November 21st, 2014

Getting down to Biz-ness

By Frances J. Karon

WinStar Farm‘s new stallion recruit Fed Biz has all the proper credentials to succeed as a sire: pedigree, looks, race record, and the backing of a farm that has helped get freshman sire Super Saver, with seven stakes horses in his first crop, off to a great start in 2014.

The attractive and well-balanced bay son of Giant’s Causeway was bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables LLC and sold via agent Lane’s End Farm at the Keeneland September sale to Kaleem Shah for $950,000, making Fed Biz his sire’s most expensive yearling in 2010. Fed Biz was also the fourth most expensive horse sold at Keeneland that September. But his marketability was based not solely on his good looks — his dam Spunoutacontrol, a black-type winner of four of her five starts — is a half-sister, by Wild Again, to European highweight Minardi, Tale of the Cat-G2, and to the dam of two-year-old champion Johannesburg. And if those names are not enough to impress, Fed Biz’s second dam Yarn is a full sister to Preach, the dam of G1 winner and top sire Pulpit. Horse of the Year Round Table’s full sister Monarchy, a stakes winner, is his fifth dam.

On the racetrack, Fed Biz proved that he’s not just another pretty face. Trained by Bob Baffert and carrying Shah’s red, white, and blue silks, he won at least one race every year from two to five, with three graded stakes wins: the Pat O’Brien-G2, San Diego Handicap-G2, and San Fernando-G2, from seven furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. Twice he set new track records at Del Mar, winning the 7-furlong Pat O’Brien in 1:21 to defeat multiple Grade 1 winner Goldencents by a length; and the 1 1/16 mile San Diego in 1:41 on July 26, 2014. Fed Biz also ran second or third in the Awesome Again-G1 (second by a neck to Shared Belief going nine furlongs), Frank E. Kilroe Mile-G1, Pat O’Brien-G2, Indiana Derby-G2, and Strub-G2, among other black-type races. In 19 starts, Fed Biz won six times, with three seconds, three thirds, and earnings of $770,496. He succeeded on all weather and on dirt, and was Grade 1 placed on the turf.

It will be interesting to see breeders with Pulpit-line mares line up for seasons to Fed Biz. The Giant’s Causeway/A.P. Indy cross is an A eNick and an A+ GeoNick in North America, and it has already produced the likes of Imagining-G1, Chief Havoc-G2, Cameo-G3, Carve-G3, Protonico-G3, Size-G3 (dam by Pulpit), and Worth Repeating-G3 by Giant’s Causeway and his sons First Samurai (with three SWs bred on the cross) and Shamardal. A foal by Fed Biz out of a daughter of Pulpit would be inbred 3×3 to the full sisters Yarn and Preach. 2014 two-year-old SW Croninthebarbarian, by a son of Pulpit out of a daughter of Tale of the Cat, is 3×3 to Preach and Yarn.

Fez Biz stands at WinStar for $12,500.

Fed Biz at WinStar Farm in November, 2014.

September 5th, 2014

War Front’s 2015 fee promises to surge

By Sid Fernando

Had the opportunity last month to stop off at historic Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., to visit the stallions and take a walk through history. Not much has changed on this 3,000-acre property that the Hancocks have cultivated for more than 100 years since Arthur Boyd Hancock established it through marriage to Nancy Clay in 1908. It’s now under the stewardship of president Walker Hancock, 25, the son of Seth Hancock, who’d taken over at age 22 from his late father Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock Jr., the son of Arthur Boyd Hancock. There isn’t another farm in North America with its longevity and continuity under one family, and there isn’t another farm on this continent as storied or as influential in the history of the Thoroughbred as Claiborne.

There have been epoch-making sires on this property as far back as the 1920s and Sir Gallahad III, right through the middle of the 20th century with Nasrullah, Princequillo, and Bold Ruler to the latter part of the century with Nijinsky, Mr. Prospector, and Danzig, among so many others I wouldn’t have the space to list in this modest post. For more detail, I’d suggest picking up Frank Mitchell’s excellent book “Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks,” which is out of print but available now on Amazon as an ebook.

