You could say it was a Hill ‘n’ Dale Weekend. Not only did the farm’s stallion Violence (by Medaglia d’Oro) have two graded stakes winners in classic preps, but John Sikura’s operation also is co-breeder of Slip Mahoney (Arrogate), who was a good-looking second in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct behind the Violence colt Raise Cain.
The Gotham winner was unexpected, starting at 23-1 odds, but the star turn on a very positive set of results for Violence was last season’s champion juvenile colt Forte, who was odds-on at 1-2 for his seasonal debut in the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream.
The handsome dark bay or brown looked full value for those odds as he sat handily behind the pace, swooped four wide on the turn, and left his rivals with no recourse as he ran on through the stretch to win by 4 ½ lengths from Holy Bull Stakes winner Rocket Can and Cyclone Mischief (both by Into Mischief).
Bred in Kentucky by South Gate Farm, Forte was sold as a weanling for $80,000 at the 2020 Keeneland November sale and then resold as a yearling at Keeneland’s 2021 September sale for $110,000 to Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable.
The striking colt is the first foal of his dam, the multiple stakes winner Queen Caroline (Blame), and this is a family that was developed over generations while in the Frances Genter family stable. This is the immediate female family of champions Essential Quality (Tapit) and Folklore (Tiznow).
A colt of considerable elegance, Forte comes from one of the most distinguished female families in the Stud Book, that of La Troienne (Teddy), who was bred in France by Marcel Boussac and imported as a broodmare carrying her first foal by Col. E. R. Bradley. The mare proved a success beyond the scope of that word in ordinary usage.
La Troienne produced five stakes winners, including the exceptional filly Black Helen and the champion and classic winner Bimelech (both by Black Toney). The distribution of Bradley’s bloodstock came with the purchase of all of the Bradley broodmares and foals by Robert J. Kleberg (King Ranch), John Hay Whitney (Greentree Stud), and Ogden Phipps.
Phipps got La Troienne’s daughter Baby League, the dam of Horse of the Year Busher, and for Phipps, Baby League produced Striking (War Admiral), winner of the 1949 Schuylerville and Broodmare of the Year in 1961. Her branch of this family produced Forte.
La Troienne herself went to Greentree, and she is buried in their equine graveyard, which is now part of Gainesway Farm. Bimelech likewise went to stand at Greentree, and other parts of the mare’s legacy were distributed among the purchasers and went on to play significant roles in racing’s continuing story.
Although La Troienne did not win, she was highly tested against high-class fillies. A winner of the Oaks in 1904, however, is the ancestress of this year’s Gotham Stakes winner. A racer of exceptional character who found lasting admiration among the racing public, Pretty Polly (Gallinule) won 22 of her 24 starts and is generally regarded as one of the greatest racers ever.
This chestnut paragon is the female-line ancestor of Raise Cain. The Gotham winner is out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Belle, who is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Unrivaled Belle (Unbridled’s Song), the dam of champion Unique Bella (Tapit).
Raise Cain is the first stakes winner of his dam, and she has a 2-year-old colt by Frosted (Tapit) and a colt at side by Constitution (Tapit) who was foaled last month.
Bred in Kentucky by Rock Ridge Thoroughbreds LLC, Raise Cain sold for $180,000 by Andrew Warren at Keeneland’s September yearling sale two years ago; returned to auction at the OBS June sale last year, Raise Cain was bought back at $65,000 and races for Andrew Warren and Rania Warren.
Should both of these colts make the rest of the journey to Louisville for the Run for the Roses, they will not lack for classic connections in their ancestral lines.