December 13th, 2014

The Speightstown effect

By Sid Fernando

Munnings, a first-crop sire by Speightstown at Ashford Stud for Coolmore, had two stakes winners a week ago, bringing his total to three so far as he makes a late-season impression with his first two-year-olds. He already has an impressive 25 winners—best in North America among freshman sires—and coupled with the 14 first-crop winners in Europe for Lord Shanakill, another son of Speightstown, they are shining the spotlight on their sire’s abilities as a potential sire maker, particularly of early-developing stock. This wasn’t Speightstown’s own profile, but it may bode well for his other young sons at stud waiting in the wings, such as Central Banker, Haynesfield, Jersey Town, and Poseidon’s Warrior.

By Gone West from Silken Cat, by Storm Cat, Speightstown, a foal of 1998, was a $2 million yearling from a family that included several good two-year-old stakes winners (SWs). His dam, for instance, won all three of her starts at two, including the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine, and raced only once more at three. Silken Cat’s half-sister Meadow Silk (by Meadowlake) produced the two-year-old SW Run Production (by Saint Ballado), a winner of three of five starts at two and a good regional sire in Louisiana. Further back in the family, there’s Copernica (by Nijinsky), a two-time G1 winner at two, and her son Crusader Sword (by Damascus), also a G1 winner at two.

Moreover, Speightstown’s broodmare sire, Storm Cat, won three of six starts, including a G1, at two, and he wasn’t much at three. Because Gone West and Storm Cat were produced from Secretariat mares, Speightstown, a copper chestnut, is inbred 3×4 to that iconic chestnut who was Horse of the Year at two in addition to his considerable exploits at three.

With that in mind, consider this: Speightstown was last in his only start at two (“raced greenly, tired,” says the chart of the $2.45-1 favorite), was plagued by injuries thoughout his career (didn’t race from 8/3/2001 at three when hurt as runner-up in the G2 Amesterdam to 5/9/2003 at five), but nevertheless blossomed as a top-class older horse, winning five of six starts at six, including the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, two other graded races, and the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter.

Speightstown, a muscular, compact, and attractive horse, entered stud in 2005 at WinStar for a $40,000 fee, where it remained until dropping to $35,000 in 2009 and 2010 during the first two years of the global recession.

Now, if you’d thought that Speightstown would revert back to pedigree and sire top- class two-year-olds or early season three-year-olds because the only reason he himself wasn’t one was due to the injuries, you were wrong.

Take a look at the records of his 11 G1 winners to date and a distinct pattern—one similar to his own racing record—emerges.

Speightstown had five first-crop G1 winners (foals of 2006) but none of them won their top-level races before July of their three-year-old seasons and most won at four and up. Most were sprinters or milers like him.

*Reynaldothewizard won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at seven in 2013. *Haynesfield won the Jockey Club Gold at four in 2010.

*Lord Shanakill won the Prix Jean Prat at three in 2009 (in July).
*Jersey Town won the Cigar Mile at four in 2010.
*Mona de Momma won the Humana Distaff at four in 2010.

Speightstown didn’t have any G1 winners in his second crop, and only one from his third crop (foals of 2008).

*Poseidon’s Warrior won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at four in 2012.

Speightstown had three G1 winners in his fourth crop (foals of 2009).

*Golden Ticket won Travers at three in late August in 2012.

*Dance to Bristol won the Ballerina at four in 2013.

*Argentine-bred She’s Happy won the Estrellas Sprint at the end of the SH year at three in 2013, in June.

Speightstown has had two G1 winners to date from his fifth crop (foals of 2010).

*Seek Again won the Hollywood Derby at three at the end of the year in 2013.
*Lighthouse Bay won the Prioress at three in 2013, in late July.

So, no two-year-old G1 winners for Speightstown, and none before July at three, around the time Speightstown himself first hit the board in a stakes race, running second to City Zip in the Amsterdam in early August of his three-year-old season.

In 2011 and 2012, with the G1 winners coming, Speightstown’s fee went back up, to $50,000, and in 2013 it was $60,000. In 2014 and 2015, his fee is $80,000—double that of his initial fee.

