a quarter-millennium ago, one horse was born during an eclipse, and he casts a long shadow even today

The most significant event in Kentucky over the coming week (Aug. 21) is the full solar eclipse, and the Bluegrass State is dead-center for viewing a total eclipse of the sun. The Bluegrass, more than most portions of the Earth, should be eclipse conscious because the pattern and character of the Thoroughbred today is significantly shaped by a single horse named after a similar event 253 years ago.

The great English racehorse and sire Eclipse (by Marske x Spilletta, by Regulus) was foaled during the great English eclipse of 1764. That event was memorialized in the unbeaten racehorse’s name.

eclipse at newmarket

Eclipse – the unbeaten racehorse did not lose even a single heat and was immortalized in the phrase, “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.” The image above is of a painting by the noted anatomist and artist George Stubbs, who painted Eclipse and other 18th century horses.

Born April 1 of 1764, Eclipse was bred by the Duke of Cumberland (Prince William Augustus) and was foaled at Cranbourne Lodge in England. The future racing star did not start for his breeder, however, because the Duke died the following year when Eclipse was a yearling, and the chestnut colt was sold to a livestock dealer named William Wildman for 75 guineas.


Wildman brought the handsome chestnut to the races as a 5-year-old, a circumstance virtually outlawed today but relatively commonplace 200 years ago when races were much longer. Eclipse’s debut was in a race over four miles, best two of three heats. Eclipse won handily and after winning his second race, this time at two-mile heats, Dennis O’Kelly purchased half the horse for 650 guineas.

Eclipse continued to win races; all comers and distances were the same to him. In an era long before airplanes, horses typically walked to their own races, and Eclipse is estimated to have walked around 1,400 miles to races across England.

The big chestnut horse won them all.

He made 18 starts in two years, at distances from two to four miles, typically in heats. Eclipse never had to race the ultimate number of heats because he never lost one, and such was his dominance that he walked over – no opposition available to oppose him – eight times among the 18.

O’Kelly had purchased the remaining 50 percent of the horse for 1,100 guineas in April 1770, and after his 6-year-old season, Eclipse was retired because the difficulty in finding competition for him was too great.

In 1771, O’Kelly stood Eclipse at his Side Hill Stud near Epsom, and the horse became an immediate success at stud. His fee rose eventually rose as high as 50 guineas, and Eclipse moved to Cannons Stud in 1788 at age 24.

On 27 February the next year, Eclipse died from colic. He was 25.

At stud, Eclipse sired 344 winners, including three winners of the English Derby: Young Eclipse (1788), Saltram (1780), and Sergeant (1781). Eclipse’s most important sons at stud over the long term proved to be his second-crop son Pot-8-Os and fourth-crop son King Fergus.

Pot-8-Os is the male-line ancestor of Bend Or, Phalaris, Nearco, and a domineering portion of the breed. King Fergus proved to be the male-line ancestor of Galopin and his great son St. Simon, which are represented in more contemporary pedigrees through Ribot and Princequillo.

Derby winner Saltram sired some good horses in England and then was exported to Virginia at age 22. The stallion sired the dam of the important American racer Timoleon, who sired the great four-mile heat racer Boston, winner in 40 of 45 races and later the sire of Lexington, the greatest American sire of the 19th century.

As a result of these and other Thoroughbreds of enduring importance to the breed, Eclipse came to be regarded as one of the three most important Thoroughbred sire lines: those of Herod, Matchem, and Eclipse.

Eclipse’s influence on the breed spread far and wide, and the stallion’s male line has become the predominant male line in the breed, representing something in the neighborhood of 95 percent of modern Thoroughbreds. He is in the pedigree of every Thoroughbred I can find, although it is just possible that somewhere a Thoroughbred exists without a cross of the great chestnut who was named after the great astronomical event more than 250 years ago.

Since the Northern Hemisphere breeding season of 2017 is well past, however, there will be no Kentucky foal born on Aug. 21 with a destiny written in the stars.


dissolution of idle hour farm proved a boon to major breeders greentree, king ranch, and ogden phipps

E.R. Bradley died on Aug. 15, 1946, and in November, the estate announced that the entirety of Idle Hour Farm and its stock had sold to a syndicate of horse breeders. King Ranch, Greentree Stud, and Ogden Phipps were the buyers.

The gross price for land and horses was $2,681,545, “approximately,” as it was reported.

The syndicate members retained ownership of the young stallion Bimelech, stood him at Greentree for the remainder of his stud career. The 20-year-old stallion Blue Larkspur became the property of King Ranch and remained at Idle Hour (partitioned, sold to Edwad S. Moore, and renamed Circle M Farm) till the horse died in May of 1947.

The Circle M property changed hands several times and eventually became what is largely Darby Dan Farm today. The other portion of the land of Idle Hour went to King Ranch and became its Kentucky division for several decades.

King Ranch acquired the following mares: Bee Mac (in foal to Bull Lea), Be Like Mom (Blue Larkspur), Baby Sister (War Admiral), Buginarug (barren), By Appointment (Questionnaire), Bird of War (Questionnaire), Bond Buyer (Bimelech); these horses in training: Bridal Flower, But Why Not, Blind Frenzy, Bee Ann Mac, Better Value; two yearlings and three weanlings.

