champagne toast for firenze fire, whose victory at belmont earns first g1 success for freshman sire poseidon’s warrior

The 2-year-old crop of 2017 is reluctantly assuming some degree of order amidst the dust created by most graded stakes for juveniles being filled with non-winners of a race other than maiden. So the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park was a welcome relief as Firenze Fire took home the prize for his third victory from four starts.

Already a winner of the G3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, Firenze Fire is from the first crop by the Speightstown stallion Poseidon’s Warrior, who became the first freshman sire of 2017 to get a G1 winner.


poseidon's warrior - serita hult photo

Poseidon’s Warrior – son of champion sprinter and noted sire Speightstown had his first G1 winner in the historic Champagne Stakes. Pleasant Acres / Serita Hult photo


A stakes winner at 2 and 3 who progressed to win the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes at Saratoga as a 4-year-old, Poseidon’s Warrior won 7 of 21 starts, earning $701,147. The Vanderbilt was his only victory at the premier level, but the bay son of Speightstown also ran third in the G1 Vosburgh behind The Lumber Guy and Caixa Eletronica. The Vanderbilt and Vosburgh were both at six furlongs, like all the black-type efforts by Poseidon’s Warrior, who won four stakes, placed in five more.

Purchased as a 2-year-old in training at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale in May 2010 by Charles Zacney, Poseidon’s Warrior raced initially in the name of Zacney’s Cash Is King Stable, then for Swilcan Stable LLC from the midpoint of the colt’s 3-year-old season onward. After concluding his racing career, Poseidon’s Warrior retired to Pleasant Acres Stallions near Morriston, Fla.

Pleasant Acres’s Michelle Hemingway recalled that she, along with farm owners Joe and Helen Barbazon, worked with an agent to “secure all the farm’s stallions in the fall of 2013.”

Poseidon’s Warrior was one of those, and the horse was syndicated into 50 shares, with the “previous ownership retaining some shares,” Hemingway said.

The breeder of Firenze Fire is not a shareholder, however. Ron Lombardi races and breeds under the name of Mr Amore Stable and bred the Champagne Stakes winner from his mare My Every Wish (by Langfuhr). On April 18, 2012, Lombardi claimed My Every Wish for $16,000 out of her second start when the filly ran a respectable second as the favorite. My Every Wish ran second in both her races, but something clearly went amiss that prevented the filly from pursuing a racing career.

Retired as a broodmare, My Every Wish produced the Champagne Stakes winner as her first registered foal in 2015. Barren for 2016, My Every Wish foaled a bay filly by Istan (Gone West) in 2017.

My Every Wish is one of four foals out of the Unbridled mare Mille Lacs, a full sister to 2011 Broodmare of the Year Oatsee. The latter produced five stakes winners, and the best-known of these are Preakness Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Shackleford (Forestry) and the Alabama Stakes winner Lady Joanne (Orientate).

Shackleford is a second-crop stallion (first 3-year-olds of 2017) standing at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, and Lady Joanne is a broodmare in Japan.

In the female line, Firenze Fire traces back to the fifth-generation In Reality mare Taminette, who is the dam of multiple G1 winner Tappiano (Fappiano) and two other stakes winners. Taminette was a full sister to English 2,000 Guineas winner Known Fact and a half-sister to major winner Tentam (Metropolitan Handicap, United Nations, and Jim Dandy) and to juvenile stakes winner Tamtent (both by In Reality’s sire Intentionally), as well as to stakes winners Terete (Boldnesian) and Secrettame (Secretariat).

The latter produced the high-class racehorse and major international sire Gone West (Mr. Prospector), and the mating that produced the 2017 Champagne Stakes winner introduces Gone West in the male line through his important son, champion sprinter Speightstown.

Speightstown’s first-crop son Munnings has been his sire’s most important son at stud, with 23 stakes winners to date. Poseidon’s Warrior came from the third crop by Speightstown, who has sired 83 stakes winners, including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tamarkuz.

Standing for a 2017 advertised fee of $6,500, Poseidon’s Warrior has 51 first-crop 2-year-olds. The stallion has had 19 starters, 3 winners, and 1 graded stakes winner to date. Following the Champagne success of Firenze Fire, Poseidon’s Warrior ranks 5th on the freshmen sires list by gross earnings with $498,333.

Firenze Fire is scheduled to start next in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar.


saltram and the limits of space and time

In a comment to my post earlier this week about the Jersey Act, EJC Blackwood elaborated on the problem with Lexington’s pedigree: the 1783 Derby Stakes winner Saltram. The horse appears twice in the pedigree of Lexington; the first was through his grandsire Timoleon, who is out of a mare by Saltram that is stated to have been bred in the U.S., and the second appearance of Saltram was as great-grandsire of Lexington’s third dam (by U.S.-bred Robin Grey, by English-bred Royalist, by Saltram).


lexington at woodburn

Lexington – the son of Boston was the greatest American stallion of the 19th century and became omnipresent in American bloodlines. He was the primary “offender” from the perspective of British authorities due to the questioned presence of the English stallion Saltram in his pedigree.


