July 28th, 2014

Stormy Atlantic flying high

By Elaine Belval

Up With the Birds, the reigning Canadian Horse of the Year, won the G2 Nijinsky II S. at Woodbine on July 19 for owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm and trainer Malcolm Pierce for his seventh win in 12 starts and $1,286,409 in earnings. Last year, the colt won the G1 Jamaica at Belmont Park. Both races were at nine furlongs on turf, the preferred distance and surface for Up With the Birds, who is the seventh SW for his sire Stormy Atlantic this year and the third graded SW. He is also the third SW that Stormy Atlantic has had at Woodbine this year. The stallion already has two two-year-old SWs at Woodbine in 2014, the filly Unhindered (winner of the My Dear S.) and the colt Conquest Tsunami, winner of the Listed Colin S. on Saturday July 26. The Mark Casse-trained two-year-old colt is now undefeated in three starts for Conquest Stables LLC. And Stormy Atlantic has two additional graded stakes-placed runners at Woodbine in 2014. Certainly, the stallion’s offspring perform well at the Canadian oval that features an all-weather surface surrounded by a turf course.

Stormy Atlantic worked his way up the stallion ranks, starting for a modest $5,000 fee when he retired to stud. He’d won six of 15 starts, including two listed sprints, but earned less than $150,000. He made only one start each at two and three and didn’t win until age four, but as a son of preeminent sire of sires Storm Cat and the Seattle Slew G1 winner Hail Atlantis (tracing to the elite mare Rough Shod II), he warranted a chance at stud and he quickly proved his mettle.

His first crop numbered less than 50 foals, but contained five SWs, including GSWs Gators N Bears and Atlantic Ocean. His second crop of 80 foals contained six SWs, including Icy Atlantic and Twice as Bad. There has been no looking back for Stormy Atlantic.

Stormy Atlantic’s progeny’s affinity for Woodbine appeared early. He has sired the Canadian Champions Leonnatus Anteas and Martimer along with Up With The Birds. Stormy Atlantic sires versatile offspring,  and he has ranked in the top 15 on the General Sire List, the Juvenile Sire List, and the Turf Sire List.

Stormy Atlantic stood the 2014 season for $30,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm.

July 19th, 2014

The Pizza Man delivers for English Channel

By Sid Fernando and Frances J. Karon

The Pizza Man, a five-year-old gelded son of English Channel and the Lear Fan mare I Can Fan Fan, has been managed expertly by owner-breeder Midwest Thoroughbreds and is now a winner of 11 races from 16 starts, earning $499,803—a money-making model of consistency. An Illinois-bred, he began his career with local Illinois-based trainer Roger Brueggemann at two, was later switched to Tom Amoss for a winter campaign at Fair Grounds in early 2013, and is now back with Brueggemann, for whom he won the Listed Robert F. Carey Stakes last fall at Hawthorne and most recently the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes at Arlington on July 12.

The Stars and Stripes is a 12-furlong turf affair, and it’s not every horse bred in North America that can navigate this demanding trip, so it’s notable that The Pizza Man defeated another son of English Channel, O’Prado Ole, in the race.

The Pizza Man, as his pedigree suggests, is best on turf—the surface of all of his stakes wins, and he’s also bred to go long. His dam, I Can Fan Fan, was a multiple stakes-placed mare also bred in Illinois, by Carolyn and Harry Disko. She won five races from 39 starts, earned $182,993, and was only a neck short of becoming a stakes winner herself. Richard Papiese, who operates Midwest Thoroughbreds with wife Karen, claimed her at the tail end of her career for $18,000, and ran her twice more—both times unplaced—before he retired her to stud.

Because Lear Fan was a top turf son of Roberto, it wasn’t surprising that I Can Fan Fan also was an accomplished turf runner. The Papieses have bred her accordingly: her first foal was by turf horse Mizzen Mast, her second by turf horse Artie Schiller, and then The Pizza Man, by turf horse English Channel.

English Channel, who stood at Lane’s End for $25,000 live foal in 2014, has been a pleasant surprise for North American racing and breeding. On the racetrack, the son of the Mr. Prospector horse Smart Strike was a throwback to his broodmare sire Theatrical (Ire): both were champion turf males at five who excelled at distances of up to 12 furlongs, not attributes U.S. breeders generally appreciate, though it’s notable that the leading sire of 2013, Kitten’s Joy, also was a champion turf horse who sires predominantly turf and all-weather runners.

