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Developing a Stakes-Winning Thoroughbred Filly, Part II

Editor's note:  In part I of the series, Dr. Robert Fishman, breeder of recent stakes winner Girlfrienontheside, discussed his choice to breed his mare Inlaw to Unbridled's Song -- a mating that resulted in Refrain, dam of Girlfrienontheside.  Follow along as Dr. Fishman continues the story.


I bred Inlaw next to first-year stallion Indian Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO); another rare talent, and an exceptional specimen. In racing ability, style, and in part physique, he was rather similar to Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) , and a proper compliment to Inlaw. His conformation and pedigree may have suited her even more (for example, he was somewhat more compact, and provided a bit more Nasrullah), but while there would be no Mr. P. inbreeding concerns, I did question his soundness. Indian Charlie's pedigree hinted that Mr. P.-line mares could be right up his alley. I was less than enthusiastic about the apparent quality of his immediate male line, and aside from his fast and talented dam, the pedigree's lower half seemed a bit mediocre. In the end, I felt that his particular mix of perceived phenotype (observable physical attributes and performance), and pedigree were of enough quality to afford him a reasonable chance for stallion success. He was the proper mate for Inlaw.

The resulting Indian Charlie colt developed so well that I decided to sell him as a weanling at Keeneland November. He was among 20 or so members of Indian Charlie's first crop to be offered at the sale, and easily topped them all at $100,000. Sent though the ring again at Keeneland the following September, he brought $1.1 million, the highest priced Indian Charlie yearling for many a year thereafter. He was, needless to say, magnificent, the most ideal young horse I had ever bred. Later named Lifestyle, he would not start until 4 due to some relatively minor issues and the death of his owner. At age 4, and still unraced, he was purchased for $300,000 by Roger King and his trainer, Wesley Ward, at his deceased owner's dispersal. Not long after, Wesley started Lifestyle in a Gulfstream maiden special weight, which he won by double digits, receiving a 100+ Beyer speed score. Colic surgery intervened before his next start at Belmont. I attended that day, and recall it being among the happiest of my life. Lifestyle was kept off the pace for part, then swooped by them all with brilliant acceleration to again win by double digits, in near track-record time for seven furlongs (eased up), earning an even higher speed rating. Lifestyle would never again reach such heights, as he became a profound bleeder and was thus relegated to sprints. Wesley never gave up on him, and considered Lifestyle to be "the fastest horse [he'd] ever been around." The following year Lifestyle started in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). By then the horse had become a confirmed front runner, but a recent procedure performed on Lifestyle led Wesley to believe that the bleeding was better controlled. Wesley was optimistic that Lifestyle would go wire-to-wire. The colt literally went to his knees at the break, "grabbed" himself, lacerated a leg, bent a hind shoe, and nearly unseated jockey Alex Solis. Those misfortunes at the start caused Lifetyle to be far back for most of the race, but he closed widely and strongly to lose by five lengths.Wesley retained ownership of the horse, retired him to stud this past season, and bred him to 15 of his own mares.

Out of Place was chosen as Inlaw's third mate, and Capote would be her last. These matings produced two physically outstanding colts. Sold as a weanling for $270,000, her Out Of Place is, to this day, that sire's highest selling weanling. The Capote colt brought $350,000 as a Saratoga Select yearling. Inlaw died from a diaphragmatic hernia four days after the birth of her Capote colt. (The Out Of Place colt, named One Handsome Dude, was highly regarded by his connections, but died (from illness) at 2; the Capote colt, named Top Player, would become only a minor winner.)

I have little stomach for racing my own, but made exception with Refrain. She displayed indications of being a forward type, but I delayed any serious training until she was 3. Conditioned initially at Fair Hill, I oversaw her almost daily. Refrain trained like a star, and her first three starts did little to alter that impression. Following an easy win her third out, Refrain's career abruptly ended the week later when she stepped on a stone while galloping (during her time-off break), fracturing the pedal bone in her fore.

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