Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby Belle

On Thursday, Stonestreet Farm (@StonestreetFarm on Twitter) posted a photo of its powerful-looking 2013 colt by Bernardini out of Belle of Perintown via social media, which inspired me to find my baby pictures of Belle of Perintown.

Belle of Perintown as a young foal.
A daughter of Dehere, Belle of Perintown was born at Walmac Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, on January 10, 2000. The bay filly was the third foal out of Hot Match, who, as I recall, had the distinction of having the very first foal on the ground at Walmac each year for her first three or even four seasons as a broodmare.

Hot Match with her Storm Cat colt.

B. Wayne Hughes had purchased the Mr. Prospector filly Hot Match for $675,000 at the 1994 Keeneland July yearling sale. Her dam Jeanne Jones (pronounced “Jeannie”) was the winner of Oaklawn’s Grade 1 Fantasy Stakes, and she had been second to Epitome by a nose in the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, second to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the Santa Anita Oaks, and second in the 1988 Kentucky Oaks to Goodbye Halo (who at that time was the only horse to have ever beaten Winning Colors).

Jeanne Jones, who was by great sire and great broodmare sire Nijinsky II, ended up being a disappointing producer; her only stakes winner from 15 foals is Roman Treasure, a Roman Ruler filly who won three stakes races and placed in the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga in 2011 -- born when her dam was 23. Roman Treasure was a $775,000 racing or broodmare prospect at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale, purchased by Steve Brem, agent.

Hot Match was Jeanne Jones’ third foal, and she never raced. She had her first foal, a winning filly by Salt Lake named Strike the Match, in 1998, followed by the unraced Storm Cat colt Be Frank in 1999.

Hot Match, again with her Storm Cat colt.
Then came Belle of Perintown, who was sold by Hughes for $50,000 through Walmac as agent to Garry Simms at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale. Her price was well below champion Dehere’s yearling average of $116,000 but close to his median of $65,000. Five months later, she was led through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of two-year-olds in training unsold for $92,000. The two most expensive of Dehere’s two-year-olds to sell brought $110,000 and $72,000, so clearly Belle of Perintown was showing ability in her early days under tack for her owners to retain her.

Another photo of Belle of Perintown as a foal, a couple of months older than in the picture at the top of this post -- and striking the exact same pose!

She debuted third for owner Ken Mahler (she would later race under Mahler and Jamie Schloss’ name) and trainer Eddie Kenneally in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs in June. Let go as the second betting choice in her next start, in July, she bore in badly and hit the rail, trailing the ninth-place finisher home by more than 15 lengths at the end of six furlongs. She made two starts at Arlington Park in August, running second both times, the first after becoming fractious in the gate.

Belle of Perintown broke her maiden in her fifth attempt, winning a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland on October 4, 2002. She followed that up with a three-quarter-length victory in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill in November and closed out her juvenile season with a fifth in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes.

She began her three-year-old career with a poor showing in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds, having again been fractious in the gate. Her next race, the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Silverbulletday Stakes in February, was her greatest performance -- she ran away to an 8 1/4-length win under Calvin Borel. After a third in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March, she was away from the races until July, returning to a third-place allowance effort at Churchill and disappearing again until November, when she was third in an allowance/optional claimer at Churchill, her last start. She compiled a race record of 12-3-2-4, with earnings of $265,465.

Belle of Perintown, as a summer yearling.

Belle of Perintown is easily the best of Hot Match’s progeny. Her Joyeux Danseur half-brother Bogangles won nine races; set a track record at Monmouth Park, covering about 1 3/8 miles in 2:13 3/5; and earned black-type with a third in the Black Gold Handicap at Fair Grounds. His full sister Danseur Chaud -- Hughes had raced Grade 1 winner Joyeux Danseur and supported him with some of his well-bred mares -- is the dam of multiple stakes-placed Leave of Absence (by Harlan’s Holiday). Hot Match was two young foals who can further enhance her produce record: Call Me Wonderful (2011 colt by Tiz Wonderful), and a 2012 filly by Warrior’s Reward.