English Channel developed early enough at two to win a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Saratoga on turf in his only race as a juvenile, but his metier was obviously stamina and turf.  At three he fulfilled this promise by winning three stakes races on turf, the Grade 3 Virginia Derby chief among them, from 1 1/16 miles to 10 furlongs. One of his most impressive races that season was a loss in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, in which he was the only three-year-old and ran second by a head to top turf colt Shakespeare (by Theatrical).

His four- and five-year-old campaigns targeted the top distance races on turf in the U.S. Owner James T. Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher enjoyed back-to-back wins with him in the 11-furlong United Nations and 12-furlong Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, both Grade 1s. Among English Channel’s other triumphs were the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at four and John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf by seven lengths in course-record-equaling time of 2:36.96 at five. His victories in the Breeders’ Cup and in the Joe Hirsch emulated Theatrical’s successes in the same races. He compiled an outstanding race record of 13 wins, four seconds, and a third in 23 starts, with earnings over $5.3 million.

English Channel was retired to Hurricane Hall in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2008 and transferred to Lane’s End two years later when Hurricane Hall ceased operations. He has stood for an advertised fee of $25,000 every year. Calumet Farm’s Brad Kelley, breeding as Bluegrass Hall LLC, has been an avid supporter of the stallion, in whom Kelley is majority owner.

Bred by Keene Ridge Farm, English Channel had been a $50,000 yearling—on par with his sire’s 2003 average—at the Keeneland September sale. He is the first foal out of Belva, an unraced full sister to Pharma-G1 and Hap-G2. His second dam, Committed, was a European champion sprinter and miler, with wins in two important 5½-furlong Group 1 events: the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (twice) and the William Hill Sprint Championship.

The only chestnut within the first two generations of his pedigree, English Channel is at best 15.3 hands and not a physically imposing individual like Curlin, another top son of Smart Strike, but neither that nor his distance- and turf-oriented resume has stopped him from siring quality runners. His first crop of 107 named foals has yielded all twelve of his unrestricted black-type winners, which include Blueskiesnrainbows-G2, Skyring-G2, Parranda-G2, Potomac River-G3, Channel Lady-G3, Optimizer-G3, and Canadian classic winner Strait of Dover. Skyring and Optimizer race as homebreds for Kelley, who co-bred Channel Lady with Scatuorchio and other partners.

It’s notable that English Channel’s first crop, now five, is still racing successfully—all eight of his 2014 stakes winners are age five! In this day and age when it seems that many horses are done after three, this is quite a pleasant anomaly.

July 6th, 2014

Seeing Stars Over the Moon

By Sid Fernando

With his first crop age three in 2014, Sea the Stars had already put himself into the most-promising-of-young-sires category with a classic winner last month, the filly Taghrooda in the Epsom Oaks (G1). She was the best of his six SWs to that point, though it was conspicuous that five of the six were fillies. Recent up-and-comers as Tapit and Medaglia d’Oro also had started off in a similar vein, with whispers of filly biases that proved unfounded as their careers unfolded. Sea the Stars hasn’t had to wait as long as they did to dispel preconceptions, for today his lone colt SW, Sea the Moon, always a talking horse, won the G1 German Derby at Hamburg in the most amazing fashion by 11 lengths, eased up. Click here to see the video of the race. [Sea the Moon is on the lead in the white silks; he was taken by design, from what I've read, to the stands side on the turn for home.] Sea the Moon’s rider, Christophe Soumillon, subsequently indicated that the colt would be competitive in major European events down the road, and bookmakers have since slashed odds on the colt for the Arc.

The Arc, of course, was a race Sea the Stars also won, along with the G1 2000 Guineas and G1 Epsom Derby, among a total of six G1 races. Altogether Sea the Stars won eight of his nine starts and was retired to the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud in Ireland in 2010 widely acclaimed as the best European colt of recent times. His superhorse status, however, was short-lived as Frankel appeared on the scene at two in 2010, rose to greatness as a 2000 Guineas winner in 2011, and cemented his own status as the greatest European of all time in 2012, when he retired undefeated in 14 starts.

In 2013, as Frankel began his stud career, Sea the Stars reappeared in the headlines with a first-crop two-year-old SW, My Titania, who won the CL Weld Stakes (G3). Like Frankel, My Titania was produced by a Danehill mare, and here’s why it’s an inspired mating: Sea the Stars is the Cape Cross half-brother to Galileo, the sire of Frankel and many other SWs out of Danehill mares.

Like Sea the Stars, Galileo also won the Epsom Derby, and like Galileo—the sire of numerous Derby and Oaks winners himself—Sea the Stars now also has a Derby and Oaks winner to his credit right off the bat!