What all this means for Munnings—and Lord Shanakill in Ireland—is that perhaps the best is still to come. Despite selling for $1.7 million as a two-year-old, Munnings didn’t win his first stakes race until June of his three-year-old season, in the G2 Woody Stephens, and he also won a G2 race at four. Even considering the two-year-old successes of his first crop, he may also be influenced by the Speightstown effect.

Munnings stands for $10,000 in 2015.

December 4th, 2014

Musketier, a sound stayer

By Frances J. Karon

After standing two seasons at Adena Springs North in Ontario, Canada—his first foals are weanlings—Canadian champion turf horse Musketier has moved to Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, to continue his stud career.

Musketier is remarkable in that he was a group or graded stakes winner in three countries, at two, seven, eight, nine, and 10 years of age. You’d be hard pressed to find another racehorse whose first and last group/graded wins were eight years apart—and that is high praise for Musketier. Primarily a 12-furlong specialist with six graded wins at that distance, his juvenile stakes score, for trainer Pascal Bary in the Prix de Conde-G3 in France, was over nine furlongs, and he was a short neck away from winning a mile Group 3 race that season. Doctor Dino, who was a six-length second behind Musketier in the Conde, later earned G1 wins in the Man o’ War Stakes and the Hong Kong Vase (twice).

Bred by Gestut Gorlsdorf in Germany, Musketier was bought in France as a yearling at the Deauville August sale by MAB Agency for Ecurie Jean-Louis Bouchard. He stayed in France for racing until his private purchase by Stella Perdomo, who sent him to Roger Attfield’s stable in North America. In a career total of 50 starts, the gray son of Acatenango and the Linamix mare Myth and Reality (a half-sister to California G2 winner Miatuschka) won or placed in 17 stakes races—every one of them at group/graded level—and earned a total of $1,129,965, along with his Sovereign Award in 2011, when he was nine. He won two editions of Keeneland’s G2 Elkhorn and three of the G3 Singspiel at Woodbine, and one G2 W.L. McKnight at Calder.

One of Musketier’s upcoming mates is slated to be 10-year-old millionaire Pay the Man, a Bernstein winner of 21 black-type races, including one at nine years old, purchased by Calumet at the recent Keeneland November sale. She, too, was a winner from two to ten.

Musketier’s sire Acatenango (by champion sire Surumu, the broodmare sire of Monsun) is recognized as one of the greats in Germany, where he was champion three-year-old, twice champion older horse, and a multiple Horse of the Year. Outside of his home country, he tallied a win in France’s G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and a third in England’s G1 Coronation Cup.

At stud, Acatenango was Germany’s leading sire four times and leading broodmare sire twice. He is best known in North America as the broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and G1 Beverly D. winner Eclair de Lune, but he sired Sabiango, who won the G1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park, and Fraulein, first in the G1 E.P. Taylor in Canada. Acatenango’s daughter Borgia placed second at three in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 1997, the same year she beat the boys in the G1 Deutsches Derby (German Derby). His Japan Cup-winning son Lando, a Horse of the Year, was a good sire in Germany, with 15 group winners.

Musketier’s damsire Linamix, a pure-breeding gray, was a leading sire and leading broodmare sire in France.

As you might expect, Acatenango is untried with many lines prevalent in North America, but there are some that are proven. Sharpen Up, an A+++ eNick, comes to mind. Three of the six SWs by Acatenango/sons out of Sharpen Up-line mares, including Lando, are graded winners; the Trempolino and Diesis branches are represented with GSWs on the cross.

Animal Kingdom is by Leroidesanimaux, a paternal grandson of Blushing Groom. The reverse cross, with Acatenango over Blushing Groom, has resulted in six SWs, two of them group/graded. It’s worth noting that Dalicia, the G3-winning dam of Animal Kingdom, is bred on the same cross—Acatenango/Lyphard—as Musketier, so using Blushing Groom with Musketier could be worthwhile.