Greentree acquired the following mares: Blade of Time (Bimelech), Big Event (Devil Diver), Beanie M. (War Admiral), Blinking Owl (Bimelech), Bright Green (barren), La Troienne (Blue Larkspur); these horses in training: Blue-Eyed Momo, Bimlette, Blue Border; three yearlings, and three weanlings.

Ogden Phipps acquired the following mares: Baby League (War Admiral), Bloodroot (Bull Lea), Businesslike (War Admiral), Babys Breath (Bimelech), Black Helen (barren); four yearlings and three weanlings.

The syndicate sold on 14 mares to Moore, plus 10 yearlings and 10 weanlings. Of the mares, eight were in foal to major stallions; six were barren at the time of sale. The mares were: Bazaar (Bimelech), Big Doings (Fighting Fox), Bitindependent (Whirlaway), Born Fool (Shut Out), Boys I’m It (War Admiral), Bright Blue (Pharamond II), Bubblette (Bimelech), Clonaslee (Bimelech), plus the barren Barn Swallow, Best of All, Bird Flower, Bit o’ Love, Bridal Colors, and By Mistake.

The syndicate sold three 3-year-old colts to Charles S. Howard and four 2-year-olds, and also sold the yearling full brother of Horse of the Year Busher to Maine Chance Farm (Elizabeth Arden / Elizabeth Graham).

Among Moore’s in-foal mares, Bazaar, winner of the 1933 Hopeful Stakes and dam of the good stakes winner Best Seller, had not had a foal for seven years. Her foal of 1947 was Our Tops (Bimelech), who was stakes-placed at 2 and 4. Bazaar never produced another foal. Clonaslee had produced three stakes winners but was 24 at the time of sale. She produced two more foals. All in all, these mares were culled for reason by whomever was advising the syndicate, and the barren mares were even less productive than those in foal.

But Moore did much better among his younger horses. Chief among them was Relic (1945 War Relic x Bridal Colors), who won five of seven starts, including the 1947 Hopeful Stakes. And Maine Chance got a star in buying the colt later named Mr. Busher. The purchase price was steep at $50,000, but the colt won three of his four starts at 2, his only season to race, including the Arlington Futurity, earned $83,875, and became a useful sire.

The three syndicate members did best, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this because the nuggets from their acquisition of Idle Hour bloodstock formed the kernel of a good portion of American racing history over the past half-century.

At the time of sale alone, Blade of Time was carrying Guillotine (Bimelech), winner of the 1949 Futurity for Greentree; Businesslike was carrying Busanda (War Admiral), winner of the Suburban and later dam of Buckpasser and Bupers, for Ogden Phipps; Baby League was carrying Striking (War Admiral), a stakes winner and later a Broodmare of the Year, also for Phipps; and King Ranch got immediate results with But Why Not, champion 3-year-old filly of 1947, and longer-term success with Better Self, a major stakes winner and sire, who was a yearling in 1946.

Bradley’s bloodstock, exceptional as it was, seemed to prosper even more in the hands of these three major breeders over the intervening decades, and Bradley’s name and the names and deeds of the horses he bred are an inextricable part of the fabric of racing history and of racing’s future.


freshmen sires stepping out with stakes winners, currently led by kentucky derby winner animal kingdom

The freshmen sires of 2017, those with their first racers breaking from the gates this season, are gaining momentum and credit. Already, there are 10 sires who have sired a stakes winner from their first crop at the races.

Ranked in order of their total earnings, the stallions with first-crop stakes winners already are Violence (by Medaglia d’Oro); Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor); Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux), who is the only sire with two stakes winners yet; Justin Phillip (First Samurai); Morning Line (Tiznow); Declaration of War (War Front); Point of Entry (Dynaformer); Poseidon’s Warrior (Speightstown); Liaison (Indian Charlie); and Big Lightning (Bernardini).

These are positive indicators for the potential success of this class of young sires, several of whom are not especially precocious in physical type or in their own performances on the racetrack.


animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom – Kentucky Derby winner is the current leading freshman sire of 2017, ranked according to the number of stakes winners. (Darley photo)



In particular, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and top-class turf performer Point of Entry would be rather surprising successes to find on this list because neither was notably precocious in the usual sense, and both are sizable, rangy animals that took a bit of time to come to themselves fully. Yet they have sired horses with considerable precocity.

The potential of this pair to sire quicker horses than expected was one of the features of the 2-year-old in training sales earlier this year, which also exposed some very progressing-looking and appealing specimens by Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Orb does not yet have a stakes winner, but he does have four winners and a stakes-placed horse that have placed him fifth on the freshman sires list by total earnings.

Two of the other members of this quintet – Overanalyze and Shanghai Bobby – do not yet have a stakes winner, but both those young sires have a pair of stakes-placed performers and are sure to get a winner before much longer.

Overanalyze (Dixie Union) has the most winners of any freshman sire with 11 from 29 starters. And he is leading the freshman list at this point with just less than $400,000. Overanalyze stands at WinStar Farm near Lexington for a $10,000 fee and has 88 named foals in his first crop. With more than a third of those already starting, precocity is clearly going to be a trump card with this young sire.

In second place on the list is Violence, who stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale for $15,000, and he has 101 foals in his first crop. He has the second-highest number of starters (24) and ranks second by winners (9). His stock at the 2-year-old sales tended to be large, sometimes very big, and yet they are showing ability quite early.

