new kentucky sires for 2018, part 2

The horses entering stud in Kentucky for 2018 with fees below $20,000 live foal include some fairly well-known young prospects, as well as others that are flying below the radar.

bird song at gway

Bird Song – is a son of leading sire Unbridled’s Song, whose sire Unbridled began his stallion career at Gainesway, where Bird Song retires for the 2018 season. (Gainesway photo)

SELRES_6324a66d-2b3d-4c6d-af1f-2503388dc9adAmong the stallion prospects this year, the pair at the top of this sector of the market are Astern (by Medaglia d’Oro) and Bal a Bali (Put It Back), both at $15,000. Standing at Darley’s Jonabell Farm, Astern is an Australian-bred bay who won stakes at 2 and 3, including the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes at seven furlongs as a 3-year-old.SELRES_6324a66d-2b3d-4c6d-af1f-2503388dc9ad

Astern showed his best form at distances from five-and-a-half to seven furlongs, more along the lines of progeny by broodmare sire Exceed and Excel, a very fast son of leading sire Danehill. Astern is a half-brother to G1 winner Alizee (Sepoy), and his next three dams are all stakes winners, including fourth dam Triscay, who was champion of her division at 2 and 3.

Standing at Calumet, Bal a Bali is a Brazilian-bred dark brown in the type of In Reality: medium-sized, lengthy, and athletic. This neatly made 8-year-old was a four-time G1 winner in his homeland at 3, when he was champion of his division and Horse of the Year. Brought to the States for racing, the horse developed health issues, including a bout of laminitis, but trainer Dick Mandella brought him round on the racetrack to win twice at the G1 level at age 7 in the Shoemaker Mile and Kilroe Mile.

With 15 victories from 26 starts in six seasons of racing, Bal a Bali possesses a level of hardiness and racing aptitude that are atypical in contemporary American racing. His sire Put It Back, a great-grandson of In Reality and useful sire in Florida, has been a revelation in South America since his export, where he has sired champion after champion.

A half-step below these two in price are sons by two of America’s most in-demand sires: Tapit and Pioneerof the Nile. The Tapit horse is Cupid, who enters stud at Ashford for $12,500 after a career in which he won five stakes, including the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, earning more than $1.7 million. A $900,000 yearling of good size and scope, Cupid is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Heart Ashley (Lion Heart) and Ashley’s Kitty (Tale of the Cat). Another expensive Tapit yearling who enters stud in 2018 is Mohaymen, who will stand at Shadwell for $7,500. Sold for $2.2 million as a yearling, Mohaymen is typical of his sire: medium-sized, neatly made, and good-looking. A one-time favored prospect for the 2016 classics, Mohaymen won four times at the G2 level (Nashua, Remsen, Holy Bull, and Fountain of Youth).

In addition to siring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Pioneerof the Nile got the wildly popular young sire Cairo Prince, whose first foals just turned 2. But his first-crop yearlings were so appealing and so strongly supported at the sales, there was even greater demand for ‘Pioneer’ sons at stud. And Midnight Storm enters stud at Taylor Made for $12,500. A stakes winner from 3 through 6, Midnight Storm earned more than $1.7 million. His only victory at the top level was the G1 Shoemaker Mile in 2016, but the horse is a five-time winner of G2 stakes and showed his best form when striding freely on the lead like his broodmare sire Bertrando.

Among the stallions at $10,000 is the Pulpit son American Freedom, who is a big and substantially made horse in the mold of grandsire A.P. Indy. Standing at Airdrie, American Freedom won the G3 Iowa Derby but earned his street cred with seconds in the G1 Travers to Arrogate and in the G1 Haskell to Exaggerator.

Also at $10,000 is the Malibu Moon horse Gormley, winner of the 2017 Santa Anita Derby and the 2016 Frontrunner, both at the G1 level, and a winner of more than $1 million. Standing at Spendthrift alongside his famous sire, Gormley is one of two well-regarded sons of the big, bay son of A.P. Indy who enter stud for 2018. The other is the two years older Mr. Z, a contemporary of American Pharoah and Dortmund who was in the frame with the latter when third in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Mr. Z won the Ohio Derby and earned more than $1.1 million. The handsome chestnut stands for $7,500 at Calumet.

Another entering stallion at the $10,000 level is the Quality Road 4-year-old Klimt, winner of the G1 Del Mar Futurity and second in the Frontrunner to Gormley at 2. Klimt was second to West Coast in the Los Alamitos Derby and third to Battle of Midway in the Shared Belief Stakes in his only two starts at 3. A very handsome specimen, Klimt stands at Darby Dan for $10,000. Klimt had the precocious speed to run a quarter at the OBS March sale in :20 4/5 and sold for $435,000.

Another son of the immensely popular young sire Quality Road is that stallion’s first-crop horse Hootenanny. Entering stud at Buck Pond Farm, Hootenanny won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2014, when he also won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and was second in the G1 Prix Morny. Hootenanny did not recapture that form but placed in stakes at 4 and 5, will stand for $5,000 live foal.

The final stallion for $10,000 is the Candy Ride bay Unified, a winner of the G2 Peter Pan at 3 and the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint over Mind Your Biscuits at 4. Standing at Lane’s End along with his sire and the prosperous young stallion Twirling Candy, Unified is out of stakes-placed Union City, a daughter of Dixie Union like the dams of Mohaymen and Klimt. Unified is a strongly made horse, typical of his sire, and one with the speed to win at sprints and carry his form up to nine furlongs.