Stabled in Wild Again’s old stall at Calumet, Musketier will stand the 2015 season for $7,500 stands and nurses. What does a top-class son of Acatenango offer to North American breeders? Stamina and soundness, two qualities we could use.

Musketier at Calumet Farm, November, 2014.


December 1st, 2014

Dual G1 winner Alpha perfect for NY

By Sid Fernando

Darley, like many large Kentucky-based stud farms, has satellites in regional breeding programs. In New York it’s Sequel Stallions, where Darley has now retired the multiple G1-winning Bernardini colt Alpha to stand his first season for $8,500 in 2015, alongside the Darley-owned Desert Party and Emcee, both at $7,500.

Alpha in New York particularly makes sense. He was primarily based at the NYRA tracks with Godolphin/Darley trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, and New York is where he registered each of his five stakes wins, including two at Saratoga at the highest level, in the Travers-G1 over 10 furlongs at three and the Woodward-G1 over nine furlongs at four.

Alpha also won the nine-furlong Jim Dandy-G2 at the Spa, as well as his debut at two, giving him a record of four wins from six starts at the upstate track versus a two-for-16 mark elsewhere. Throw in two stakes wins at Aqueduct versus two off-the-board finishes at Churchill Downs and it’s obvious why he’s perfect for the New York program. All told, the bay won six races from 22 starts, placed three times, and earned $1,815,667, which is pretty good performance for the stud fee at face value.

But there’s more to Alpha’s narrative that contextualizes his pedigree with his racetrack performances.

There aren’t too many colts bred these days with the type of classic blood Alpha has, layered generation over generation, which is hinted at in the conventional reading of his pedigree: by Bernardini from Munnaya, by Nijinsky.

Bernardini is a classic winner and a son of classic winner A.P. Indy—the primary source of dirt stamina in North America.

Munnaya’s sire, Nijisnky, was the last English Triple Crown winner, and a great source of stamina as a sire; not surprisingly, Munnaya, a Maktoum homebred like Bernardini, won a Listed race at Lingfield over 11.5 furlongs on testing ground, listed as good to soft.

Munnaya’s dam, Hiaam, by Alydar, was purchased by Darley for $1.5 million as a yearling in 1985. Her sire placed in each of the classics and got horses that excelled over a range of distances, as he did, including the top-class Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer. Hiaam notably won the Princess Margaret Stakes-G3 at two in England over six furlongs.

Hiaam’s dam, Kamar, was a Canadian champion three-year-old filly by champion three-year-old colt Key to the Mint, who won the Travers among other races.

Kamar, who sold in foal to Danzig for $2.6 million in 1987, also produced the Canadian champion three-year-old colt Key to the Moon, multiple G1 winner Gorgeous, and Kentucky Oaks-G1 winner Seaside Attraction.

With the heft of this classics-drenched pedigree behind him, Alpha was sent straight into the Champagne-G1 after his maiden win, with the Kentucky Derby as his long-term goal. He ran second to eventual Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags in the Champagne, then was unplaced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his next start. McLaughlin took him through a non-traditional route to the Derby, winning two stakes races early in the year at Aqueduct to set him up for the Wood Memorial-G1, a race in which he ran second to Gemologist.

The Wood performance was good enough to get to the Derby, but the colt wasn’t good enough on that day, finishing unplaced. However, his Travers (a dead heat with Golden Ticket) upheld the faith his connections had had, that 10 furlongs at three was right up his alley.

Unfortunately, American racing hasn’t been kind to these types of horses, who are forced to run against milers at shorter trips to make a living. But the climate appears to be changing, with tracks carding more longer distance races nowadays.

Let the record note that Alpha was good enough to win first out at two at Saratoga, was G1-placed at two, was on the classics trail at three, and won the only other 10-furlong G1 race on dirt for three-year-old colts aside from the Derby. These are legit qualifications for breeders.

Bernardini, the sire of nine G1 winners, has crossed well with a wide variety of mares. There are plenty of options when using Alpha, including Deputy Minister-line mares, but he has plenty of class to add to any pedigree.