The sire in third place after these early rounds in the stallion sweepstakes is the surprise performer Jimmy Creed, who stands at Spendthrift Farm for $5,000, the smallest stud fee among the leading freshmen. Jimmy Creed is also a son of the splendid old sire Distorted Humor like Maclean’s Music, a leading freshman last year by earnings and number of winners, and he is the sire of 2017 Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. Both sons of Distorted Humor were very fast racers themselves, and it is clear that their offspring are using that ability to great effect.

Jimmy Creed has some other distinctions. He has more stakes horses (4) than any other freshman sire, and he is co-leader for graded stakes winners (1) after the success of his daughter Spectator in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. Now unbeaten in two starts, Spectator is out of the Henny Hughes mare Diva’s Tribute and is performing just like she should with Jimmy Creed and Henny Hughes as sire and broodmare sire.

Furthermore, the speed of Jimmy Creed has placed his offspring in the hands of good owners and trainers, and the stallion’s racers have sped their sire into prominence at the top tier of the sire list.

There is, in fact, less than $50,000 difference among the top three sires on this list. It is clearly quite competitive among this group, but there is a $100,000 difference between third and fourth rankings.

The second tier, at this early stage, is led by champion juvenile colt Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday), who stands at Ashford for $25,000 and has 85 named foals in his first crop. Of those, 18 have started and 5 have won.

Shanghai Bobby has two stakes-placed runners, and his exact contemporary Orb (Malibu Moon) has one. Standing at Claiborne for $25,000, Orb has 15 starters out of a crop of 79 named foals, with four winners.

One of the fascinating elements of these comparisons is noting that among the dozen and a half freshmen sires, only two have average winning distances longer than six furlongs.

Orb has the longest average winning distance of 6.75 furlongs, and his comrade in the six-plus furlong ranking is Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

The latter has really bolted out of the gate in the freshman sire sweepstakes and already has two stakes winners, with his second coming when Continental Divide won his maiden in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Although these are early furlongs in the great stallion race, it is interesting to see those who are quickest out of the gate and especially to note those, like Orb and Animal Kingdom, who are pressing early with nice young stock that seem certain to excel in time.

saratoga select yearling sale puts a spotlight on young sires, plus it bids adieu to a leading sire lost too early

Among the highlights of Fasig-Tipton’s annual Saratoga select yearling sale that was held on the evenings of Aug. 7 and 8, one of the premium items of interest is the quality and market reception of young sires with their first-crop yearlings.

Will Take Charge is one young stallion in this class who has received a lot of praise, despite the challenges for any horse becoming a successful sire, or for any successful sire becoming for the success of his sons.

One of the greatest attainments of a leading sire is to become known as a “sire of sires.” This is particularly true for the commercial value of a stallion’s second-generation offspring and for the sales value of his colts, which will skyrocket if a sire’s initial sons gain early success.

The prototype of this is Northern Dancer, whose immediate success as a sire was bolstered by racing excellence of his great son Nijinsky, who then became a leading international sire. This created greater demand for succeeding sons and also gave them better opportunities at stud.

Usually, however, the opposite is true. A stallion’s first few sons do little to enhance his reputation as a sire of sires. That’s the norm because most stallions do not succeed at a grand level, and few sons of a great sire become very good or great sires themselves.

Unbridled, for instance, was an excellent sire, one of the most consistent sources of classic quality in American breeding. He got a boxcar full of sons, but it appears that his influence will be carried on principally by Empire Maker and Unbridled’s Song.

The latter came from Unbridled’s first crop and was notable both for his exceptional speed and for his size. Unbridled was big, his sire Fappiano was big, and Unbridled’s Song was thumping big, as well.

That has appeared to be something of a limitation for the sons of Unbridled’s Song, as they have tried to establish themselves as sires. Despite ability and opportunity, none has become a sire of great distinction to date, and most horsemen blame size and speed on that shortcoming.

But one of the most appealing young sires of the early sales scene is the Unbridled’s Song stallion Will Take Charge. A striking chestnut colt who emerged from the Triple Crown to become the late-season leader of his generation and eventually also the Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old colt, Will Take Charge is a “typical” son of his sire.

He is tall, long, and most horsemen would not want him to be any bigger.

So the impression of the first-crop yearlings by Will Take Charge means a lot. Grant Williamson of Three Chimneys Farm, which owns part of the stallion and stands him, has seen nearly all the stallion’s foals. He said, “They are good-sized, not oversized, athletic, and attractive individuals who have balance and quality. I would not be surprised if some of them make good 2-year-olds.”

Not surprisingly, a good number of the Will Take Charge yearlings have appeared at Fasig-Tipton’s July select sale and are cataloged for the Saratoga select sale, as well. There were a trio in July and 10 more are set for the Saratoga select auction.

Will Take Charge is the front man in a trio of the best stallion prospects sired by Unbridled’s Song. In addition to the chestnut champion, Liam’s Map, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has first-crop weanlings of 2017, and champion Arrogate, the leading racehorse of 2017, is expected to try to repeat his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory later this year and enter stud in 2018.


In contrast to the much-ballyhooed set of yearlings by Will Take Charge, this Saratoga sale also featured the last crop of yearlings by the Johannesburg stallion Scat Daddy.

The much-lamented Scat Daddy, who died in December 2015, has been having a brilliant year as a sire in 2017 with such stars as G1 winner Lady Aurelia, a winner of stakes across the globe, including the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in July.

