take charge indy beaming with pride from current base in korea

March 24 was a smashing day for the A.P. Indy tribe, and it was most exceptional for the A.P. Indy son Take Charge Indy, a winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby during his racing career who went to stud at WinStar Farm in Kentucky but who is now standing in Korea.

The Pulpit set of A.P. Indy, primarily through leading sire Tapit, shook the trees and gathered the fruit with their usual enthusiasm. Synchrony won the G2 Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, and Madison’s Luna won the G3 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park to remain unbeaten. Good Samaritan (out of a Pulpit mare) won the G2 New Orleans Handicap from the Tapizar horse Hollywood Handsome and the Tapit gelding Scuba.

Among the other sons of A.P. Indy, there were good results, including in the G2 Louisiana Derby, won by Take Charge Indy’s son Noble Indy, now a winner in three of his four starts. Second in the race was Lone Sailor, by the A.P. Indy stallion Majestic Warrior, and third was My Boy Jack (Creative Cause), out of a mare by the A.P. Indy stallion Mineshaft.

 

take charge indy01

Take Charge Indy: at WinStar Farm during his three-season tenure in Kentucky (photo courtesy WinStar; Louise Reinagel photo)

 

Take Charge Indy’s first crop of foals raced last year at 2, and the results were acceptable, not notable. But getting early juveniles is not the profile of the typical A.P. Indy stallion. Instead, they tend to sire stock that comes to hand at the end of their juvenile season, improves markedly through the first half of their 3-year-old form, and frequently continues to improve with maturation.

Noble Indy became the second graded stakes winner by his sire with victory in the Louisiana Derby; the other graded success came last month in the G3 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream. C.S. Incharge won the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay, and on Saturday, Split Time won the Maddie May Stakes at Aqueduct.

These are the four 2018 stakes winners by Take Charge Indy.

The tall, scopy son of A.P. Indy would be one of the “in-demand” sires in Kentucky this year, except that he is standing at Jeju Stud Farm in South Korea.

On Nov. 23, 2016, WinStar announced that the Korea Racing Authority had purchased Take Charge Indy with an “offer that was too good to turn down,” according to WinStar president Elliott Walden. After covering three books of mares at the farm, averaging 133 mares per book, taking the offer was not an easy call.

Reached in between sets of juveniles in-training at Fasig-Tipton‘s Florida sale, Walden said, “Financially, we had to take a look at the offer and make a judgment on the soundness of selling or not selling. Although the farm and the syndicate had supported the horse well, the commercial buyers were not as receptive. The horse’s yearlings tended to be big, kinda lanky horses that looked like they wanted two turns. With that type, the pinhookers weren’t strongly involved in buying them.”

In addition, Take Charge Indy was coming up to his fourth season at stud, and the fourth year of a young sire’s tenure at stud is always the most difficult because nobody wants to be stuck with foals from a sire that the marketplace has deemed “a failure.” When that happens to breeders, the options are to sell for less than the cost of production or to take the young animals home and race them. Neither is a happy business decision in most cases.

Bloodstock consultant John Stuart is a principal in Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, and among their clients is “Merriebelle Stable, who owned a quarter of the horse,” Stuart said. “I brokered the horse for owner Chuck Sandford with WinStar.

“We liked what we got from the horse,” Stuart continued. “But the commercial market got it wrong on the stallion, for whatever reason, and I think the reason is that they were leggy and immature horses [as yearlings], which is typical of the sire line. As a result of the market taking it the other way, we went along with the deal to sell the horse but only because we knew there was the option to get him back if he was a star.”

Walden concurred: “The only way the deal was going to go through was for there to be a buy-back clause. It’s something that’s out there; it’s something we’re thinking about. But we’re not at a point of making a decision about that.”

Yet.

But the dark brown son of A.P. Indy has four stakes winners so far this year. He’s the leading sire among second-year stallions by 2018 earnings, and his half-brother, Travers winner Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) is one of the favored prospects for leading freshman sire in 2018. Their half-sister is champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway), and the trio are out of the exceptional racemare Take Charge Lady (Dehere).

With all these considerations, bringing a horse back after a sale abroad requires the marketplace to reverse its assessment of a sire’s stock, and that is accomplished first on the racetrack, then franked by a positive reception in the sales ring.

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blame finding success at stud through no ‘fault’ of his own

With a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita on March 17, Fault became the second G1 winner from the third crop of racers by champion Blame (by Arch). Last year, 3-year-old Senga won the G1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly racecourse in France and pointed out the principal pedigree line absent from her sire, A.P. Indy / Seattle Slew.

Senga is out of a mare by Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, and two other graded stakes winners by Blame are out of a daughter and a granddaughter of the Belmont Stakes winner. Additionally, among Blame’s stakes winners, one is out of daughter of Flatter (A.P. Indy) and another is out of a granddaughter of Seattle Slew.

In contrast, Fault does not have A.P. Indy nor his famous sire in her pedigree but does reinforce some of the eminent lines that Blame already possesses. The son of Arch and the Seeking the Gold mare Liable already possesses inbreeding to Raise a Native, Northern Dancer, Nashua (2) and his sire Nasrullah (4 times), among others.

The only branches of Phalaris not in the immediate pedigree of Blame are those from A.P. Indy and Storm Cat (and the latter’s grandsire Northern Dancer is there twice).