Furthermore, if Sea the Moon, as Soumillon suggests, is something special, then a meeting between Sea the Stars’ son and Galileo’s dual-Derby-winning son Australia will be a highlight this season.

The winner of the Epsom and Irish Derbys, Australia is out of the Epsom and Irish Oaks winner Ouija Board, who, like Sea the Stars, is by Cape Cross.

Sea the Moon, likewise, has a rich classic-winning family behind him and a pedigree with two of the main elements of Australia’s makeup. His dam is a sister to German Derby winners Samum and Schiaparelli and to German Oaks winner Salve Regina, and his pedigree like Australia’s includes Cape Cross and Sadler’s Wells—the sires of the half-brothers Sea the Stars and Galileo; Sea the Moon’s second dam, Sacarina, is by Old Vic, a son of Sadler’s Wells.

Below are the pedigrees of the six Sea the Stars SWs. [Click on the names to view.]

Sea the Moon: Won 2400m German Derby (G1) by 11 lengths on July 6, 2014 at Hamburg.

Taghrooda: Won 12F Oaks (G1) on June 6, 2014 at Epsom.

Afternoon Sunlight: Won 8F Irish 1000 Guineas Trial (G3) on May 11, 2014 at Leopardstown.

Anipa: Won 11.5F Cheshire Oaks (L) on May 7, 2014 at Chester.

Vazira: Won 1850m Prix Vanteaux (G3) on April 27, 2014 at Longchamp.

My Titania: Won 7F CL Weld Stakes (G3) on September 29, 2013 at Curragh.

June 23rd, 2014

In Fashion

By Elaine Belval

When Unbridled’s Song died last year, Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky, lost a top sire. But his G1-winning sons, of which there are 11 to date and five with foals of racing age, were not anywhere near as good as their sire. Of the five, only First Defence has sired a G1 winner (Close Hatches). However, Taylor Made has been enjoying the recent success of a G2 winner they stand by Unbridled’s Song in Old Fashioned, and at the rate he is going, he may yet be a worthy successor.

Expectations were always high for Old Fashioned. He sold for $800,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September on behalf of breeders Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez and raced for Fox Hills Farms, trained by Larry Jones. He won his first four starts, including three at two (led by the G2 Remsen S.) and the G3 Southwest S. at three. He made two more starts, running second in both. After the G2 Rebel S., he sustained a fracture in the G2 Arkansas Derby, in which he came in half a length behind the winner Papa Clem and three-quarters of a length in front of Summer Bird, who would go on to win the Belmont S..

Old Fashioned is out of the GSW Collect Call (by Meadowlake). She won the G3 Santa Ysabel S. and finished third in the G1 Kentucky Oaks. This is the family of G1 winner Mitterand, the dam of sire French Deputy.

In his first season, Old Fashioned stood for $12,500 and covered over 100 mares, resulting in 80 foals in his first crop, two-year-olds of 2013. He had his first winner in July and ended the year with 10 individual winners, including the SW Hi Fashioned. However, 2014 has proven to be a break-out year for Old Fashioned. His daughter Fashion Plate won the G1 Santa Anita Oaks and another daughter, Sweet Whiskey, came within a nose of winning the G1 Acorn S. on the Belmont S. undercard. The following weekend, first-time starter Fashion Alert won the 2YO Astoria S. at Belmont by 4 3/4 lengths. Old Fashioned now has four SWs of $100,000 stakes.

The sire of 15 winners already in 2014 and with only one other second-crop sire having more individual stakes wins this year, Old Fashioned ranks third, with $1.3 million in 2014 progeny earnings, on that sires’s list.

Old Fashioned’s 2014 fee of $8,000 is looking a bargain right about now.

June 23rd, 2014

Put It Back Stayed Put

By Elaine Belval

As mentioned in this space in 2012, for many years, Put it Back was one of my favorite stallions in the USA. A son of Champion Honour and Glory, Put it Back was a very solid racehorse, winning five sprints at three, including the G2 Riva Ridge S. for owner-breeder Hobeau Farm and trainer Allen Jerkins. An injury sent him to Bridlewood Farm to stand the 2002 breeding season.

Put it Back was a consistent sire in Florida, with over 80% starters, 60% winners, 20% two-year-old winners, and a solid 6% SWs. Put it Back sired runners capable of competing in Graded stakes on the national stage, including G1 winners In Summation and Jessica is Back and G2 SWs Smokey Stover and Yara.

From 2003, Put it Back shuttled to Haras Santa Maria de Araras in Brazil. After Bridlewood changed hands in 2013, Put it Back did not return from Brazil for the first time.