Stonestreet purchased Belle of Perintown privately before she had her first foal and the farm has done well with her. Her first foal was Sumptuous, by Hennessy, who was sold as a yearling for $400,000. That filly placed in three stakes races, and Stonestreet bought her back as a broodmare for $410,000 at Keeneland in November of 2011.

Belle of Perintown’s second foal was Strike it Rich, a filly by Unbridled’s Song sold to trainer Christophe Clement, agent, for $375,000 at the Saratoga yearling sale in 2008. Strike it Rich won two stakes races, including the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes at Monmouth Park, and over $190,000.

The mare’s next two foals, fillies by Forestry and Giant’s Causeway born in 2008 and 2009, were sold as yearlings as well, for $150,000 and $345,000, respectively. The Forestry, Forest Goddess, is unplaced. Lady Aphrodite, the Giant’s Causeway, is a winner.

Belle of Perintown was barren to Curlin for 2010 and had a dead foal by A.P. Indy in 2011, but has since had two colts: a Smart Strike in 2012; and the suckling Bernardini. Sumptuous has a yearling colt by Quality Road and was bred to Tiznow for 2013. Strike it Rich’s first foal is a Giant’s Causeway filly born in New York on February 13, 2013.

On another note, thoughts are with a more well-known Stonestreet resident, champion Rachel Alexandra, as her health continues to improve.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A dose of "cute"

The cute!!!
I bumped into a couple of cuties on my travels today. Both are first foals, less than a week old, out of stakes-winning mares.

Ah, those ears!
"You're supposed to eat this stuff? Yuck! I'd rather spit it out and take a nap."
"Ma, is it safe for me to play with this strange creature or should I go hide behind you?"
Good-lookin' gal.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Daddy of 'em all

In 1990, I was a shy, horse-crazy kid who found myself incredulously on a plane to Kentucky (home was Puerto Rico) to spend my summer vacation working at Walmac Int’l, where Nureyev, Alleged, Miswaki, and Risen Star lived. I had visited Kentucky in 1988 and met a few people. After quizzing me on pedigrees, one of them, Walmac’s Johnny Jones, said I had a job waiting for me -- When your momma says you’re old enough.” And I took him up on that two years later.

Though I had competed and owned horses when I was younger, I was hardly an experienced stablehand, especially not with hot-blooded Thoroughbreds. When it came to racehorses, I knew only what I watched on TV and learned from reading Thoroughbred Times. I was clueless about people in the industry, too, other than the obvious folks like D. Wayne Lukas. I was very green.

I worked with barren and maiden mares the first summer but was for some reason permitted to suit up for the Keeneland July yearling sale, which with the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale was at the time the premier yearling auction in the country. There I was: an eager kid with a rub rag in one pocket and a tail comb in another, a brush in my hand, a sale catalogue tucked under my arm, and a camera handy in a nearby tack box for quick photos when I could get them.

None of this is really relevant except to explain how through dumb luck I came to capture a yearling image of one of the good ones. I took photos of 20 or 25 yearlings -- plus the ones in the Walmac consignment -- of the 419 catalogued in the two-day sale. I had singled out my favorite pedigrees; included in the batch on film was a Seattle Slew colt whose half-brother Summer Squall (by Storm Bird) had won the Preakness Stakes that May.

The dark bay or brown colt out of Secretariat’s stakes-winning daughter Weekend Surprise was consigned by Lane’s End Farm as hip #249. Minutes after I snapped two pictures (naturally, one of these has wandered off...*March 10, 2013 update: I found it!) of the March 31 foal, Noel O’Callaghan of BBA (Ireland) spent a sale-topping $2,900,000 for him on behalf of Tomonori Tsurumaki.

Tsurumaki was a land developer with a passion for auto racing, and he named his big horse A.P. Indy -- a nod to his Auto Polis leisure center in Japan and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A.P. Indy as a yearling: Hip 249 at the 1990 Keeneland July Sale. That's Lane's End/Oak Tree division manager Callan Strouss on the right in the ball cap.
Tsurumaki also purchased A. P Jet, a full brother to three-time Grade 1 winner Tappiano, by Fappiano out of Taminette, for $2 million at the sale. A. P Jet raced exclusively in Japan, where he was a stakes winner -- although he stood stud in New York -- while A.P. Indy (yes: one has a space between the A and P and one is missing a period after the P!) stayed in the U.S. -- our great fortune.