Royalist seems to be universally admitted as having been imported to the States and used as a stallion here. Not so with Saltram.

From what I’ve learned from Edward Blackwood and some early-morning researches, Saltram was the crux to the pedigree problem with Timoleon and his exceptional descendant Lexington.

From the references to pedigree problems or anomalies that influenced British authorities to question the authenticity of American pedigrees, it was clear that Lexington was the particular fly in the ointment that made English breeders and registration authorities so suspicious about “American blood.”

None of the sources that I had read previous to the discussion with EJC Blackwood, however, had mentioned that the fault with Timoleon was his maternal grandsire Saltram. The specific problem is that some authorities believe the horse was not sent to the States. That does pose a problem.

Some sources do list Saltram as an import of 1799, coming to Virginia for William Lightfoot. Verification of this kind of thing is triply difficult because 1) there was no log of exportations from England, 2) there was no official record of importations to the U.S., and 3) there was no operating stud book in the States at the time. The latter was officially created in 1867 through the publication of the American Stud Book Volume 1 from Sanders Bruce and B.G. Bruce, although there had been published records of pedigrees and blooded horses quite a bit prior to that date.

saltram_racing calendar p1

Among the records available to me, the English Racing Calendar of 1798 lists Saltram as being at stud for 1799. In England.

saltram_racing calendar 02

It is possible that he stood the 1799 season at the stable in England, then was exported in the summer or fall of 1799 to America. In fact, in the American Stud Book of 1867, Volume 1, the Bruces list Saltram as being imported by William Lightfoot but without a date of import. That was two-thirds of a century after the horse’s reported relocation, and if it is taken as the authoritative document for Saltram’s importation, it does leave a little to doubt.

But there is an earlier reference. In the American Race-Turf Register and General Stud Book of 1833, Patrick Nisbett Edgar places Saltram as an import to Virginia by Lightfoot and gives the date as 1800. That is a more solid reference, given that the horse would have been verifiable in the memory of living men, and physical records should still have existed to show transactions related to his importation and even to his book of mares bred.

If they existed, they have not come to my attention, and presumably there was further contention about the matter for it to have been an issue more than a century later when it posed a problem for the General Stud Book authorities in England.

Furthermore, one of EJC Blackwood’s sources from Russia believes the horse was sent there and “buried by the banks of the Volga.”

Clearly, this relatively minor stallion cannot have been in three places at once, nor have sired foals in multiple hemispheres simultaneously. So the problem of time and space reveals itself, and the exact provenance of Lexington’s and Timoleum’s pedigrees remains obscure.

a history of international influence

This weekend and over the coming month in racing, a consistent theme will be the variety and volume of international competition. Among countries sending horses to race in France for the Arc de Triomphe and other premier races, the Arc festival is one of the highlights of international racing, and next month, the United States will host the Breeders’ Cup, which will feature two days of premium racing much along the lines of what we saw at Chantilly.

The understanding of the international character of the Thoroughbred and of its appeal to racing folk around the world are a key tenet of the sport today. But a century ago, changes in buying and selling horses had breeders up in arms, and they weren’t too sure that international competition and involvement were a good thing.



Lord Villiers at the time he proposed the alteration in Thoroughbred registration known as the Jersey Act, he succeeded to the title of Earl of Jersey in 1915 and died 1923.


In 1913, the English Jockey Club approved the Jersey Act, which required horses applying for registration to the General Stud Book (GSB) to trace back to other horses found in the GSB in all lines. This was a change from the slightly more open guidelines that had been in effect. Previously, rules had allowed horses to be registered if they traced back to horses found in the GSB in seven or eight lines. The language of that rule was even open to interpretation by the registrar and Jockey Club.

Just a few years earlier, however, the governor of New York and the state legislature had promoted and passed anti-gambling laws as part of a national fetish for cleaning up the country. Numerous other states followed suit, bookmakers were jailed for trying to do business, and patrons at racetracks were hauled off to jail if they tried to bet on races.

This quickly choked the life out of racing, and even though Kentucky held to its traditions of sport and personal responsibility, the blackout on racing in state after state hurt the Bluegrass more than most.

Breeders had 2-year-olds, yearlings, mares in foal, and mares standing in paddocks. Although mares could be stored for a bit, young horses are like fruit. They are good while they’re good; without racing, what were breeders and stable owners to do with them?

Quite a few of the larger breeders began selling horses abroad. Shiploads of horses went to Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Russia, and other countries. Some went to England, including some of the very best like the unbeaten racer Colin, and the British looked at the incoming horde with alarm.