This In Reality-line sire has established himself as a leading sire in South America, and the 2013/14 season in particular has been a breakout year for him.

Earlier this season, his best runner, Bal a Bali, won the Brazilian Triple Crown (the one-mile Estado do Rio de Janeiro in January, the Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo de Paula Machado at 10 furlongs in March, and the 12-furlong GP Cruzeiro do Sul later that same month. In June, Bal a Bali won the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You Are In” Grande Premio Brasil. Bal a Bali has now won 11 of 12 starts and is aiming for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Also in the month of June, Put it Back has sired G2 Clasico Particula (11 furlongs on the turf) winner Most Advanced. In the G1 GP Major Suckow at five furlongs on the turf, Put it Back got the winner Blind Ambition and the second-place finisher Desejado Put, who had won the race in 2013. And Billy Girl (a multiple GSW) finished second in the G1 GP Roberto e Nelson Grimaldi Seabra at 10 furlongs on the turf.

In South America, Put it Back has over 80% starters, 60% winners, 20% two-year-old winners, and a remarkable 10% SWs. Considering the sprinting (and dirt) bloodlines of his family, it is interesting that many of his best runners (aside from Bal a Bali) have competed at 10 – 12 furlongs on the turf.

Haras Santa Maria de Araras has a real gem, one that Florida breeders missed this season.

June 23rd, 2014

Notes From Royal Ascot

By Elaine Belval

In my opinion, there is no greater racing event than the five-day Royal Ascot meeting. And what a five days it was…again!

What notes can breeders take from the results this year?

First, that there is reason to persist with Starspangledbanner, who was taken out of service in Ireland for sub-par fertility, returned unsuccessfully to training, and now back at stud in Australia. An Australian-bred by Coolmore Stud shuttler Choisir, Starspangledbanner was himself a winner at Royal Ascot, having won the G1 Golden Jubilee S. He also won the G1 July S. at Newmarket as part of his “European invasion.” His first, small crop of two-year-olds are racing in Europe this year, and what a start they’re off to! Son The Wow Signal was an impressive winner of the G2 Coventry S. on Tuesday, the day before daughter Anthem Alexander won the G2 Queen Mary S. It would be a shame if fertility issues kept Starspangledbanner from reaching more such lofty heights.

Another freshman sire to keep an eye on is Quality Road. The Wesley Ward-trained US invader Hootenanny won the Listed Windsor Castle S. on Tuesday. As a son of Elusive Quality, it should not be surprising that Quality Road has had a big winner on the turf. While it is too early to gauge lasting success as a stallion, Quality Road having a two-year-old winner at Royal Ascot in his first season bodes very well for this Lane’s End stallion.

A third freshman sire had a two-year-old winner at Ascot. Fast Company (a son of Danehill Dancer, like 2013 European freshman sire Mastercraftsman). Fast Company won the G3 Acomb S. at finished second in the G1 Dewhurst S. to New Approach before being injured, and his colt Baitha Alga won the five-furlong G2 Norfolk S.

High Chaparral is no longer “the other Sadler’s Wells” at Coolmore in Ireland. His Toronado was an impressive winner of the G1 Queen Anne S. at eight furlongs on Tuesday. (And kudos to Verrazano, owned by a Coolmore entity, for finishing a strong second in the race. He is creating an impressive race record for a future stud career). High Chaparral also had the Listed winner Contributer at Royal Ascot later in the week.

Dansili has proven again and again to be one of the best stallions in Europe. His daughter The Fugue was an impressive winner of the G1 Prince of Wales’s over Champion Magician and Horse of the Year Treve.  That same day, his daughter Muteela won the Listed Sandringham H.

Certain to join Dansili in the barn at Banstead Manor is another Juddmonte homebred, Kingman, impressive winner of the G1 StJames’s Palace S. A son of leading sire Invincible Spirit out of French 1000 Guineas winner Zenda, he has an impressive pedigree to match his race record.

Rizeena won the G1 Coronation S. on Friday for her sire Iffraaj. This son of Zafonic has steadily created a lovely stud career without a lot of fanfare. Rizeena, who won the G1 Moyglare Stud S. last year at two, is the fourth G1 winner for Iffraaj. Three of his four G1 winners are G1-winning 2yos, which is surprising because although Iffraaj won a maiden two, he did not win his first stakes race until he was four.

And a final, sad note: We were reminded yet again what a major blow Montjeu’s death at age 16 in 2012 was to breeders. His son Leading Light just got up to beat the Queen’s filly Estimate, the defending champ, to win the Gold Cup at 20 furlongs. That same day, daughter Bracelet won the 12-furlong G2 Ribblesdale S.

