to the U.S. by trainer Bobby Frankel. The mare immediately placed in a graded event, and Starine improved enough to win the G1 Matriarch at 4 and then the Breeders’ Cup Filly Turf in her last start as a 5-year-old.

Frankel rarely bred horses and sent his star mare to the 2002 Keeneland November sale, where she sold for $1 million out of the Mill Ridge Sales consignment. Klaus Jacobs of Newsells Park Stud in Newmarket was the buyer, and the gray mare produced two foals for Newsells Park, the unraced Danehill mare Senta’s Dream in 2004 and the winning Green Desert gelding Media Stars in 2005.

One of two stakes winners by her sire, the Theatrical horse Mendocino, Starine was the only top-class performer for either of her parents, and that bright spark was snuffed out too early with the mare’s death in late 2005.

Iridessa, however, is the sixth foal out of Senta’s Dream and the third winner. A winner on her debut, and the first winner in England or Ireland for her classic-winning sire, Iridessa has now won two of her four starts and was third in the Ingabelle Stakes at Leopardstown in Ireland.

The big, powerfully made bay relished the distance of the Fillies Mile and was the most powerful of the competitors in the race out of the Dip at Newmarket and up the rising ground to the wire.

It may not be a coincidence that both winners of Newmarket’s premier juvenile events followed a similar path to victory. Each was covered up through much of the race, then let loose nearing the Dip and won their G1s by having the pace to get to the front, then stay on strongly to the wire.

Nobody would argue that Too Darn Hot has the most speed of the two, and the colt’s jockey was at some pains to throttle him back after a neat start so that Too Darn Hot would have cover through the early part of the race.

Nor would anyone argue that the dark brown colt has the better pedigree. In fact, he has one of the best in the world. His sire Dubawi was the best racing son of the Godolphin hero Dubai Millennium (Seeking the Gold), and Dubawi has proven not only the best stallion son of Dubai Millennium but also one of the leading stallions in the world.

In the 2018 crop of juveniles, two sons of Dubawi – Too Darn Hot and Quorto – are widely regarded as the two best colts in England, and Dubawi has challenged Galileo as the leading sire of sales yearlings with premier offerings at Arqana and most recently at Tattersalls.

The highest-priced colt at Tattersalls, and the most expensive colt in Europe or America, is a full brother to Too Darn Hot. Both are out of the splendid racemare Dar Re Mi (Singspiel), who won the G1 Pretty Polly, Yorkshire Oaks, and Dubai Sheema Classic, as well as taking second in the G1 Prix Vermeille.

At stud, Dar Re Mi has been just as impressive. From five foals to race, four are winners, including the full siblings Too Darn Hot (G1 Dewhurst and unbeaten in four starts); listed stakes winner Lah Ti Dar, most recently second in the G1 St Leger against colts; and So Mi Dar, winner of the G3 Musidora Stakes and third in the G1 Prix de l’Opera. The mare’s other winner is De Treville (Oasis Dream), who is four times placed in G3 sprints.

In turn, Dar Re Mi is one of four G1 winners from five stakes winners out of Prix Vermeille winner Darara (Top Ville). The mare’s other winners at the top level are Diaghilev (Sadler’s Wells), winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong; Darazari (Sadler’s Wells), winner of the Ranvet Stakes in Australia; and Rewilding (Tiger Hill), winner of Dubai Sheema Classic, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and third in the English Derby.

In addition to her racing and producing class, Darara is also a half-sister to French Derby winner Darshaan (Shirley Heights), a top sire and broodmare sire. They are out of the Abdos mare Delsy, bred in the Boussac stud that the Aga Khan IV acquired in 1978.

The Aga Khan bred Darara, kept her in the stud, and then sent her to auction in 1994, where she was purchased by the Watership Down Stud of Madeleine and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. For Watership Down, Darara confirmed the excellence of her heritage, and the stud has retained members of the family ever since.

Getting into this family is like hoeing in tall cotton, and mares of this quality require a breeder with plenty of cash liquidity and the willingness to use it. Darara more than repaid the faith that Watership Down showed in her. She produced multiple seven-figure yearlings for the stud, which has a policy of selling its colts and keeping its fillies.