So, Fault adds presences of only Northern Dancer, Raise a Native, and Nashua.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and sold for $120,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September, Fault is on the light side of inbreeding for Blame. And there appears to be a conscious effort to limit inbreeding in this match by taking a daughter of South African champion Horse Chestnut to the stallion.

A massively talented racehorse who won the South African Triple Crown and 10 of 11 starts, including two here in the States, Horse Chestnut brings in the Sadler’s Wells line of Northern Dancer but also introduces the robust strains of Washington D.C. International winner Wilwyn, Sham’s sire Pretense, Kentucky Derby winner Swaps, and 1955 English highweight 3-year-old colt Acropolis.

In addition to the outcross potential in Horse Chestnut, Charming N Lovable, the dam of Fault, was a stakes winner at Hollywood Park. The other unarguable quality of this pedigree is the outstanding racing ability of the sires of the dams in this family line. In addition to a Southern Hemisphere Triple Crown winner, there is second dam sire St. Jovite (Pleasant Colony), winner of the 1992 Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and his daughter St Lucinda was twice stakes-placed at Keeneland and produced three stakes winners.

Neither Horse Chestnut nor St. Jovite were nearly as good at stud as on the racetrack, but the same would not be said so strongly of third dam sire Majestic Prince (Raise a Native), winner of the 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, or fourth dam sire Nashua (Nasrullah), Horse of the Year and winner of the 1955 Preakness and Belmont.

This is in sum, a very classic pedigree. A very classy pedigree.

And it is not one that should create visions of sprint performance or unusually early maturity.

Those are traits that do not seem widely present among the offspring of Blame. A few of them can win sprinting, but Claiborne’s Bernie Sams said, “Trainers are learning how to get the best out of them. But they’ve had to change their attitudes about how to train and race them. Blame’s stock want some distance; they want to get some maturity in them. And if you are patient and give them what they want, they can be really good horses.”

Because of all these factors coming together, “the horse has been hot as fire the last few weeks,” Sams continued, but that is also partly about achieving a critical mass of the sire’s stock that are being trained the right way for them and pointed to the right races.

As a result, in addition to 4-year-old Fault, Blame has three 3-year-old stakes winners of 2018. Maraud won the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream. Then the fillies are represented by 2018 stakes winners Ms Bad Behavior and Blamed, plus Daisy, who won the G3 Tempted in November 2017 and was second in a stakes last month.

With the volume of success coming his way, Blame is getting more attention from breeders and is expected to get a book of 110 mares this season.

sons of medaglia d’oro take the spotlight with victories in classic preps

Coming up with the victors on March 10 in both the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita, Medaglia d’Oro (by El Prado) had his most impressive showing to date as a sire of classic colts. Already a star as a sire of champion fillies, Medaglia d’Oro has gotten colts who have been good, but either timing or talent or aptitude have not connected them to the Triple Crown in the resounding way that Enticed and Bolt d’Oro have announced themselves for the 2018 classics.

Bolt d’Oro started favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year at Del Mar, on a day when several strong favorites seemed to have a hard time getting hold of that track. The third-place finish cost the big bay the Eclipse Award as 2-year-old champion, and instead, the winner Good Magic also toted home the trophy at the Eclipse Awards ceremony.

After overcoming a minor setback, Bolt d’Oro had prepared with increasing intensity for the coming challenges on the road to the Triple Crown with improving works, and the colt staged a mighty tussle through the stretch with the highly talented McKinzie (Street Sense), who finished in front by a head but was disqualified for interference.

Both colts pulled away from the quick and capable Kanthaka (Jimmy Creed), who was 6 ½ lengths behind in third, and only a head separated Bolt d’Oro and his nemesis. They are expected to return for the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, and that should provide both another thrilling race, as well as a serious update on their progress toward the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar from the A.P. Indy mare Globe Trot, Bolt d’Oro is bred on a similar pattern to Enticed and the Medaglia d’Oro filly Wonder Gadot. The Gotham winner is out of a daughter of A.P. Indy’s Horse of the Year son Mineshaft, and Wonder Gadot is out of a daughter of champion Vindication, a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew like Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.

On the same day as the Santa Anita Derby, Enticed is expected to return in the April 7 Wood Memorial, same day as the Santa Anita Derby, and thence to Kentucky. A G2 winner at 2 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Enticed is a proven graded winner at Churchill Downs, which is a consideration because some horses like the surface and others do not.

Enticed is also a rugged and robust individual who is expected to thrive on his racing. As a Darley homebred, Enticed races in the blue silks of Godolphin, and the good-looking dark bay is following in the path of Frosted (Tapit), who prepped for the classics here in the States with a victory in the Wood Memorial prior to a fourth in the Kentucky Derby and a second in the Belmont Stakes (behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah). Frosted then trained on to multiple G1 successes at 4 before retiring to stud at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Kentucky.

A similar destination would be desirable for Enticed, especially if he can participate in a classic exacta with another son of Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro. Acquired by Darley in a private transaction after his first crop rocketed to the top and made him leading freshman sire, Medaglia d’Oro has become a staple sire of quality horses who can go two turns and have versatility to race on turf or dirt.

The stallion’s first crop was led by champion and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, who was elected Horse of the Year. Subsequently, he has had multiple champion Songbird, and the presence of those headline fillies has caused their sire to be misunderstood as a stallion with a bias toward fillies of quality.

