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:

1 comment:

  1. Great post about a historic sire. I have enough photos of me making goofy faces by the horses, too. Why is it--after a lifetime of being around horses--we do this when we stand by the shoulder of a well-known horse?!