Thus, the Jersey Act was born.

Before a greater tide of Thoroughbred flotsam could wash up on distant shores, the new ruling had “un-Thoroughbred-ed” them.

The gentle reader need not fear that this sort of thing was met with good humor by breeders in the States. But what could they do?



Omar Khayyam – an English-bred colt purchased at Newmarket in 1915, the year Lord Jersey succeeded to his title, was imported to the States as a direct consequence of the Jersey Act, became a leading 2-year-old in 1916, and won the 1917 Kentucky Derby.


So, the interesting and even surprising thing is that a group of enterprising breeders and owners began buying groups of horses, especially yearlings, from England and importing to race in the States. I expect they reasoned it was their only positive way of going forward; even though American-breds were fully accredited stateside, they would not gain recognition from the GSB until 1949.

So breeders and racing men hitched up their waders and bought some English racing prospects. The First World War, which began in 1914, made this even easier to accomplish because racing was restricted in England and France due to the ongoing conflict, and that made prices for expensive stock more attractive to American buyers.

The effort to “buy British” worked so well that, by 1917, there was a public outcry against the large-scale shipment of young horses to America. Despite the “scare,” there were only a few hundred Thoroughbreds exported annually from Britain to the States, but during the war years, that number was about one-third of England’s total export of Thoroughbreds.

The Bloodstock Breeders’ Review of 1917 noted that, rather than lament the sale of these horses, “it has been the salvation of the Thoroughbred industry in this country.”

Importation of more good stock was beneficial for breeding in the U.S. also. In 1916, the leading 2-year-old Campfire was by an imported sire out of an imported mare, and second-ranked Hourless was foaled in England in 1914, sent as foal to be reared in France, then exported to race in the U.S., where he won the 1917 Belmont Stakes. Also in 1916, Kentucky Derby winner George Smith was by an imported sire out of an imported mare, and Belmont Stakes winner Friar Rock was likewise.

Numerous other good horses were bred on similar lines, and in 1917, the Kentucky Derby was won by Omar Khayyam, a colt bred in England and purchased as one of 11 yearlings from trainer C.T. Patterson at Newmarket in the autumn of 1915.

Omar Khayyam was one of the least expensive at 300 guineas, roughly $1,500, and not dirt cheap for the times. He trained into a competitive staying juvenile the following year, and about 18 months after purchase, Omar Khayyam became the first Kentucky Derby winner bred overseas.

In the words of the great English singer Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you get what you need.”

arch is proving a link to both the past and future with cotillion winner it tiz well

With her victory in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx on Sept. 23, It Tiz Well became the latest G1 winner for the Kris S. stallion Arch. A striking horse, Arch was a top sales yearling of 1996 when Seth Hancock bought him for $710,000 out of the King Ranch consignment from breeders Helen Alexander and Helen Groves.

Arch proved Hancock’s confidence in the colt’s potential with five victories from seven starts, including the G1 Super Derby. Racing for co-owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Arch won his maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 25 almost exactly 20 years ago, and I was there to see him do it.

The near-black colt marched through his first half-dozen races with only an inexplicable second in a Saratoga allowance, a streak that included victories in the Super Derby and G2 Fayette Handicap, where he defeated the previous year’s Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold (by Deputy Minister).

In the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic, another son of Deputy Minister, Awesome Again, won the race from Silver Charm and Swain, and Arch was far back. All 10 of the runners in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup went to stud, but only Awesome Again and Arch had stallion careers that placed them at the top of their cadre.

Arch’s career at stud ended on Jan. 20 last year with an apparent heart attack. The horse was 21, and his final crop of foals were born in 2016 and are yearlings this year.

Although the stallion’s progeny statistics won’t be final for several more years, Arch has sired 60 stakes winners, including Canadian champion Arravale, European highweight sprinter Les Arcs (July Cup), and multiple G1 winner Pine Island (Alabama Stakes), plus Blame, the Eclipse Award winner as top older horse and victor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The latter horse is important because Blame is the best son of Arch at stud and is having the best year of his stallion career in 2017. In addition to classic winner Senga (Prix de Diane), Blame also has a half-dozen other stakes winners this year, including two who won stakes on the same day as the Cotillion. Those were the 4-year-old Firsthand Report (Alphabet Soup Stakes at Parx) and the 2-year-old Noblame (Rachel’s Turn Stakes at Charles Town).

Both of those stakes winners, like every other stakes winner by Blame in 2017, is a filly. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, Blame also sires colts who win stakes like March (G2 Woody Stephens Stakes) and Far From Over (G3 Withers).

Blame and his sire are further important because they are part of the best remaining members of the Turn-to branch of the all-conquering Nearco – Phalaris – Bend Or male line.