Doubtless he does sire excellent fillies, but like Darley stallion Street Cry, who sired champions Zenyatta and current Australian star Winx, Medaglia d’Oro does sire more than star fillies. The problem for him is that the fillies have burned so much more brightly than any colts to date.

Bolt d’Oro is at work to rectify that perception.

Street Sense did his part to make breeders aware that Street Cry was not a filly sire by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, becoming champion 2-year-old colt, then winning the Kentucky Derby the following year.

At stud, Street Sense has been a remarkably steady sire of stock that show form at 2, then improve at 3. McKinzie has been a model of that trend, and he is a serious competitor for the Kentucky Derby, despite the result at Santa Anita.

Both he and Bolt d’Oro showed classic form, and it is really a question of improvement and further development in the coming weeks that will tell us which should be the master of the classics in 2018.

frizette proved herself an historic find among selling racers a century ago

One of the lines of commonality between Grade 2 Fountain of Youth winner Promises Fulfilled (by Shackleford) and Davona Dale winner Fly So High (Malibu Moon) is a famous old mare who became a landmark producer, so important that the G1 Frizette Stakes for 2-year-old fillies is named in her honor.

Bred in Kentucky by James R. Keene at Castleton Stud, Frizette was a foal of 1905 by the important stallion Hamburg (Hanover) out of the St. Simon mare Ondulee. Keene had purchased Ondulee the previous fall out of the dispersal of the bloodstock of W.C. Whitney, who had died and whose estate was being liquidated. 

The high price of the sale was Hamburg at $70,000, selling to Harry Payne Whitney, but Ondulee was strongly sought after and brought $14,000 from Keene.

The resulting filly of the mating was a precocious, sound, and reasonably talented filly named Frizette. At 2, she won the Rosedale and Laureate Stakes. Frizette, however, was by no means the best filly in the Keene stable, and she was sent into the Troy Claiming Stakes, where she won and was claimed for $2,000 by J.A. Wernberg. 

Claiming races of the early 20th century were not like ours today. There wasn’t a fixed price, and a claim did not mean that ownership of the horse changed at the start of the race. Instead, after the race, the winner was presented to the other owners and trainers of horses in the race, and if any chose to, they could offer the sum for which the runner had been entered.

But even that did not mean the horse changed hands.

If anyone offered to buy the horse for the claiming price, the existing owner then could bid to retain the horse, and the price could run up far above the entered claiming price, sometimes even higher than the sum of the purse won and the claiming price together. This more personal and contentious manner of “claiming” horses led to numerous backstretch feuds and considerable ill will.

Not so with Keene. When one of his was entered for a tag, it was considered surplus to requirements.

 

And so Frizette proved. 

Although quite a useful filly who won a dozen races from 36 starts at 2 and 3, placing second in eight and third in seven, Frizette was largely competing in allowances and claiming stakes, which were the high end of the claiming scheme in America.

frizette 1908 selling race chart

On June 24, 1908, the Keene filly Suffragette won the Surf Stakes, worth $3,970 to the winner, and on the same card at Sheepshead Bay racecourse, Frizette won a selling race against a field of older colts and fillies that was worth $550.

At 3, Frizette raced 27 times, and after the Seabreeze Stakes at Gravesend racecourse in New York, “she was claimed by Herman B. Duryea, one of several horsemen troubled by the condition of New York racing at the time,” according to Liz Martiniak.

The reason for concern about racing was logical because anti-gambling crusaders were working to change laws that would eventually eliminate gambling and therefore most of the funding related to horse racing.

So Duryea took evasive action and moved to France, taking Frizette along with him near the end of 1908. At Duryea’s French stud, Haras du Gazon, he sent the mare to his high-class American-raced Irish Lad, and the result was Banshee, winner of the classic Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas).

In addition to Banshee, Frizette produced four more stakes winners, and her offspring and their sons and daughters enriched both European racing, as well as that in the States. Marcel Boussac, in particular, profited from acquiring members of the family that produced such standouts as his good racehorse and important sire Tourbillon. John Madden bought the mare’s 1916 daughter Frizeur, from whom descend Myrtlewood, Mr. Prospector, and Seattle Slew.

Another branch that returned to America is in the family of Aspidistra, dam of Horse of the Year Dr. Fager and champion Ta Wee, whose son Great Above is the sire of Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Another daughter is the female line connection to champion Dahlia.

As a result of these and their many pedigree ties, the mare that changed hands and continents so readily has made on the Thoroughbred a lasting mark that spans oceans and time.

top young horses, such as air force blue, hold the key to war front’s prospects as a sire of stallions

The next step in the evolution of a stallion’s reputation, from becoming a leading freshman sire to a leading sire, is to become a leading sire of stallions.

Each step in a stallion’s rise to prominence is challenging, the barriers to success increase in difficulty, and the outcome is not easily evaluated till years have passed. As a result, a stallion is often not truly appreciated until well into his stud career.

Examples such as Storm Cat and Tapit rise to mind of horses who started out with good support but no better than average interest from the movers and shakers of the commercial market.

So it is interesting to put a bit of thought into War Front and his sons who are still in the early innings of their time at stud.

Although not a top 2-year-old himself, War Front marked his stock from the beginning with the speed and versatility most remarkable in the Danzig line. I well remember the explosion of excitement that Danzig himself caused with his first crop of runners. They had been pleasantly received as yearlings, and yet as 2-year-olds, their speed and quality were the cause of amazement.

Nobody expected them to be that good.