There were, in fact, four Kentucky-bred winners at Royal Ascot this year: all by Scat Daddy. Those winners at Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes), Con Te Partiro (Sandringham Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes) – all showed speed and class. Two of them, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, are among the most widely praised speed horses in the world.

Given the sire’s high profile, one might have considered going to Fasig-Tipton’s July sale of select yearlings to pick out a Scat Daddy, but there weren’t any. None. Those wise purveyors of equine goodies have them all reserved for the Saratoga select sale of yearlings, and there are a dozen Scat Daddy yearlings cataloged for the Spa auction.

Only one consignor, Gainesway (3), has more than a single Saratoga yearling by this sire with the hottest hand in breeding at the moment. And the demand for the Scat Daddy stock isn’t declining; instead, it is ramping up because it’s a case of buy now or miss ’em entirely.

The last crop by Scat Daddy were foaled in 2016, beginning the month after the sire’s death, as the mares from Scat Daddy’s 2015 book began dropping foals. There are 147 foals in that crop, and every one that comes to auction will get a careful inspection by potential buyers.

That will be especially true of those young prospects good enough to qualify for the premium sales and sessions this year. At Saratoga’s select yearling auction, one of the lots sure to attract attention is Hip 106, a chestnut filly out of stakes winner Winning Season, by Lemon Drop Kid, consigned by Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services. The second dam of this filly is multiple graded stakes winner Topicount (Private Account), the dam of two stakes winners and three other daughters who are stakes producers.

One of the best pedigreed lots in the sale is Hip 140, a bay filly consigned by Brookdale for Audley Farm. This filly is the first foal of her dam, the Smart Strike mare Bilboquet. The second dam is stakes winner Handpainted (A.P. Indy), who also ran second in the G1 Selene. The next dam is the beautiful Deputy Minister stakes winner Daijin, a full sister to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and a half-sister to Canadian champion and classic winner With Approval.

One of Scat Daddy’s particular strengths as a sire was his ability to succeed with a variety of types of mares and with offspring who performed well in a variety of conditions. The European successes of his offspring such as Lady Aurelia, Caravaggio, and previously No Nay Never will surely bring lookers to Hip 216, a bay colt consigned by Gainesway and out of European stakes winner Kaloura, by the Arc de Triomphe winner Sinndar.

This colt’s dam is a half-sister to European highweight and American champion Kalanisi, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in the States, as well as the G1 Champion Stakes in England.


Hip 106 sold for $155,000 to Matt Schera.

Hip 140 sold for $600,000 to White Birch Farm.

Hip 216 sold for not sold for $195,000.

storm cat is basking in the sunshine after the successes of girvin and good samaritan

Somewhere in horse heaven, Storm Cat is gloating.

His branch of the Northern Dancer line hung up big wins over the weekend in the two most important stakes for 3-year-old colts, the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park and the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

At the Spa on Saturday, Good Samaritan (by Harlan’s Holiday) ran down Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) and Preakness winner Cloud Computing (Mclean’s Music) to mirror the race’s namesake, who defeated 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox (Sir Gallahad III) and the previous season’s top juvenile Whichone (Chicle) in the Travers Stakes 87 years ago.

The following day at Monmouth, Girvin (Tale of Ekati) uncorked a strong four-furlong run to win the Haskell by a nose from the widely respected McCraken (Ghostzapper) and Practical Joke (Into Mischief), with Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry (Curlin) fourth.

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC, Good Samaritan is out of the Pulpit mare Pull Dancer, a stakes-placed mare who ran second in the Alywow Stakes at Woodbine and the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park. Pull Dancer is the most successful racer out of Mayhavebeenthebigone (Arch), a half-sister to G3 stakes winner Wiseman’s Ferry (Hennessy). This is the family of champion filly Outstandingly (Exclusive Native), winner of the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; the important sires Bernstein (Storm Cat) and Sky Mesa (Pulpit); and the graded winners Caress and Country Cat (both by Storm Cat).

Good Samaritan is the third foal out of his dam, who has an unraced juvenile colt by Pioneerof the Nile named Brave Nation. The Jim Dandy winner began his career racing for WinStar and China Horse Club, winning his debut and the G2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine; then SF Racing bought into the colt before the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, when Good Samaritan was third in the BC Juvenile Turf.

Head of Plains Partners came on board thereafter, and the good-looking bay has raced for a quartet of owners at 3.

Storm Cat stands atop the third generation of Good Samaritan’s pedigree as the sire of the short-lived Harlan, sire of Harlan’s Holiday. The son of Storm Bird stands in the same position of Girvin’s pedigree, as Storm Cat’s good son Tale of the Cat is sire of Tale of Ekati, winner of the G1 Cigar Mile and Wood Memorial at 3, plus the G2 Futurity Stakes as a juvenile. Girvin is his sire’s first G1 winner, although Tale of Verve ran second in the 2015 Preakness behind Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah.

Girvin was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte and sold to Brad Grady (Grand Oaks) for $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale of 2015.

Grady said, “We knew this colt because my farm manager Bobby Dodd and I saw the colt at the Keeneland September sale; we really liked him but didn’t get him bought. We thought he was going to be too much money to try bringing back to the 2-year-old sales. Then, Bobby saw him in October, thought he had improved, moved forward from what he’d been in September, and he had been good then and said we ought to buy.”