Arch stood his entire stud career at Claiborne, which co-bred and co-raced Blame with Adele Dilschneider. Claiborne also stood Turn-to during his highly successful early seasons at stud before a blow-up between Bull Hancock and Turn-to’s principal owner Harry Guggenheim sent all the latter’s horses to competitor Spendthrift Farm.

Among the best horses sired by Turn-to at Claiborne was Christopher Chenery’s champion juvenile colt First Landing, later the sire of champion Riva Ridge. Part of the Turn-to syndicate, Chenery also bred and raced Turn-to’s high-class son Sir Gaylord. Sir Gaylord went to stud at Claiborne after a brief but unbeaten season at 3, when he was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was injured just prior to the race.

At stud, Secretariat’s older half-brother, Sir Gaylord, was a greater success than First Landing. Habitat and Sir Ivor were the best stallion sons of Sir Gaylord and were major contributors to the concept and the fact of the “international Thoroughbred” that carried elements from around the globe and found success on all types of surfaces and in multiple racing jurisdictions.

Neither got a son of equal importance, and instead, Turn-to’s other son Hail to Reason has carried on the line through Halo, the sire of American classic and Japanese supersire Sunday Silence, and through English Derby winner Roberto, a horse of high class and high quality.

Roberto’s surprisingly big and moderately successful racing son Kris S. became a tower of strength for breeding by generating typically large, rugged horses who loved to race 8 to 12 furlongs. These included champion 3-year-old filly Hollywood Wildcat, 1998 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Prized, a pair of champion juvenile colts in Brocco and Action This Day, Arch, and the non-stakes winner Vertigineux, who became the dam of Horse of the Year Zenyatta.

Arch, through the quality and speed of his high-class dam Aurora (by Danzig our of champion Althea, by Alydar), sired some horses that were even quicker and more “American adaptable” than himself.

And It Tiz Well that Arch’s daughter took her turn in the Cotillion to remind us of his valuable contribution.

the ability to race well on turf or dirt adds to a sire’s versatility and success

When breeders come to review potential mates for their mares, the majority of mare owners are looking for the most commercial sires, and that generally means “young, precocious, and dirt-oriented,” if not campaigned entirely on domestic, conventional dirt surfaces.

This makes the revelation of “turf form” all the more interesting from the progeny of stallions and mares that spent their entire careers on the dirt racetracks of North (and South) America.

One of the most unexpected revelations in this regard has been the superb stallion career of the late Scat Daddy. Never raced on turf himself, and a Grade 1 winner on dirt in the 2007 Florida Derby, Scat Daddy had nonetheless shown himself a stallion of remarkable versatility, much like his famous sire Johannesburg.

A son of dirt-raced stallion Hennessy (himself a son of Storm Cat and one who race only as a juvenile), Johannesburg turned out to be an exceptional 2-year-old. The top colt of his year in Europe, Johannesburg came to the States, won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from a high-class group, and took home the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old colt after his impressive victory over the dirt course at Belmont Park.

The two best performers by Scat Daddy this year are both G1 winners on turf in Europe. The fleet filly Lady Aurelia was a star performer under the same conditions last, as was Caravaggio, a remarkably strong gray colt, who has won at the G1 level the past two years and was victor in the Flying Five Stakes over the weekend.

No surprise then when a pair of colts from the last crop by Scat Daddy topped the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Turf Showcase on Sept. 10. Each sold for $250,000, and the next-highest prices ($200,000) were for a third colt by Scat Daddy and a filly by noted turf sire Kitten’s Joy.

The same day at Kentucky Downs, the Scat Daddy 3-year-old filly Daddy’s Lil Darling won the Dueling Grounds Oaks in 2:10.97, a time that is the new course record and was .60 faster than the Dueling Grounds Derby for colts.

G1-placed last year in the Alcibiades and this year in the Kentucky Oaks and Ashland Stakes, Daddy’s Lil Darling is owned and bred by Normandy Farm and is trained by Ken McPeek.

Another sharp winner at Kentucky Downs was the three-time G1 winner Miss Temple City, who won the Kentucky Downs feature for mares on Sept. 9. The dark bay daughter of Temple City (Dynaformer) comes from her sire’s first crop and was bred by Bob Feld Bloodstock.

Racing for The Club Racing LLC, Needle In A Haystack, LLC and Sagamore Farm, Miss Temple City was unbeaten at 2, became a stakes winner (G1-placed) at 3, and a G1 winner at 4. The 5-year-old will be consigned to the Fasig-Tipton November sale on Nov. 6. She has earned nearly $1.7 million from 7 victories in 19 starts.

The mare’s sire Temple City went to stud at Spendthrift for the 2011 breeding season after a good racing career. The tall, nearly black horse had won a G3 stakes and was second in the G1 Hollywood Turf Cup. But Temple City was a turf horse by a stallion who is famed for the quality and success of his turf horses.