The chubby bay stallion picked up winner after winner from that first crop, highlighted by champion Chief’s Crown and Grade 1 winner Stephan’s Odyssey. Both were homebreds, but their success shone a spotlight on the following yearling crops by their sire that made him one of the most commercially successful stallions in history.

 

Then, toward the end of Danzig’s stud career, after years of siring champions and classic winners, important stallions and broodmares, Danzig sired War Front, who was a useful racehorse and a near-clone replica of his famous sire.

So there he stands today at Claiborne Farm, like his sire before him, and there in the second generation of War Front’s pedigree is none other than Northern Dancer, and this is as close to the great little bay as American breeders can get today.

Given this, the results of the sons of War Front have more than passing interest to the breeders of America and Europe, as well as to our sport’s fans. So far, the results are quite limited but promising.

The first sons to stud in Kentucky were The Factor (winner of the Grade 1 Malibu and Pat O’Brien) in 2013 and then Data Link (G1 and two G2 victories) and Declaration of War (G1 Juddmonte International and Queen Anne Stakes) in 2014. The Factor got G1 winner Noted and Quoted (Chandelier) in his first crop, as well as 2017 Illinois Derby winner Multiplier. With their first crops now 3, Data Link has a stakes winner and pair of stakes-placed runners; Declaration of War has G3 winners Speed Franco and Actress and four other stakes horses.

Additional War Front sons Summer Front and Jack Milton entered stud in 2016 and have yearlings this year. And the two most prominent sons of War Front to enter stud in 2017 were European champion Air Force Blue and G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb.

Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, Air Force Blue is out of the Maria’s Mon mare Chatham from the family of champion Flanders and sold to Coolmore for $490,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Breeder Arthur Hancock said, “Air Force Blue was a 2-year-old champion, was very fast, was a grand-looking horse, and is out of what I think was one of Bill Young’s best families. None of us know for sure, but I’d look for him to have a big chance.”

Having bred and sold the horse, Hancock sent a mare to Air Force Blue as part of the horse’s first book and got a “really nice foal” that is one of the 25-30 so far on the ground from the first crop by Air Force Blue.

What breeders have seen so far is positive, and Hancock is planning to send more mares to the horse in 2018. He said, “I’m going to breed a couple more mares to him this year, based on what I’ve seen so far. As the man said, ‘You pays your money and takes your chances.’”

Hancock acquired the dam of Air Force Blue out of the Overbrook dispersal because “Bill Young and I were friends,” he said, “and I knew how good they thought Flanders was, and this was a good-looking mare with speed. That was all the planning that went into the purchase, and I was very fortunate to get her.”

Chatham has proven herself a very good mare for Stone Farm, and she has a yearling full sister to the G1 Dewhurst winner “who’s as good-looking as any horse on Stone Farm,” Hancock said.

Dermot Ryan of Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, where Air Force Blue stands, said this of the young stallion: “Air Force Blue showed a huge amount of ability on the racetrack, he wasn’t just a standout in his own year but he’s right up there with the best 2-year-olds that have raced in Europe in recent years. Outside of Frankel he still has the highest Timeform rating as a 2-year-old in the last 20 years so he had serious talent and as far as his first foals go, the early reports couldn’t be any better. We’ve already got about 10 of our own on the ground by him and I don’t think we’ve ever had such a consistently good group of foals this early in the season. They are all exceptional lookers with loads of quality, correct legs and even at a young age you can see they are good movers just like he is.”

With more of the first-crop foals by Air Force Blue arriving weekly, breeders will be making their mating plans in accord with the quality they see in those foals.

Likewise, the good juvenile racehorse Hit It a Bomb is getting his first foals on the ground this year, and breeders feel positive about them also.

Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm, which stands Hit It a Bomb, said “We’ve been very eager to get a son of War Front because we believe he has a great chance to be a sire of sires. And we wouldn’t hesitate to add another one, if it was the right horse.”

In addition to winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland in 2015, Hit It a Bomb ran in the frame of a pair of group races in Ireland at 3 but didn’t recapture his better juvenile form. In the meantime, however, the horse’s full sister, Brave Anna, became a G1 winner in the Cheveley Park Stakes and was ranked the best juvenile filly in Europe.

So, in addition to the attention paid to sires of young stallions, Hit It a Bomb had other recommendations, and Toffey said, “This horse reminds me of Jimmy Creed: tremendous pedigree, good-looking horse, son of a really good stallion, and Grade 1 ability.”

The farms standing these young stallions are planning further support for them, and then only time will tell which of the War Front sons have the genetic and physiological traits that transmit consistently to the next generation.

Toffey said, “War Front’s having too great an influence around the world not to see some of them emerging successfully.”

Ashford’s Ryan added: “We are very high on War Front’s prospects as a sire of sires. We’ve been very encouraged by what Declaration of War has achieved so far with two graded stakes winners from his first crop already and the reports on War Command and Air Force Blue’s stock has been very positive. War Front is obviously an exceptional sire as he showed again last season with the likes of US Navy Flag and he is from such an influential sire line. You can really see the similarities between War Front and Danzig so it makes sense that War Front would pass that influence down the line through his sons. With the quality of colts War Front has in the pipeline we couldn’t be higher on the future of his sons at stud.”

monomoy girl could fulfill hopes for young sire tapizar with her performances through the spring

A young stallion with his future on the brink and an older, proven star of the stallion ranks sired the winners of the two important 3-year-old preps at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The once-beaten Monomoy Girl is a second-crop daughter of the Tapit stallion Tapizar, whose offspring so invigorated buyers at sales of yearlings and 2-year-olds in 2016 and 2017. The chestnut filly won the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths from a field of six competitors.

