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Climbing the Ladder

One of the stallion success stories of 2008 is that of New York's Hook and Ladder (Dixieland Band - Taianna, by Cox's Ridge). Although a very fast horse - he ran a 110 Beyer speed figure as a 2-year-old and subsequently won the Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) and the seven furlong Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. II), after running an opening half in :43.89 - Hook and Ladder didn't retire to stud until he was 7. At that stage, he had inevitably lost a little of the luster from the early stages of his career.

Standing at Sequel Stallions in Hudson, N.Y., in a partnership between Chester and Mary Broman - who had raced Hook and Ladder - and Sequel Stallions, Hook and Ladder began his stud career at a fee of $3,500. Realizing that support from outside mares was going to be thin on the ground,, the partnership made a concentrated effort to support the horse with their own mares, and the effort has paid off. After an excellent reception for his first crop yearlings, 28 of which sold for an average of $49,825, Hook and Ladder covered 80 mares at an advertised fee of $5,000 in 2006, and last year was bred to 124 at $6,000. This year he is again booked full, now at $10,000.

So far the Hook and Ladders have lived up to their great reception in the sales ring. From 33 runners, he has already been represented by three stakes winner and five stakes horses. He currently holds second place by earnings on the New York Sires List, and third on the national second-crop sires table, above the likes of Mineshaft and Vindication. Last year, Hook and Ladder's daughter I Promise was beaten inches in the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III), and his son Spanky Fischbein (TrueNicks rated A++) took the New York Stallion Great White Way Stakes.

Things have been even better this year. Hook and Ladder's highly-rated son Big Truck (TrueNicks B+) stretched out to take the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), while Spanky Fischbein was a game second against open company in the Count Fleet Stakes.

This weekend, I Promise ran a brave race in the New York Stallion Park Avenue Stakes, battling on the front end and shaking loose, but getting caught in the dying strides to finish third. The good news from her sire's view was that one of the two fillies that caught I Promise was Hook and Ladder's daughter Like A Rose, who had won her maiden only around a week earlier. Out of the Tank's Prospect mare Midnight Tank, Like a Rose is another TrueNicks A++ rated stakes winner. With runners from steadily improving books of mares to come, Hook and Ladder looks a regional stallion to watch.

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