Another strong muscled animal is the Buck Pond sire Wildcat Red (D’Wildcat), standing for $7,500. A progressive 3-year-old of 2014, Wildcat Red won the G2 Fountain of Youth and was second in the G1 Florida Derby. Altogether, this horse of the very masculine, Storm Cat type won six races, four stakes, and earned $1.1 million.

There is a son of More Than Ready going to stud for $6,000 at Spendthrift, and he is Tom’s Ready, winner of the G2 Woody Stephens, as well as the G3 Bold Ruler and Ack Ack. A quick-actioned horse with speed, Tom’s Ready earned more than $1 million.

The remaining prospects are all at $5,000. There are a pair at Calumet: Behesht (Sea the Stars), a listed winner at 12 furlongs in France; and Producer (Dutch Art), winner of the G2 Topkapi Trophy in Istanbul and a pair of G3 stakes in England.

The Chilean-bred Tu Brutus enters stud at Crestwood. A winner of two stakes in his homeland, this chestnut son of Scat Daddy was brought to the U.S., where he won the Flat Out Stakes and ran third in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap.

The last horse is Bird Song, a gray son of Unbridled’s Song, like the horse who began this survey, Arrogate. Being the “other” son of Unbridled’s Song to enter stud in 2018 is far from the worst coincidence, and Bird Song won the G2 Alysheba Stakes and G3 Fred Hooper in a racing career with earnings of more than a half-million. Out of champion filly Bird Town (Cape Town), Bird Song traces back through a splendid female family. The scopy gray has good bone and balance, and his presence and ease with his surroundings are a positive reminder of his kinsman across town at Juddmonte Farm.


quality road paying off in the long term with consistency and high performance

One of the positive revelations of the 2017 season was the affirmation – generally believed but now thoroughly proven – that the young sire Quality Road is a member of the stallion elite.

On entering stud in 2011, Quality Road was an outstanding prospect. The tall and striking dark horse was one of the very best racing sons of leading sire Elusive Quality (by Gone West), along with double classic winner and champion Smarty Jones, European highweight Raven’s Pass (Breeders’ Cup Classic, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), and Australian champion Sepoy (Golden Slipper, Blue Diamond Stakes). Furthermore, Quality Road comes from a first-class female family and had a sterling racing career that was highlighted by very fast victories at eight and nine furlongs.

In fact, after his Metropolitan Handicap win in 2010, Quality Road was considered the leader of his division until Blame forcibly dethroned him with a narrow victory in the G1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Then, Blame went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Eclipse Award as leading older colt.

Quality Road entered stud at Lane’s End Farm in 2011 as a horse of exciting potential in a markedly down-beat bloodstock market, and the strongest factors the dark bay son of Elusive Quality had going for him were an outstanding physique and the shocking speed he had inherited from his sire, who is one of the conduits for the Mr. Prospector line through Gone West.

Now, the speed and high class that Quality Road showed on the racetrack have brought him to further glory in his newer role as a sire.

With the victory of City of Light in Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, Quality Road rose a notch to end the year in a tie for first place among all sires of graded stakes winners. With 11 GSWs for the year, Quality Road sits in first place with the late and much lamented sire Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), just one GSW ahead of two heavyweights of the American sire ranks: perennial leading sire Tapit (Pulpit) and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado), both with 10 GSWs each.

Quality Road actually has more graded victories in 2017 than Scat Daddy, although Tapit and Medaglia d’Oro outrank both on that criterion.

Even so, this is lofty company to be keeping, and Quality Road will be getting further recognition for his sire accomplishments. Among his 3-year-olds of 2017 is the filly Abel Tasman, who is generally considered the most likely champion of her division when the results are announced at the Eclipse Awards later this month.

The sire has a second strong candidate for an Eclipse Award for 2017 with the juvenile filly Caledonia Road, who won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with a dramatic finish that has set her up as the potential champion of her division.

City of Light became the sixth G1 winner for his sire with victory in the Malibu, and the now-4-year-old colt joins Caledonia Road, Abel Tasman (4 G1s: Starlet, Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Hootenanny (BC Juvenile Turf), Illuminant (Gamely), and Klimt (Del Mar Futurity) as winners for their sire at the top level.

In particular, the ability to sire performers who are effective at the graded stakes level is the hallmark of the contemporary prestige sire, even if other statistical indicators lag. In these, however, Quality Road is well ahead of the breed norms with 76 percent starters (breed norm of about 60 percent), 51 percent winners (42 percent), and 6 percent stakes winners (3 percent).

Not surprisingly with all these credits, Quality Road is the leading fourth-crop sire, and one of his most impressive statistical accomplishments is having an average earnings index (AEI) of 1.96 from mares with a comparable index of 1.64.

Mares with those numbers for a comparable index are indeed mates of quality, but the fact that the horse has been able to improve on them by 20 percent is a serious statistical advance.

For the 2018 season, Quality Road will stand for $70,000 live foal.

In part due to the continued success that their sire has enjoyed, two sons of Quality Road will enter stud in Kentucky in 2018. These are Klimt, who will be standing at Darby Dan Farm for $10,000, and Hootenanny, who will be standing at Buck Pond Farm near Versailles for $5,000. Furthermore, Quality Road’s son Blofeld, winner of the G2 Futurity Stakes and Nashua at 2, will enter stud at Murmur Farm in Maryland for $4,000 for the 2018 season.

