Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bellamy Road's All Squared Away comes into his own

All Squared Away was all alone at the wire of the Lexington
Photo:  Coady Photography/Keeneland

If ever there was a bargain basement horse gone right, it’s All Squared Away.  The three-year-old Bellamy Road gelding, who cost a mere $1000 as a yearling, came from behind to blow away a cast of 10 other high-priced contenders to win today’s Coolmore Lexington Stakes-G3 at Keeneland at odds of 70-1.  Beaten in his wake were the highly regarded Southwest Stakes winner Castaway (9th) as well as the previously undefeated Summer Front, who finished second.

All Squared Away’s victory in the prestigious mile-and-a-sixteenth contest was only his second in nine starts, but it was his first effort under the tutelage of red-hot Keeneland trainer Wesley Ward, who took over the reins from West Coast conditioner Peter Miller, part-owner of the gelding in partnership with Altamira Racing Stable and Wire to Wire Racing.   With his winner’s take from the Lexington, All Squared Away more than tripled his previous earnings, and has now amassed a bank account of $164,180.

All Squared Away raced in California until mid-March, when he was shipped east to compete in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, in which he finished sixth to Went The Day Well.  As a two-year-old, he had failed to break his maiden in $30,000 to $40,000 claiming company, at distances from four-and-a-half to six furlongs, but stepped up to win in wire-to-wire fashion in his first start at three, a mile-and-a-sixteenth maiden special weight contest over the synthetic track at Golden Gate Field. 

Based on both his race and sales record, it would appear that All Squared Away is a bit of a late bloomer.  The first foal from his unraced dam, Squared, by Posse, he was a $3000 weanling at Keeneland November, but brought but a third of that when he was pinhooked at the following year’s Fasig-Tipton October venue.   Squared herself was sold for $2000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale, in foal to Eurosilver, and subsequently exported to South Korea

All Squared Away becomes the first graded stakes winner in the first three generations of his female family, and the fifth graded stakes winner for Bellamy Road, a son of the Kinsman Stud bred and raced Concerto, a multiple graded stakes winner by Intermediate/Solid Chef-de-Race Chief’s Crown.

Bellamy Road had a short but sparkling career on the track, and is perhaps best known for his dominating 17-length victory in the Wood Memorial, in which he equaled the Aqueduct track record for a mile and an eighth (1:47.16).  Favored in the Kentucky Derby, he finished a tiring seventh, some 18 lengths behind Giacomo, and was subsequently found to have sustained a splint injury.  In what would be his final race, Bellamy Road was a courageous second to Flower Alley in the Travers, but that effort aggravated his prior injuries, and after an unsuccessful comeback attempt at four, he was retired to stud.  All Squared Away is a member of his second crop.

Bellamy Road sired seven stakes winners from his first crop, including his top earner Toby’s Corner (out of Brandons Ride, by Mr. Frisky), who emulated his sire by winning the Wood Memorial; he has also placed in two stakes so far this year.  His other graded stakes winners are both fillies who excelled at SaratogaAdirondack winner Position Limit and last year’s Schuylerville heroine, Georgie’s Angel

There seems to be a common thread in the pedigrees of All Squared Away, Toby’s Corner, and Position Limit in that all three have at least one cross of Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-Race Damascus in their first four generations.  All Squared Away’s second dam, Second Degree, is by Time for A Change (by Damascus), while Toby’s Corner’s dam, Brandons Ride, is a granddaughter of Marsayas (by Damascus).  Interestingly, Position Limit is inbred to Arabian Dancer (by Damascus), the dam of her maternal grandsire, Out of Place, and also the fourth dam of Bellamy Road himself.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Silver Max runs to his pedigree

Silver Max winning the Transylvania-G3 at Keeneland
Photo:  Coady Photography, Courtesy of Keeneland

Silver Max burst out of the gate in the Grade III grassy Transylvania yesterday, and never looked back until he cleared the finish line.  His six rivals seemed content to let the three-year-old Badge of Silver colt gallop loose on the lead in the early part of the mile-and-a-sixteenth contest, apparently believing either that they would catch him on the turn or that he’d falter in the stretch. 