November 30th, 2014

Uncaptured, strong juvenile to classic winner

By Frances J. Karon

At the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, leading Canadian breeder William D. Graham’s yearling colt by Lion Heart out of stakes-placed Andrea Ruckus (by Arch) was a knockout at the Four Star Sales consignment. With every inspection—and there were many—the big, scopey dark bay or brown colt showed himself with poise, impressing me enough that I tweeted a pre-sale photo identifying him as a “super” horse. On occasion of his Horse of the Year award more than a year later, I wrote a blog post remembering that as a yearling “…this guy’s attitude never soured. He was all class, the type that makes your job selling horses easy, and you’d bring him out for people you knew, whether they had asked to see him or not because he was just that nice.”

Competing for top dollar in Book 2 against sons and daughters of Tapit, Bernardini, War Front, Tiznow, Medaglia d’Oro, Distorted Humor, and other sought-after sires, he held his own as 23rd most expensive yearling of his sale session. And at $290,000, he was the highest priced yearling by Lion Heart sold in 2011.

The obvious ones that look the part will sometimes disappoint when they get to the races, but not this horse. Named Uncaptured and campaigned by John C. Oxley, he won six of seven starts at two, including the Kentucky Jockey Club-G2 and Iroquois-G3 at Churchill Downs and three black-type stakes at Woodbine. On the merits of those accomplishments, he was honored with 2012 Sovereign Awards as Canadian juvenile champ and Horse of the Year, the ninth two-year-old to receive that title and first since Dauphin Fabuleux in 1984 and Deputy Minister in 1981.

At three, Uncaptured won Canada’s classic Prince of Wales Stakes and hit the board in five other stakes races, three of them graded, in eight starts. He made his final career start in March of 2014, running third, a head and a half-length behind last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

A graded stakes winner from a mile to a mile and a sixteenth, Uncaptured produced 13 on-the-board efforts in 18 starts, with earnings of $1,065,147 USD. He came to hand early enough to win a 5 1/2-furlong stakes race at two and held form to capture a 1 3/16-mile classic at three. He like Lion Heart is bred on the Tale of the Cat/Hail to Reason cross; he’s 4×5 to Hail to Reason.

Uncaptured joins fellow Lion Heart stallion Kantharos at Michael O’Farrell Jr.’s Ocala Stud in Florida for the 2015 breeding season. Kantharos is the leading freshman sire in the state and ranks as sixth in the nation with undefeated stakes winner Mr. Jordan leading the charge, so Ocala Stud can pin high hopes on Uncaptured, priced at $6,000.

Seattle Slew-line mares have nicked phenomenally well with Lion Heart: an A+++ *Triple Plus* eNick. There are four graded stakes winners on the cross, three out of daughters of Seattle Slew and one through his son Capote, plus two (one graded) with second dams by another Seattle Slew horse, Slew City Slew. Uncaptured’s multiple stakes-winning half-sister Dancing Raven is by Tomahawk, a son of Seattle Slew, so there appears to be an affinity on both sides of his family. (Dancing Raven is inbred 4×4 to Boldnesian; Uncaptured progeny with strains of Seattle Slew would be linebred to him.)

Other lines proven with Lion Heart are Deputy Minister (three stakes winners; A+) and Halo (two stakes winners; A).

Lion Heart was sold and exported from Ashford Stud in Kentucky to the Jockey Club of Turkey prior to the 2010 breeding season. Uncaptured is from his last crop conceived in the U.S., among a standout group yielding five graded stakes winners. Most of Lion Heart’s 15 graded winners—eleven of them, in fact—won their big races after the deal to sell the sire had been inked, but American breeders can still access his bloodline through sons such as Uncaptured and Kantharos at Ocala Stud.

[Editor's note: Frances wears many hats, including Four Star's during sales season; she's also the editor and a writer for North American Trainer magazine, a pedigree authority, and an appraiser.]