Trainer Neil Drysdale saddled favorite A.P. Indy to debut fourth on August 24, 1991, at Del Mar. A.P. Indy broke his maiden next out, winning by four at Santa Anita in October. In December, he won an allowance race at Bay Meadows by three lengths followed by the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity by a neck over Dance Floor (who would go on to run third in the next year’s Kentucky Derby) with Casual Lies (second in the Derby) farther back in third in the fourteen horse field.

A.P. Indy started his sophomore season with victories in the San Rafael S.-G2 and Santa Anita Derby-G1, the latter over Bertrando and Casual Lies the first week in April. A blind quarter crack in his left front hoof forced the colt’s scratch in the Kentucky Derby the morning of the race but he was healthy enough (with the help of a fiberglass patch) in time for a 5 1/2-length laugher in the Peter Pan S.-G2 three weeks after he was to have run in the Derby.

The Peter Pan set A.P. Indy up nicely for the June 6th Belmont Stakes, which he won by 3/4 of a length under Eddie Delahoussaye (who rode him in all eleven of his races) in 2:26.13, the third fastest Belmont to date.

The next race was the Grade 2 Molson Export Million at Woodbine on September 13th, when A.P. Indy turned in a rare disappointing effort, fifth by about two-and-a-quarter lengths. This was succeeded by a 6 3/4-length third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, with elders Pleasant Tap and Strike the Gold (the previous year’s Derby winner) ahead of him.

In his next and final start, the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 at Gulfstream, three-year-old A.P. Indy exacted his revenge on Pleasant Tap and Strike the Gold, who were second by two lengths and eighth, respectively, behind the Seattle Slew colt.

He retired (with eight wins and a third and earnings of $79,815 more than his yearling sale price) to Lane’s End, whose owner Will Farish III had co-bred him with W.S. Kilroy, for $50,000 -- a fee that eventually peaked at $300,000 before leveling out at $150,000. He was pensioned in 2011. I saw him most recently in January (there’s a picture of him in his stall midway down this post).

I’ll not go into his stud career here, but as we probably all know, he has been a great servant to the breed and his male line is firmly established through many sons and grandsons -- such as son Malibu Moon and grandson Tapit, both of whom were featured on this blog recently.

Truly, A.P. Indy is, if not the daddy of ’em all, then the granddaddy or even great-granddaddy of most of ’em.

And for a chuckle, here is a picture of me, dressed in about ten or twenty layers of warm clothing and making one of my favorite idiotic faces for the camera, with the old fella on a freeeeeezing day in January, 2011:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tapit, Saturday Star

Tapit hasn't let his position as one of the stallion ranks' hottest tickets get to his head.
Yesterday I posed the question, Is anyone having a better day than Tapit?

With three brand new Graded stakes winners, Tapit was in the zone on a big Saturday in U.S. horseracing. Gary and Mary West’s Flashback, trained by Bob  Baffert, wired Santa Anita’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes-G2 field (of four) to win by 6 1/4 lengths; Joseph Bucci’s Honorable Dillon (Eddie Kenneally) rallied for a half-length win in the G2 Hutcheson Stakes-G2 at Gulfstream; and Besilu Stables’ Tapicat (Bill Mott) was a wire-to-wire winner of the Florida Oaks-G3 at Tampa Bay Downs.

What is particularly impressive is that all three of these horses were three-year-olds making their stakes debuts, and Flashback only his second career start. Under the new Kentucky Derby points system, Flashback is now on the board with ten points, which places him co-fourth on the list in these early days.

It would be no surprise if stakes-placed three-year-old colt He’s Had Enough, third to Flashback in the Lewis on Saturday and second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has a big win in him, too. He has five Derby points.

Their illustrious sire Tapit, a gray or roan colt by Pulpit out of Tap Your Heels, was bred by Oldenburg Farms LLC and was sold through Fred Seitz to David J. Fiske, agent for Winchell Thoroughbreds, at the 2002 Keeneland September Sale for $625,000, the second most expensive yearling by his sire that year.