That has worked wonders with this family because it has allowed the stud to maintain profitability while retaining some of the quality stock bred there from generation to generation.

Like his sale-topping full brother, Too Darn Hot was expected to go to the sales, but “he had x-ray issues when he was a yearling,” Lloyd-Webber noted cheerfully after the Dewhurst.

Due to the pressures of the commercial market, they have kept a colt who may prove the best horse Watership Down has yet bred.

broodmare legend urban sea overcame the odds against vast influence for mares

Too often, mares do not receive the credit they deserve. On the breeding and bloodstock side of the fence in particular, mares are typically overlooked by the public and even by professionals due to the vast output from stallions compared to the puny production a mare can add to the Thoroughbred population annually.

One.

A good mare, a really good one who pops out foals like peas, produces one foal a year. For some mares, however, for some very special mares, one is enough.

Take the case of Urban Sea (by Miswaki). On the racecourse, she won eight of her 23 races, but the victory that counted most was the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. On her best days besides the Arc, Urban Sea showed quite good form; she was second in the G1 Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot, second in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, third in the Prix Vermeille and in the Prix Ganay, both at Longchamp.

So, Urban Sea was talented, was tough, and she was a winner at 2 and continued that into her 5-year-old season. Then she went to stud and became a legend.

That’s not the norm; that’s not statistically probable. Nonetheless, Urban Sea did it.

The mare’s first four foals were all stakes winners. Urban Ocean (Bering) won the Gallinule Stakes. Melikah (Lammtarra) won the Pretty Polly; the mare’s fourth foal, a colt by Sadler’s Wells named Black Sam Bellamy, won the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

That colt’s full brother was Urban Sea’s third foal. He won a half-dozen races, including the English Derby, Irish Derby, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. His name is Galileo.

Like his dam and like his sire, Galileo was a right nice performer on the racetrack. And when he went to stud, he was a better producer of racehorses than anything like the norm, even for very good racehorses and sires.

Currently, Galileo is bearing down on his next unimaginable target as a sire of unequalled accomplishments: he is going to pass 300 lifetime stakes winners sometime in the next year. That’s not something that might happen or would be nice to happen. Just as the sun will rise tomorrow, Galileo will pass 300 stakes winners; he has 286 at last count, but that could change any minute. Galileo is also the leading sire in England and Ireland for the 10th time, the ninth in a row.

Over the weekend, Galileo’s daughter Magical won her first G1 stakes in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes; the 3-year-old full sister to three-time G1 winner Rhododendron was already a G2 stakes winner. On the Champions Day card, the open feature at 10 furlongs was the Champion Stakes, and for the second year in a row, the race went to Cracksman, the best son of Frankel to date.

Unbeaten Frankel was the best racing son of Galileo, and the unbeaten bay is bidding to be the best son at stud also. With nearly three dozen stakes winners to date, Frankel is represented by three crops of racing age, led by the 4-year-old Cracksman.

In the Champion, Cracksman won his race at the expense of Crystal Ocean, one of the high-class racers of 2018 by the once-beaten Sea the Stars (Cape Cross). A winner of the English Derby, 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse Stakes, Irish Champion, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sea the Stars is one of the four stakes winners from the last six foals from Urban Sea.

A half-brother to Galileo, Sea the Stars has been a mightily effective sire of classic performers, with Oaks winner Taghrooda, English Derby winner Harzand, and German Derby winner Sea the Moon among the sire’s best performers to date from nearly four dozen stakes winners. The leading racers by Sea the Stars this season include Cloth of Stars (G1 Prix Ganay) and Stradivarius, winner of the British Champions Long Distance Cup on Saturday and the leading stayer in England who is unbeaten in five starts in 2018. Also on Saturday, the filly Listen In (Sea the Stars) won the Prix du Conseil du Paris (about 12 furlongs) at Chantilly.

Without doubt, Galileo and Sea the Stars are the primary conduits for spreading the influence of their famous dam throughout the pedigrees of the world.

Of the eight stakes winners out of Urban Sea, Galileo and Sea the Stars are peers of the realm in racing and breeding. Everywhere, they are considered among the best of the best. Classic winners and sires of classic winners and champions, they are not, however, the only important producers of important racing stock that Urban Sea has produced.