By the time they figured out that Silver Max wouldn’t easily relinquish his advantage, there wasn’t enough time to reach him.  He won by five and a half lengths in 1:41.80 and earned $60,000 for the effort, capturing his first stakes race and the first added-money event of the Keeneland spring meet on a beautiful opening day.

Silver Max could have been claimed for $50,000 in his career debut: a five-and-a-half furlong maiden race on Saratoga’s main track last July, when he was piloted by Robby Albarado, the jockey who rode him to victory yesterday.  He finished second that day, as he did in his next four attempts in maiden special weight company at varying distances on the grass, finally breaking his maiden in a one-mile maiden special weight race over firm turf at Gulfstream Park in January. 

Two weeks later, Silver Max ambitiously encountered some of the best colts of his crop in the Grade III Holy Bull, where he finished a tiring fifth over a sloppy mile to Bernardini’s Algorithms, who decisively defeated last year’s Two-Year-Old Champion, Hansen

Trainer Dale Romans wisely regrouped and ran Silver Max back to his strength six weeks later in a grassy allowance/optional claimer at the Transylvania distance, and he ran as he did yesterday, winning in wire-to-wire style by three widening lengths at Gulfstream.  The bay colt has now won or placed in eight of his nine starts, and bankrolled $169,475.

That’s a nice return on the $20,000 that Dale Romans paid for him at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton July sale.  Silver Max is the fifth foal and third winner from the winning Kissin Kris mare, Kissin Rene, a half-sister to graded stakes-winning Prince of the Mt. and to the dams of Canadian Champion Kiss a Native and Grade I stakes winner and sire Yes It’s True.  Kissin Rene has also produced the stakes-winning filly, True Kiss, by Yes It’s True’s sire, Is It True

Silver Max’s female family had been a relatively quiet one until his third dam, the Colorado-bred Party Date (by the obscure Speedy Frank) was bred to Prince of Ascot, and then it exploded.  The resulting foal was Silver Max’s second dam, Monique Rene, a tough Louisiana-bred stakes-winning sprint specialist who notched 29 races in 45 starts while earning $456,250.  Her descendants appear to have inherited her speed, and perhaps, her distance limitations.

With his victory in the Transylvania, Silver Max became the second North American graded stakes winner for his sire, the fourth-crop Silver Deputy stallion Badge of Silver, a fast, versatile performer who was effective in elite company on both dirt and turf at middle distances up to nine furlongs, capturing the Grade II New Orleans (dirt) and San Gabriel (turf) Handicaps in the colors of Ken and Sarah Ramsey.  At four, and again at six, he placed in the Cigar Mile-G1, and in his penultimate start, he was third to Turf Champion Miesque’s Approval in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile.    He stands at Airdrie for a published fee of $6,000.

Like Badge of Silver’s son, Fly Lexis Fly, a two-time Grade I winner in Peru who is currently being pointed to the Belmont, Silver Max is inbred to Classic Chef-de-Race Roberto, 4 x 4.  Badge of Silver’s dam, Silveroo, is a daughter of Roberto’s son, Silver Hawk, while Silver Max’s broodmare sire, Kissin Kris, is also by Roberto. 

True Nicks rates the match that produced Silver Max as an A++, and indeed, there is precedent for the cross.  Among the other stakes winners that have been bred on a similar pattern are the stakes-winning fillies Beso Grande (by Mass Media) and Devonspaintedlady (by Devon Deputy), both out of Kissin Kris mares.  When bred to daughters or granddaughters of Roberto, Deputy Minister’s son, Touch Gold, has sired stakes winners Sharp Susan (out of Winter’s Gone, by Dynaformer), Flaming Heart (out of Hot Lear, by Lear Fan), and Adobe Gold (out of Urus, by Kris S.).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Life and Legacy of Grand Slam

Grand Slam's daughter Millionreasonswhy winning The Matron-G2
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA

Grand Slam, a regally bred son of champion sire Gone West who demonstrated brilliance and tenacity on the track, and as a sire, passed those attributes on to his progeny, died suddenly yesterday, felled by heart failure.  The 17-year-old stallion, who has thus far sired 73 stakes winners from 11 crops of racing age, was standing at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky at the time of his death, for a published fee of $12,000. 