That alone is enough to make many breeders ignore Temple City.

But not the intrepid Bob Feld. He said, “I’m a huge fan of turf!” And to his enduring credit, Feld put his money on the line to back up that point of view.

Since this was a Spendthrift stallion, they offered the horse as part of their Share the Upside program. That arrangement allows breeders to acquire breeding rights to a stallion, such as Temple City, by breeding to the horse and paying the full fee. A large subset of breeders showed interest in Temple City, and Feld was one of those.

In particular, Feld had a mare named Glittering Tax by champion sprinter Artax, one of the most powerful animals I’ve ever seen, and he sent that mare to Temple City. Glittering Tax was stakes-placed in her racing career and possessed a fair share of the power from her sire. The breeder said, “I thought that Temple City would be a good match because I love Dynaformer, and I had bought a breeding right through the Share the Upside program when Temple City retired.”

Glittering Tax is now the dam of two stakes winners, both graded, and Miss Temple City will take her next step in the great cycle of racing and breeding after she is sold in November, because she is likely to be retired as a broodmare for next year.

animal kingdom stepping into the dawn as we watch the long, sweet sunset of racers by scat daddy

Two stakes over the weekend signaled a coming and going within the Kentucky stallion ranks that bears attending to. On the positive side of the ledger, Animal Kingdom (by Leroidesanimaux), winner of the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup over his preferred 10 furlongs, was represented by his third stakes winner from his first crop of Kentucky-sired racers. On the negative side, the much-lamented Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) again reminded us how great a loss to the breed he was when the stallion’s son from his next-to-last crop won in fine fashion in England.


scat daddy03

Scat Daddy – showing buoyant spirits in his paddock at Ashford. (Coolmore pic)


The latter colt, now named Seahenge, won the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 16 and was one of his sire’s most popular yearlings in 2016 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. At that auction, Seahenge sold for $750,000 to M.V. Magnier. That sales price placed the good-looking bay second among the stallion’s Keeneland yearlings behind only the $3 million Mendelssohn, a half-brother to champion Beholder and G1 winner Into Mischief, a young sire of annually increasing importance. Mendelssohn won his maiden at the Curragh on Aug. 13 but trailed in last behind Seahenge at Doncaster and appeared to be eased as if not happy with the good to soft going.

On the other hand, Seahenge was thoroughly in command of the situation for the Coolmore partnership of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier, prevailing by a neck in the contentious finish. Seahenge had won his debut at Naas on July 8, then ran fifth in the G2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on Aug. 1. Beaten 8 lengths that day, 4 ½ by winner Expert Eye (Acclamation), Seahenge is likely to move up in class for his next start and before the season’s end may again encounter the pro-tem leader of the crop who trounced all opposition in the Vintage.

As much as Scat Daddy was already the proven article as a top-class sire when Seahenge and others went through the ring last year, Animal Kingdom has been a revelation this season in the States with his first-crop racers.

Currently ranked fifth by overall earnings for freshmen sires to date, Animal Kingdom is behind only Overanalyze (Dixie Union), Violence (Medaglia d’Oro), Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor), and Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday). The Kentucky Derby winner ranks just above A.P. Indy’s son Take Charge Indy, but the first striking thing about Animal Kingdom’s status at present is that he and Shanghai Bobby are the only ones in the leading cadre with fewer than 10 winners.

At present, Animal Kingdom has four winners, but the celebratory factor is that three of them are stakes winners. On Sunday at Woodbine, Untamed Domain became his sire’s first graded stakes winner with a dramatic fifth to first finish in the final strides of the G2 Summer Stakes over the turf at Woodbine.

Winner of a maiden special at Saratoga in his second start, Untamed Domain showed his natural ability with a July 22 victory going a mile and a sixteenth on turf. Then the handsome colt followed up with a third in the G3 With Anticipation Stakes at the Spa on Aug. 30.

The Summer Stakes proved the colt is improving and is likely to propel him into a start at the Breeders’ Cup for the BC Juvenile Turf. A year ago, Animal Kingdom was both an unproved commodity as a sire and was a horse who matured well but who won only a maiden special as a 2-year-old, in a nine-furlong race at Keeneland’s October meeting over the all-weather surface in 2010.

Most breeders and owners pegged the tall son of Leroidesanimaux as a fine prospect but one more likely to get 3-year-olds than juveniles of distinction. Overall, that is probably correct, but the evidence of this first crop is a source for hope that Animal Kingdom may be a lion in waiting, with greater things to come.