One of the ironies of breeding is that Urban Sea, as great a broodmare as she was, had only 11 named foals. That is 10 percent (or less) of the production from a popular stallion in a single year. From Urban Sea’s small pool, however, she has launched a great tide of bloodstock around the world.

breeders’ cup juvenile comes up a ‘winner’ for wests and summer wind

Unbeaten in four starts after a clear victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a near-certainty to be the Eclipse Award winner as the leading colt of his division, the 2-year-old Game Winner will be the second juvenile champion by his sire, the Argentine-bred Candy Ride (by the Cryptoclearance stallion Ride the Rails). The stallion’s fleet Shared Belief was champion of the juvenile crowd in 2013, when he was unbeaten in three starts, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

Unlike the juvenile program of Shared Belief, Game Winner is set to take a break and then gear up for the 2019 classics in the New Year, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

That decision will make some trainers breathe easier about their prospects in the coming weeks, but it also puts a major bar to the hopes for Candy Ride to lead the general sire list this year. Kitten’s Joy (El Prado) stands more than $1 million clear of his rival, and Candy Ride needs a couple of major winners to close the gap.

But Game Winner holds out hopes of further grand results in 2019 for the lengthy bay stallion at Lane’s End, and Game Winner will not be the first unbeaten colt that trainer Baffert has pointed to the classics.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, Game Winner is related to one such colt trained by Baffert. In 1998, the trainer brought an unbeaten colt of towering speed and stature to the Kentucky Derby, but Indian Charlie (In Excess) lost for the first time, finishing third to Baffert’s “other horse,” Real Quiet (Quiet American).

Retired to stud at Vinery, Indian Charlie became a leading sire, and one of his champion racers was Fleet Indian, who is the second dam of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.

Fleet Indian won 13 of 19 starts, earned $1.7 million, and was the 2006 Eclipse Award winner as the top older mare off her 5-year-old season, when she won six consecutive races, including the G1 Beldame and Personal Ensign.

Consigned to the 2007 Keeneland November sale in foal to Storm Cat, Fleet Indian was officially listed an RNA at $3.9 million and was led from the ring unsold, but the mare was sold privately to the Summer Wind Farm of Jane and Frank Lyon shortly thereafter.

For Summer Wind, Fleet Indian produced four foals consecutively, then was euthanized due to complications of colic on Oct. 1, 2011 when the mare was only 10. Fleet Indian was not in foal at the time of her death, and none of her foals came close to reproducing her elite form on the racetrack.

Of the quartet, only the last, the Medaglia d’Oro filly Fleet of Gold earned black type with a third in the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct. Three, however, are mares, and the unraced A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving is owned by Summer Wind and is the dam of Game Winner.

Sold at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale as Hip 346, Game Winner brought only $110,000, just a touch below the 2017 median price of $130,000 for all 55 Candy Ride yearlings sold.

The winning bidder on behalf of Gary and Mary West was Ben Glass, who said: “To get him for that price, I guess I’m lucky. I love A.P. Indy and Candy Ride, and everybody has to get lucky once in a while.”

Once the hammer fell on the handsome bay colt, Game Winner went to “Dell Ridge Farm on Winchester Road outside Lexington, where Des Ryan takes care of them till they go to Jeff Kirk in Ocala to break. We send all our horses to Jeff; the young horses go there for breaking and pre-training, and the older horses who need layup or rehab go to Ocala too. I bought a place down there 30 minutes from Crystal River just so that I can interfere with Jeff’s training.”

When not interfering with Kirk’s training regimen, Glass is usually on the road to sales or to watch racehorses around the country for the Wests’ stable. They have racing stock with five different trainers across the U.S., and to orchestrate such a sizable operation, Glass noted, “It’s a team effort, and it takes a good group like this to put all these horses on the track in the best form possible.”

In addition to Ryan in Lexington and Kirk in Ocala, Glass has Dr. Douglas Brunk, “who’s worked with me for 35 years,” to assess vet work across the country and Dr. Craig Van Balen in Lexington, who does the pre-purchase exams on potential racehorses.

