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Eye of the Storm

The term "sire of sires" is a coveted position in our commercial Thoroughbred world. Such title invariably vests an increase in stud fee, or at least underpins the established service fee as sons of these stallions are sought after in the sale ring and as they retire off the track.

It is, after all, much easier to "sell the dream" of a son of a great stallion having in turn the potential to be as good a runner and a stallion as his sire, than it is to sell the same dream for a horse sired by a stallion that has failed in one or both of these pursuits.

Debate has certainly raged in various forums about the now-retired Storm Cat as a sire of sires. Some critics cite the less than stellar performance in the breeding shed by Mountain Cat, Tabasco Cat, Exploit, Tactical Cat, High Yield, and Catrail, stallions by many measures who failed to realize their expectations, as enough reason to doubt Storm Cat's potency. Conversely, others argue that the fullness of time will establish Storm Cat's position as a sire of sires and cite Danzig, who took his time to leave us the glorious Danehill and has left a rich legacy of sons throughout the world.

Regardless of where you sit, Storm Cat and his sons have had opportunity to savor several recent events. Ashford's Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO) has done a lot to at least claim the position of "heir apparent" as he continues to have an outrageously good season on the racetrack with no less than 20 stakes winners. The impressive Carriage Trail recently took out the Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland despite drifting wide in the final furlong. Carriage Trail follows Heatseeker, Frost Giant, and Red Giant to become the fourth individual grade I stakes winner for the stallion in this season -- a considerable effort by any measure. Carriage Trail (A+ TrueNicks) is, like Cowboy Cal and Swift Temper, out of a Seeking the Gold mare, a fact that will hopefully spur Claiborne Farm and their clients into action with their young sire First Samurai.

Standing alongside Giant's Causeway at Ashford, the underrated Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO) also had an outstanding weekend. In America he was represented by two graded stakes winners in the shape of Tale of Ekati (TrueNicks A), winner of the Jerome Stakes (gr. II), and the TrueNicks A++ rated Queen of the Castle. Internationally the results did not stop there for Tale of the Cat, however. In New Zealand, 3-year-old Tell a Tale (AUS) won the Hawke's Bay Guineas (NZ-III) while in Australia the Breeders' Plate, the first 2-year-old stakes race of the new season, was taken out by Real Saga (AUS). This colt, rated A by TrueNicks prior to his stakes win, looks to have considerable class and might well be a horse to follow in that country.

Storm Cat's son Sir Cat also had a grade I winner, but this time in Chile with Gato de La Luna (CHI) winning the Clasico Gran Criterium-Mauricio Serrano Palma (Chi-I), an 8 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Hippodromo Chile. Sir Cat, a former Gainesway Farm stallion, seems to have found his home in Chile where he now stands at Haras Jockey. Sir Cat has now sired four stakes winners out of mares by Sadler's Congress, a stallion bred on very similar lines to Storm Cat.

Rounding out the weekend for Storm Cat as a sire of sires were good results for Bernstein, Tribal Rule (TrueNicks,SRO) , and Stormy Atlantic (TrueNicks,SRO) . We have mentioned Bernstein's performances on this blog before and he had a great weekend with the win of Dream Empress (A++ TrueNicks) in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) and the older mare Pay the Man in the Best of Ohio Distaff Stakes. Dream Empress follows Doremefasollatido as juvenile graded stakes winners for Bernstein this season. Interestingly, one is out of a Nijinsky II mare while another is out of a mare by Green Dancer, a son of Nijinsky II.

In California one of the top regional stallion there Tribal Rule had a great day at the office on the weekend also. The freakishly fast Tribesman (Truenicks B+) punched a ticket into the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) when he took out the California Cup Sprint while Malia Sofia annexed the Sun Devil Stakes on the same day. Finally, in a thoroughly impressive performance, Stormy Atlantic (TrueNicks,SRO) 's undefeated Bittel Road took out the Woodward Reserve Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. With the Storm Cat/Cox's Ridge cross being tried on a number of occasions, and with Storm Cat and many of his sons, it is worth noting that this nick is standing up to the weight of numbers, rating a solid A with TrueNicks.

Another stallion that had a good weekend was the Taylor Made stallion Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) . His son Thorn Song proved the adaptability of his sire when he led all the way in the Shadwell Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland. Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Thorn Song is out of a mare by Storm Bird. It is worth noting that Unbridled's Song has sired stakes winners out of mares by Storm Bird and his sons Storm Cat and Bluebird. Sing Baby Sing, a brother to the talented Value Plus (TrueNicks,SRO) , took out the Phoenix Stakes (gr. III) on Keeneland's polytrack. Unbridled's Song has had an outstanding season also with three grade I winners - one 2-year-old on the dirt (Midshipman), one older horse sprinting (First Defence), and now an older horse on the turf. He is one stallion who understands "timing" with these horses now headed towards the Breeders' Cup races.

Like Bernstein, Alan Porter has previously posted about Sky Mesa (TrueNicks,SRO) and the resurgent performance he has put in this season. It is truly a "Lazarus" like performance reminiscent of leading sire Kingmambo (TrueNicks,SRO) , with most industry players just about writing him off in their mind. This weekend saw his 2-year-old Sky Diva win the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and 3-year-old Skylighter (A++ TrueNicks) win the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr III). It is worth commenting on the fact that all three of Sky Mesa's 2-year-old stakes winners are out of Mr. Prospector-line mares in Sky Diva (Unbridled), Terrain (Forty Niner) and Sky Haven (Woodman). Of course Sky Mesa's grandsire, A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) , has done terrifically well with Mr. Prospector mares, as has Sky Mesa's sire, Pulpit, with the limited number of Mr. Prospector mares he has received. Speaking of Pulpit, his soon-to-be-repatriated son Stroll also sired a graded stakes winner in Van Lear Rose, winner of the Mazarine Stakes (Can-III). Van Lear Rose (B+ TrueNicks) is out of a mare by Conquistador Cielo, a son of Mr. Prospector. Two different sons of Pulpit siring graded stakes winners out of mares by the same sire line ... certainly no coincidence.

Finally, in the Southern Hemisphere, the leading sire Encosta de Lago (AUS) came up with two group I winners in one day -- one in New Zealand and one in Australia. Princess Coup (AUS), stamped herself as the best in New Zealand with a win in the Kelt Stakes (NZ-I), defeating the best in that country. Rated A+ by TrueNicks, she now heads to the W.S Cox Plate (Aus-I) and looks hard to beat there. A couple of hours later in Australia the older horse Newport (AUS) defied his odds on the track to take out the time-honoured Metropolitan Handicap (Aus-I). 

We have also previously written about how well fellow Coolmore stallion Danehill Dancer has done with Nijinsky II-line mares with the likes of Speciosa, Again, Good Mood, and Crimson Blossom, for a few stakes-winning examples. He added another stakes winner bred on the nick in the shape of Lorne Dancer (AUS), winner of the Craven Plate (Aus-III). He is out of a mare by Nijinsky II's high-priced son Seattle Dancer.

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