At the Keeneland September sale last year, Untamed Domain sold for $90,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds out of the Clearsky consignment. Clearsky bred the Summer Stakes winner from the stakes-winning Lear Fan mare Ciao. This family is strongly influenced by classic performances on turf. Lear Fan’s sire is English Derby winner Roberto, and Ciao is out of a mare by Nureyev, who finished first in the 1980 2,000 Guineas, and out of Smuggly (Caro), who won the G1 Prix Saint-Alary and was second in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).

Given the anticipated improvement among the Animal Kingdom stock at 3, there is much to hope for from that sire and his runners, while we are enjoying the long, brilliant sunset of the latter racers by Scat Daddy.

tapit taking breeders and buyers into the stratosphere at keeneland september

When a stallion has been the country’s leading sire for three years running, one expects certain things. For one, the highest stud fee around. Then, the best mares around. And it goes without saying that the combination gives you the highest proportion of premium sales yearlings around.

It also goes without saying that the stallion is Tapit.

The handsome gray son of leading sire Pulpit (by A.P. Indy) is out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels, who also passed along her gray coat to her famous son. Tapit combines some of the greatest Thoroughbred lines, and the horse has parlayed his unique genetic heritage into a spectacular stud career.

After a freshman sire season that placed him atop the leader board with champion filly Stardom Bound, Tapit has never looked back.

The stallion’s consistency is exceptional, his percentages of stakes horses are very good, and the Tapits race effectively wherever they are called on. They perform early, show speed, train on, and stay a distance.

As a result, Tapit has sired three of the last four winners of the Belmont Stakes: Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017). It took Horse of the Year American Pharoah and his Triple Crown triumph to prevent that being four in a row. Tapit’s son Frosted was second in the 2015 Belmont.

As a result of consistency and quality, Tapit commands an exceptional book of mares annually at Gainesway Farm, where he has stood since retirement.

At the 2017 Keeneland September sale, there are 23 Tapit yearlings consigned to Book 1 alone. There are 21 more in the rest of sale, with 18 of them in Book 2.

Nice, eh?

One of the nicest of the nice is Hip 69, a full sister to Grade 1 winner Cupid. The filly was bred by owners who “have a very large construction business in south Louisiana,” according to George Waggoner, who bred Yes It’s True, among other good horses. Waggoner said, “Pretty ‘n Smart has the prettiest Tapit filly I’ve seen. She is big, tall, stretchy, and muscular. Better than Cupid when he sold. She is purely outstanding, and I have no financial interest in her, other than the pride of seeing her raised on my farm.”

Waggoner owns a farm north of Lexington on Paris Pike where Tom Gentry bred and raised numerous top racers, and Gentry’s son Olin manages the bloodstock for the breeders of this filly. Waggoner said, “I told Olin that this filly would be the highest-priced Tapit filly out there. Maybe the highest-priced Tapit period.”

Those are great expectations, but Tapit is the sort of sire who generates the feeling that anything is possible. Often enough, Tapit delivers with stock that can make good on those high hopes, and for that, people will pay a premium.

Where else can you find an evolving store of hope that might make your dreams come true?

And with Tapit siblings to major performers like Honor Code, Commissioner, Mohaymen, New Year’s Day, and Sweet Lulu in the September sale, who’s to say how high they will take the lucky buyer.

[The preceding was written and published in PR Special at Keeneland September on the day of the first session. At that session, three Tapits sold for more than $2 million:

Hip 69 filly out of Pretty ‘n Smart, sold to M.V. Magnier $2.7 million

Hip 49 colt out of Miss Besilu, sold to Whisper Hill Farm LLC $2.6 million

Hip 105 colt out of Tiz Miz Sue, sold to Shadwell Estate Co. $2.5 million.]

Spinaway and Debutante feature a tale of two fillies from different sides of the sales ring

Two talented fillies with radically different sales histories became Grade 1 winners on opposite ends of the country on Sept. 2. A sales ring star with a $650,000 price tag at Fasig-Tipton‘s Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, Moonshine Memories (by Malibu Moon) won the Del Mar Debutante. At Saratoga, not only across the country but from the other side of the tracks, Lady Ivanka (Tiz Wonderful) won the historic Spinaway Stakes after being a sales-ring refugee.

The latter filly went unsold in her first two trips through the ring, when she was an RNA (reserve not attained) for $21,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November Sale in 2015, then for $11,000 a year later at the Keeneland September Sale.

After those two experiences, the buff bay Lady Ivanka could have been forgiven if she had felt a little pouty: “Nobody loves me; everybody hates me; guess I’ll go eat worms.”

Fortunately, Lady Ivanka and her people persevered. Brought to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of juveniles in training at Timonium in May, the filly worked a quarter-mile in :21 2/5 and showed good internal numbers and stride indicators from DataTrack International’s digitally gathered information that indicated she was a filly with promise.