“That’s the team,” Glass said, “except for the Boss, and he has the final say.” If the results from Saturday are any indication, the boss is pretty happy. With an Eclipse Award winner in the barn with Baffert and last year’s champion 3-year-old West Coast (Flatter) retired and off to Lane’s End Farm to begin his stud career next year, the Wests’ stable is flying high.

And the legacy of Fleet Indian is looking like a Winner.

a dream filly come true, fairyland a star at the sales and now at the racecourse

While inspecting and measuring yearlings last fall in Newmarket for Book 1 of the Tattersalls yearling sale, I saw a lot of really nice yearlings. But even among the well-grown and athletic prospects on the spacious grounds at Tattersalls, there was a filly who stood out as extra special.

Walking across one of the yards Tattersalls uses to house its sales yearlings, I nearly gave myself whiplash when a bay filly walked by.

Big, strongly made with scope and quality, she had a slashing walk and the presence of a queen.

fairyland at tatts17

Fairyland at the Tattersalls 2017 yearling sale, where she sold for 925,000 guineas. The striking bay daughter of Kodiac is now a Group 1 winner to match her impressive physical quality.

The racing public may have thought the same thing on Sept. 29 when Fairyland stood in the winner’s enclosure at Newmarket racecourse a near-year after her sale across town. For Fairyland was the filly who so emphatically turned my head.

Nor was I the only one.

A strong bay with black points, Fairyland sold for 925,000 guineas as Hip 161. That, in itself, was a stunner. As a daughter of the Danehill stallion Kodiac out of the unraced Pivotal mare Queenofthefairies, Fairyland was not pedigreed to be a market leader.

But that is what she became through the excellence of her distinctive individual qualities, showing more size and scope than most of the stock by her sire, and even so, one well-informed sales reporter observed, “She very nearly has to win the Cheveley Park to worth that.”

That the filly has accomplished exactly that feat now makes Fairyland worth quite a bit more for owners Evie Stockwell, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

She is the second stakes winner from three winners out of her dam, who is a half-sister to leading European 2-year-old Dream Ahead (Diktat), who won the G1 Middle Park Stakes and Prix Morny at 2. He then progressed to become the next season’s leading sprinter also, with victories in the G1 July Cup and Prix de la Foret.

The 10-year-old Dream Ahead has sired G1 winner Al Wukair (Prix Jacques le Marois) last season and 20 total stakes winners to date.

Prior to Fairyland, Dream Ahead’s half-sister Queenofthefairies had produced stakes winner Now or Never (Bushranger), winner of the G3 Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial and then third in the classic itself. Sent to race in Australia, the filly won the G2 Rose of Kingston Stakes.

Fairyland’s second and third dams are stakes winners Land of Dreams (G2 Flying Childers Stakes; by Cadeaux Genereux) and Sahara Star (G3 Molecomb Stakes; Green Desert). Fourth dam Vaigly Star ran second in the G1 July Cup against colts and is by Arc de Triomphe winner Star Appeal.

This is a family with a great deal of speed and a fair bit of quality black type that seems to be upgrading generation by generation. It has reached a new high with the winner of the Cheveley Park.

As things stand today, Fairyland is no less elite on pedigree through her sire, but that has not always been the case. The simple fact is that Kodiac did not accomplish nearly enough in his racing career. With only a second in the G3 Hackwood Stakes as his single black-type accomplishment from 20 starts and four victories over the course of racing from ages 2 through 5, Kodiac might well have been a negligible sire if even given such an opportunity.

But, as fate would have it, Kodiac is a half-brother to five stakes winners, most importantly G1 winner Invincible Spirit (Green Desert), who is four years the senior. Kodiac was born the year his famous older brother was rated the top older sprinter in Ireland, and Invincible Spirit added the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup to his accomplishments the following year.

After Kodiac’s 5-year-old season, Invincible Spirit was on his way to becoming a sire of significance, and the younger half-brother was given a chance as an inexpensive sire for Tally-Ho Stud. That might have been the end of the story, but the genetics that power some sires have made Kodiac a star in Irish breeding. The sire of a record 61 2-year-old winners last season, and 46 stakes winners overall, the 17-year-old Kodiac has risen year by year to become a stalwart of the European breeding community.