The latest great-young-sire-in-the-making at Claiborne under the Walker Hancock era is, of course, War Front, a son of Danzig. He stood the 2014 season at $150,000 live foal—if you could actually get a farm season to him—and he will stand in 2015 at something far higher than that because No Guarantee seasons to him are trading at between $250,000 and $300,000. Yes, you read correctly.

War Front’s rise to the top ranks in North America—along with Tapit’s—is already legendary. War Front entered stud at Claiborne in 2007 for $12,500, creeped up to $15,000 by 2011, jumped to $60,000 in 2012, then to $80,000 in 2013, and from there the big bang up to $150,000 in 2014. And 2015? It buckles the knees to think.

Success on the track—he’s the sire of 28 SWs and five G1 winners through four full crops; 29 SWs, if you include one two-year-old SW of 2014—has led to the demand in the sales ring, especially from Europeans. This affects stud fee, particularly so as Claiborne’s books are smaller than the norm and they have a policy of not shuttling horses to the Southern Hemisphere. In light of this, consider these mind-boggling stats: in 2013, 48 War Front yearlings averaged $363,001 off a $15,000 stud fee in 2011, the year they were conceived.

Souper Colossal

Speaking of War Front auction yearlings, two-year-old Souper Colossal was a domestic purchase by Live Oak Plantation. Keep in mind that many of the War Fronts, like the Danzigs, have a penchant for turf, hence their Euro appeal, but Souper Colossal, despite having a massive turf family, is undefeated in three starts on dirt, and he bears watching. Click here to view Souper Colossal’s five-generation pedigree and here to view his sales catalog page from Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2013, and here to view photos of him at eleven months old on Frances J. Karon’s Running Rough Shod blog.

This colt was picked out by John Greathouse as a weanling for $100,000 and pinhooked for $350,000 to Live Oak at Saratoga through Four Star Sales.  Last out, Souper Colossal won the Sapling Stakes, long a graded fixture at the track at six furlongs but run this year at a mile and ungraded for the first time. Click here to view the chart. Should he go on to win graded races this fall as a potential classics prospect—he’s bred to stay all day—he’ll inspire more domestic buyers to compete with the Europeans for War Front’s yearlings, and that’s a scary thought.

September 4th, 2014

Pioneerof the Nile gets his G1 winner

By Sid Fernando

WinStar Farm’s Pioneerof the Nile has impeccable timing. With the Keeneland September yearling sale looming next week, the son of Empire Maker did what all consignors of his 33 sons and daughters hoped he’d do: catch fire. And how! Yesterday, his two-year-old son American Pharoah won the G1 Del Mar Futurity to cap an amazing run for Pioneerof the Nile at Del Mar that saw his first-crop three-year-olds Jojo Warrior and Midnight Storm win graded races on August 31.

American Pharoah and Jojo Warrior are homebreds for Zayat Stable and are trained by Bob Baffert, who also trained Zayat homebred Pioneerof the Nile—the first SW bred by Zayat. Jack Werk wrote about Pioneerof the Nile and his sire in this space back on December 24, 2008, and here he noted this after speaking to Baffert in the aftermath of the colt’s victory in the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park:

Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park Dec. 20, is by the Belmont Stakes winner out of the Lord at War stakes winner Star of Goshen, who was undefeated in two starts at sprint distances. She is also the dam of the stakes-placed Gone West colt Forefathers, who was undefeated in two starts at 2 and was placed in the Grade 2 Jerome at 3.

By all accounts, Pioneerof the Nile has no sprint speed like his dam or half-brother, but he is a Derby horse for trainer Bob Baffert, whom I spoke to on the Monday morning after the Futurity, Dec. 22. “I’m really high on this colt,” he said. “The big thing with this colt is his tremendous lung capacity, and that’s really important for the Derby. In fact, I’m so high on the sire that we’re sending Indian Blessing and some other top mares to Empire Maker.”