** Note: Some readers have asked about the entering stud fee for Quality Road. The horse went to stud at $35,000 and stood at that price for two years, then was available for $25,000 in his third and fourth seasons at stud, and went back to $35,000 after his stock began performing. For 2018, Quality Road’s fee is $70,000 on the strength of his 2017 season that includes a pair of strong contenders for Eclipse Awards: Abel Tasman and Caledonia Road.

new kentucky sires for 2018, part 1

The breeding market is increasingly segmented between the “in-demand” set of stallions who will be covering large books of select mares during the 2018 breeding season and the “rest.”

The breakover point in stallion pricing between those heavily in demand is approximately $15,000, and the stallion prospects for 2018 who are priced at $20,000 and up are the focus of this article.

As the pricing should suggest, these boys need no introduction.


mastery dec2017

Mastery – as he appeared last month at Claiborne – was a hot favorite for the classics. The tall and handsome son of Candy Ride descends from the Unbridled branch of Mr. Prospector. (BitB photo)


But even among the horses in this elite subset of the stallion population, there are some who are clearly of the highest appeal.

The new stallion with the highest stud fee of 2018 is champion Arrogate (by Unbridled’s Song). The strapping gray established his sterling reputation with a series of victories in four races from the 2016 Travers Stakes through the Breeders’ Cup Classic and inaugural Pegasus World Cup to the 2017 Dubai World Cup over Gun Runner. Those efforts earned him a ranking as the most talented horse in the world, according to the Longines assessments of racehorses worldwide.

A striking, round-bodied yearling when purchased for Juddmonte Farms at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Arrogate has grown into a tall, very well-constructed athlete standing about 16.2 at the end of his 4-year-old season. Still looking quite the racehorse when I saw him last week at Juddmonte, Arrogate possesses good bone, excellent scope and quality, plus the mental character and disposition of a champion.

He will stand for $75,000 live foal.

Arrogate’s chief competitor and contemporary, Gun Runner (Candy Ride), finally gained a measure of success against his gray superior when winning the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, after Arrogate had gone unarguably off form.

Gun Runner, in contrast, has been the marvel of consistency and steady reproduction of form month after month in 2017. The elegant chestnut is little shorter at the wither than his gray rival but is so beautifully balanced that Gun Runner’s height is not obvious till standing beside him.

Gun Runner’s only loss in 2017 was the Dubai World Cup, and the handsome son of Candy Ride came home first in four Grade 1 races this year, beginning with the Stephen Foster, then the Whitney, Woodward, and BC Classic. Out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, Gun Runner shares some of the excellent qualities of his famous broodmare sire in consistent success at the G1 level.

Currently in training for the 2018 Pegasus, Gun Runner is expected to enter stud in 2018 at Three Chimneys for $70,000 live foal.

Behind that elite pair, the entering stallion prospect with the next-highest fee is 2016 champion 2-year-old colt Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile). A colt of immense talent and promise in 2016, Classic Empire found numerous hurdles to steady progress through his second season.

Delayed in his training due to seemingly minor issues, Classic Empire won the G1 Arkansas Derby as a prep for the Kentucky Derby, where he ran a surprisingly strong fourth between a pair of other entering prospects for 2018, Battle of Midway and Practical Joke.

Then Classic Empire ran a winning race in the Preakness two weeks later, putting it all on the line against his elite competitors, only to tire late and lose in a photo to Cloud Computing. As a result of his best efforts and early form, plus the demand for his sire, Classic Empire stands at Ashford Stud for $35,000 live foal.

Practical Joke (Into Mischief) finished just behind Classic Empire in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and his additional best form, winning the G1 Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, makes this powerful bay a horse of great interest to breeders for 2018.

In addition, Practical Joke was a top juvenile, winning the G1 Champagne Stakes, and he is by the immensely popular stallion Into Mischief, the best stallion son of Harlan’s Holiday.

Practical Joke stands alongside Classic Empire and others at Ashford, with his fee of $30,000 live foal.

Just below that price point, going to stud for $25,000 live foal, are a pair of entering stallions – Lord Nelson and Mastery. For 2018, they are trying to overcome a lack of recent activity. The longest off-track is Lord Nelson (Pulpit), who was designated for stud in 2017, but laminitis and its complicated recovery put that off a year.

A big, handsome chestnut with great length through the body, Lord Nelson is progressing still from the condition, but all signs are go for his covering a full book in 2018.

Mastery, on the other hand, was the hottest early-book choice for the classics until an injury after his 6 3/4-length victory in the San Felipe Stakes ended his unbeaten career. The “other” son of leading sire Candy Ride entering stud in 2018, Mastery stands 16.2 and is a strikingly handsome bay.

At the next rung of the stud fee ladder among this elite category are a trio of entering stallions priced at $20,000 live foal: Battle of Midway (Smart Strike), Connect (Curlin), and Keen Ice (Curlin).

This trio is notable not only for their form on the racetrack but also their sire line. Two are by leading sire Curlin, the sire of classic winners Exaggerator (Preakness) and Palace Malice (Belmont) who is now standing for $150,000 live foal. And Battle of Midway is by Smart Strike, twice the nation’s leading sire by gross earnings and sire of Preakness Stakes and BC Classic winner Curlin, twice Horse of the Year.