After that work, the filly went through the ring for $80,000 out of the SBM Training & Sales consignment, and now she is unbeaten in two starts and a G1 winner for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC, Michael Imperio, and Susan Montanye.

The Del Mar Debutante winner Moonshine Memories is likewise unbeaten from a pair of starts and a G1 winner. Moonshine Memories, however, was a filly that nearly everybody liked.

At the Saratoga select sale, she was one of the hottest lots on the historic grounds, and after the bidding stopped, only eight yearlings at the auction brought more than Moonshine Memories. The fetching bay filly sold to Bridlewood Farm and M.V. Magnier out of the Lane’s End consignment on a bid of $650,000.

The filly is by the highly successful A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, champion juvenile Declan’s Moon, and G1 winners such as Life at Ten, Carina Mia, and Gormley, winner of this year’s Santa Anita Derby.

On her dam’s side, Moonshine Memories is a half-sister to stakes winner Indian Evening (Indian Charlie) and stakes-placed Mo for the Money (Uncle Mo). Their dam is the Unbridled’s Song mare Unenchanted Evening, who won at 3 but has shined as a producer. Unenchanted Evening is one of four stakes producers out of her dam, the stakes-winning mare Evil Elaine (Medieval Man).

Although the dam of five stakes horses, Evil Elaine is best known as the producer of Horse of the Year Favorite Trick (Phone Trick), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Hopeful, and Breeders’ Futurity during his unbeaten juvenile season.

This is a family with a lot of speed and juvenile class, and Moonshine Memories was a stellar example. A beautifully proportioned filly with excellent power, Moonshine Memories is built to corner like a sports car, and she did just that in the one-turn Debutante. She handled the track and competition well to remain unbeaten.

In contrast, Lady Ivanka had success in the sales ring only after she was nearly the proven item as a racing prospect, and a good part of the explanation for that is the general lack of demand for young stock who aren’t by the most successful sires and out of proven or highly promising dams.

By the Tiznow stallion Tiz Wonderful, a graded stakes winner at 2, Lady Ivanka is one of her sire’s two most-accomplished performers, along with G1 Spinaway Stakes winner Condo Commando. Those are the stallion’s only two winners at the premium level, and he is represented by a scant few, such as Hunter O’Riley (G2 Bowling Green) and My Happy Face (G3 Tempted), who are graded or group winners.

In 2014, Tiz Wonderful was sold to Korea, and Lady Ivanka is from the stallion’s last crop in the States. The Spinaway winner is among 61 foals from that crop, which includes five winners to date.

Despite their differing past histories, both Moonlight Memories and Lady Ivanka will be among the favored prospects for the Breeders Cup. This time, they both will be in the spotlight.

flatter sharing the love, coast to coast

With a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, West Coast defeated each winner of the 2017 classics, as well as the winners of the Haskell and Jim Dandy.

Now a winner in five of his seven starts, West Coast never has finished worse than second, and his earnings to date stand at $993,800. That makes him the most accomplished racer yet from the now-19-year-old mare Caressing (Honour and Glory), who won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was the Eclipse Award winner as top 2-year-old filly.

Bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds LLC, the bloodstock holdings of breeder Carl Pollard, West Coast was foaled and raised at Hermitage Farm, and Hermitage’s general manager, Bill Landes, said the colt’s victory put him right up with the best historic Hermitage had produced. Landes said, “As I was telling Doc Lavin yesterday, West Coast’s picture goes right up there on the wall next to Dark Star.”

Likewise bred and raised at Hermitage, then sold for $6,500 as a yearling to Harry F. Guggenheim’s Cain Hoy Stable, Dark Star upset the 1953 Kentucky Derby with a nose victory over champion Native Dancer, and Dark Star went to stud at Claiborne Farm, which was a significant step for breeder Warner Jones and his relationship with the Hancock family of Claiborne.



Flatter – Claiborne’s son of A.P. Indy is continuing a decades-old successful association with Hermitage Farm, through the Carl Pollard-bred and Hermitage-raised Travers winner West Coast, a top sales yearling who earned a first Travers for Gary and Mary West (Claiborne photo)


Landes said, “Mr. Jones and Mr. Hancock (both Bull Hancock and his son Seth) were lifelong friends, and when I came to Hermitage in 1977, Mr. Jones told me that when working on matings, look to Claiborne.” Carl Pollard succeeded Jones as owner of Hermitage (now owned by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson), and Seth Hancock succeeded his father at Claiborne (now presided over by Walker Hancock).

So, four years ago, Landes looked to Claiborne and their good sire Flatter for Carl Pollard’s mare Caressing. They were looking for a stallion who could help the mare to get the right kind of foal.

Landes said, “The mare started off slow. She got a couple of small ones, including a Storm Cat that we foal-shared with Overbrook, but she is now a graded stakes producer over in Japan.” The Storm Cat, a filly named My Goodness, sold for $475,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2006, and that was a year when the super sire’s yearlings averaged more than $1.25 million.