Baffert said he is not concerned with the colt’s ability to handle dirt because “the synthetic at Hollywood is very close to dirt in its texture.”

In the race, Pioneerof the Nile was under a sustained drive from a long ways out, and this particular ability has been the hallmark of superior synthetic runners.

Baffert was correct about Pioneerof the Nile’s ability to handle dirt. The colt ran second in the Kentucky Derby on his first try over the surface. Always considered a staying type, he’d made his debut at two at Saratoga on August 4 for Bill Mott at 1 1/16 miles on turf, finishing fourth. Wheeled back 21 days later over the same trip and course, Pioneerof the Nile won with an off-the-pace effort that indicated he’d relish racing over the classic distances at three, though dirt wasn’t in the picture at that time.

Mott next ran him in the G1 Lane’s End Futurity at 1 1/16 miles over the all-weather course at Keeneland on October 4, where the colt was third after a long drive from far back. Next came the G1 Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on AW. Baffert won the race with Midshipman, and Mott lost Pioneerof the Nile, who was fifth, to Baffert, who won the CashCall next out with his new star.

The following spring, Baffert won the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, G2 San Felipe Stakes, and the G1 Santa Anita Derby with the colt before the second-place finish in the Derby and an unplaced effort in the Preakness. Shipped back to California, the colt was reportedly training well but a tendon injury sent him to the sidelines and eventually to stud in 2010 at Vinery with a record of five wins from 10 starts and $1.6 million in earnings. He has since been relocated to WinStar.

At stud

Pioneerof the Nile’s first crop of three-year-olds made quite a bit of noise early this winter and spring on the classics trail. First there was Cairo Prince, who’d won the G2 Nashua Stakes over a mile at two and then took the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at 1 1/16 miles to become the early favorite for the Florida Derby. So highly was he considered that Godolphin came over and bought a piece of him.  A week after the Holy Bull, Pioneerof the Nile’s Vinceremos won the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. And then the stallion’s Social Inclusion arrived on the scene in a big way, defeating the G2 Remsen winner and highly regarded Honor Code in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Gulfstream by 10 lengths. Immediately the offers came in for the inexperienced colt, one of them for $2.5 million for a half interest. Later it was reported that offers valuing Social Inclusion at $8 million had been tendered and rejected.

Social Inclusion was rushed into the big leagues soon after to make the classics, raced well, but got fried along the way and is now reportedly recuperating from a tendon injury like the one that stopped his sire. Social Inclusion did place in the G1 Wood Memorial, G1 Preakness, and G2 Woody Stephens Stakes, although he’s yet to win a stakes race. But he is still probably his sire’s best runner, unless American Pharoah, G2 Del Mar Derby winner Midnight Storm, or someone else—and there will be others—-shows otherwise.

Yearling buyers at Keeneland should be inspired.

The nicks

Click here to view American Pharoah’s pedigree.

Click here to view G2 Del Mar Derby winner Midnight Storm’s pedigree.

Click here to view G3 Torrey Pines winner Jojo Warrior’s pedigree.

Click here to view G2 Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince’s pedigree.

Click here to view G3 Sam F. Davis winner Vinceremos’s pedigree.

September 1st, 2014

Derby horses are Super for WinStar

By Sid Fernando

What a weekend it was for the young WinStar sires Super Saver and Pioneerof the Nile, both of whom were represented by first-crop SWs. The latter’s oldest runners are three, and two of them, Midnight Storm and Jojo Warrior, won graded races at Del Mar on August 31. Pioneerof the Nile is the clear second-crop leader in North America by progeny earnings, and though he’s represented by five SWs,  four of whom are graded winners, his best horse may have been the injured Social Inclusion, who hasn’t won a stakes race but has showcased freaky ability through a mismanaged campaign this year.