November 29th, 2014

Magician is a body double for Cape Blanco

By Sid Fernando

If you blinked, you missed it. Coolmore Stud’s popular Ashford-based Galileo stallion Cape Blanco, who covered more mares (220) in his first year at stud in 2012 than any other stallion in North America, was sent to Japan for the 2015 season, but without missing a beat and with little fanfare Coolmore replaced his roster spot with the Galileo horse Magician as if it was nothing.

It helps, of course, to have a plethora of Galileos to work with, as Coolmore, which stands the iconic sire, does.

Like Cape Blanco, who’d won G1s in the US, Magician was known Stateside. He’d memorably run down The Fugue in the BC Turf-G1 in 2013 in fast time of 2:23.23 for 12 furlongs, and he was again scheduled to contest the race this year before scratching out the Wednesday before with a lameness issue.

What’s not as well known here—but is significant to breeders—is that Magician is one of three male Guineas winners for his outstanding sire, following the great Frankel and Roderic O’Connor. The latter two won their mile classics in 2011, Frankel making a mockery of the 2000 Guineas and Roderic taking the Irish equivalent in a watershed season for their sire.

Magician, like Roderic, won the Irish 2000 Guineas-G1, in 2013. All three are bred on the potent Galileo/Danehill cross, too, with Frankel and Roderic O’Connor produced from Danehill mares and Magician from a mare by Mozart, a multiple G1-winning sprinting son of Danehill who died in May of his first season at stud in 2002.

Mozart left behind several high-quality horses from that crop, including the G1 winner Amadeus Wolf and the G3 winner Dandy Man—both sires. He also had the G2 winner Stratham and the G3 winner Rebellion in the US, as well as the stakes-winning sprinter Absolutelyfabulous, the dam of Magician, among others. Absolutelyfabulous is from the immediate family of one-time Ashford sire Henrythenavigator, a dual Guineas winner by Kingmambo, so there’s plenty of familiarity with this family, which is notably American.

In all, Magician won five of 14 starts, placed five times, and earned the equivalent of $2.58 million. He won at two, won a classic at three, defeated older horses at 12 furlongs, and placed in several G1 races in Europe and the US this year, too, including a second-place finish behind Hardest Core in the Arlington Million, a second behind The Fugue (with Treve third) in the Prince of Wales’s, and a second behind Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (now at stud at Lane’s End) in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. No denying he was genuine, and the Guineas win on his resume gives the purist a classics equivalent to Cape Blanco’s Irish Derby, although on a strict comparison Cape Blanco, with nine wins and five G1s to Magician’s two G1s, was the better horse.

But Magician will begin his career for $12,500, lower than Cape Blanco did and at a price that gives the breeder a whole lot of racing form and pedigree for the price, not to mention access to another Galileo son.

How to breed to him? Look for clues from Teofilo, one of the first Galileos from a Danehill mare that went to stud. Jim Bolger’s horse is at Darley where he’s sired about 30 SWs, a third of which have Danzig in their bottom sides, including three of his six G1 winners. This, of course, means inbreeding to Danzig, but at the right generational distance Danzig duplications are working. Of Teofilo’s nine SWs with Danzig in their pedigrees twice, eight are 4×3, 4×4, or 4×5, with only the Bolger-bred Listed winner Paene Magnus closely inbred at 3×2 to Danehill. The Bolger-bred G1 winner Trading Leather is 4×5 to Danzig, G1 winner Voleuse de Coeurs is 4×4, and G1 winner Havana Gold is 4×4.

Breeding daughters of War Front, Hard Spun, Exchange Rate or mares by other sons of Danzig to Magician will result in 5×3 duplications, the equivalent to 4×4 and very much at a generational distance that has worked with Teofilo. The Galileo/Danzig eNick is an A.

Daughters of Pulpit should also be interesting mates. The Sadler’s Wells/Pulpit cross is also an eNicks A, and Sadler’s Wells-line sires in North America like El Prado, Sligo Bay, Kitten’s Joy, Medaglia d’Oro, and Artie Schiller have all sired SWs from Pulpit daughters.