A robustly made bay, Battle of Midway ran a bang-up third in the 2017 Kentucky Derby and ended his career with a game victory in the G1 BC Dirt Mile over Sharp Azteca, Practical Joke, and other high-class racers.

Connect won the 2016 G1 Cigar Mile but made only a single start this season, winning the G3 Westchester. A scopy horse in the mold of his sire, this horse possesses a similar type to the other Curlin, 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice.

That victory gave Keen Ice something no other stallion can boast: success against Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah. A good-looking bay, Keen Ice also won the Suburban at Belmont, ran second in the G1 Whitney and Jockey Club Gold Cup, was third in the BC Classic and Belmont Stakes.

a cowboy and his students: fear the cowboy a tribute to student-centered teaching at uk’s maine chance farm

The victory of Fear the Cowboy (by Cowboy Cal) in the Dec. 16 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park poked holes in the aspirations of some horses looking at next month’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup.

But the 5-year-old’s victory brought cheers from fans and partisans as far apart as Kentucky and South Korea.

Fear the Cowboy was bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky, raised at UK’s Maine Chance Farm on Newtown Pike north of Lexington, and then sold at Fasig-Tipton‘s Kentucky winter mixed sale across the road from Maine Chance in February 2013 when Fear the Cowboy was a short yearling.

The leggy bay didn’t bring much, selling for $1,500 to Alexandro Centofanti.

Laurie Lawrence, professor of animal and food sciences at UK, noted that “unlike most of the other farms, our horses aren’t the principal product. Instead, the primary focus and end goal are our students. Each semester, we employ eight to 10 students to work on the farm. They handle the mares, clean the stalls, fix the fences, go on breeding shed runs, and do foal watch.”

Those skills are an important part of UK’s contribution to educating these young people, Lawrence said, because “few of the students come from a Thoroughbred background, and it’s a good introduction to Thoroughbreds.” The Maine Chance operation raises 15-20 yearlings annually and sells them at Fasig-Tipton “because it’s right across the road, and the shorter sales fit into the students’ schedules more easily,” Lawrence said.

The education for and introduction of young people to the Thoroughbred business is one reason the farms and owners in the region support UK, its Maine Chance Farm, and the overall equine program so enthusiastically.

In the case of the Harlan’s Holiday winner, both the dam and the season to the sire were donated to the program.

Lawrence said, “Jeffrey Morris at Highclere Farm donated Whom Shall I Fear,” an unraced daughter of the Dehere stallion Soto, who stood at Highclere.

Morris said, “One of the motivations for donating the filly was Ned Morrison, a really nice guy who got interested in Soto and bought into that filly, but we ended up not getting her to the starting gate. The mare was a maiden, and I donated her near the end of 2009, when she was an unraced 3-year-old.

“Her dam (Leh She Run) was floundering with her produce at that point,” Morris continued. “I wasn’t getting any traction with her yearlings at the sales, and it seemed wiser to donate Whom Shall I Fear and allow my partner to take a tax deduction.”

Morris, however, had bred a foal out of the Pulpit mare Leh She Run in 2009 that turned out to be O’Prado Again (El Prado), winner of the 2011 Remsen Stakes and a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2010.

That made Whom Shall I Fear a nicer-looking prospect for UK when considering her next mating, and Lawrence said “the big success of First Samurai (two-time G1 winning juvenile by Giant’s Causeway) in the mare’s second dam led us to look for a Giant’s Causeway stallion, and Pin Oak was generous enough to donate a season to Cowboy Cal,” a young son of Giant’s Causeway who was fairly popular at the time.

In the interim, Cowboy Cal was sold to stand in South Korea and Fear the Cowboy dawdled his way through the Fasig-Tipton sale. That was, however, the last time the bay colt was caught dawdling.

Lawrence said, “Whom Shall I Fear is pretty big, and her babies tend to be late developers, tall and leggy. When he sold, Fear the Cowboy was a tall, somewhat gangly colt, but he was a perfectly nice colt and has ended up in good hands.”

Repaying sensible management, the competitive bay has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout his career. Fear the Cowboy won a maiden at 2, then became a stakes winner at 3, repeated with a stakes victory at 4, and has won a pair of Grade 3 events this season at 5, with total earnings of $570,869.

That’s a hefty return on a $1,500 horse the students, staff, and management at UK and Maine Chance have many reasons to be proud of. As Lawrence said, “A lot of our horses have gone to end users,” like the owners of Fear the Cowboy, and that has the advantage of benefitting both the buyers and the young men and women who are learning the ropes in an uncertain game.

fipke strikes a ‘perfect’ gem with seeking the soul

With a stunning victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Seeking the Soul became the second G1 winner for his sire, the veteran stallion Perfect Soul (by Sadler’s Wells). The stallion’s previous winner at the premier level is Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and in an ironic turn of chance, both victories came at Churchill Downs.

In addition to this pair, Perfect Soul is the sire of Golden Soul, who was second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby behind Orb, and of Perfect Timber, who was second in the G1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine.

Bred and raced by Canadian precious minerals tycoon Charles Fipke, like his sire, Seeking the Soul is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking the Title, a granddaughter of the great racemare and producer Personal Ensign.

Sid Fernando, president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants and an adviser to Fipke, recalled the circumstances that led to the production of the Clark winner’s dam.

“Mr. Fipke bought Title Seeker (Monarchos) in foal to Seeking the Gold for $1.7 million at the 2006 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.”