A multiple G1 winner at two and three on AW, Pioneerof the Nile, by Empire Maker from Star of Goshen, by Lord at War, wasn’t blessed with a ton of speed, but he had excellent lung capacity and stayed on well over Churchill Downs’ surface to finish second in the Derby to Mine That Bird. As expected for a classic type, he didn’t have a plethora of two-year-old winners last year, and his lone juvenile SW, Cairo Prince, won the G2 Nashua Stakes deep in the year, on November 3. But they are winning now, as three-year-olds.

Super Saver

WinStar CEO Elliot Walden, a former trainer, must be walking on air these days. It was Walden’s brother Ben Jr. who’d initially followed their father, Ben P. Walden Sr., of Dearborn Farm, into the sire business, first as the founder of Vinery on the old Dearborn property and later at Pauls Mill and Hurricane Hall Stud.

It’s Elliot Walden’s turn now. Walden presides over a powerful roster of more than 20 stallions at WinStar, including such established stars as Distorted Humor, Tiznow, and Speightstown. WinStar absorbed much of the Vinery roster when that farm (during the Tom Simon era) ceased its stallion operation in 2013, getting in the process not only Pioneerof the Nile but also the proven More Than Ready among others; and WinStar also got young horses such as Artie Schiller and U.S. Ranger from Ben Jr.’s Pauls Mill when he cut back.

But none of them can probably make Walden as proud as Super Saver, a WinStar homebred and the farm’s first and only Kentucky Derby winner. By Maria’s Mon out of Supercharger, by A.P. Indy, Super Saver descends from a long line of Phipps-bred mares tracing to the influential blue hen La Troienne in tail-female. Click here if you want to read about it.

A winner of three of 10 starts, including a G2 race at 8.5F at two, Super Saver is one of two Kentucky Derby winners—Monarchos is the other—for his late sire, whose male line traces directly to Raise a Native through Wavering Monarch, Majestic Light, and Majestic Prince. The main branch of Raise a Native runs through the ubiquitous Mr. Prospector nowadays, so it’s not in the least surprising that six of Super Saver’s seven winners to date are inbred to Mr. Prospector, and that the one that isn’t, is inbred to Raise a Native—both speed sources. But of his SWs, one is inbred to A.P. Indy and the other to Seattle Slew—both sources of stamina—and this isn’t as common in early two-year-olds.

The fast start

The Super Saver juveniles are much more precocious than the Pioneerof the Niles were last year, and it bodes well for the stallion because it’s expected—like the Pioneerof the Niles—that his three-year-olds will be better. And that’s exciting to anticipate, both for Walden and WinStar and for potential breeders and the industry at large. Kentucky Derby winners have been at a disadvantage the last few decades in a speed-favoring racing enviornment, and look no farther than Monarchos—now standing for $4,000—to see what can happen if things don’t go well off the bat for a staying horse.

Super Saver at present is the leading first-crop sire by progeny earnings. His seven winners to date have all exhibited class, winning maiden specials mostly at major tracks (or, in the case of Hashtag Bourbon, breaking his duck in a stakes race), and three of them are already SWs—two of them graded SWs at Saratoga.

Those two, Competitive Edge and I Spent It, ran one-two in the G1 Hopeful Stakes today (click here for the chart), and the winner, especially, looks like he’s a potential classics type. The runner-up, by the way, won the G2 Saratoga Special on August 10 (click here for the chart). Note that Competitive Edge was a $750,000 two-year-old and I Spent It cost $600,000 as a juvenile, indicators that some of the Super Savers were fast and developed enough to hold their own against two-year-old sprint types at the sales.

Super Saver entered stud at WinStar in 2011 for a $20,000 fee, was the same in 2012, and dropped to $17,500 in 2013 and 2014. If he continues at this rate, he’s going to be difficult to get into.