Once he purchased the colt, Grady planned to resell the handsome dark bay in training. He said, “Everything I buy is intended for the 2-year-old sales. This colt was entered for the April sale at OBS, and he was training great, just beautiful. But then he stepped on his coronet band, it blew up, and we couldn’t get him to a sale. Bobby said, ‘I’ve been known to take horses I couldn’t get sold to the races, and I think this is a good prospect for that.’”

Grady did just that. Girvin won his debut in December last year at 2, and “the rest is history,” the happy owner said.

Including his victory in the $1 million-added Haskell, Girvin has won four of seven starts, earning $1,574,400. Earlier this year at the OBS April sale, Grand Oaks sold a colt in training for $2.45 million to John Moynihan, agent for M.V. Magnier. The colt by Tiznow out of Moonbow (Distorted Humor) has been named Conquistador.

Asked which circumstance was better, Grady said, “I like to do both. Winning my first Grade 1 with Joe Sharp, and this was his too, was really special. He’s a great guy and a hard worker. Our families are close, and something like that makes a wonderful experience even better.”

young sire lookin at lucky is ‘pickin’ up speed and successes with accelerate

The 4-year-old chestnut Accelerate certainly outperformed expectations with his victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Already a winner at the G2 level and now an earner of $607,480, Accelerate placed third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year, but few thought he had a chance against champion Arrogate. The gray son of Unbridled’s Song hadn’t been beaten since his debut more than a year ago, when he finished third to Westbrook and Accelerate.

Both colts have notably improved with maturity, and Accelerate put up the best performance of his career to date, even if you put a strike through the result for Arrogate. Allowing that Arrogate ran a stinker for unknown reasons, the winner crushed his other opponents, was 8 ½ lengths ahead of second-place Donworth.

In similar fashion to the San Diego Handicap winner, Accelerate’s sire, champion racer Lookin at Lucky (by Smart Strike), has been exceeding expectations as a sire, even though he’s gotten little recognition for it.

A top-tier racer who was champion at 2, then won the Preakness Stakes at 3, when he repeated as the champion of his division, Lookin at Lucky won five times at the G1 level and earned $3.3 million. Sound, game, and consistent, the bay son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike had more precocity than Smart Strike’s other champion son Curlin, Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Curlin, as time has proven, is one of the most respected influences for classic performance and reliable stamina in American breeding. From the stallion’s first crop came Belmont Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, and subsequent crops have resulted in Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, champion filly Stellar Wind, Curalina (Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks), Keen Ice (Travers), Off the Tracks (Mother Goose), and current season star Irish War Cry (Wood Memorial and second in the Belmont Stakes).

Those are the horses the breeding and buying public want: the stars and classic contenders. And the breeders and buyers pay when a horse delivers them.
For the 2017 season, Curlin stood at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for $150,000 live foal.
So where does that leave Lookin at Lucky?

Rather as a vaguely forgotten sire. One can’t say the stretchy, good-looking bay is laboring in obscurity with a stud fee of $17,500 because that is quite respectable in the contemporary market that values first-year sires with impeccable credentials and proven sires of champions.

Anything in between is dicey.

So the effect of Accelerate can only be beneficial to Lookin at Lucky, who is having a good year here in the States but is having an absolute banner year in Chile. Shuttled there like fellow Ashford stallion Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), Lookin at Lucky has lit up the results board in Chile much like his ill-fated companion at Ashford Stud.

This year alone, Lookin at Lucky has three G1 winners in Chilean racing: the 2-year-old Wow Cat (Tanteo de Pontrancas) and the 3-year-olds Kurilov (Gran Premio Hipodromo Chile) and Full of Luck (El Derby).

As we have seen with the progeny of both Smart Strike and Curlin, maturity improves this line of horses, and there is promise that Lookin at Lucky may follow suit.

Certainly, Accelerate has shown consistency this year, with all five starts in the money. Two seconds and two thirds, plus the victory in the San Diego. Four of those five starts came in graded company, and as a May foal, Accelerate could have further improvement both this year and next.

the effect of sadler’s wells is felt in top-class racing around the world

The European supersire Sadler’s Wells had a great weekend, both in Europe and in the States. Much of that success comes through the grand old stallion’s most influential son Galileo. Galileo’s son Gustav Klimt and daughter Clemmie won the Group 2 Superlative and G2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. Both are 2-year-olds with promise for greater accomplishments this season and the next. At the Curragh, the strongly inbred G1 English Oaks winner Enable added the G1 Irish Oaks to her list of successes this year.

The best middle-distance 3-year-old filly in England and Ireland, Enable is by Galileo’s G1-winning son Nathaniel, whose first crop are 3-year-olds, and is out of stakes winner Concentric, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells himself. Therefore, Enable is inbred to Sadler’s Wells 3×2.

The degree of inbreeding, the closeness of Sadler’s Wells, would be objectionable to many breeders or pedigree theorists. So why is she so good?
One reason is that Sadler’s Wells was the best English- or Irish-based stallion since his ancestors Nearco and Hyperion. Further, the conduits for Sadler’s Wells are both high-class animals. Galileo was a classic winner on the racetrack and is a stallion of such magnitude that only his fabled sire stands beside him in the European firmament.

One of Galileo’s very high-class sons proved to be Nathaniel, a G1 winner at 10 furlongs (Eclipse Stakes) and 12 furlongs (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes). As Enable suggests through her own accomplishments on the racecourse, her sire Nathaniel is a strong factor for middle-distance performance.

