The stakes over the weekend produced winners who had repeated ties to Claiborne Farm, as the Grade 2 San Vicente winner was Lord Nelson, a chestnut son of farm sire Pulpit (by A.P. Indy) out of African Jade, a mare by leading sire and broodmare sire Seeking the Gold. Lord Nelson defeated last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red by a neck in 1:22.15 for the seven furlongs of the San Vicente.
In Kentucky, the winner of one of Turfway’s preliminary stakes preps for the Spiral was the War Front colt The Great War, last seen finishing a respectable fourth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Texas Red and Carpe Diem. Already the sire of 33 stakes winners and 8 G1 winners, War Front (Danzig) is currently the most popular stallion at Claiborne.
The Breeders’ Cup form is further evidence of the quality that The Great War possesses, and he blew away his opponents at Turfway with a 7 ¼-length victory, going 6 ½ furlongs in 1:18.69 on Polytrack.
Bred by Claiborne, The Great War races for international racing and breeding giant Coolmore, which purchased the colt for $1 million at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. The bay son of War Front is out of Guide, a daughter of Pulpit. A full sister to stakes winner Laity, Guide won a maiden among her eight starts, and The Great War is her first stakes winner. Guide is out of stakes winner Tour, a daughter of Claiborne’s champion Forty Niner (Mr. Prospector), and two of her siblings produced the major winners Zensational (Unbridled’s Song) and Departing (War Front).
Also winner of the Blenheim Stakes in Ireland, The Great War has won four of his nine starts and is now trained by Wesley Ward after doing his earlier training and racing with Aiden O’Brien at Ballydoyle.
At the same 2013 Keeneland sale, Lord Nelson sold for $340,000 to John Fort and races for Peachtree Stable. The chestnut colt was an outstanding representative for Pulpit, an important stakes winner from the first crop of A.P. Indy who was one early indicator of that stallion’s importance as a sire of racehorses and breeding stock. Pulpit was a high-class racehorse with speed and versatility, and as a sire he had success from the start, with his most important son being the immensely popular Tapit, a fetching gray who stands at Gainesway.
As an individual, Pulpit was a tidy bay of medium size who won four of his six starts, including the G2 Fountain of Youth and the Blue Grass Stakes and was second in the Florida Derby. The Blue Grass was his prep for the 1997 Kentucky Derby, in which he finished fourth behind Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, and Free House.
At stud, however, Pulpit put his contemporaries in the shade, siring 77 stakes winners so far, and that number will grow. Lord Nelson is from Pulpit’s next-to-last crop, and there are 26 more in the stallion’s last crop, now 2-year-olds.
When Pulpit entered stud in 1998, he took up residence in the famed stallion barn at Claiborne like the great Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native), his important son Seeking the Gold, and Danzig (Northern Dancer), whose influence around the world is even greater than Mr. Prospector’s.
Seeking the Gold was approximately midway in age between the old guard and Pulpit. A top-class racehorse, Seeking the Gold had finished second to Forty Niner in the Travers and to Alysheba in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. At stud, he proved himself an even better sire, getting champion fillies right away. That was just like Seeking the Gold’s broodmare sire Buckpasser, who also stood at Claiborne.
So Seeking the Gold was a hot young sire in 1998, and his international appeal accelerated rapidly over the next couple of years due to the exploits of his son Dubai Millennium. In 1999 and 2000, Dubai Millennium won nine of his 10 starts — including four G1s — and earned nearly $4.5 million.
Sire of 92 stakes winners (10 percent), Seeking the Gold’s fillies tended to fill up his stud record, but it also included top colts like Florida Derby winner Cape Town and Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, but none was better than Godolphin’s great performer Dubai Millennium. Of Seeking the Gold’s sons at stud, the most enduring has been Petionville, but the most influential once again was Dubai Millennium, who died after one season at stud. Dubai Millennium succeeded in getting a son, Dubawi, who has proven himself an outstanding sire in Europe.
Today, Seeking the Gold is still in his old stall in Claiborne’s stallion barn. Age 30, the bay has been pensioned from breeding for several years, but his legacy and influence on the breed live on.
* The preceding post was first published earlier this week at Paulick Report.