The nicks

Competitive Edge (maiden race; pedigree)

High Dollar Woman (maiden race; pedigree)

Save Rock and Roll (maiden race; pedigree)

Hashtag Bourbon (maiden race; pedigree)

Market Conduct (broke maiden in stakes race; pedigree)

I Spent It (maiden race; pedigree)

Lil Super Bear (maiden race; pedigree)

September 1st, 2014

City Zip more than Ghostzapper’s bro

By Sid Fernando

City Zip was safely on his way to a nice stud career in New York when fate, in the name of Ghostzapper, intervened.

A 1998 son of Carson City and the Relaunch mare Baby Zip, City Zip was a typically precocious but exceptional two-year-old representative of his sire. And he had a penchant for Saratoga, where he won in succession the G2 Sanford Stakes, the G2 Saratoga Special Stakes, and the G1 Hopeful Stakes (dead heat) in the summer of 2000. All told, City Zip won nine of 23 starts at two and three, earned $818,225, and was snapped up by Gus Schoenborn and a partnership group to stand at Schoenborn’s Contemporary Stallions in Coxsackie, NY, for a fee of $7,500 in 2002.

As an early maturing sprinter with a following in the Empire State, City Zip was popular in his first years at stud. But after the 2004 breeding season, with his first crop only yearlings, City Zip’s half-brother Ghostzapper streaked onto the scene, winning the G2 Tom Fool H. on his season debut on July 4, followed by the G3 Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup H. on August 21, the G1 Woodward S. on September 11, and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 30 en route to the Horse of the Year title and accolades of superstardom.

Enter Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm, which struck a deal for City Zip. The stallion was moved to Kentucky to cover mares in 2005 at $15,000, double his New York fee. It’s very unusual to raise a sire’s stud fee in that fourth and difficult year—the year his two-year-olds run—but such was the power of being related to Ghostzapper, who was scheduled to defend his title in 2005. As it happened, Ghostzapper couldn’t sustain his hype; he would make only one more start—a win in the G1 Metropolitan H. on May 30. But City Zip found legs that year: his first crop included 20 winners at two, the most by any freshman sire. The stallion has been running with the big boys since.

City Zip had five SWs in his first crop, four in his second crop, and another four in his third crop—all conceived in New York. Bustin Stones, from his second crop, was a G1-winning sprinter on dirt at 7F while With a City, from his first crop, was a G2 winner on AW at 9F as a classics contender, and Acting Zippy, from this third crop, was a G3 winner on turf at 9F as a five-year-old. Together, these three early SWs from New York would foreshadow the career that City Zip is now enjoying, as a terrifically versatile sire of horses over the range of surfaces and distances most common in North America. It’s one reason why the stallion is ranked No. 5 on the General Sire List this year to date, and No. 3 overall when limiting earnings to North America only.

A chunky horse who looks like the sprinter he was, City Zip sires his fair share of early two-year-olds and sprinters but his turf prowess is the most surprising element of his resume. But note that his broodmare sire, Relaunch, was a front-runner who stayed 12F when second to John Henry in the G1 San Luis Rey on turf, and his third dam is by turf champion Hawaii.

City Zip has sired four G1 winners. Aside from Bustin Stones, they include Dayatthespa, who won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. at 9F on turf;  and 2014 G1 winners Personal Diary, who took the Del Mar Oaks at 9F on AW, and Palace, who won the Forego S. at Saratoga at 7F on dirt on August 30.

City Zip stood for an advertised fee of $25,000 live foal in 2014 at Lane’s End. By all indicators, he’s the consummate breed-to-race stallion and is value up and down.

August 28th, 2014

Turf sires showing the way

By Sid Fernando

It seems there’s change afoot in the breeding and racing industries. After years of criticism from observers (including this one) leveled at breeders, owners, and racetracks that North American racing was too preoccupied with speed and two-year-old racing to the detriment of the sport’s and breed’s classic heritage, it appears, at least anecdotally, that more route races are popping up at tracks around the country, and more opportunities exist now for turf horses. In breeding parlance, “turf” has always been code for “stamina,” too, and turf horses have historically been integral to the development of classic types here. More recently, the pedigree of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom hammered home this point: his sire, Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux, and dam, German-bred Dalicia, by German-bred Acatenango, were all exclusively turf racehorses.