The mare produced Seeking the Title the following year, but the result was not what one would hope from such an expensive purchase.

Fernando recalled “the dam of Seeking the Soul was not exactly perfect conformationally, but Mr. Fipke wanted to give her a chance on the racetrack and sent the mare to Dallas Stewart for training. Seeking the Title has some chip issues, conformation issues, and Mr. Fipke sent her into training with strict instructions to retire her immediately if she showed any reluctance or inability to train.”

The breeder’s enterprise was well rewarded.

As a 3-year-old, Seeking the Title won the G3 Iowa Oaks, and she finished third in the G1 Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park later that year. The athletic bay had proved her class, and Fipke brought her home to be a broodmare.

And then bred his G3 winner from one of the great producing families in the stud book to his home stallion Perfect Soul.

There was, however, a reason for this.

Fipke said, “We found, eh, that Perfect Soul works best when you have La Troienne in the family, as well as Mr. Prospector, and in the case of Seeking the Soul, he has them both.” This was the pedigree pattern that Fipke was seeking in making out the mating that produced the Clark Handicap winner, and there’s more.

Fipke continued, “In the case of Seeking the Soul, Dallas Stewart likes the colt’s younger brother and thinks he may be even better than Seeking the Soul.”

That match has certainly paid off for Fipke, and Seeking the Soul is the second foal out of Seeking the Title. The 2-year-old full brother is the mare’s third and is named Perfect Seeker. Seeking the Title is back in foal to Perfect Soul for 2018.

Standing for $2,000 live foal, however, Perfect Soul is no longer a stallion with commercial appeal in Kentucky

So why would Fipke use the horse?

There are several reasons. One is that Perfect Soul had a high-class race record, becoming a champion turf performer in Canada and a G1 winner the States as a 5-year-old, and the horse has a very good pedigree, being by European supersire Sadler’s Wells and out of a daughter of Secretariat.

Another important reason is that Fipke employs this approach because he can.

Fernando explained: “Mr. Fipke plans his matings and spends a lot of time on them, and the entire process related to that gives him great pleasure. He is, in many ways, a throwback to the great owner-breeders from the middle of the past century because he derives the greatest satisfaction from breeding his own mares to his own stallions and looking at this as a competitive enterprise. As a result, he is constantly seeking homebred colts that may become stallions for his breeding program.

“This isn’t a common practice nowadays.”

That’s an understatement. There might be five similar breeders in Europe and the States, or perhaps not so many.

Fortunately for Fipke, he has the luxury of doing what he wants with his horses, and for 2018, the breeder will be standing his Perfect Soul son Perfect Timber, G1-placed in the Northern Dancer, in Canada because, according to Fipke, the horse “is the best-looking horse I’ve ever bred.”

Also, Fipke stood Perfect Soul’s full brother, unraced Not Impossible, in Canada, and that horse became the first Sadler’s Wells stallion to sire a North American classic winner with the Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon, who also is a stallion in Canada.

Another son of Not Impossible is Society’s Chairman, who likewise went to stud in Ontario and sired Canadian Horse of the Year Caren from his first crop of racers. Society’s Chairman did not debut on the racetrack till he was 5, and Fernando said, “That’s how Mr. Fipke perseveres with horses, and this one, Society’s Chairman, was able to win the Grade 3 Appleton at 7 and place second in the G1 Turf Mile at Keeneland behind champion Gio Ponti.”

Fernando recalled that Fipke chose to stand Not Impossible due to the circumstance of Viceregal and Vice Regent, both bred by E.P. Taylor in Canada and sent to stud at his Windfields. Whereas Viceregal was a divisional champion in his homeland, Vice Regent was lightly raced and not a stakes winner, but a better specimen and became a high-class sire, numbering champion and leading sire Deputy Minister among his numerous good offspring.

Using that example as his model, Fipke got a Canadian classic winner from Not Impossible and came close to getting an American classic winner from Perfect Soul.

With Seeking the Soul, Fipke has an improving 4-year-old with the potential to challenge the divisional leaders, and he plans to do exactly that in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup.

azteca is a sharp tool and a contender for the pegasus world cup

Freud, sire of the Nov. 2 Cigar Mile winner Sharp Azteca, is a marvel.

For one thing, Sharp Azteca was the third Grade 1 winner in the Northern Hemisphere from the stallion’s lengthy and distinguished sire career, following Giant Ryan (Vosburgh) and Franny Freud (Prioress), plus the Southern Hemisphere champion Alex Rossi (Peruvian 2,000 Guineas).

And Freud is a “regional” stallion.

All three of the Northern Hemisphere G1 winners by Freud were sired from his career-long base in New York, and that makes the son of Storm Cat the most productive sire of G1 winners standing in the Empire State. The New York-based Bellamy Road is the sire of a trio of G1 winners, including 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Diversify, but all were sired when the stallion was based in Kentucky.

One reason for the difference between the G1 production of regional stallions and those based in Kentucky is that, generally, the mare population in Kentucky is higher in quality. And many of the better mares in New York, for instance, tend to be shipped to Kentucky for breeding, then returned to the state to produce “state-bred” offspring.

Freud, however, has bucked that trend, and there are good reasons why. The stallion gets sound horses with speed, and they seem to have a fair share of the Storm Cat desire to race.