November 28th, 2014

Warm welcome for Goldencents

By Frances J. Karon

Goldencents arrived at Spendthrift Farm just off of Paris Pike in Kentucky shortly after his repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1 on October 31, 2014. He would have found it much colder in Kentucky than California, where he was based during his three years on the racetrack, but there has been anything but a chilly reception for him. Spendthrift hosted an open house for the duration of the November sales allowing breeders to view this bay son of Into Mischief, and he was quickly booked full.

Bred by Rosecrest Farm and Karyn Pirrello, Goldencents was foaled in Paris, Kentucky, not far from Spendthrift, where he was conceived and where he now stands alongside Into Mischief. Goldencents is a member of his Grade 1-winning sire’s first crop, which numbered 42 foals of 2010. When the colt, out of the Banker’s Gold mare Golden Works, went through the Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale after being withdrawn from the Keeneland September sale, his sale price of $5,500 to Webb Carroll was less than Into Mischief’s $10,000 yearling median. It may not have been obvious at the time but neither figure accurately reflected the future racing ability of the colt nor the sire power of Into Mischief.

Maturing into a $62,000 two-year-old at the OBS June sale, Goldencents was bought by Dennis O’Neill, whose brother Doug trained him on behalf of W.C. Racing. Only one Into Mischief juvenile realized a higher bid than Goldencents, and that was eventual Grade 2 winner Vyjack.

Goldencents quickly showed that his sire was undervalued. The colt was second to eventual two-year-old male champion Shanghai Bobby in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes-G1 before winning the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot-G3, and at three he won the Santa Anita Derby-G1 and his first Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1. At four, he was never worse than second, winning the Pat O’Brien Mile-G2 (NTR, 7 furlongs in 1:20.99) in addition to a second Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and placing in the Metropolitan Handicap-G1, Bing Crosby-G1, and Santa Anita Park Sprint Championship-G1. He earned $3,044,000, and was first or second 14 times in 18 starts.

Goldencents inherited class and brilliance from his sire, and a dash of durability from his female family. His dam Golden Works was a winner of two races, but his second and third dams started 45 and 46 times, respectively. Granddam Body Work, a Canadian-bred daughter of chef-de-race Bold Ruckus, hit the board 35 times from two to six, with 18 wins, including five black-type races.

His exploits season after season contributed in large part to Into Mischief’s bump up from a $7,500 stallion in 2009 to a $35,000 one in 2015. Goldencents begins his career with an advertised stud fee of $15,000. A photo set I tweeted of him at Spendthrift in November generated over 2,100 views on Twitter, which indicates that breeders should have plenty of interest when they bring his progeny to sales.

Sire lines that have suited Into Mischief and his sire Harlan’s Holiday, such as Maria’s Mon (an A+++ eNick), could be used for Goldencents; even foals out of mares with strains of Mr. Prospector (other than Forty Niner) and Storm Cat–both of whom are in Goldencents’s pedigree–will be bred on an outcross.

What is unique to Goldencents is that mares with Seattle Slew will double up on Boldnesian, who is not only the sire of Bold Ruckus but is also a half-brother to Princessnesian, the third dam of Harlan’s Holiday. Bold Ruckus and Seattle Slew have combined in the pedigrees of 13 stakes winners, Sis City-G1, Quaesitor-G3, and Title Contender-G3 among them. This B+ eNick (Harlan’s Holiday over Boldnesian) becomes an A GeoNick when only North America is considered, with three GSWs–Euphrosyne, Riley Tucker, and Saratoga Sinner–from three SWs, plus Goldencents through his second dam. With four Harlan’s Holiday-line GSWs that have multiple strains of the dam of Boldnesian and Princessnesian, trying this cross makes some sense.

November 27th, 2014

Tiznow’s Mandate is Strong

By Sid Fernando

Three Chimneys is now under the influence of Doug Cauthen—long an architect of WinStar’s rise to prominence—so is it surprising that one of the two new sires at the Midway nursery is a son of WinStar stalwart Tiznow, a leading sire in North America?