My Goodness and the mare’s next foal, a Distorted Humor filly named Fun Affair, became winners on the racetrack. Only slightly more than 40 percent of the annual foal crop does that, but so much more was expected of Caressing’s early foals that the mare was beginning to look like a disappointment.

Then she came up with a pair of useful stakes-placed horses in Gold Hawk (Empire Maker), plus Juan and Bina (Indian Charlie). Both placed in graded stakes and earned more than $150,000 apiece; so all the breeder and farm manager needed was to get a correct and strong colt.

They got him from the mating with Flatter that resulted in West Coast.

Landes recalled the Travers winner was a “May 14 foal, and when we showed him to Keeneland, that foaling date was the big concern for placement (in the catalog) and what he could do (in price). He was nice all along and just blossomed coming into the September sale. He looked just wonderful when he went through the ring on Saturday (5th session) at the sale, just wonderful, and the price reflected that.”

West Coast brought $425,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale, which made him the co-second highest-priced yearling by Flatter that year. The other yearling at the same price was the filly Your Love. Steve Young bought her as Hip 1030 out of the Claiborne Farm consignment, and Your Love races for Paul Pompa, with Chad Brown as trainer. She has won two of her three starts. Her only loss came when she was sixth in the G1 Test Stakes earlier this month.

The high-priced yearling by Flatter in 2015 was the colt later named Hot Sean. He sold for $550,000 out of the Bluewater consignment to Three Amigos Stable (Pegram, Watson, and Weitman), with Bob Baffert training. Hot Sean won two of four starts last year, was second in the G3 Delta Jackpot, and has been training steadily in 2017. He has eight works in the last eight weeks.

A big, ruggedly made horse, Flatter tends to get strong stock that race effectively. They have speed, and they can carry it. They race early, and they frequently last several seasons, like multiple G1 winner Flat Out, whose first foals are now 2.

As a son of Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, Flatter has inherited some of his sire’s most effective qualities as a breeding horse, but Flatter did not enter stud as a star with a high fee.

A winner in four of six starts, Flatter was third in the G2 Washington Park Handicap. If he hadn’t shown high ability, however, he wouldn’t have gone to stud at all. Claiborne had enough faith in the big brown horse’s class to give him a shot, and Flatter entered stud for $5,000 live foal.

Carl Pollard bought a share in the syndicate that supported the horse. Landes recalled Claiborne’s Bernie Sams “syndicated Flatter the night that Mr. Robert Courtney was honored at the Thoroughbred Club of America dinner. Bernie went around the room and syndicated the horse in one night with the people there for the TCA dinner. It was an old-fashioned kind of syndication, just talking to people who like horses and breed horses. So we’ve bred to him every year, and Mr. Pollard has been very lucky with him.”

Indeed. West Coast is the second G1 winner that CFP Thoroughbreds has produced from a mating to Flatter. The first was Paola Queen, winner of the 2016 Test Stakes at Saratoga. Racing for Grupo Seven C Stable, Paola Queen was also second in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks and sold to SF Bloodstock for $1.7 million at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

With an annually improving sire profile, Flatter has established himself as a significant stallion. Landes concurred and said, “Claiborne has done marvels with this horse, and they keep on getting good horses, year after year.”

As Bernie Sams said, Flatter “has done nothing but good for everybody who’s been involved with him.”

second painting of eclipse shows wildman and sons with unbeaten marvel

In last week’s post about the unbeaten Eclipse (Marske x Spilletta), I included a digital reproduction of a contemporary painting of the great horse by George Stubbs, and in the comments on that post, reader E J C Blackwood noted that he had another image of the horse that included Wildman and his young sons.



Eclipse – unbeaten racer with William Wildman and sons. (Courtesy of E J C Blackwood)


William Wildman was a livestock dealer from Smithfield, England, and in 1765, he bought Eclipse as a yearling for 75 guineas from the estate of breeder Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

Wildman kept the colt, had him brought to the races, then sold half of the promising young racer after his second start and victory to Dennis O’Kelly (50 percent in June 1769 for 650 guineas, the remaining 50 percent in April 1770 for 1,100 guineas).

Thus, O’Kelly is more frequently associated with Eclipse, but both men played very important roles in the horse’s life.

Both paintings of Eclipse show a scopey, good-sized chestnut horse with a significant amount of white on his face, plus a white stocking on his right hind that extends nearly to the hock. Both paintings indicate the elegance of Eclipse’s construction, the leanness of sinew and the refinement of bone. They also give an indication of a certain temperament, if the pinned ears are the telling indicator one expects from the acute observation of the painter. A further image of Eclipse, this one of his skeleton, is reproduced below.