Now a winner in five of her six starts, Monomoy Girl is out of the Henny Hughes mare Drumette and was bred in Kentucky by FPF LLC and Highfield Ranch.

The co-breeders of the filly are Brendan and Olive Gallagher of Frankfort Park Farm (formerly Jim Plemmons’s Old Frankfort Stud) and Michael Hernon under the name of Highfield Ranch. Hernon, who is responsible for sales of seasons and shares for Gainesway Farm, which stands Tapizar and his illustrious sire Tapit, said that the effort by Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra was important because she “raced in a much different style, not trying to wire the field as she did in the Rags to Riches (at Churchill Downs last year). Instead, she rated behind and finished well. That should give her more versatility and perhaps allow her to go a bit farther.”

As a result of their athletic looks, “This mare’s foals are proving very popular with buyers,” Hernon noted. The breeders bought Drumette carrying Monomoy Girl and sold the filly at the 2016 Keeneland September sale for $100,000 to Liz Crow, agent. Since then, Gainesway consigned the full brother to Monomoy Girl to the Fasig-Tipton October sale last year, where he sold for $175,000, the highest price for a Tapizar yearling in 2017.

Hernon said that Drumette “is a good-sized, attractive mare who looks particularly good this morning. She gets an appealing, athletic type, and they are racing to their looks.”

Racing to their looks is the one thing needed for the young sire Tapizar, whose first foals raced in 2016, when 21 of his juveniles in training sold for an average price of $117,533, a massive advance on a $15,000 stud fee.

On the racetrack, Tapizar did not do badly with the initial crop that so many buyers loved. But he fell victim to what a good friend of a psychological bent described as “the disconfirmation of expectations.” People expected great things, and good to average were the results.

From the young stallion’s second-crop results, he ranked 11th nationally in 2017, and Tapizar currently ranks fifth among third-crop sires. If Monomoy Girl keeps ascending the ladder of class and success, she is going to have a strong influence on the fortunes of her sire.

Tapizar’s situation as a sire on the cusp of something important underscores the magnitude of what it takes to become a national leading sire.

Like Awesome Again.

Also at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Awesome Again’s son Bravazo upset all the apple carts in the G2 Risen Star Stakes with a nose victory over the 41-to-1 shot Snapper Sinclair (City Zip). Allowed to race at odds of 21-to-1, Bravazo had finished second to Free Drop Billy in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity last season and was winning for the second time in two starts at 3.

Bravazo is the latest significant son of the outstanding racehorse and sire Awesome Again (Deputy Minister), winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1998 and the sire of 64 stakes winners and the earners of nearly $87 million. A tidily made stallion produced by the Blushing Groom mare Primal Force, Awesome Again is also a half-brother to the good sire Macho Uno (Holy Bull), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and champion of his division at 2.

At stud at Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs, Awesome Again is best known for siring horses who need at least a mile, if not further, to show their top form. His best is doubtless Horse of the Year and leading sire Ghostzapper, but the dapper bay stallion also is responsible for champion Ginger Punch (BC Distaff and five other G1s) and million-dollar winners Game on Dude (Pacific Classic, Santa Anita Handicap three times, Hollywood Gold Cup twice), Awesome Gem (Hollywood Gold Cup), Wilko (BC Juvenile), and Round Pond (BC Distaff), among others.

Among the others are Preakness winner Oxbow and Haskell winner Paynter. Of even more interest in relation to the Risen Star winner, each is out of a mare by the California-based stallion Cee’s Tizzy (Relaunch), who is best known as the sire of Horse of the Year Tiznow. And the dams of Oxbow and Paynter are full sisters to Tiznow.

Bravazo offers further reason for deep consideration of Cee’s Tizzy because the colt is out of yet another broodmare by that Relaunch stallion.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm and racing for the breeder, Bravazo offers yet another classic prospect for the grand tradition of Calumet Farm and Awesome Again.

kanthaka has the speed and quality to propel his sire jimmy creed into a serious role as a young stallion

One of the surprise successes of the 2017 sales season for 2-year-olds in training was the depth of quality and athletic ability found among the first-crop juveniles by the Distorted Humor stallion Jimmy Creed.

In 2017, Jimmy Creed was an inexpensive stallion standing at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. He had been a nice racehorse, had a good pedigree, and really looked the part of an athlete when he went to the sales as a yearling and again when he showed up in the winner’s circle.

Every year, however, nice-looking horses go to stud and get little more than animals who fill races.

So, the response to the first juveniles by Jimmy Creed merited attention.

Of the sire’s 26 2-year-olds who went through the ring for in-training auctions last year, 21 sold for an average of $87,570 and a median of $60,000, from an entering stud fee of $12,500.

A third of those brought $100,000 or more, including Kanthaka, who sold for $140,000 at the 2017 Barretts March sale of select 2-year-olds in training to West Point Thoroughbreds. On Feb. 10, Kanthaka won his second race in three starts when the handsome chestnut came home first in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.

At the Barretts sale, Kanthaka pointed himself out as a good prospect with a stride length of nearly 25 feet and such excellent stride component factors that he earned a BreezeFig of 65 and was among the select group of work horses who earned a Group 1 ranking from DataTrack International.

