Poll: Choose a Stallion for Havre de Grace

According owner Rick Porter, recently-retired Havre de Grace is currently for sale, and she could be offered at a broodmare sale this fall. Given that Royal Delta, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2011 realized $8.5 million at last year's Keeneland November Sale, we should expect fireworks if Havre de Grace—Horse of the Year and champion older filly or mare of 2011, and an 8¼-length conqueror of Royal Delta in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) last October—should also appear in the ring.

Of course the Beldame was only one of a number of outstanding performances for the now 5-year-old Havre de Grace, who won nine of her 16 starts for earnings of $2,586,175, and only once finished out of the first three (when fourth against the boys in the grade I Breeders' Cup Classic). Havre de Grace first made her name in a succession of titanic battles with another stellar distaffer, Blind Luck. Beaten inches by that mare in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. II) and Alabama Stakes (gr. I), Havre de Grace took her revenge in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes (gr. II), equaling the track record for 8½ furlongs in the process. Blind Luck again had the upper hand in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I), although the 3-year-olds both had to yield to the older Unrivaled Belle.

Havre de Grace kicked off 2011 with three straight wins, taking the Azeri Stakes (gr. III)—Blind Luck a neck back this time—the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I), and Obeah Stakes (gr. III). The epic Delaware Handicap (gr. II) saw Blind Luck get the verdict by a nose. Rebounding from that effort, Havre de Grace delivered a stellar performance to defeat Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) victor Flat Out in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). That performance was followed by the Beldame tour de force and the bold effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The champion ran only once this year before her career ending injury, turning the New Orleans Ladies Stakes into a paid workout as she strolled home 4½ lengths clear of grade II winner Juanita.

Of course, performance is only one aspect of the requirement for a sale-topping broodmare prospect. As far as having the looks to match her race record is concerned, we need only note that Havre de Grace was a $380,000 Keeneland September yearling (third highest price of the 44 yearlings by her sire to sell at public auction).

On the score of pedigree, she is something of a rarity in that she is the only grade I winner from the only crop of her sire, Saint Liam. A Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner and Horse of the Year by Saint Ballado, Saint Liam offers a link to some of the stars of last year's November Sale, as he was bred by the late Edward P. Evans, from one of the Spring Hill families that lit up the price board last fall. It's hard to know how well Saint Liam would have done as a sire in the long-term, but he has been represented by seven stakes winners from 82 starters, including Havre de Grace, Buddy's Saint, whose promising career was ended by a fatal injury, and the graded-winning Liam's Dream. While we don't yet know how Saint Liam will fare as a broodmare sire, with Halo and Quiet American (TrueNicks,SRO) as his two grandsires, and the blue hens Ballade (dam of Saint Ballado, Devil's Bag, and Glorious Song) and Quiet Dance close up in his pedigree, you would have to like his prospects.

As far as the distaff side of the family is concerned, Havre de Grace is out of Easter Bunnette, a Carson City three-parts-sister to graded stakes-placed The Bink (dam of Riskaverse, a multiple grade I winner of over $2 million, and of graded winner Cozzy Corner). Eastern Bunnette is also a half sister to the dams of graded winners Tasteyville and Bouquet Booth. Havre de Grace's granddam is the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Toll Fee. A daughter of Topsider, Toll Fee is a half sister to no less than six other graded stakes winners, including champion sprinter Plugged Nickle, and grade I scorer Christiecat. The third dam, the Buckpasser daughter Toll Booth, is a half sister to grade I-winning 2-year-old Sauce Boat and champion sire Raja Baba. More significantly in this context, however, is that she is also a half sister to Ashland Stakes victrees Gay Missile, ancestress of a legion of major winners and sires, among them A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, Lemon Drop Kid (TrueNicks,SRO), Court Vision (TrueNicks,SRO), Duke of Marmalade (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO), and Wolfhound.

Havre de Grace's pedigree also has the positive to being open to a wide variety of sire lines. She does have two crosses of Mr. Prospector, but only one will be in the first five generations of her offspring, and similarly, she will supply her sons and daughters with only one cross of Northern Dancer at that distance.

Since Saint Liam sired only a single crop, and his daughters are only just beginning their stud careers, we can look to his sire Saint Ballado for some guidance. To date, sires who have produced graded stakes winners out of Saint Ballado mares are Afleet Alex (TrueNicks,SRO) and his sire Northern Afleet (TrueNicks,SRO), General Meeting, Indian Charlie, Lemon Drop Kid, Street Cry (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO), Wildcat Heir (TrueNicks,SRO), and Yes It's True (TrueNicks,SRO).

Havre de Grace's eventual buyer might also take a look at a TrueNicks Broodmare Report for additional research. Variations of this report allow you to build a group of up to 50 potential stallions, or let TrueNicks assemble a group of top-rated nicks and hypothetical matings.

From the stallion list below (all priced above $50,000), which would you select for Havre de Grace? Choose up to three stallions, and explain your reasoning in the comments below.

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