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Airdrie Looking Beyond Indian Charlie

Last year didn’t end well for Airdrie Stud—how could it when you lose a top stallion like Indian Charlie? Curious to hear how everyone at the farm is adjusting, last week I spoke with Ben Henley, who handles bloodstock services at Airdrie. Ben summed it up pretty well:

“Losing Indian Charlie was a terrible blow, not only to everybody here at the farm and his shareholders, but to the industry as a whole. He was a terrific outcross for most sire lines that are around at the moment and his best days were ahead of him. He’d been covering some outstanding books of mares the past few years and I think we’ll see his impact reflected in the success that these unraced babies will achieve. From a personal note, I will dearly miss him as he was the most kind and trustworthy character you could imagine. But we must move on. We all feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such an outstanding sire as Indian Charlie.”

And in moving on, Ben and the rest of the Airdrie team are very excited about Brother Derek (TrueNicks,SRO) and Divine Park (TrueNicks,SRO), who have first crop 2-year-olds this year. Airdrie has supported both stallions with over 25 of their own mares each season, so Ben is quite familiar with their young progeny.

“We feel they both have a chance to have a real impact on the breed,” Ben said. “Hopefully they can follow in the footsteps of the barn mate they recently lost.”

Brother Derek, photo by Joy Gilbert

Ben said that Brother Derek—who won the Hollywood Futurity and Santa Anita Derby (both gr. I)—has nice foals from a wide range of broodmare sires. Among these are Copelan, Indian Charlie, Smart Strike, Tiznow, Carson City, Wild Event, Fortunate Prospect, Proud Citizen, Lil E. Tee, Thunder Gulch, Kennedy Road, Harlan’s Holiday, Unbridled’s Song, Marquetry, and Include.

“Brother Derek won from 4.5 furlongs to 9 furlongs, so I’d expect his progeny to be equally versatile. He has passed on plenty of size so far and has even put some size into the smaller mares we have bred to him. The foals have great shoulders, deep girths, and very strong hind legs. He gets foals with very good bone and a very intelligent eye and head.”

Divine Park, photo by Joy Gilbert

Divine Park is a son of Empire Maker’s half brother Chester House, who died young but sired 13% stakes winners from foals and got runners on all surfaces. Divine Park was one of his most talented runners, clocking 1:32 3/5 in the Westchester (gr. III) before beating Commentator in the Met Mile (gr. I).

According to Ben, Divine Park has nice foals out of mares by With Approval, Canadian Frontier, Afternoon Deelites, Elusive Quality, Mazel Trick, Tiznow, Red Ransom, Royal Academy, Indian Charlie, Eastern Echo, Came Home, Ghazi, Gilded Time, Chimes Band, Storm Bird, and Cape Town.

“Divine Park stamps his foals very well. They have that very smooth top line that he has, with a tremendous depth of girth and classic shoulder. They’re terrifically well balanced horses, and they have that same intelligent head and eye as their sire which I just love.

“I would expect them to be 'second half of the season' 2-year-olds that really start to excel over the classic distances as 3-year-olds, and be able to perform on all surfaces.”

I asked Ben who he thought would end up the better sire, and he gave me a politician's answer: “Hopefully it’ll be a dead heat for champion first crop sire!” So I pressed him on it, and I think he's giving the slightest nod to Brother Derek, but obviously he thinks highly of them both. It should be fun seeing how they go later this year...

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