Speed up to seven furlongs was his forte, and nearly all of his stock have speed. Place them well, and they will win. But the best of them also have surprising class, and Fairyland is the third G1 winner for the sire. His first was Tiggy Wiggy, a fast and precocious juvenile who also won the Cheveley Park and was recognized as the best 2-year-old filly in England and Europe. This year, Kodiac is also represented by his second G1 winner, the 4-year-old Best Solution, winner of the Grosser Pries von Baden and the GP von Berlin, both over 12 furlongs.

Even allowing that Best Solution is an outlier for this well-proven sire, the scope and size of Fairyland give her a fair chance of staying a mile, and she has already proven that she has the dash and class to win at the top level.

mckenzie raising the bar for kentucky derby-winning sire street sense with g1 victories at 2 and 3, plus prospects of a stallion career

Victory in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22 put McKinzie’s lifetime record at four victories and a second from five starts. The great question of his ranking among his contemporaries, however, will remain a mystery: How would he have fared against Justify?

With the pro tem champion and Horse of the Year standing on golden straw at Ashford Stud outside Versailles, Ky., McKinzie will have to test his elders alone and perhaps give the racing public and breeders a line on their comparative merits through his success in that endeavor.

Even that line of form will remain a conjecture, at best, because Justify never faced an older horse, and in fact, his entire stakes career was bracketed by the time that McKinzie was on the sidelines with a bruised hock.

In late March, McKinzie was scratched from the upcoming Santa Anita Derby, in which he would have been favored, and then-allowance winner Justify took up the mantle of unbeaten G1 winner in that race and wore it through the Triple Crown.

And, while we chew on the leathery pigskin of disappointment that the two never met, trainer Bob Baffert has apparently returned McKinzie to high-class form and left something for the colt to progress on in his upcoming races.

That is excellent news for racing and for breeders with an interest in these horses. Should McKinzie remain sound and progress well against his elders, he should be able to provide quality racing through his 4-year-old season and test next year’s classic generation, as well.

If so, McKinzie will be following a career path quite similar to that of his grandsire, the Machiavellian horse Street Cry. Third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 2, Street Cry won the UAE 2,000 Guineas at 3 and then was sidelined before the American classics that had long been his intended destination. The heavily constructed dark bay returned to race well as a 4-year-old, when he won the G1 Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster, then was second in the Whitney Stakes.

That first-rate 4-year-old season propelled Street Cry to a stud career at Darley‘s Jonabell Farm. There he sired Horse of the Year Zenyatta and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. Also standing at Jonabell, Street Sense has been his sire’s best son at stud, and McKinzie is the best son of Street Sense.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, McKinzie sold for $170,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September sale to Three Amigos and races for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Their star racer is out of the Petionville mare Runway Model, winner of the (then) G2 Alcibiades Stakes and G2 Golden Rod Stakes at 2, then third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The next season, the mare was second in the G1 Ashland.

The Ashland proved to be Runway Model’s most notable effort at 3, and as a 4-year-old, in foal for the first time, and on a cover to nothing less than Storm Cat himself, Runway Model sold at the 2006 Keeneland November sale for $2.7 million to Summer Wind.

The foal that Runway Model was carrying is the winning mare Couture Cat, dam of the stakes-placed High Fashion Diva and one of five winners out of the dam. McKinzie is Runway Model’s seventh live foal, and he is her first stakes winner and major performer.

Runway Model is one of the best performers by her sire, the Seeking the Gold stallion Petionville, the sire of 46 stakes winners, including Alabama Stakes winner Island Fashion and Two Step Salsa, winner of the Godolphin Mile and third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Based in Kentucky at Crestwood Farm for most of his stallion career, and now in Maryland at Murmur Farm, Petionville worked hard at creating a robust niche for himself in the ultra-competitive stallion market. He probably ranks as the second-best son of his sire behind only Dubai Millennium, the sire of a single crop but one that included classic winner and leading international sire Dubawi.

With McKinzie’s first three dams all being stakes winners and possessing a pedigree full of racehorses and racehorse sires, McKinzie is going to be a fascinating horse to watch develop over the next year and earn a significant place at stud in the process.