The horse in question is Strong Mandate, his sire’s only G1-winning colt at two. Bred by prominent horseman G. Watts Humphrey Jr. of Shawnee Farm in Kentucky, Strong Mandate’s family traces back many generations in tail-female to matrons cultivated by Humphrey’s grandfather, G.M. Humphrey, Secretary of the Treasury under President Dwight Eisenhower.

Strong Mandate’s fifth dam, the Heliopolis mare Most Likely, was bred by G.M. Humphrey in 1953; and the fourth dam, Likely Swap, by Swaps, was bred by G.M. Humphrey in 1962. Strong Mandate’s third dam, G1 winner Likely Exchange, by Terrible Tiger, was bred in 1974 by the Secretary’s widow Pamela S. Humphrey, after his death in 1970.

Pamela S. Humphrey’s daughter Pamela H. Firman and G.Watts Humphrey Jr., Firman’s nephew, were up next. In partnership, they bred G1 winners Dream Deal, by Sharpen Up, in 1986; and Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister, in 1992. They are the second dam and dam, respectively, of Strong Mandate.

Because of the G1 lineage of this family spanning four generations and its prominence in Kentucky breeding circles, there’s cachet associated with Strong Mandate though both equine and human conections. Clear Mandate’s auction history as a young dam of well-bred yearlings was fairly spectacular and evidence of this: her first foal by A.P. Indy, stakes winner Full Mandate, made $3.2 million as a yearling; her second, Newfoundland, a G3 winner and G1-placed son of Storm Cat, was sold for $3.3 million; and her third foal, the Storm Cat G2-placed The Mighty Tiger, brought $2.5 million.

By the time Strong Mandate was foaled in 2011, however, Clear Mandate was 19 and aged, and she hadn’t produced another stakes horse through the years. Still, D. Wayne Lukas wasn’t deterred in paying $200,000 for the big yearling Tiznow colt at auction. He was from a storied family Lukas knew well, dating all the way back to the 1985 Belmont Stakes when rival Woody Stephens won the classic with third dam Likely Exchange’s gelded son Creme Fraiche, also bred by Pamela H. Firman and G. Watts Humphrey Jr., while Lukas ran last with Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect.

As a half-brother to staying colt Newfoundland and from the family of staying females and classic winner Creme Fraiche, Strong Mandate appeared to have plenty of stamina for the classics, which is a requisite for a Lukas purchase. Plus, his sire had won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, and his broodmare sire’s daughters had produced Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches, Preakness winner Curlin, and Travers winner Golden Ticket by speed influence Speightstown, among others.

Strong Mandate’s story, of course, is known. He didn’t stay, but he teased Lukas mercilessly right through the spring of his three-year-old season after success at two, when he was precocious enough to win the 7-furlong Hopeful-G1 at Saratoga by almost 10 lengths in a manner that suggested he was a legitimate classics contender. He’d run third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 at a mile and a sixteenth to keep those hopes alive, too, but after a second-place finish in the Southwest-G3 at three, followed by a fourth in the Rebel-G2 and an eighth in the Arkansas Derby-G1, a knee chip was discovered and the jig was up; he was promptly retired, in May.

There aren’t many horses that can withstand the Lukas training regimen without blemishes—Will Take Charge, the iron horse also beginnig his career at Three Chimneys, is one—and if Strong Mandate buckled under the pressure, there’s no shame in it. He won two races and placed twice from eight starts, won a G1 race at two, and earned $529,566. He’s a legitimate sire prospect, and Doug Cauthen has put his stamp of approval on him. He stands for $10,000, which is value.

He’s a big horse, too—just over 16.2 hands at the moment—that projects power and early maturity, and with his race record and pedigree he could fill the void left by the successful young Tiznow sire Tiz Wonderful, who was sold to Korea this year despite siring a G1-winning two-year-old of 2014.

Mating suggestions are fairly straightforward. Tiznow crosses well with the sires of Strong Mandate’s siblings, A.P. Indy and Storm Cat, and mares by these lines are strongly recommended for Strong Mandate. For Tiznow, Storm Cat-line mares are A+++ Werk Nick Ratings with five Graded SWs; A.P. Indy mares for Tiznow are also A+++, also with five Graded SWs.