Kanthaka is now the third graded stakes winner for his sire, who last year was represented by G2 Sorrento Stakes winner Spectator and by Star Galicia, a G3 winner in Panama.

Graded stakes speed was the key quality of Jimmy Creed during his own racing career.

A winner of the G1 Malibu Stakes at 3 and the G2 Potrero Grande at 4, Jimmy Creed was also third in the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship at 3 and the G1 Bing Crosby at 4.

The handsome chestnut had been a $900,000 September sale yearling in 2010 for the racing stable of Wayne Hughes, and when the colt went to stud at Spendthrift Farm, Jimmy Creed proved popular with breeders.

Part of the way Spendthrift operates its stallion business is to sell breeding rights in the “Share the Upside” program, and season and shares representative Mark Toothaker said the breeding rights sold in Jimmy Creed numbered “somewhere in the high 30s.”

When a young stallion prospers, the breeding rights become a commodity of their own, and Toothaker noted there is a “resale market for them, with the most recent trading at around $60,000 each.”

With that level of interest and the stallion standing at $15,000 live foal, he is going to receive a markedly stronger book of mares than in earlier years. And the horse will receive more mares, as well. Jimmy Creed covered 67 mares in 2017 and will breed a book of around 130 this year.

In addition to having his sire stand at Spendthrift, the San Vicente winner has further ties to the history of the farm.

Kanthaka goes back in the female line to the excellent producer Mellow Marsh (by Seaneen), who was bred by Harbor View Farm, which bred and raced many notable horses, including Triple Crown winner Affirmed (Exclusive Native), and was a decades-long Spendthrift client, standing Raise a Native and Exclusive Native there as well.

At Spendthrift, Mellow Marsh foaled five stakes winners from 14 foals, nine of whom were fillies.

Spendthrift Farm owner Leslie Combs acquired Mellow Marsh and bred the stakes-winning fillies Yale Coed (Majestic Prince), Active Voice (Pretense), Brorita (Caro), and Manicure Kit (J.O. Tobin), plus the colt stakes winner L’Natural (Raise a Native), from Mellow Marsh.

Even more amazing, seven of Mellow Marsh’s nine daughters produced stakes horses, including Yale Coed, the dam of four-time G1 winner Interco (Intrepid Hero), and Alyne Que (Raise a Native), who foaled G3 winners Descent (Avatar) and Muscovite (Nijinsky).

One of the two who didn’t produced a stakes horse was Alyne Que’s full sister Raise an Heiress, who was bred by Spendthrift, won twice from seven starts, and is Kanthaka’s third dam. The mare ended up consigned by Wayne Lukas and L.R. French to the second Night of the Stars sale at Fasig-Tipton in 1988, and the young mare, in foal to leading sire Caro, sold for $650,000 to Frances A. Genter Stable.

So, a family which made a mark at Spendthrift decades ago, now has success anew with Spendthrift’s new guard of sires, including Jimmy Creed.

[Note: Some readers wondered how many mares Jimmy Creed had covered during his early seasons at stud. Although the data didn’t fit comfortably in the story above, from his first crop, foals of 2015, Jimmy Creed covered 141 mares, with 102 reported in foal, and 91 live foals, per the Jockey Club. For his second crop, the horse covered 147, with 90 reported in foal, and 81 live foals of 2016. With his third book of mares, Jimmy Creed covered 72 mares, with 43 reported in foal, and 37 live foals last year that are now yearlings. The fourth-crop coverings are mentioned above, and those will be arriving this spring.

Typically, third- and fourth-year books decline precipitously because only breeders strongly committed to the horse or planning to race the offspring themselves want to risk having yearlings and 2-year-olds by horses that the marketplace will already have judged successful or not.]

after holy bull victory, winner audible clearly has potential, but does his greatest opportunity lie in the classics?

That swishing sound of another ball through the basket was the sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday) having another big weekend with his offspring. Chief among them were a pair of colts who finished first and third in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

The winner was the bay colt Audible, who won his first stakes and third race from four starts in the Holy Bull. The stakes victory was a major step forward for the half-million dollar colt owned by the triumvirate of WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing LLC.

The partners picked up the husky bay at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at Gulfstream last year for $500,000. After being picked out of the Winter Quarter Farm consignment for $175,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s select New York-bred yearling auction at Saratoga, Audible had progressed so well that he worked a furlong in :10 2/5 with a stride length of about 24 feet. The colt had shown great extension and a high degree of thrust that earned him a Group 1 ranking and a BreezeFig of 62 from DataTrack International in its assessment of all the juveniles at the sale.

The partners brought the growthy colt along with a view to the long term. Audible has repaid them with rapid progress when it counts, and the company he defeated in the Holy Bull looks pretty solid. In second place was Free Drop Billy, who won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2017 and was second in the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

In third was the other Into Mischief colt, Tiz Mischief, who defeated Enticed (Medaglia d’Oro) by a length and a half. These two had reverse positions in last season’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. So, through several lines of form, the race result appears solid enough and deep enough to earn Audible a fair share of genuine respect.

 

That’s important because the goal for him, as well as most of the able colts, is the feature race on the first Saturday in May.

Having the ability is the first step, and this is clearly an athletic colt who is making significant progress at the right time to make a mark as a classic colt.

And the next question is whether Audible’s pedigree suggests that 10 furlongs will be a trump or a trap.