The stallion has sired only two stakes winners to date, but two others have been highly tried and done well. Enjoy Vijay ran second in the G1 German Derby, and Back on Board was second in the G2 Italian Derby. Both those jurisdictions have a racing program that places emphasis on stamina, particularly in their classics. And Nathaniel appears very well-suited to sharing that quality with his offspring.

Enable, the best-performing Nathaniel to date, has plenty of classic stamina in the rest of her pedigree. In addition to her broodmare sire Sadler’s Wells, the Irish Oaks winner is out of stakes winner Concentric, who won her debut as a 3-year-old over 10 furlongs and progressed to win twice more that season, both victories coming at 10 furlongs and including the listed Prix Charles Laffitte at Chantilly.

Concentric is a full sister to Dance Routine, who did her best racing at 2,000 and 2,100 meters, which is approximately 10 furlongs. At 3, Dance Routine won the G3 Prix de Royaumont in her third start, then ran a good second in the G1 Prix de Diane of 2002 behind Bright Sky. Then later that season, Dance Routine won the G2 Prix de Royallieu. At stud, Dance Routine has produced Flintshire, Eclipse Award winner as leading turf horse and now at stud in Kentucky at Hill ‘n’ Dale.

Concentric and Dance Routine, as well as their stakes-winning siblings Apsis (Barathea) and Space Quest (Rainbow Quest), are out of the exceptional producer Apogee, a daughter of classic winner Shirley Heights (Mill Reef).

Winner of the 1978 English Derby and Irish Derby, Shirley Heights proved the best stallion son of his sire, 1971 English Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Mill Reef. In addition to all this classic concentration, Apogee is out of the Ile de Bourbon (Nijinsky) mare Bourbon Girl, who was second in both the English Oaks and Irish Oaks, as well as third in the Yorkshire Oaks, all G1.

A half-sister to Apogee, the winning Rainbow Quest mare Shining Bright, produced two stakes winners: Spanish Moon (G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud) and Spanish Sun (G2 Ribblesdale Stakes). Both are by El Prado.

This son of Sadler’s Wells was a G1 winner in Ireland at 2, then came to stand at stud in Kentucky. El Prado was also the first major indicator that sons of Sadler’s Wells might become world powers because the early sons sent to stud in Europe bred right off the charts for stamina, even by European standards.

But El Prado became a leading sire in America over all surfaces, all distances, and allied with all pedigree types. And his sons, principally Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy, are carrying on admirably.

Their positive results for El Prado showed up again over the weekend, both in Europe and the States. At Newmarket, Hawkbill (Kitten’s Joy) won the G2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes. At Saint-Cloud in France, Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro) won the G2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil, and at Delaware Park, champion Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) won the G1 Delaware Handicap.

Rated second only behind Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra among the offspring of Medaglia d’Oro, Songbird was champion of her division at 2 and 3, and she now has won 13 of her 14 starts, including 9 G1 races.

For speed, versatility, consistency, and the ability to produce her form time after time, Songbird gets high marks, and these same traits apply also to this sire line, which has engendered champions and leading sires, outstanding performers on the turf and in the paddocks.

In Songbird and Enable, we have two outstanding performers, and their connections to Sadler’s Wells and his sire Northern Dancer allow the legacy of those great horses to live on with us today.

cairo prince takes a stand among first-season sires with yearlings that are drawing superb reviews

The hot item at the yearling sales each year is the premium stock by each season’s first-crop or freshmen sires. Aside from the novel appeal of having one of the first racers by a former star of the racetrack, there is also the potential to catch lightning in a bottle by finding a star before anyone knows how good a sire is going to be.

For instance, Horse of the Year Zenyatta came from the first crop by the international Grade 1 winner Street Cry, and unlike the future leading sire’s first-crop homebred champion Street Sense, Zenyatta sold as a yearling, then progressed to become a champion and star of the sport.

Who wouldn’t want to buy a horse with that sort of potential?

Likewise, who wouldn’t want to breed to a stallion who could sire a champion older horse like Zenyatta or a juvenile champ and classic winner like Street Sense?

Their sire Street Cry, a big and robustly made son of English-based Machiavellian, was a top-class racehorse who became an international force as a sire, with the champions above, as well as current Australian star Winx.

Street Cry, like all the other stallions of note, was once a freshman, and that is the sort of story that owners and agents, advisers and sales companies hope to be part of.

As a result, a massive slice of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale of selected yearlings is made up of stock sired by first-crop stallions of 2017. This list includes such notables as champion Will Take Charge (by Unbridled’s Song), Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno), Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents (Into Mischief), Hopeful Stakes winner Strong Mandate (Tiznow), Wood Memorial winner Verrazano (More Than Ready), Flashback (Tapit), Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute), Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway), Cross Traffic (Unbridled’s Song), and other racers who won a place a stud.

Nor will it have gone unnoticed among the buyers and resellers that two years ago among the freshmen sires of 2015 were the first yearlings by Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and Maclean’s Music (Distorted Humor). And this year, those sires’ first-crop 3-year-olds Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

The classic results of this year, as well as the psychological incentives to be part of the great possibility of buying into a first-crop sire, make those horses the ones everyone is curious about. And they pay to play in this game.

