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Tale of the Cat's Excellent Weekend

Those who were in attendance at Saratoga on August 23, 1997, or those watching on TV for that matter, would have little problem embracing the idea that Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO) might well have been the most naturally talented of all of Storm Cat’s sons. That day, he delivered an unforgettable performance, blistering the track to take the King’s Bishop Stakes (then gr. II, but now a gr. I, which is regarded as a key “sire-making” race), by 5½ lengths (video below).

There is also no doubt that as a stallion, Tale of the Cat also ranks among the best by his sire. He has a leading sire of 2-year-olds title to his name, and from his Northern and Southern Hemisphere crops is responsible for 78 stakes winners, 33 of them graded. Despite this, we have the impression that he’s almost flying under the radar, or at least is somewhat under-appreciated. Perhaps it’s simply a function of being an older horse, who is merely a very solid sire, rather than a sensation, being overlooked as younger, flashier prospects come on the scene.

Anyway, last weekend’s results may have served to bring him to mind again. On Sunday, 2-year-old Overdriven confirmed the impression he had made on his debut, with a four-length victory in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II, video below) at Saratoga. Rated A+ by TrueNicks, Overdriven is a half brother to talented multiple graded stakes winner Smooth Air (by Smooth Jazz, by Storm Boot, who is by Storm Cat out of a Mr. Prospector mare, with a second dam by Round Table, where Tale of the Cat is by Storm Cat out of a Mr. Prospector mare, and his fourth dam is a sister to Round Table). Overdriven’s dam is by French Deputy, who has been good under Storm Cat line stallions, perhaps because Storm Cat is Northern Dancer over Bold Ruler/Princequillo, and French Deputy is Northern Dancer over Princequillo/Bold Ruler.

Of course, Overdriven is far from being the only top 2-year-old for Tale of the Cat. His son Lion Heart (TrueNicks,SRO), who won the Haskell (gr. I) at 3, took the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) at 2, and was almost certainly the fastest juvenile of his crop (his broodmare sire, Mr. Leader, is also sire of the third dam of Overdriven). Tale of Ekati (also a multiple grade I winner at 3), Be Gentle, Whoopi Cat, and Feline Story were all also juvenile graded scorers in the U.S. As mentioned, Lion Heart and Tale of Ekati trained on to win grade I's at 3, and Tale of the Cat (himself a winner on dirt and turf) has actually shown quite a lot of versatility as a sire, with for example Gio Ponti, earning a champion older male Eclipse Award, and back-to-back awards as champion turf male, and the fillies Cat Moves and My Trusty Cat also taking grade I honors, one at 3 and the other at 5. We should also mention that the Tale of the Cats have had more than their share of success on the turf in Australia and New Zealand (where he was leading freshman sire). Overdriven apart, there might also be more to be heard from among Tale of the Cat’s current juvenile crop. Earlier in the month the 2-year-old filly Cotteau Kitten won the D. S. Shine Young Memorial Futurity, while Overdriven’s stable-companion Select Cat looked good in taking a Saratoga maiden on July 25.

The day before the Sanford, Tale of the Cat’s potential as a broodmare sire had been showcased when It’s Tricky (by Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO)) added the CCA Oaks (gr. I, video below) to her last time out triumph in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I). Tale of the Cat’s first crop wasn’t foaled until 2000, which means the overwhelming majority of his first crop daughters wouldn’t have bred been until 2004 (for foals of 2005). One of that group, the Crafty Prospector colt West Coast Coach became a stakes winner, and two others were stakes-placed. Of the foals of Tale of the Cat daughters born in 2006, there are three North American stakes winners, headed by the graded-winning Hour Glass (by Petionville (TrueNicks,SRO)), the others being the good Canadian filly Double Malt (by Whiskey Wisdom), and Miss Catalyst (a daughter of Mr. Greeley). The following year saw Tale of the Cat daughters produce stakes winners Eve Giselle (by Five Star Day), Hyperlink (by Toccet (TrueNicks,SRO)), All About Anna (by Maria’s Mon), and Greys Anatomy (by Blackdoun). In addition to It’s Tricky, current 3-year-olds out of Tale of the Cat mares include stakes winner Eminent Tale, a son of Read the Footnotes (TrueNicks,SRO). Given that he has a very strong pedigree – his dam is a sister to grade I winner Preach, the dam of Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO), and goes back to Monarchy, a stakes-winning sister to Round Table – and some very nice daughters who have only recently entered the broodmare ranks, Tale of the Cat looks one to watch in this role.

As a Storm Cat line footnote, we’ll note that J C’s Pride, who finished second to Overdriven on his debut and then returned to break the five-furlong Saratoga track record, is from the second crop of the Hennessy horse Henny Hughes (TrueNicks,SRO). A brilliant 2-year-old and sprinter, Henny Hughes was one of the hot freshman prospects last year. He did actually sire 20 individual 2-year-old winners, but didn’t have a black-type winner, and interest in him rapidly cooled. However, he’s quietly staging something of a revival this year. Three of his first crop runners have won stakes in 2011, the ill-fated but potentially outstanding Fort Hughes; Love Is Eternal Stakes winner Midnight Visit; and Henny Hound, a graded stakes winner sprinting in Japan. In his second crop, he has not only the highly-promising J C’S Pride, but also She Digs Me, successful in the Tyro Stakes.

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