Wilkinson Makes First Cut on Classic Scene

The first new potential contestant to take a recognized trial race this year is Wilkinson, who narrowly won the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) over Pants On Fire (by Jump Start). Wilkinson had scored only once in his previous four starts, although he did also have two seconds and a third on his record. He is a home-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid (TrueNicks,SRO), winner of the Futurity Stakes (gr. I) at two, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at three, and Champion Older Horse at four. Lemon Drop Kid had prolific stakes scores in 2008 (21 stakes winners) and 2009 (20 stakes winners), but Wilkinson comes from a crop he sired at a fee of $20,000, a figure he’d dropped to after a fairly quiet start with his early runners (reinforcements are on the way, he has 114 two-year-olds conceived at $35,000, and he was up to $50,000 when his 104 strong 2011 yearling crop was sired).

Wilkinson (TrueNicks A++) is out of a mare by Afternoon Deelites (TrueNicks,SRO), and is one of two stakes winners from only three starters by Lemon Drop Kid out of mares by Private Terms and his sons. There is something of a broad and on-going affinity between Lemon Drop Kid and his sire, Kingmambo, and Private Account line mares: Kingmambo sired French 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) victress Bluemamba out of a mare by Private Account (sire of Private Terms), and Lemon Drop Kid has a stakes winner out of a mare by the same horse. Lemon Drop Kid also has grade I winner Santa Teresita out of a mare by Gilded Time, from the Timeless Moment branch of Damascus.

Wilkinson’s dam, Tasha’s Delight, is graded-placed (when third in the grade III Natalma Stakes). She only won up to 6½ furlongs, but her sister, Miss Pickums, won the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II), Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes, and Likely Exchange Stakes, and scored at up to nine furlongs, so Wilkinson shouldn’t have much trouble stretching out.

The runner-up, Pants On Fire (TrueNicks A), shouldn’t have too much trouble with added distance either. He’s a son of son of Jump Start – who was a real coup for the Pennsylvania program – and is sire of graded winners Rail Trip, Sir Whimsey, Jump On In, Bold Start, and Assessment from his first four crops. Pants On Fire is out of a mare by Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Cape Town, who is an interesting foil for A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) line stallions (as here), as he is by Seeking the Gold (very good with Seattle Slew and A.P. Indy) out of a mare by Seattle Slew, so giving a double of that horse. The dam is a half sister to Key Hunter, a stakes winner who also took third in the CCA Oaks (gr. I), and is also dam of Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) winner [LiquorCabinet], and to sprint stakes winner Hatfield. The second dam, Key Flight (by Sir Ivor’s handicap Champion Bates Motel) out of Key to Flight, a Key to the Mint half sister to Champion Irish Two-Year-Old Minstrella. This is a family developed by the late Edward P. Evans, and which has also produced Colonial Minstrel, A Little Warm, Mini Sermon, [PleasantStrike], Misty Gallore, and Saint Liam.

Another race that might have Triple Crown implications was what figured to be a contentious nine furlong Gulfstream Park allowance contest, but which turned out to be a 10¾ lengths romp in the slop for Soldat (TrueNicks A), a member of the first crop of War Front (TrueNicks,SRO). It might be a bit early for such a comparison, but there are parallels between Soldat and Big Brown (TrueNicks,SRO), as both are by Danzig line stallions, both had first success on turf, and both scored runaway wins in wet Gulfstream Park allowance races (an off the turf affair for Big Brown if we remember rightly). Actually at this stage, Soldat has achieved more than Big Brown had, as he won the With Anticipation Stakes (gr. III) last year, and then ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. II).

War Front did win the Princelet Stakes over 8½ furlongs by eight lengths at three, but campaigned as a sprinter at four, winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II), and took second in five other graded stakes, including the Vosburgh (gr. I) and Forego Stakes (gr. I). He’s off to a very good start with stakes winners Soldat, Tensas Punch and Warning Flag, stakes placed Summer Soiree, and The Factor, who set a new track record for six furlongs at an admittedly lightning fast Santa Anita strip. War Front is throwing some turf and some of his offspring look as if they might run further than he did. Of course, his sire, Danzig, is often a turf influence, but what’s also interesting is that although his dam, Starry Dreamer, was by Champion Sprinter Rubiano, and although she took second in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) she end up running over middle distances and up on turf, taking second in two grade II turf events at 1½ miles. The key is probably the second dam who is by Forli out of a Round Table mare, both who could go long on the lawn.

Soldat is out of a daughter of Coronado’s Quest, a half sister to Canadian graded stakes winner Mulrainy. The second dam, Malbay (by the Round Table horse, Apalachee), was runner up in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Canada’s top race for two-year-old fillies – and is out of a half sister to the dam of American Derby (gr. II) winner, Pine Dance, who was by another Danzig son, Pine Bluff.

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