The resale marketers will be vigorously employed in selecting stock from this segment of sires to take to the 2018 sales of juveniles in training, and their response to the individual stallions at the Fasig-Tipton auction, as well as the succeeding sales of yearlings, will have a great deal to do with which sires are hot for next year, and that is the freshman sires’ fourth season at stud and their most difficult from a marketing point of view.

Marketing a horse in his fourth season at stud is a challenge because no stallion farm wants to be stuck with a commercial horse that nobody wants to buy. The trick is finding the ones that everyone will want more in 12 to 18 months than they want today.

Any horseman will tell you that is a whole harder to do than it appears.

But after several days of looking at the yearlings by this season’s set of freshman sires and evaluating their growth, balance, muscularity, movement and mechanics, I’m getting an impression of those giving a positive snapshot at this sale in July.

A snapshot of a sire’s crop is all we see at this sale, but it’s an informative peek into the potential of some young stallions and their offspring. Tapit’s son Flashback has nice yearlings on display; likewise Strong Mandate, Mucho Macho Man, Goldencents, and Cross Traffic have some fancy offspring.

But just who expected Fed Biz or Shakin It Up to get such well-grown and quick-looking offspring? Well done. And one of the purely best specimens of the Thoroughbred on display is stalled in Barn 5 at the back corner of the Fasig-Tipton sales facility. This colt is by the first-crop stallion Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) and is Hip 73 in the Brandywine Farm consignment. One of two yearlings by the sire in this sale, Hip 73 is a peach.

Overall, however, the stallion who stands out in this sale for the consistency and quality of his stock, for their scope and fetching motion at a walk, for size and bone and positive presence is the Airdrie Farm stallion Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile).

From the freshman crop of his now-famous sire, Cairo Prince was a good-sized horse with all those attributes I’ve just praised in his offspring. Seeing how many of them have so many of his good qualities and seeing how they stack up for balance and overall athleticism makes me feel that this gray freshman stallion is going to set a trend for the future when these and other young horses from this crop get to the races.

The best of luck to them all.

The preceding was written before the Fasig-Tipton July sale on Tuesday, July 11. The results for Cairo Prince’s yearlings are below. Complete results are available at: http://www.fasigtipton.com/ci/results/view/2017/The-July-Sale



holy helena wins the queen’s plate, scotches notion that breed is dependent upon lasix

The once-beaten Holy Helena (by Ghostzapper) became the fourth winner of the Queen’s Plate for owner-breeder Frank Stronach, who breeds in the name of Adena Springs and races in the name of Stronach Stable. His filly Holy Helena is the eighth winner of the Woodbine Oaks to come back and win the Plate, and she has now won three of her four starts, all this year.

Holy Helena won the Woodbine Oaks on June 11 by a length, then succeeded in the presumably more difficult Plate by 3 ½ lengths. The difference might be the longer distance of the Plate at 10 furlongs (run in 2:02.87), compared to the Oaks at nine furlongs (run in 1:50.18), both over the all-weather surface at Woodbine.

One reason the bay filly ran back so successfully after a three-week interval is, no doubt, that she was unencumbered by Lasix. All the filly’s starts have been Lasix-free, and there is no question – whether one approves of the medication or not – that it taxes a racehorse’s system and apparently requires the horse to have a greater interval between races.

That is not an opinion when trainers plan on 8-, 12-, or 16-week spans between races for horses who have trained and raced with the medication.

The changes in training and racing have evolved over the last 35 years or so of widespread Lasix use, a period that includes the racing careers of Holy Helena’s immediate forebears. Her sire and grandsire raced on Lasix, but that has not impaired Holy Helena’s ability to race without the medication.

Ghostzapper, the sire of Holy Helena, stands at Adena Springs in Kentucky alongside his famous sire Awesome Again, and they are the two best proven stallions at Adena Springs. Awesome Again won the Queen’s Plate in 1997, and both sire and son won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Awesome Again won the race in 1998 at Churchill Downs, and Ghostzapper won the Classic at Lone Star in 2004.

Bred in Ontario, and therefore eligible to race for the Queen’s Plate (which is restricted to Canadian-breds), Holy Helena is out of the winning Holy Grace, a daughter of Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Stronach was one of the early believers in the potential of Holy Bull as a sire, and the breeder-sportsman has been well-rewarded for his confidence in the son of Great Above.

Among other good performers, the best stallion son of Holy Bull, the gray Macho Uno, was bred and raced by Stronach. Macho Uno was champion 2-year-old colt of his year, when he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he would rank behind only Awesome Again and Ghostzapper among the active proven sires at Adena Springs.

Racing at 2, 3, and 4, Holy Grace won twice from 14 starts, winning a maiden special at Calder and an allowance at Woodbine. She earned $103,626, and Holy Helena is the mare’s fourth foal.

The Queen’s Plate winner is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Holy Boss (Street Boss), who was the second foal out of their dam. Holy Boss won the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes earlier this year, and his best victory from three other stakes wins is the G2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga in 2015. That year he was also third in the G1 King’s Bishop, and last year, Holy Boss was second in the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes. He has earned $771,527.

Bought back for $175,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale while carrying Holy Helena, Holy Grace has a 2-year-old filly by Adena stallion Fort Larned named Holy Fort, and the mare has a yearling filly by Point of Entry and colt of 2017 by Silver Max.