That the pendulum is swinging back to hopefully create equilibrium between speed and stamina is best exemplified by the success of Ramsey Farm’s homebred champion turf racehorse Kitten’s Joy, who last year was THE leading sire in North America by progeny earnings. In these times, that’s quite an accomplishment.

The trend seems to be continuing, too. See WTC’s  Leading Sires of Unrestricted Stakes Winners table to August 24, 2014 (click on it to enlarge it).  The top three listed are all turf champions that won at distances of 10F or more: Kitten’s Joy, English Channel, and Giant’s Causeway. Fingers are crossed that this isn’t just a temporary blip!

August 27th, 2014

Shared Belief in a Candy Ride nick

By Sid Fernando

Jim Rome and partners’s Shared Belief, a gelded son of Argentine-bred Candy Ride from Common Hope, by Storm Cat, was taken off the Triple Crown trail due to injury after a championship season at two. Patiently brought back for a mid-summer campaign by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, the undefeated champ announced on Sunday in the G1 TVG Pacific Classic that he’ll be competing for both three-year-old and Horse of the Year honors. All he did was win the 10-furlong all-weather centerpiece of Del Mar’s meet by two and three-quarter lengths in the excellent time of 2:00.28. Yes, he benefited from a suicidal pace up front, but don’t take anything away from him for that. Click here to see the chart of the race and decide for yourself. How many horses these days can compete at 10 furlongs, much less win in as fast a time as he did? And especially on all-weather? I thought so.

Don’t look too far back in Shared Belief’s pedigree for answers, either. Click here to see his pedigree. The gelding’s sire was absolutely top class, and his dam comes from a Pam and Marty Wygod family that’s excelled in California. Plus, she’s a daughter of outstanding sire Storm Cat, a horse used successfully in the Wygod breeding operation; more importantly, the combination of Candy Ride and Storm Cat has been magic, hence the A+++ Werk Nick Rating. Indeed, eight of Candy Ride’s graded SWs are bred on this cross and aside from Shared Belief, they are: G1 winner Sidney’s Candy (from a Storm Cat mare); G1 winner Evita Argentina (Forest Wildcat); G1 winner Capt. Candyman Can (Storm Creek); G2 winner Lolo Forever (Tabasco Cat); and G3 winners Sweet Swap (Storm Cat), Looking Cool (Forest Wildcat), and Candyman E (Sea of Secrets).

Candy Ride

Candy Ride started off his stud career in 2005 at John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale for a $10,000 fee, and he was a success from the start with three G1 winners from his first crop. He was subsequently moved to Lane’s End, where he covered mares this season for $35,000.

Why’d he start off so cheap? He only made six career starts—he was undefeated, too, like Shared Belief—but his “off-bred” pedigree, Argentine origins, and reputation for brittle feet that abbreviated his US campaign took the sheen off his stud career. By the time he went to stud, he’d been away from the track for more than a year and was an afterthought.

But in his brief career, he was nothing but excellent. Click here to see the chart of his own victory in the G1 Pacific Classic from 2003, a race on dirt that he won in the sizzling time of 1:59.11 while defeating the high-class Medaglia d’Oro.

Argentine-bred sires have not generally fared well in North America with the exception of Forli and Lord at War, so it’s not surprising that Candy Ride actually shares racing characteristics with the two. All three were absolutely top-class racehorses in Argentina at three—undefeated, in fact—and stakes winners in the US as older horses. All three could be described as outstanding milers, too, although they won on class at farther distances.

Each dominated the competition in Argentina. Forli won his three races at two by margins of 12, 17, and 5 lengths. At three, Forli won Argentina’s “quadruple crown,” consisting of the Guineas equivalent, which he won by 12 lengths; the Derby; the Gran Premio Jockey Club; and the Pellegrini. He was undefeated when sent to the US, and won two of three starts here (lone loss due to fracture).

