Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten at Fasig-Tipton March Sale

Hip 149, Big Brown - Cool Ghoul colt, getting his whites scrubbed during a bath on the Wednesday before the breeze show.

Yesterday’s Fasig-Tipton sale of two-year-olds in training yielded a few big prices and was headed by a flashy, well-made colt by first-year sire Big Brown. The gorgeous bay out of Cool Ghoul (by Silver Ghost) is a half-brother to Listed stakes winner Dagnabit; a $220,000 yearling, he blossomed into a $1,300,000 juvenile.

A previous blog post had a photo of him as “a handsome Big Brown colt,” being hand-walked the day before the sale horses breezed in front of prospective buyers on March 23rd. You couldn’t walk by this horse without noticing him!

Click here to see timed results from the workouts and here to see prices for all the horses.

Below are photos of the top ten most expensive horses sold.

The '10 Cool Ghoul on Thursday in the Wavertree Stables consignment of Ciaran Dunne.

And on Friday, blazing an eighth down the track in 10.1 seconds.

His fluent, powerful stride caught the eye of Demi O'Byrne, who signed the ticket for $1,300,000.

Hip 96, a Distorted Humor - Secret Thyme colt consigned by Lynne Boutte and sold to John Ferguson for $1,200,000 after working an eighth in 10.1.

Another six-figure two-year-old: hip 51, a Tapit colt out of Liberty Flag consigned by Stephens Thoroughbreds. He was purchased on behalf of Black Rock LLC for $1,000,000 after working in 10.3.

Hip 40, a Bernardini colt out of Jolie Boutique, was bought for $875,000 by John Ferguson out of the Hartley/De Renzo consignment.

This Hard Spun colt out of Lucky Lavender Gal, catalogued as hip 56, was sold by Eddie Woods to John Ferguson for $870,000.

Another from the barn of Eddie Woods, this son of Street Boss and Varnish, hip 123, attracted a bid of $825,000 from agent Steve Young.

This Pike Racing-consigned colt, by Malibu Moon out of Seek to Soar (hip 51), went to John Ferguson for $725,000.

Hip 67, the Lion Heart colt out of Obligation North who sold for $625,000. He changed hands from the consignment of Eddie Woods to trainer Mark Casse.

Sequel Bloodstock sold the only filly in the top ten, this daughter of Bernardini and Runnin Ute. Todd Pletcher purchased hip 91 for $550,000.

Rounding out the ten highest-priced two-year-olds sold was Niall Brennan's hip 93, a colt by Tale of the Cat out of Saratoga Drive. He was bought for $550,000 by F. Thomas Conway.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Went the Day Well? Yes!

My previous post included a photo of Went the Day Well, a three-year-old colt coming off a score in a maiden special weight and who was about to ship from Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida to Kentucky ahead of his stakes debut, in yesterday’s 9-furlong, Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. That shot showed him getting re-shod in preparation for the upcoming race.

The New York-bred son of Proud Citizen and the Tiznow mare Tiz Maie’s Day won the Spiral by a drawing-away three-and-a-half lengths to give trainer Graham Motion and Team Valor (in partnership with Mark Ford, in Went the Day Well’s case) back-to-back wins in the Spiral on the heels of Animal Kingdom. Like Animal Kingdom, Went the Day Well was winning only his second race, and first stakes race, in the Spiral. Last year’s Spiral winner, of course, went on to win the Kentucky Derby under John Velazquez, who rode Went the Day Well yesterday, and Motion, Team Valor, and Velazquez (if he stays on Went the Day Well for the Derby) are hoping their newest good thing will emulate last year’s Spiral winner by also winning the Derby.

Went the Day Well was sold from the estate of Austin Delaney (although he was officially bred by James Patrick Delaney) through Hurstland Farm, agent, as a foal from the Keeneland November sale for $15,000 (the second-cheapest of nine Proud Citizen weanlings sold in 2009), bought by Irish-based Grove Stud. He’s the first, and so far the only, foal out of his unraced dam, a half-sister to a minor stakes winner, Jah (by Relaunch, grandsire of her sire Tiznow), and to the dams of three European stakes winners. Grove pinhooked him at the Tattersalls October yearling sale, selling him for 26,000 guineas (approximately $43,000), with bloodstock agent Oliver St. Lawrence securing him on behalf of The LAM Partnership.

The bay raced twice as a two-year-old, finishing second over about a mile on turf both times for trainer Ed McMahon -- not of Johnny Carson and Publisher’s Clearing House fame -- before Team Valor purchased him privately and re-imported him to the U.S. He debuted in this country on February 4th, finishing 4th in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream before winning a similar race on March 3rd. Victory in the Spiral improved Went the Day Well’s record to 5-2-2-0 with total converted earnings of $314,344.