Sharp Azteca is a good example. The dark brown horse has speed and has spent most of his career either setting the pace or pressing it hard. The latter inclination has cost Sharp Azteca a few victories, although he has won half of his 16 starts and more than $1.7 million.

The good-looking colt has learned to relax better in the past few months, and he has recorded victories in the G3 Monmouth Cup by 7 ½ lengths, the G2 Kelso by 4 lengths, and now the G1 Cigar Mile by 5 ¼ lengths. All those races have been on dirt at a mile or extended mile (Monmouth Handicap), including his only loss in his last four starts, the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

In the latter, Sharp Azteca rated on the lead and almost held the determined challenge from Battle of Midway, who prevailed by a half-length.

Sharp Azteca’s battling qualities recall the racing character of his sire’s full brother, multiple G1 winner and European high weight Giant’s Causeway, one of the most renowned sons of the famed stallion Storm Cat, both on the racetrack and at stud.

A full sister of Giant’s Causeway, G2 winner You’resothrilling, is the dam of classic winners Gleneagles (2,000 Guineas) and Marvellous (Irish 1,000 Guineas), and these three overachievers at stud are all out of the major producer Mariah’s Storm (Rahy), a G2 winner during her own distinguished racing career.

Freud was the second foal out of his dam, and Sharp Azteca was the second foal of his dam, So Sharp, an unraced mare from the only crop by Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado). A half-sister to G2 Dwyer Stakes winner Mint Lane (Maria’s Mon) and to Sister Girl Blues (Hold for Gold), who was second in the G1 Vanity Handicap, So Sharp was a $130,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2008, then fell through the cracks as a broodmare prospect at the Keeneland January sale in 2011 for only $2,500.

After Sharp Azteca had won a G3 last year, So Sharp sold for $230,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The mare was in foal to Lea (First Samurai) at the time of sale.

In addition, the family had shown further signs of current vitality because Sister Girl Blues is the dam of Firing Line (Line of David). This handsome bay became a G3 winner but gained greater acclaim for a close second to highly regarded Dortmund in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity of 2014 and then defeated that rival when second to American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Firing Line covered his first book of mares at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky earlier this year.

So, when Sharp Azteca came to the sales of juveniles in training in 2015, the dark colt worked a furlong in :10 1/5, showed a stride length of more than 24 feet, had excellent internal factors, and earned a BreezeFig of 66 from DataTrack International. Competition was strong for the colt, and he sold for $220,000 at the OBS April sale.

From that good beginning out of the de Meric Sales consignment, Sharp Azteca has progressed in a continued upward trajectory, and if he is able to maintain that momentum at the top level through 2018, he will be a strong stallion prospect with speed, consistency, soundness, and high class.

uncle mo doubles up with phoenix racing for starlet stakes success with dream tree

With a pair of stakes winners, both 2-year-old fillies, on Dec. 9, third-crop sire Uncle Mo (by Indian Charlie) had a thoroughly good weekend. Considering that Miss Mo Mentum won the Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream at a mile and that Dream Tree won the Grade 1 Starlet at Los Alamitos over their 8 ½ furlongs, the potential for both is improvement at 3, at their preferred distance or slightly beyond.

Unbeaten in three starts, Dream Tree was particularly impressive as she sat just off the pace, then ran on strongly down the lane to win by 3 ¼ lengths as the odds-on favorite.

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Freeny and Pat Freeny, the scopy bay sold as a weanling for $80,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale, just days after Nyquist (Uncle Mo) had wrapped up an unbeaten juvenile championship with victory in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Uncle Mo had earlier sired G1 winner Gomo (2015 Alcibiades Stakes), but Nyquist was the freshman sire’s star turn from an astounding freshman crop of racers that included 7 stakes winners at 2, plus a current total of 24 stakes winners from the stallion’s 157 named first-crop foals.

Nyquist proceeded unbeaten through his victory in the Kentucky Derby, producing every ounce of ability in that hard-fought victory before losing his form. The effect of so much success from the sire’s first crop meant the demand for his stock accelerated madly from throughout 2016.

When Dream Tree came to auction again, this time at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale, the robustly made filly brought $225,000 from JSM Equine out of the Select Sales consignment. That represented a healthy profit on the filly’s weanling purchase price, but the sales saga for the daughter of Uncle Mo was not over.

Brought into training and taken to Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream sale of juveniles in training in early March, Dream Tree turned heads with her training and conformation. Consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Dream Tree worked a furlong in :10 1/5, showing a stride length of about 24 feet and earning a BreezeFig of 60. She was one of the best prospects by her ever-popular sire at the elite juvenile auction, and the bidding for her showed it.

After a spirited contest in the sales ring, Kerri Radcliffe, agent for Phoenix Thoroughbred III, bought the sharp-looking bay for $750,000.

Now Dream Tree has earned $270,000 from three victories – a maiden special and the Desi Arnaz Stakes prior to the Starlet – and is the second juvenile G1 winner for Uncle Mo since Nyquist and Gomo. Last month at Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico, the juvenile filly Kalina won the G1 Clasico Gaspar Rivera Torres, and on Nov. 25 at Del Mar, the 3-year-old colt Mo Town won the G1 Hollywood Derby.

Those three G1 winners equal the trio that Uncle Mo sired in his first crop, the pair of juvenile G1 winners mentioned above, plus Wood Memorial winner Outwork. From his first crop, Uncle Mo sired a striking 15 percent stakes winners to foals, and since the number of stallions who have managed to sire stakes winners at that rate crop after crop makes a very short list, it is no surprise that the volume of stakes winners shrank in the second crop.