Tiznow's G1-winning son Strong Mandate at Three Chimneys in November.

November 25th, 2014

Cross Traffic has credentials

By Frances J. Karon

The sire of 103 black-type winners (7% to foals), Unbridled’s Song was Unbridled’s most successful son at stud, but he hadn’t left a clear successor when he passed away in July of 2013. There have, however, been glimmers of promise: Dullahan and Take the Points, by Even the Score; Majestic Harbor and Ria Antonia, by Rockport Harbor, who died a week after Unbridled’s Song; Fashion Plate, by Old Fashioned; Close Hatches, a five-time Grade 1 winner, by First Defence; and Havana, by Dunkirk–all Grade 1 winners by sons of Unbridled’s Song.

Of these sons of Unbridled’s Song, only First Defence was a Grade 1 winner; Dunkirk, while Grade 1-placed, wasn’t even a stakes winner. Many of Unbridled’s Song’s Grade 1-winning sons range from having first two-year-olds this year to standing their first season in 2015. Spendthrift Farm’s  Cross Traffic falls into the latter category.

A tall grey like his sire, Cross Traffic was a $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. (Here is Cross Traffic’s pedigree, through a full sister not sold at the 2014 Keeneland September sale.) His dam, the multiple Grade 1-winning Cure the Blues mare Stop Traffic, was a durable racemare who made 35 starts from two to six. Cross Traffic is her best produce.

Racing for GoldMark Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, Cross Traffic made six starts, all at four, but established his credentials right away. He won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden in January and a one-mile allowance/optional claimer, both at Gulfstream Park, by 7 1/2 in March. His winning time of 1:35.17 in his second race was particularly impressive as it mirrored that of Discreet Dancer’s in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on the same card.

At Belmont Park, Cross Traffic was thrown straight into Graded company and was second by a head to top handicapper (and fellow Spendthrift sire) Flat Out in the one-mile Grade 3 Westchester Stakes, with 11 lengths to the third horse; and by a nose to Sahara Sky in the Metropolitan Handicap-G1, also at a mile. He got his Grade 1 win in his fifth start, in the nine-furlong Whitney Invitational Handicap, defeating Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, the 2012 and 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winners.

Cross Traffic sustained an injury in his only other start, when he was unplaced in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It was hoped that he would return to the races in 2014, but instead he was officially retired this September to Spendthrift in Lexington, Kentucky, where he’ll stand for $12,500 stands and nurses.

First or second in five of six tries, Cross Traffic earned $687,987 and proved himself a brilliant type who could carry his speed nine furlongs against the highest level of competition.

From a pedigree standpoint for matings, one of Cross Traffic’s most attractive assets is that, unlike many of the stakes winners by Unbridled’s Song/sons, he has no Northern Dancer, and mares from various lines of Northern Dancer should blend well with him. For example, daughters of Storm Cat-line sires have produced 22 non-restricted black-type winners–10 graded–by Unbridled’s Song/sons (A eNick). Cross Traffic may have even more of an affinity, since his broodmare sire Cure the Blues has a second dam (Speedwell, by Bold Ruler out of Imperatrice) who is closely related to Storm Cat’s broodmare sire Secretariat (by Bold Ruler out of a daughter of Imperatrice). Cure the Blues and Secretariat are combined in the pedigrees of at least 46 stakes winners, 16 of them graded.

Deputy Minister (A nick) is another Northern Dancer-line horse to have done well, with nine graded winners among 14 non-restricted stakes winners. Specific branches of Deputy Minister with a good history are Dehere (dam by Secretariat; A+++ nick) and French Deputy (A+). The worldwide cross with Danzig is only C+, but that grade improves to an A in North America, via GeoNicks.

Outside of Northern Dancer, Mt. Livermore gets an A+ because mares from his sire line have produced eight stakes winners (two graded) with Unbridled’s Song/sons, and A.P. Indy (A nick) is, like Storm Cat, out of a Secretariat mare.

Cross Traffic at Spendthrift Farm in November, 2014.


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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