His sire Into Mischief won the G1 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles as a 2-year-old, was sidelined much of his 3-year-old season, then came back to finish second in the G1 Malibu at seven furlongs before being retired after winning three of six starts. That is the kind of inconclusive racing career that most frequently precedes a trip to obscurity.

But Into Mischief was not a usual stallion prospect, and he has become a true force to reckon with in contemporary breeding. His best stock so far have been milers like himself, with Goldencents winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile twice, plus the Santa Anita Derby at nine furlongs. That’s the longest distance that any of his top progeny have won a G1, including Practical Joke, who won the G1 Champagne at a mile, plus the G1 Allen Jerkens and Hopeful at seven furlongs.

With no significant racing performance in any of the colt’s first three dams, the best clues to stamina potential are their sires. Broodmare sire Gilded Time (Timeless Moment) was champion 2-year-old of 1993, when he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles, was laid off almost the entirety of his 3-year-old season until he came back to finish a close third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He retired to stud the next season after winning 4 of 6 starts.

Talk about breeding like to like, the racing careers of Into Mischief and Gilded Time are eerily similar.

The broodmare sire of Audible’s second dam is champion sprinter Gulch (Mr. Prospector). Winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs, the G1 Hopeful at 6 1/2 furlongs, the G1 Carter and Futurity at seven furlongs, and the G1 Metropolitan Handicap at a mile twice, Gulch won a G1 at nine furlongs only once, in the 1987 Wood Memorial.

In the weeks following the Wood, Gulch was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, fourth in the Preakness, won the 1987 Metropolitan, and was third in the Belmont Stakes. Gulch never won a race longer than 1 1/8 miles, and no horse in the first three generations of Audible’s pedigree won a G1 race at 10 furlongs.

Does that mean Audible won’t win the Kentucky Derby?

Not even I can look into the hearts of horses to see what greatness might lurk there, but if he’s almost as good as great-grandpa Gulch, Audible is going to be a hell of a horse.

the leading freshmen sires of 2017 may have all they can handle from some classic-style young sires in the top 10 list

One of the bugbears of contemporary breeding is the extreme attention paid to the results of the first-year sires’ standings. The hyper-focus on immediate, short-term racing success drives the market both for stallion prospects and their offspring.

First of all, breeders look at a stallion prospect and ask themselves whether he’ll be a good 2-year-old sire, whether the horse in question was fast and successful in his first season and whether his sire or other close male relatives were top 2-year-olds. Then they ask whether the horse would be a good match for their mare.

Second, buyers at the yearling sales, and most especially the pinhookers, query themselves about whether the yearling in front of them is likely to be a quick and early juvenile. Are his closest relations of a similar racing character? That’s why the breeders were asking the question.

Last of all, the sales of juveniles in training and then the early-season racing, in particular, are stringent tests of the most likely prospects from the first two steps to get out on the racetrack and win races. Some, like Nyquist, will prosper mightily through the process and send their sires soaring into the stratosphere of stallion appreciation.

After the 2017 racing season for 2-year-olds, the results did not send a freshman sire to the stars the way Nyquist and other good juveniles sent their sire, former champion 2-year-old colt Uncle Mo (by Indian Charlie).

To the contrary, the top five earners among the juveniles of 2017 were by household names Quality Road (Caledonia Road), Good Magic (Curlin), Rushing Fall (More Than Ready), Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), and Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy). Likewise, the top 10 leading sires of juveniles in 2017 were topped by the much-lamented Scat Daddy over Curlin and Into Mischief. Among the top 10, only two freshmen made the scene, with Overanalyze (Dixie Union) and Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) in 8th and 9th of the 10.

Those two finished less than $100,000 apart at the end of an active season for their first-crop runners. Overanalyze had 64 starters from 100 foals of 2015, and Violence had 65 starters from 115 foals. Violence led all North American freshmen sires with 31 winners, and Overanalyze had 26. Each had four stakes winners from his first crop.

With year-earnings of $1.6 and $1.5 million, they stood well clear of the next horses on the list. In third is the only other freshman sire to pass $1 million in progeny earnings last year, but the stallion, A.P. Indy’s son Take Charge Indy, is now in Korea. Take Charge Indy was a markedly talented racehorse who did not pass some academic tests for conformational perfection, and “in-crowd” breeders were racing so quickly away from the horse that the ownership at WinStar Farm was convinced to sell him abroad.

The Versailles, Ky., farm takes courage from the loss by noting that Overanalyze stands there too. Violence stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale, and the next two horses on the freshman list, Shanghai Bobby and Animal Kingdom, stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud and Darley‘s Jonabell Farm.

Whereas Take Charge Indy proved a noteworthy surprise for many people, the two young sires immediately below him on the list were on many observers’ short lists of young sires to watch.

In fourth place, Shanghai Bobby was a champion juvenile by Harlan’s Holiday out of a mare by champion sprinter Orientate. The unbeaten 2-year-old Shanghai Bobby had gotten such quick- and progressive-looking yearlings his stud fee rocketed upward before he ever had a starter. By the end of the juvenile sales season, however, the bloom was off the rose for “Bobby.” Consignors and buyers were decidedly tepid in their appreciation of the horse’s 2-year-olds. Comments included “not big enough,” “look like sprinters,” and the ever-dreaded “may need time.”