Holy Grace is a half-sister to three stakes winners and one stakes-placed performer. The mare’s stakes-winning siblings are Daiwa Carson (Carson City), winner of the Keio Hai Sansai Stakes in Japan; Mark One (Alphabet Soup), winner of the G3 Woodbine Handicap and Eclipse Handicap; and Rookie Sensation (Unbridled’s Song), winner of the G2 Twilight Derby.

Their dam is the Stately Don mare My Marchesa, who won the restricted Gala Lil Stakes, was second in the Gold Digger Stakes and Navajo Princess Stakes, and ran third in the Carotene Handicap. My Marchesa is a half-sister to stakes winner Black Cash (Deposit Ticket; G2 Eclipse Handicap), and they are out of the stakes-placed Buckpasser mare Sooni, one of the many fine daughters of the great producer Missy Baba (My Babu).

Missy Baba produced seven stakes winners, including the leading sire Raja Baba and broodmare of the year Toll Booth. None of them raced on Lasix.

That, I believe, is important. In the discussion of Lasix and bloodstock, I have often been asked about how it has altered the breed. My answer is: I don’t believe that Lasix has altered the breed; it has altered how we train and race and manage the breed.

scat daddy riffing to his own strains with winners at the royal ascot meeting

There were four Kentucky-bred winners at Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes), Con Te Partiro (Sandringham Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes). All showed speed and class. Two of them, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, are among the most widely praised and highly touted speed horses of last year and this.

The stunning thing is that all four are by one sire: Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg).

That singular accomplishment is a double-edged sword of thrill and pain for breeders and stallion managers because we lost the sire 18 months ago, and his final crop are now yearlings. Naturally, the stallion’s stock has never been more highly valued.

When the 11-year-old Scat Daddy died unexpectedly in his paddock at Ashford Stud early on December 14, 2015, the loss of the striking dark bay stallion was a terrible blow for Coolmore, and with the passage of subsequent seasons, the realization of how great the loss has gotten worse.



Scat Daddy – son of international champion Johannesburg was the leading sire at the 2017 Royal Ascot meeting and is an increasingly prominent sire around the world. Coolmore / Ashford photo.


At the time of his death, Scat Daddy was at the pinnacle of his fame, at least to that point, and he was going to stand for a stud fee of $100,000 in 2016, upgraded from a very respectable $35,000 in 2015, with an already full book.

The stallion’s death blew a hole in those plans for the farm, as well as the plans for the 2016 matings of a large number of top-quality mares from around the world. To keep that ship of dreams from sinking, Coolmore made 2015 leading freshman sire Uncle Mo available to those breeders who were booked to Scat Daddy.

The only bright spot in an otherwise deep downer for breeders and for Coolmore was that Scat Daddy had sired 790 foals, according to industry stats, and there are 147 foals in his final crop, now yearlings, so the stallion has 937 lifetime foals from eight crops in the Northern Hemisphere alone.

Scat Daddy has produced 53 stakes winners to date from that same Northern Hemisphere pool of foals, about seven percent of the stallion’s 790 foals of racing age, which includes the 2-year-olds of 2017. A few of them have already started.

Scat Daddy was a big horse who sired big to good-sized horses, and they have speed, fairly early maturity, and good prospects to continue improving.

From the stallion’s juveniles of 2017 comes Sioux Nation, winner of the Norfolk Stakes last week at Royal Ascot. This is the same venue a year that showcased the flaming speed of Lady Aurelia, winner of the 2016 Queen Mary Stakes, and Caravaggio, winner of the Coventry Stakes.

Both the unbeaten Caravaggio, now six-for-six after his victory in the Commonwealth, and Sioux Nation race for Coolmore. The international operation also stands Scat Daddy’s highly regarded son No Nay Never, who won the Norfolk Stakes in 2013 for trainer Wesley Ward. No Nay Never added a further European prize, the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville, to his unbeaten juvenile record. Winner of the G3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland and second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, No Nay Never is owned by and stands for Coolmore in Ireland.

Like his offspring, Scat Daddy was a top 2-year-old and comes from a line of similar performers. A winner of the G1 Champagne Stakes at 2 and the G1 Florida Derby at 3, Scat Daddy was the most accomplished racer by international champion Johannesburg, notably the best son of the Storm Cat stallion Hennessy. The latter was part of the fine crop of horses that included future top sires Unbridled’s Song and Maria’s Mon.

A winner from five and a half to nine furlongs, Scat Daddy showed high class to win twice at the G1 level, and he has passed on the capacity for exceptional speed, as well as the frequent ability to carry the speed a mile or more.

These are the traits in demand with breeders and with the major buyers at auctions. As a result, a half-brother by Scat Daddy to champion Beholder sold for $3 million at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale. And the stallion’s final crop of yearlings are going to be strongly sought after at premium auctions.

In addition, the best sons of Scat Daddy are now on everyone’s wish list of stallion prospects. The kink there is that quite a few of them are already owned by Coolmore. At least one very good prospect, however, slipped the net and is in South America.

Scat Daddy shuttled to Haras Paso Nevado in Chile from 2009 to 2011, and his seasons there resulted in several G1 winners. The best of these appeared to be Chilean Derby winner Il Campione. The latter won eight of 11 starts, and the handsome bay is standing at Haras El Paraiso in Argentina.

A success in both hemispheres, Scat Daddy has 83 stakes winners from both NH and SH coverings.