Grand Slam’s unexpected passing came just two days after the untimely demise of Coolmore’s world-class sire, Montjeu, a 16-year-old champion son of Chef-de-Race Sadler’s Wells who stood at the group’s main farm in Ireland.

Bred by Overbrook Farm, Grand Slam was a $300,000 Keeneland yearling, purchased by the partnership of Robert and Christina Baker, William Mack, and David Cornstein, who raced him under the tutelage of Wayne Lukas. 

Grand Slam signaled from the outset that he was something special, breaking his maiden by 11 lengths in his first start while equaling the Belmont track record (1:03.06) for five and a half furlongs. He went on to triumph in the Grade I Futurity and Champagne, and seemed invincible until the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, when he suffered a gash to his hind leg that not only took him out of the race, but almost ended his career.

He was never quite the same again, though his sheer courage and ability shone through again at three, when he captured the nine-furlong Peter Pan at Belmont and ignited hopes that he was good as new.  Alas, that wasn’t true.  But Grand Slam acquitted himself with honor for the rest of that season, gutting out second-place finishes in the six-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1, the one-mile Jerome-G2, and the nine-furlong Swaps-G2, as well as a third-place effort in the Haskell. 

Visionaire winning the King's Bishop-G1 at Saratoga
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA
At stud, Grand Slam has sired 26 graded stakes winners, many of whom were produced from mares who, like his own dam, Bright Candles (by El Gran Senor), descend from Northern Dancer. They include Jim Dandy-G2 winner Strong Hope (out of Shining Through, by Deputy Minister), King’s Bishop-G1 victor Visionaire (out of Scarlet Tango, by French Deputy), Brooklyn Handicap-G2 winner Limehouse (out of Dixieland Blues, by Dixieland Band), Mr. Prospector-G3 winner Apriority (out of Midway Squall, by Storm Bird), Daytona-G3 turf specialist Dilemma (out of Heavenly Cat, by Tabasco Cat), and Kentucky Cup Classic-G2 hero and recent Old Friends retiree, Ball Four (out of Making Faces, by Lyphard).

Malibu Prayer winning the Ruffian-G1 at Saratoga
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA
Grand Slam has also shown an affinity with A. P. Indy, having sired the current Kentucky Oaks hopeful Millionreasonswhy (out of In Secure, by A. P. Indy), winner of the Matron-G2 at two and of the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel last month.  Grand Slam’s stakes-winning daughter, Grand Prayer, who brought $1 million at last November’s Edward P. Evans dispersal at Keeneland (in foal to Medaglia D’Oro), produced the highly regarded Grade I winner Malibu Prayer (by A. P. Indy), who sold for $2 million (in foal to Smart Strike) at the same dispersal.  Both mares were purchased by Besilu Stables.

In the sales ring, Grand Slam’s individuals seem to get better as they mature.  His 137 weanlings sold at auction have averaged $88,613, his 719 yearlings, $110,281, and his 191 two-year-olds, $127,412.  Grand Slam’s colts have typically brought significantly more than his fillies, and for the most part, they have outshone his fillies on the racetrack, too.  He will have one of each sex in next week’s Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds-in-Training Sale.  A dark bay or brown colt out of the Awesome Again mare, Tyne, will be offered as Hip #81, and a chestnut filly named, “Work for a Living,” out of the Tiznow mare, Tiz Maya, is catalogued as Hip #77; she was a $4500 Keeneland September yearling.

Through March 25th, Grand Slam had sired 798 winners, with average earnings per starter of over $60,000.  At the time of the stallion’s death, Coolmore’s website sported a banner broadcasting his achievement in siring four three-year-old stakes winners in just the last three weeks:  Tribune (Fr) (out of Tanguista, by War Chant); Slamit (out of Excedius, by Seattle Dancer), Millionreasonswhy, and The Lumber Guy (out of Boltono, by Unbridled’s Song).  He will be missed.