Shrinking to a quarter of the 24 from crop one, however, was a shock. Even a juvenile champion like Uncle Mo is not immune to the commonplace “one and done” approach of many breeders nowadays, and the big horse’s second crop numbered only 92 named foals.

Whether that decline in numbers was caused by commercial concerns or horse breeders with hypoxia, the stallion has 113 named foals in his third crop, with four stakes winners to date, and they are only 2.

In addition to the brighter prospects that seem to be shining from this third crop, Uncle Mo is standing for $125,000 live foal at Ashford Stud, guaranteeing that he is being bred to many of the best mares available, and that can only bode well for the big son of Indian Charlie.

That dizzy rise in stud fee was the result of Uncle Mo’s crushing success with his first crop, and the stallion has followed through with his progeny earnings, even if the stakes stats aren’t as overwhelming as his first year’s performance.

Presently, Uncle Mo is the leading third-crop sire with $7.8 million, more than $3 million ahead of his contemporary young sires Twirling Candy (Candy Ride) and Trappe Shot (Tapit) in second and third place. Uncle Mo stands in 16th place among all sires by gross earnings in 2017, and with his strongest crops and books of mares coming along, that is sure to improve.

Uncle Mo, an unbeaten juvenile champion, is siring horses who frequently have good juvenile potential but also have proven able to stretch out to nine and 10 furlongs and race well at 3 and older, as we have seen with Mo Town and the 4-year-olds Unbridled Mo (G3 Doubledogdare Stakes) and Mo’ Green (G3 Top Flight Stakes).

sultan is worth a sniff, as portrayed with the words of famed writer tony morris

The internationally acclaimed bloodstock and racing writer Tony Morris has a new series in Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, an online publication that is attracting some worthy contributors.

The goal of the series is to profile 100 breed-shaping horses, and Morris is up to number 5 at present. One subject that I found of particular interest was the racehorse and stallion Sultan (bay 1816 by Selim x Baccante, by Ditto).



Sultan as he appeared in a portrait by Lambert Marshall at the Marquess of Exeter’s stud. Are there hints of Northern Dancer about him? (photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)


Sultan was quite a good racehorse who became a much more notable stallion, siring four consecutive winners of the 2,000 Guineas, among other things. I had been aware of Sultan because he sired classic winner Glencoe, who was exported to America after a single season at stud in England, where he sired the great producer Pocahontas.

That alone was enough to guarantee Glencoe a place in breeding history, but here in the States, the handsome chestnut became a major sire in his own right, and standing at R.A. Alexander’s Woodburn Stud in Kentucky, Glencoe’s daughters became the underpinnings of much of the success of the great sire Lexington, “the blind hero of Woodburn.”

In addition, Glencoe established a male line of his own, primarily through the Woodburn-bred Vandal, and more about him can be found here.

The principal strength of this “American” line came through Kentucky Derby winner Hindoo and his son Hanover, a leading racer and sire. Together, they made the Byerley Turk male line as strong in America as any other at the turn of the 20th century. More about Hindoo can be found in a series I put together (1, 2, 3).


win the war leading the charge for top-end sales yearlings in glorious song victory

Now unbeaten in two starts, Win the War (by War Front) drew off to a thunderous 11 ¼-length victory in the Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 19 for owners Gary Barber and John Oxley.

The powerful bay filly was bred in Kentucky by Tada Nobutaka and sold at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga auction of selected yearlings for $700,000. By a leading international sire in War Front and out of a graded stakes-placed daughter of the highly regarded broodmare sire Carson City (Mr. Prospector), the yearling filly had been an obvious standout at Saratoga’s premier sale.

Furthermore, the filly’s dam, City Sister, had already produced Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes winner Dixie City (Dixie Union) and her full sister, stakes-placed Union City, who is the dam of G2 Peter Pan Stakes winner Unified (Candy Ride), who will enter stud in 2018 at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.

With these pedigree credentials, Win the War was a top prospect, and then she fulfilled the physical expectations of a potentially top-quality athlete. Win the War had good length through the body, allied with the rounded muscle and generous hindquarter leverage so typical of the best members of the Northern Dancer stock through Danzig and his sons.

Not only was this filly good-looking and athletic, but she had handled herself well under the high pressure of frequent showing and interaction with people at the sale’s preview days. Consigned by Eaton Sales as agent, Win the War came to the sales grounds carrying good condition and maintained herself well amid the August heat and the repeated walking and posing that is such an active part of the process with top-tier sales yearlings.

The combination of those assets made Win the War bring the eighth-highest price at the 2016 Saratoga sale, and the striking bay filly has evidently prospered since.

Win the War won her debut on Oct. 20 at Woodbine going 6 ½ furlongs on turf, and like a lot of maidens, she learned a good deal from the effort. The filly went as much as five paths wide around the single turn, lugged in somewhat through the stretch, and still got up to win by a neck in 1:16.49 for the extended sprint.

The first five fillies finished in a three-length grouping, which didn’t make the effort look that special, but the race chart noted that Win the War “finished in hand.” The bay filly’s second start was a much more professional exercise. Win the War allowed the odds-on favorite, Grace and Dignity (Animal Kingdom), to race headlong through a quarter in :21.90, while Win the War was six lengths back in fourth, but the winner was only a length and a half behind after a half-mile in :44.38.