Went the Day Well is his sire’s tenth Graded stakes winner, including four in Chile where Proud Citizen does double duty when he’s not breeding mares from Airdrie Stud in Kentucky during the Northern Hemisphere season. His champions are his only two Grade 1 winners, the fillies Proud Spell and Vamo a Galupiar (in Chile). Back in his racing days, Proud Citizen won just one stakes race -- the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes -- and indeed only three-of-16 lifetime starts, but he placed second and third, respectively, in War Emblem’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The average winning distance for his progeny is 6.80 furlongs.

After producing dead foals in 2010 and 2011, Tiz Maie’s Day was bred to Discreetly Mine for 2012. Her dam Sweet Roberta was a Grade 2 winner who placed second to ill-fated champion Go for Wand in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1989. The next dam Candy Bowl was a half-sister to, among others, Grade 1 winner Cure the Blues, which means that Went the Day Well’s fifth dam Speedwell is a half-sister to Secretariat, by that horse’s sire Bold Ruler. Because sire Proud Citizen is by Gone West, whose dam is by Secretariat, Went the Day Well has 4x5 linebreeding to the half-siblings Secretariat and Speedwell.

If there are any distance questions from the top half of Went the Day Well’s lineage, there are none for the bottom half, as his broodmare sire Tiznow was a 10-furlong specialist and Roberto, sire of second dam Sweet Roberta, was an Epsom Derby and Coronation Cup winner, both over about 12 furlongs.

Oliver St. Lawrence tweeted that the colt’s name is from this World War I epitaph penned by John Maxwell Edmonds printed in The Times in 1918, and it was often used thereafter for WWI and WWII epitaphs:

“On Some who died early in the Day of Battle”

Went the day well? We died and never knew;
But well or ill, England, we died for you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Morning at Palm Meadows

Sunrise over the track at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Florida.
"Bad Boy" waiting for a leg back up on his horse.
Three-year-old colt Went the Day Well, who will ship in to Turfway Park this weekend to attempt to give trainer Graham Motion and part-owner Team Valor back-to-back wins in the Spiral Stakes.
On the way to exercise, Union Rags stopping to scratch his knee. Peter Brette up.

Union Rags grazing after a spell in the round pen.
And Union Rags going off on a day trip to paddock school at Gulfstream Park, checking with me to be sure I got his good side.
A handsome Big Brown colt selling at the Fasig-Tipton two-year-olds in training sale, out for a walk on a quiet morning.
Two-year-old Malibu Moon sales filly getting a bath.
A two-year-old Scat Daddy sales colt showing to a prospective buyer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breaking in Headache

Buck Wheeler and the Tapit - Pamric colt at the beginning of the breaking-in process.
In October of 2007, I met up with Buck Wheeler at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky, to write an article for North American Trainer on Buck’s method of breaking yearlings. Buck uses his Stableizer -- a string under the horse’s top lip that hooks behind the ears and hits key soothing pressure points -- as a tool for relaxing the young horse, and I watched the entire, rather quick process as a yearling was taught to accept a saddle for the first time.

The colt I observed Buck working on was chosen at random. He was a gray son of Tapit and Pamric, by Woodman, that Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey had purchased for $85,000 from Highclere Sales, agent, at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale, where he had been catalogued as Hip 102.

To start with, the yearling is fitted with Buck's Stableizer.
I put my voice recorder in the pocket of Buck’s shirt and stood back to watch, listen, and take photos from the center of the round pen as Buck and the yearling worked together. The ’06 Pamric was a good student, soon accepting Buck as the alpha and willing to do all that was asked of him. I went home, wrote my article, and that was that.

Recently, I was reminded to look for my pictures from this outing when a friend made a reference to Headache, a Grade 2 winner last year for the Ramseys. Because Headache, of course, is Pamric’s 2006 foal -- the very one who was used for my breaking-in demonstration at Ramsey Farm four-and-a-half years ago.

Buck blowing into the colt's nostrils.
Now a gelding, Headache has raced 28 times, compiling a record of 8-5-5 with earnings of $774,123. His racing career has had its ups and downs -- after three maiden special weights at two and three, he dropped to maiden claimers, winning finally in his fifth lifetime attempt. He stayed at claiming level and was haltered from the Ramseys and trainer Nick Zito for $20,000 in his seventh race, but the Ramseys, with his current trainer Mike Maker, claimed him back, one start and 28 days later, for $25,000.

The girth is tightened for the first time.
His progression to Graded stakes quality was not a natural one. He made his stakes debut in July, 2010, winning the [N] (non-black-type) Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes at Canterbury. Headache continued to run against allowance and claiming competition for the next 11 months, winning just once in the timeframe, before his first foray into a black-type stakes race, the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap. He won, with Grade 1 winner Awesome Gem behind in second.

Headache impressed his team enough in the Cornhusker that he only ever started in Graded stakes races afterwards. He next finished fifth in the Whitney H.-G1, won the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, was 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and ran sixth in the Clark Handicap last November, his most recent start.