Tapit's sire Pulpit at Claiborne Farm.
Trained by The Mad Genius Michael Dickinson, Tapit won three of six starts, including the nine furlong Wood Memorial Stakes-G1 by half a length and, at two, the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity at eight and a half furlongs. He finished a well-beaten ninth in Smarty Jones’ Kentucky Derby, ninth in the Pennsylvania Derby going nine panels, and never raced again. Retired to Gainesway Farm in Kentucky for the 2005 breeding season, he covered his first mares for a $15,000 stud fee.

Tapit at Gainesway Farm in the fall of 2012.

Tapit is one of ten Grade 1 winners by the recently deceased Pulpit (by A.P. Indy), and he has established himself as the most successful so far of the Pulpit stallion sons, with Grade 1 winner Sky Mesa next best with two Grade 1 stakes winners.  (Not to be outdone, Pulpit also got a new stakes winner on Saturday, with Guilt Trip in the Strub Stakes-G2; Guilt Trip is out of a mare by Quiet American and therefore bred on a Pulpit/Fappiano cross, like Tapit.)

In truth, Tapit was born to be a good sire, pending a flash of brilliance on the racetrack.

His dam Tap Your Heels (by Unbridled) is a three-quarters sister to champion sprinter Rubiano (by Unbridled’s sire Fappiano). Rubiano sired graded stakes winners, including Burning Roma, who won the 2000 Futurity Stakes-G1 at Belmont via DQ, and he’s the damsire of young sire War Front as well as Take Charge Lady-G1, whose three-year-old son Will Take Charge (by Unbridled’s Song) won a stakes race at Oaklawn in January.

Coincidentally, 2009 Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird’s second dam is a half-sister to Tap Your Heels. Summer Bird is one of many top horses from the Fappiano sire line in this family.

Tap Your Heels has four other foals by Pulpit, none of which has won. She is the dam of a yearling colt by Malibu Moon and was bred to Medaglia d’Oro for 2013.

The Nijinsky II mare Ruby Slippers, Tapit’s second dam, was a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Glitterman (by Dewan), whose nine graded stakes winners include millionaire Glitter Woman-G1, later the dam of G1 Suburban Handicap winner Political Force (by Unbridled’s Song).

Moon Glitter is Tapit’s third dam, and she was a full sister (by In Reality) to dual Grade 3 winner (at eight and nine furlongs) Relaunch, whose progeny included 27 Graded stakes winners. Remember when we used to have 12 furlong dirt races in this country? Well, in the late 80s, Relaunch’s son Waquoit won three of those: back-to-back editions of the Brooklyn Handicap-G1, and one Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1. Another Relaunch son, Skywalker, won the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1986 and sired ten-furlong Grade 1 winner Bertrando.

There were fourteen stakes winners in Tapit’s first crop, with champion Stardom Bound one of four Grade 1 winners, although only she and Laragh earned that distinction at the age of two. Careless Jewel won hers at three and Japanese-raced Testa Matta (who won the 10-furlong Japanese Dirt Derby at three) at six in 2012.

Tapit’s graded stakes winners to date are:

~Hansen-G1 (2009; out of Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat): champion 2-year-old; maximum win distance at top level: 8.5 furlongs
~Stardom Bound-G1 (2006; My White Corvette, Tarr Road): champion 2-year-old filly; 8.5 furlongs
~Careless Jewel-G1 (2006; Sweet and Careless, Hennessy): 10 furlongs
~Dance Card-G1 (2009; Tempting Note, Editor’s Note): 9 furlongs
~Laragh-G1 (2006; Rose of Summer, El Prado): 8.5 furlongs
~Tapitsfly-G1 (2007; Flying Marlin, Marlin): 8 furlongs
~Tapizar-G1 (2008; Winning Call, Deputy Minister): 8 furlongs; also won a G2 and G3 at 8.5 furlongs
~Tell a Kelly-G1 (2008 Evrobi, Tabasco Cat): 7 furlongs
~Testa Matta-G1 (2006; Difficult, Concern): 8 furlongs; also won a 9-furlong G3 and a 10-furlong stakes
~Zazu-G1 (2008; Rhumb Line, Mr. Greeley): 8.5 furlongs
~Concord Point-G2 (2007; Harve de Grace, Boston Harbor): 9 furlongs
~Dancinginherdreams-G2 (2008; Mayan Milagra, Menifee): 8 furlongs
~Flashback-G2 (2010; Rhumb Line, Mr. Greeley): 8.5 furlongs
~Headache-G2 (2006; Pamric, Woodman): 10 furlongs
~Honorable Dillon-G2 (2010; Shy Greeting, Shy Tom): 7 furlongs
~Joyful Victory-G2 (2008; Wild Lucy Black, Wild Again): 8.5 furlongs
~Trappe Shot-G2 (2007; Shopping, Private Account): 6 furlong; also won a stakes at 8.5 furlongs
~Hightap-G3 (2006; Don’tellmichelle, Regal Classic): 8.5 furlongs
~Tapicat-G3 (2010; Zealous Cat, Storm Cat): 8.5 furlongs
~Touching Beauty-G3 (2007; Victory Road, Ikari): 8 furlongs
~War Echo-G3 (2006 Wild Vision, Wild Again): 8.5 furlongs; also won a stakes at 9 furlongs

full siblings

Champion Stardom Bound at Keeneland in 2009.
Five of Tapit’s 21 Graded winners, including three Grade 1 winners, are out of Storm Cat-line mares. Joyful Victory and War Echo are out of daughters of Wild Again, who sired the second dam of Tapizar. Concord Point is 4x3 to the full siblings Moon Glitter and Relaunch, and three of Tapit’s other stakes winners -- Redreamit, Tapajo, and Tidal Volume -- are out of Relaunch-line mares.

Stardom Bound (Juvenile Fillies-G1), Hansen (Juvenile-G1), Tapizar (Dirt Mile-G1), and Tapitsfly (Juvenile Fillies Turf) have all won Breeders’ Cup races. Tapit gets graded stakes winners on dirt, all-weather, and turf -- their one commonality is brilliance, with many runaway winners, such as Careless Jewel by 11 in the G1 Alabama, Trappe Shot by 8 1/2 in the G2 True North, and Hansen by 13 1/4 in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. He also adds class to his mares: Hansen’s dam, for example, had been claimed for $5,000 out of her maiden win.

Grade 1 winner Tapitsfly training at Churchill Downs last May. Katsumi Yoshida purchased her for $1,850,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November sale in 2012.
Like Rubiano and Relaunch, Tapit is a gray, and he is known for getting progeny who are almost white at a young age. It’s a distinctive trademark and makes them often easy to identify without having to look up their pedigree in the catalogue page or racing program.

Of his Graded stakes-winning sons at stud, Concord Point (at Hill ’n’ Dale) has yearlings, Trappe Shot (Claiborne) has first foals this year, and Hansen (Ashford) and Tapizar (Gainesway) will stand their first seasons in 2013.

Trappe Shot and the blacksmith in Kiaran McLaughlin's Belmont barn in June, 2011, two days before winning the Grade 2 True North Handicap by 8 1/2 lengths.

Tapizar at Gainesway on Friday.

Hansen, who resembles his sire, at Ashford Stud.
Mares who were bred to Tapit for 2013 foals include Stormy Sunday (dam of Hansen); My White Corvette (Stardom Bound); Rhumb Line (Zazu and Flashback); and Mayan Milagra (Dancinginherdreams). Yearlings include full siblings to stakes winners out of My White Corvette (colt); Winning Call (dam of Tapizar; filly); Evrobi (Tell a Kelly; filly); Mayan Milagra (colt); and Zealous Cat (Tapicat; colt). Winning Call and Wild Lucy Black (Joyful Victory) were both covered by Tapit’s son Trappe Shot in 2012.

Whether or not Tapit ever gets a winner of the ten-furlong Kentucky Derby, he has clearly risen to the top of his game: 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta is due to deliver a foal by him this spring, and 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace (not to be confused with Harve de Grace, dam of Concord Point) will be bred to him for her first foal. In North America, only Bernardini at $150,000 commands a higher stud fee than Tapit’s $125,000.