The favorite led to the stretch call, but Win the War used her power and exceptional cardio to stretch out to great effect through the final furlongs and finish far ahead of her competition.

Win the War thus became the third stakes horse for her dam. Additionally, two of City Sister’s daughters are already stakes producers, the good race filly Union City mentioned above and the unraced Saintly Sister (Saint Liam), who foaled the stakes-placed Abbot (Langfuhr).

The latter’s sire is a son of Danzig like War Front, and Northern Dancer is present in the pedigree of Win the War through four lines: Danzig, Storm Bird, and twice through Nijinsky.

Northern Dancer and his sons have long worked wonders with this family, and Win the War’s second dam Demi Soeur (Storm Bird) is a half-sister to champion 2-year-old colt Dehere, a son of leading sire Deputy Minister, who is by the Northern Dancer stallion Vice Regent.

A champion juvenile in the U.S. and Horse of the Year in Canada, Deputy Minister was a thrashing big horse himself but loaded with quality. A winner in 8 of 9 starts at 2, including the 1981 Laurel Futurity and Young America Stakes, Deputy Minister did not make the classics at 3, but he returned to race successfully at 4, winning the Donn and other stakes. At stud, Deputy Minister became an unqualified success with champions Go for Wand and Open Mind, plus Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, Kentucky Oaks winner Keeper Hill, and Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold.

Although his best season was at 2 and he repeatedly had trouble with his feet, Deputy Minister sired horses that were tough and stayed well. Dehere was one of his stars, winning 5 of 7 starts at 2 and the Eclipse as top juvenile, despite a bizarre unplaced finish in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Dehere’s dam, the Secretariat mare Sister Dot, did not produce another stakes winner, although she did have a half-dozen other winners, including the stakes-placed Defrere and Danesis. Sister Dot’s daughter Demi Soeur was unraced but produced G3 Withers Stakes winner Fast Decision (Gulch), as well as the good broodmare City Sister, the dam of Win the War.

City Sister has a yearling colt by Declaration of War (War Front) that sold for $57,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October yearling auction, a weanling filly by Uncle Mo, and was bred back to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

liam’s map attracting the right sort of attention with first crop of weanlings

A winner in six of his eight starts at 3 and 4, Liam’s Map (by Unbridled’s Song) is best remembered for Grade 1 victories in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Woodward Stakes, as well as a tremendously game second in the Whitney, when he was caught in the last stride by eventual divisional champion Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Both went to stud at Lane’s End Farm for the 2016 breeding season and received very good books of mares from committed breeders. From his first book, Liam’s Map covered 148 mares, with 130 reported in foal, and those matings resulted in 116 live foals (78 percent) in his first crop, now weanlings.

Before he showed his form on the racetrack or breeding shed, Liam’s Map was a striking individual and brought $800,000 from St. Elias Stables at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. Liam’s Map was the highest-priced yearling by his sire that year, and the gray colt proved to be the most talented of his sire’s offspring in the crop. Currently credited with 115 stakes winners, Unbridled’s Song is the sire of champion and leading money winner Arrogate, plus the leading first-crop yearling sire Will Take Charge, who was also champion 3-year-old colt of 2012.

With those sons keeping Unbridled’s Song in the headlines, demand for Liam’s Map should likewise stay robust, and he also has a noteworthy half-brother, Not This Time (Giant’s Causeway), a G3 winner and close second in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, who is now at stud with first foals arriving in 2018.

Liam’s Map and his sibling are out of the G3 stakes-winning Trippi mare Miss Macy Sue, a six-time stakes winner who has produced three stakes winners to date. Miss Macy Sue traces back to the stakes-winning Tweak (Secretariat) and her champion dam Ta Wee, whose four stakes winners included Great Above, the sire of Horse of the Year Holy Bull.

With looks, pedigree, and performance, Liam’s Map has attracted some partisans, and the young sire has good representatives from his first crop being offered at the November sale. High on the list of prospects is Hip 989, a bay colt out of the Include mare Kittery Point and a half-brother to G1 winner Sam’s Sister (La Brea Stakes). The colt’s dam is one of four siblings who have produced stakes winners, including four G1 winners. Earlier in the sale is Hip 626, a bay colt out of the Tactical Cat mare Miss Holiday Inn and a half-brother to stakes winner Zip Cash Back (City Zip) and Hannah’s Holiday (Kafwain).

The number of mares bred to Liam’s Map increased in his second season, indicating that breeders liked what they saw from his initial foals, and one of those second-book mares is Hip 385, the Distorted Humor mare Agatha, who is in foal on an April 15 cover. She is out of the G3 stakes-placed Mysteries (Seattle Slew) and is a half-sister to Japanese champion Hishi Akebono (Woodman) and multiple G1 winner Agnes World (Danzig), winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp and July Cup.

The overall results for the first-crop weanlings by Liam’s Map were 11 sold for an average of $146,818 and a median of $125,000.

The specific results for Hip 989 (RNA for $185,000) and Hip 626 ($250,000; Hunter Valley Farm). The highest price was $310,000 for Hip 810, a colt out of Aqua Regia, purchased by St. Elias Stables, Dennis O’Neill agent. The second highest was Hip 626, and the third-highest price was $180,000 for Hip 58, a colt out of High Quail, purchased by Calumet Farm.