The gentle reader might expect sellers and buyers of young critters in training would appreciate horses that “look like sprinters,” but that’s really not the case. The market ideal is a young prospect with the size and scope (length and leg) to look like a top miler or classic prospect but to also have the speed to sail through a furlong in about :10.

Don’t want much, do they?

Well, yes, they want everything, and they want it yesterday.

And that makes the fifth-place finish of Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) all the more interesting. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner was not a top 2-year-old and only bloomed just in time to make the classic and carry home the roses. He improved as a 4-year-old and, after a lengthy layoff, came back to finish a very smart second to Wise Dan in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile, then won the 2013 Dubai World Cup at 5.

Animal Kingdom is also one of three young sires in the top 10 with a graded stakes winner. The others are the pair immediately following Animal Kingdom, sixth-place Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor) and seventh-placed Point of Entry (Dynaformer). This trio have proven they can get the required quality in their early performers; if further improvement comes for some of their stock, one or more of these sires could challenge for overall leadership of the sire class this year.

legacy of spring hill farm and ned evans lives on with champion gun runner

Gun Runner waved goodbye to his legion of fans with a shake of his red tail, and the chestnut son of Candy Ride has arrived in Kentucky to enter stud at Three Chimneys Farm.

Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables LLC, Gun Runner was foaled and raised at WinStar Farm, then sold privately to Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm.

At the 2011 Keeneland November sale, Ben Leon’s Besilu Stables purchased the dam, stakes winner Quiet Giant (by Giant’s Causeway), for $3 million out of the dispersal of stock from the estate of Edward P. “Ned” Evans, who bred and raced Quiet Giant. Gun Runner is the mare’s first foal.

Part of the historical interconnections of racing that run through the saga of Gun Runner is the influence of Ned Evans on racing and breeding, and the man who’s long had a hand in this family is Chris Baker. For 11 years, Baker was general manager for Evans at his farm in Virginia and is now chief operating officer at Three Chimneys.

Baker said, “Mr. Evans was a student of the game and had a passion for it that was remarkable. He combined an understanding of pedigrees, with a continuing evaluation of the individuals in the racing stable and broodmare band, as he sought the best prospects and producers.”

As such, Evans wasn’t afraid to cull. When he cut a good one loose, he wasn’t too proud to step back in the ring and buy an animal that had proven its worth.

This happened repeatedly with Gun Runner’s family.

Evans bred and raced Gun Runner’s dam Quiet Giant and raced Gun Runner’s second dam Quiet Dance (Quiet American). Evans acquired Quiet Dance as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale for $75,000. A useful racemare who won the restricted Gala Lil Stakes at Pimlico, Quiet Dance also ran second in the G2 Demoiselle Stakes at 2.

After her retirement to Edwards’ Spring Hill Farm in Virginia, Quiet Dance became a broodmare of exceptional significance. The dam of four stakes winners, Quiet Dance also produced three stakes-placed performers, a winning daughter who is the dam of G3 winner Lull (War Front), and an unraced daughter who is the dam of G1 winner Buster’s Ready (More Than Ready).

Among the mare’s four stakes winners, the best was unquestionably Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado), with Quiet Giant ranking second as a G2 stakes winner herself. Saint Liam won nine races and more than $4.4 million, and he nearly mirrored the racing record of his kinsman Gun Runner with victories in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Donn (Pegasus), Clark (then a G2), Stephen Foster, and Woodward. Gun Runner also won the G1 Whitney and G2 Louisiana Derby.

Evans bred Saint Liam and sold him for $130,000 at the Saratoga select yearling sale. That was a profitable transaction, but the horse went on to become a champion and earn $4.4 million.

Baker said, “I recall sitting with him at the table in Virginia, when he was signing the paperwork to buy three shares in the syndication for Saint Liam that was worth $16 million. He wasn’t the sort of man who was going to let the difference between what he sold for and what he was buying back in for keep him from participating in a horse that he liked.”

Champion as a 5-year-old, Saint Liam stood only one season at Lane’s End before his death, but the bay sired champion Havre de Grace, among others.

Gun Runner differs from his elder relative by having a faster cruising speed and by coming to hand earlier so that the son of Candy Ride challenged his divisional rivals earlier in his career, winning the Louisiana Derby before finishing third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and Travers, then winning his first G1 in the Clark at the end of his 3-year-old season.

Members of this family have shown high form at 2, as well as later in their careers, and Quiet Dance had been second in the G2 Demoiselle at 2 in 1995. After Quiet Dance had shown her form, her dam Misty Dancer went to the sales, and Evans paid $230,000 for the dam of his successful Saratoga sale purchase at the 1996 Keeneland November sale when the mare was 8 and in foal to Silver Hawk (Roberto).

Retired a maiden after three excursions in maiden special weight company, Misty Dancer was by a first-rate sire and broodmare sire in Lyphard and out of an excellent producer, the Misty Flight mare Flight Dancer, who produced two high-class racers, Misty Galore (Halo) and Minstrella (The Minstrel).

At one point, Evans owned Flight Dancer, a granddaughter of champion Gallorette, but sold her after she had produced Minstrella, who won the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes and two other G1 races, and she was a highweight at 2 in England and Ireland in 1986.

Then Evans sold Flight Dancer before she produced Misty Dancer. But he liked Misty Dancer’s daughter Quiet Dance enough to purchase her as a yearling, then when the daughter revealed her form, Evans purchased the dam as well.

If you love a tangled tale, this is your ball of yarn. But wall to wall, it is a tale of good horses.