Lord at War won the Group 1 Joaquin S. de Anchorena at three and was named champion miler in Argentina, and as an older horse in the US he won the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, among other races of note.

Candy Ride, too, won the Anchorena, by eight lengths and another Group 1 at 1600 meters, also by eight lengths. He, like Lord At War, arrived in the US as a champion miler. In addition to the Pacific Classic, he won the G2 American Handicap.

August 26th, 2014

Hot horse English Channel to Calumet

By Sid Fernando

When V. E. Day thrust his long nose in front of stablemate Wicked Strong at the wire in the G1 Travers Stakes, he, believe it or not, became the first top-level winner for his successful sire English Channel. Until recently, the latter’s 12 Sws were all from his first crop, five-year-olds of 2014. English Channel is now the sire of 14 unrestricted SWs, eight of them Graded winners, including his new G1 winner. Aside from V. E. Day, in 2014 English Channel is represented by G2 winners Blueskiesnrainbows, Skyring, and Parranda, and by G3 winner Potomac River. Along with V. E. Day, English Channel got another recent three-year-old SW when Heart to Heart won the Listed $100,000 Better Talk Now S. at Saratoga on Aug. 20.

Most—11 of 14—of English Channel’s SWs are turf horses, so V. E. Day’s Travers was, no doubt, a welcome result for the stallion’s connections, Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm. Kelley has been building up his broodmare band in recent years—he’s the breeder through his Bluegrass Hall LLC of V. E. Day and other English Channel graded winners Skyring, Optimizer, and Channel Lady (co-breeder)—and he’s going to be expanding his stallion roster as a result. Calumet already stands seven young stallions, and the historic nursery will add English Channel to the top of the roster for 2015.

Calumet will be the third home for English Channel since he entered stud. He started out in Lexington in 2008 at Hurricane Hall, which Kelley owned in partnership with Ben P. Walden Jr. et al, and when that nursery ended its stallion operation two years later, the son of Smart Strike and the Theatrical mare Belva was transferred to Lane’s End. Kelley is reaping the rewards of the majority interest he purchased in English Channel after the colt’s racing days were over, and bringing his own established sire to stand at historic Calumet Farm is no small triumph.

It’s not common in today’s environment of speed and precocity that a long-winded turf horse can emerge as a serious sire, but English Channel is a testament to both Kelley’s belief in the horse and his ability to support him. Ken and Sarah Ramsey did the same with their own turf champion Kitten’s Joy, and look at what he’s done!—he was the leading general sire of 2013.

To read more about English Channel, please click here.

The nick

Click here to see V. E. Day’s pedigree. Note the colt is bred on the same sire-line cross as Curlin, who is by Smart Strike from a Deputy Minister mare. Other Smart Strike-line horses bred on this pattern include Blueskiesnrainbows (English Channel/Deputy Minister), G3 winner Break Run Out (Smart Strike/French Deputy), G2 winner Tenpins (Smart Strike/Deputy Minister), G3 winner Super Freaky (Smart Strike/Deputy Minister), etc.

V. E. Day’s dam, California Sunset, traces to the Darby Dan family of Golden Trail, responsible for such staying horses as Dynaformer and Sunshine Forever.

Kelley, refreshingly, has a penchant for stamina families and sire lines—he’s standing the 2-mile Melbourne Cup winner Americain, a son of Dynaformer, for example—and his broodmare band has a large collection of A.P. Indy mares, among others. It’s fitting if he can bring Calumet back to past glory by breeding and racing the stamina/classic types that made the farm legendary. English Channel is doing his part to help that endeavor.


Headshot of Jack WerkJack Werk (1944-2010)
Jack founded Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc. From 1987 to 2000, he published OWNER-BREEDER, the highly acclaimed, first-ever journal dedicated to thoroughbred pedigree analysis, theories and trends. After a six-year hiatus from writing, he returned with this blog Who's Hot, Who's Not.

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