May 13th, 2014

The light of Le Havre

By Elaine Belval.

When Rahy died in 2011, it appeared that would be the end of the line for this particular branch of the Blushing Groom sireline, because despite having a number of quality sons at stud, none appeared ready to wear Rahy’s mantle.

Noverre was one of his better sons at stud, but he died in India in 2012. A three-quarters brother to the sensational racehorse Arazi, Noverre won the G1 Sussex S. in England and was named that country’s champion three-year-old. He would go on to sire more than 20 SWs, including Music Show, who was the highweighted filly at 7 – 9 1/2 furlongs on the English Free Handicap, and German Classic winner Enora.

Le Havre, bred by Team Hogdala AB and owned by Gerard Augustin-Normand, was one of Noverre’s best runners. Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, he won his debut at Clairefontaine in August of his two-year-old season. He subsequently won a conditions race at Saint-Cloud before running unplaced in the Group 1 Criterium International. At three, he returned a winner in the Prix Djebel (LR), a major prep for the French 2000 Guineas, in which Le Havre finished second to Silver Frost. However, Rouget’s trainee made amends in the Prix du Jockey-Club (G1), winning easily by almost two lengths while sustaining a tendon injury that ended his career, with a career record of four wins and a second from six starts.

Le Havre retired to stud at Sylvain and Elisabeth Vidal’s La Cauviniere in Notre Dame de Courson. As a classic winner whose German-bred dam Marie Rheinberg (by Surakao) was a half-sister to the G1-winner and G1-sire Polar Falcon, he had appeal, and breeders have had no cause to complain with his results: He was the leading first season sire in France in 2013, and 2014 is proving more productive.

On May 11th, Le Havre’s daughter Avenir Certain won the 1600-meter Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas). She was bred by Mme. Elisabeth Vidal, is owned by A. Caro and Le Havre’s owner Augustin-Normand, and is also trained by Rouget.

Two days prior to the Pouliches, Auvray — owned in partnership by Augustin-Normand and Mme. Vidal — won the 12-furlong Coupe des Trois Ans for trainer Elie Lellouche. Auvray was bred by Vidal and Franklin Finance SA.

A classic winner in his first crop bodes well for the future of Le Havre and for the Rahy sireline.

Le Havre stands at La Cauviniere, where his 2014 fee is 7,000 euros.

March 27th, 2014

Stroll is value

By Elaine Belval

The Claiborne sire Stroll is outstanding value for his stud fee.

Stroll is a G1 winner by sire of sires Pulpit (Sky Mesa, Tapit, etc.). His dam is the Graded stakes-placed 2YO Maid for Walking. She is also the dam of the SW and G1-placed Patrol. His second dam is the SW Stinging Nettle, by leading sire Sharpen Up.

A homebred for Claiborne, Stroll won a maiden race at Saratoga at two, won five of six starts at three (including the G2 Jamaica H.) and won the G1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic S. on the Kentucky Derby undercard at four. All told, his record was 7 wins from 16 starts and $795,091 in earnings. All his wins came on turf.

With his pedigree and race record, Stroll was a bargain, but as a turf horse he only attracted limited interest here  and soon found his way to Italy. His first book, foals of 2006, included Canadian Champion Van Lear Rose, winner of the prestigious Mazarine S. at Woodbine. That first crop of 37 foals ended with five SWs, two of them GSWs. It’s why he was repatriated.

His  small books in Italy included the SW Celticus. His first crop since returning to Claiborne is now 3YOs. It numbers just over 50 foals and includes SW Extrasexyhippzster, winner of the Miracle Wood S. at Laurel this year and the Don Rickles S. at Aqueduct last year. He is owned by Ed Hipps and the Kirwan Equine Group, was bred by Toni M. Kirwan and Edward Hipps, and is trained by Michael Trombetta. For a while the colt was on the Triple Crown trail..

This return US-bred crop (foals of 2011) also includes the 2YO SW Skylander Girl (winner of the My Dear S. run in July at Woodbine).  He also has three additional SP horses from this crop (including the second and third-place finishers in the Sywnford S. in Canada in 2013).  His average earnings per starter is a very solid $35,000.

Stroll has 29 2YOs of 2014 and just over 20 yearlings. In 2013, his yearlings averaged just over $33,000 (his median was $30,000). And his 2014 stud fee is just $5,000.

For breeders and buyers, Stroll can just be called a downright bargain.


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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