Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Enterprising turf pedigree

Fire the Groom as a six-year-old mare.
In winning yesterday’s Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita Park, Glen Hill Farm’s homebred colt Enterprising has reinforced his position as a top three-year-old turf horse in the country. He is undefeated in three starts on the surface, with wins in two Listed stakes races at Santa Anita: the Eddie Logan at two and now the Pasadena. From his other starts, he is multiple stakes-placed this year on the all-weather surface at Golden Gate, placing second in the California Derby and third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. Enterprising has only finished off the board in his debut, which was on the dirt at Santa Anita in October. A bay colt by Elusive Quality out of Indy Blaze, by A.P. Indy, Enterprising has a great pedigree for turf.

Fittingly, Enterprising broke his maiden at Hollywood Park, just a month before the historic track closed for good. Hollywood Park was owned by R.D. Hubbard throughout the bulk of the 1990s, and with partners Ed Allred and Ed Sczesny, Hubbard raced a wonderful turf mare, Fire the Groom, who won the 1991 Wilshire Handicap-G2 at Hollywood.

Bred by Edward Seltzer and John Calicchio, Fire the Groom was a 1987-foaled, dark bay or brown daughter of Blushing Groom and Prospector’s Fire (by Mr. Prospector), and a half-sister to Group 1 winner Dowsing (Riverman). Her breeders sent her through the 1988 Keeneland July sale, where they bought her back for $185,000 and, at some stage, sold her privately to Dick Duchossois, the owner of Arlington Park.

Sent to Luca Cumani in England, Fire the Groom made her first seven starts in that country, culminating with a win in the Moss Brothers October Stakes at Ascot in 1990. Hubbard and partners had bought her for a reported $150,000 in the fall, and three weeks after the October Stakes, she made her first U.S. start a winning one in the one-mile Aqueduct Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap, her final start at three.

At four, Fire the Groom was based in California and trained by retired Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker. Her win in the Santa Anita Budweiser Breeders Cup Handicap-G3 under Gary Stevens was an emotional one, coming six days after the car accident left Shoemaker paralyzed from the neck down. In the Los Angeles Times race recap, writer Bob Mieszerski reported that Shoemaker had winked at his assistant Paddy Gallagher that morning at mention of Fire the Groom’s name. (You can read the full article here.)

Fire the Groom then made three successive starts at Hubbards Hollywood, winning the Wilshire Handicap; running third in the Gamely-G1, won by Miss Josh; and with a second to stablemate Alcando in the Grade 1 Beverly Hills Handicap. In her next race, Fire the Groom earned her most important win, in the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D. Stakes-G1 at Arlington.

Although her lone Grade 1 was Fire the Groom’s final win, she raced admirably in her remaining starts, running fourth in the CIGA Prix de l’Opera-G2 at Longchamp in France, third in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (winner: Kostroma), and second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes won by future (in 1992 and 1993) champion female mare Flawlessly.

Fire the Groom retired to the breeding shed at the end of the 1991 season, having earned a converted total of over $775,000, with a record of 8 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds from 16 starts, all on grass. Her first two years of breeding yielded a dead foal by Nureyev in 1993 and a barren year (to Nureyev) in 1994, before producing her first live foal, the unraced Deputy Minister filly Racemedowntheaisle, in 1995.

Stravinsky at Ashford Stud in the early 2000s.
The third attempt to get a Nureyev foal out of Fire the Groom was successful, with the Group 1-winning colt Stravinsky foaled in 1996. A highweighted sprinter in Europe, Stravinsky won the Darley July Cup at Newmarket and York’s Nunthorpe Stakes -- both Group 1s -- in 1999. After retiring to Ashford Stud in Kentucky with Southern Hemisphere duty in New Zealand and having a stint in Japan, he is now permanently based at Cambridge Stud in New Zealand. To date, he has sired eight Grade 1/Group 1 winners and is broodmare sire of half that many.

Other black-type foals, all of whom raced in Europe, followed: Listed winner Moscow Ballet, a 2001 colt by Sadler’s Wells who placed third in the Secretariat Stakes-G1; Group 3-placed Sweet Firebird, a 2002 filly by Sadler’s Wells; and Group 3-placed Augustusthestrong, a 2006 son of A.P. Indy. Fire the Groom is also the dam of Gentlemen’s Club -- a gelding by Hubbard’s multiple Grade 1 winner Gentlemen -- who had 9 wins in the U.S., earning $172,000.

Indy Blaze, a year-younger full sister to Augustusthestrong, was a $975,000 Keeneland September sale purchase by Glen Hill Farm. Trained by Shoemaker’s one-time assistant Gallagher, she was  unplaced in all three of her starts, including one on the turf. Now, in the early stages of her second career, Indy Blaze has finally come good with her first foal, Enterprising, a son of Elusive Quality (himself a top turf miler) trained for Glen Hill by Tom Proctor and ridden, like his granddam, by Gary Stevens.

Elusive Quality, the sire of Enterprising, at Darley in January, 2013.
Indy Blaze is the dam of a 2012 filly by Stormy Atlantic, named Marketplace; an unnamed yearling filly by Henrythenavigator; and she was bred to More Than Ready for her 2014 foal.

[Update: Craig Bernick of Glen Hill tweeted this:]
Meanwhile, Fire the Groom had her last foal in 2010 and, at the age of 27, is living out her days at Hubbard’s Crystal Springs Farm in New Mexico, where her paddock companion is 28-year-old Misty Moon. Misty Moon is the dam of two champions and Classic winners in Brazil: Virginie (also a Grade 1 winner in the U.S. for Hubbard) and Be Fair, who is the dam of two stakes horses sired by Stravinsky.

On December 30th last year, Hubbard’s longtime manager Tom Goncharoff sent me pictures of Fire the Groom and Misty Moon, along with this note: You can tell we didn’t clean them up -- they hate that! Both old girls live together in a 6 acre paddock -- they’re inseparable and doing very well considering their advanced age.

Fire the Groom, photographed at Crystal Springs Farm on December 30, 2013.

Fire the Groom's paddock-mate Misty Moon.

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