Waiting for a command.
Ken Ramsey told Joe DePaolo in his Breeders’s Cup blog that the horse was “a headache when he got to Nick Zito, and that’s why he’s a gelding.” (And, of course, hence the name.) It’s funny, because from what I remember, and sorting through my pictures of the day Headache was broken to saddle -- despite coming from a hot-blooded sire line, he was quite docile.

On the draw reins.
The colt watches with curiosity as Buck is about to release the lasso.
He recoils backwards but remains calm.

Lungeing, stirrups flying.

Headache has accepted Buck as his alpha and, loose, follows him around the round pen.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prospective: Backed Up by a Solid Family

The most exciting part of this time of year for horseracing fans and insiders alike is picking our Derby horse. The big question we will be asked countless times from now until the Kentucky Derby on May 5th is, “Who’s your Derby horse?”

The graded stakes races across the country help us muddle through forming an intelligible reply. Right now, my reply, of questionable intelligibility, is “Dullahan,” but it’s always wise to keep an eye on other developing three-year-olds.

In Florida on Saturday, Malibu Moon’s son Prospective eked out a nice win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, marking his fourth win in seven starts. John C. Oxley’s colt has only finished worse than second once -- in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he was 13th (which is a polite way of saying he was last). Off that lone effort at Churchill Downs, one would have to question his affinity for the track at Churchill, but I’m willing to give him a pass. After all, he performed much as you would expect a 40-1 shot to perform.

Perusing the pedigree of this colt, I find the name of an old friend. Well, three old friends, actually, two of whom -- Malibu Moon and his dam Macoumba -- will be the subject of a future post.

Bred by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm LLC, the dark bay or brown Prospective is the first foal out of Awesome Again’s daughter Spirited Away, winner of half her races, including the Truly Bound Handicap at Fair Grounds, running in the Hughes colors. The next dam, Cape North (by Capote), managed only to place twice in eight starts; she is dam of another stakes winner, Fufty Too, by Speightstown.

Cape North was produced from North Sider, one of the many Eclipse Award winners trained by D. Wayne Lukas in his heyday. She was a hardy Topsider mare who made 36 starts racing from three to five and earned in excess of $1.1-million. As a five-year-old in 1987 -- her championship year -- she started 17 times. Imagine that! She won only seven races that season, most notably the Santa Margarita and Apple Blossom Handicaps and the Maskette Stakes -- all Grade 1 events -- but it was enough to earn her the title of leading older female in the U.S.

Now, I feel rather dated in admitting that it was neither Spirited Away, nor Cape North, nor even North Sider, who I knew from this family. No. It was the next dam, Back Ack, a 1976 model by Ack Ack out of Square Generation. When I knew her, I was a high school kid and she was an older broodmare who would go on to produce just one more foal.

Prospective's great-great-granddam Back Ack in 1993.

In her racing days, Back Ack did not make much of an impact, winning twice (at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Keystone Race Track -- now Parx, and before that Philadelphia Park -- in Pennsylvania) and placing third in a minor black-type event at Atlantic City. As a broodmare, only two of her nine foals became stakes winners. Besides North Sider, there was the Mr. Prospector filly Shawnee Creek, a small-time stakes winner of $100,760.

Shawnee Creek has been the one to fly the flag, so to speak, for Back Ack’s female line, not so much through her three stakes winners -- of which Storm Creek-G3, a decent sire, was one -- but mostly through her unraced A.P. Indy daughter Checkered Flag. Checkered Flag is best known as the dam of multiple Grade 2 winner Zanjero (by Cherokee Run), a Kentucky-based freshman sire this year. He won the Indiana Derby-G2, Kentucky Cup Classic-G2, and West Virginia Derby-G3 on his way to amassing $1.6-million in earnings. Checkered Flag also produced multiple stakes winner Victory Flag (by Touch Gold).

Additionally, Shawnee Creek is granddam of the Tiger Ridge horse Storm in May, a black-type winner who was second in the Arkansas Derby-G1 and earned over $511,000, and who was 16th in the 2007 Kentucky Derby; Fircroft, an A.P. Indy filly who won the Listed Miss Grillo Stakes and was second in the Coaching Club American Oaks-G1; and great-granddam of the speedy European Group 1 winner Amadeus Wolf (by Mozart).

Prospective is the first Graded stakes winner to branch out from North Sider, but Oxley and trainer Mark Casse had him rightly pegged as a yearling with potential when they purchased him for $250,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale in 2010. He has now rewarded them with three Graded victories and a total of $441,317 in earnings.

One more family side note of interest is that Prospective’s dam Spirited Away is linebred 4x4 to Back Ack’s dam Square Generation -- the third dam of Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner Awesome Again (sire of Spirited Away) and his champion half-brother Macho Uno, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1.

While Prospective (who is inbred 3x4 to Seattle Slew) may not be my “Derby horse” at this stage, it’s nice to see him do well and bring some life back into a long-forgotten branch of this female family.