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Storm Cat: Sire of a Lifetime

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Storm Cat (1983-2013)

News today of the passing of Storm Cat at the age of 30 gave pause to reflect on how a stallion can be a constant presence for half a lifetime (indeed, if you are a member of a younger generation, it must seem as if he's always been there).

I first saw Storm Cat back in July 1987 at Overbrook Farm when the then 4-year-old had been retired from racing but had not yet commenced his stud career. The trip, undertaken with John Muldoon—then racing and breeding manager for Mr. & Mrs. B. R. Firestone, for whom I was working at the time—was my first from England to the U.S. and came about as a result of negotiations to purchase Storm Cat to stand at the Firestone's Gilltown Stud in Ireland.

Storm Cat's attraction in Ireland would have been as a mid-priced son of Storm Bird, a horse whose offspring were then doing well in Europe. The fact that his purchase was even a possibility underlines the fact that Storm Cat was not exactly regarded as a major commercial proposition for the U.S. sire ranks. He eventually remained at Overbrook, beginning his stud career in 1988 at an advertised fee of $30,000, although in the early years his seasons often traded at significantly lower prices.

History shows that Storm Cat was to become a dominant force in an era of dominant stallions, falling in the middle of a 5-year period that also saw the birth of Sadler's Wells—arguably the greatest stallion ever to stand in Europe, and another who seemed a constant presence for much of one's life; Sunday Silence, who reshaped the breed in Japan; and Danehill, who set new standards in Australia as well as earning sire's crowns in Europe.

Although the Storm Cats did very well in Europe, he was really the quintessential U.S. sire for the most recent paradigm shift, that which prizes a dirt runner that is precocious enough to be a contender for major prizes in the fall of its 2-year-old season, is effective at 8 1/2-9 furlongs in the spring of its 3-year-old career, and that with a following wind can at least dream of lasting 10 furlongs come the first Saturday in May.

Oddly enough, given his dominance over his contemporaries which saw him stand at a stud fee of $500,000 for several seasons, Storm Cat's classic cupboard was surprisingly bare. He was never represented by a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, and his sole victories in the Triple Crown events came through Tabasco Cat, who captured both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (both gr. I), although Sardula was a Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner.

So far the only U.S. classic victory for horse sired by a son or grandson of Storm Cat is that achieved by Shackleford (TrueNicks,SRO) in the 2011 Preakness Stakes. Still, his U.S. runners did also include a Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) hero in Cat Thief (TrueNicks,SRO) and a pair of champion 2-year-old fillies in Storm Flag Flying and Sweet Catomine. In Europe he had a pair of classic winners in Black Minnaloushe and Nebraska Tornado, and a European Horse of the Year in Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO).

Of course, Storm Cat is also famous for the legion of grade I sires that he left behind, among them Giant's Causeway, Hennessy, Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO), Forestry (TrueNicks,SRO), Forest Wildcat, Stormy Atlantic (TrueNicks,SRO), Harlan, Bernstein, and Pure Prize (TrueNicks,SRO). Giant's Causeway has actually outdone his sire in one respect, as he's captured three titles as leading sire to Storm Cat's two, although neither he nor any other sire in the near future is likely to match Storm Cat's record seven appearances as leading sire of 2-year-olds.

On the Storm Cat sire line front, we are also reminded of the passage of time by the rate at which Storm Cat has receded into some pedigrees. Scat Daddy (TrueNicks,SRO), the leading freshman sire of 2011, is by Hennessy's son Johannesburg, which places Storm Cat in the fourth generation of Scat Daddy's offspring.

Odds are that we'll never see another U.S. sire of Storm Cat's standing in our lifetime. If there is, and even assuming he's already around, if he lives as long as Storm Cat, he's likely to see us out the rest of our lifetime.

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VIDEO (click here): Storm Cat winning the Young America Stakes (gr. I) October 10, 1985.

Ian Tapp 24 Apr 2013 4:08 PM

VIDEO (click here): Storm Cat runs 2nd, beaten a nose, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) November 2, 1985.

Ian Tapp 24 Apr 2013 4:11 PM

Funny when you think that his sire, Storm Bird, was a great 2YO and came from a wonderful family but really, only "made it" through Storm Cat.  I remember Terlingua and wondering whether Storm Cat could carry his speed for any distance.

(Wow!  Now that Storm Cat is receding back into the generations, does that mean the Dancer is now in St. Simon territory?  Although he is also the sire or grandsire of two of the three other greats you mention.)(And Sunday Silence has Almahmoud in him too)

mz 24 Apr 2013 7:53 PM

It is interesting that we have lost 2 highly productive sires in the last year who were not thought that highly of at the beginning of their stallion careers - Dynaformer and Storm Cat. Considering some of the talent that has been exported out of the country recently - Summer Bird, I'll Have Another, etc - maybe it was a very good thing that those horses went to stud in the age that they did.

Karen in Indiana 24 Apr 2013 8:03 PM

Terrible tragedy that Storm Cat has passed on. I'd hope that he's in a better place. You will be missed baby boy.

Emma 24 Apr 2013 8:10 PM

Ack!  Almahmoud!  Not her daughter.

mz 24 Apr 2013 8:25 PM

Amazing horse he will be missed. You got to thank him for what he gave to racing!

Sant 24 Apr 2013 8:35 PM

RIP Storm Cat, It was an honor to have you in our lifetime.

Long live your bloodlines.

Mrs. M 24 Apr 2013 8:56 PM

Vividly remember Storm Cat as a two year old.  Thanks Ian for posting these links.  I still remember the post parade from that second Breeders Cup at Aqueduct and how good Storm Cat looked and he ran like it.  He will be missed.

RIP Storm Cat

trackjack 24 Apr 2013 9:10 PM

Video of Storm Cat and the Overbrook Legacy:  www.youtube.com/watch

Eventing Nation 24 Apr 2013 9:27 PM

I would like to point out that Storm Cat began his stud career at a time when stallion seasons were much more limited than they are today...the average book being around 50-60 per year whereas Giant's Causeway has been bred to more than double that number every year. Its easier to be leading sire if you have many more foals on the ground than your rivals in any given year. Just felt like things should be put into perspective here. Just think if Northern Dancer himself had had such large books of mares each season what his already enormous legacy could have been like. Amazing!

B Allen 24 Apr 2013 9:31 PM

Thank you Mr. Porter for your immediate tribute to such a powerful sire. Although you pointed out the lack of direct success in the Classic races by progeny of Storm Cat, he is well positioned to have much future success primarily through the Giant's Causeway, Harlan and even Hennessy lines.

My group of owners (Saturday Racing) purchased a son of Henny Hughes last year at auction that was a 3X3 cross to Storm Cat (hot-blooded indeed!). I felt that we could break the streak of seconds in the Breeders'Cup Juvenile (Storm Cat - Hennessy - Henny Hughes) and although we did not run at age two the filly Beholder proved us right. My condolences to the Young family and all past grooms, hotwalkers, care givers and fans of Storm Cat - a "sire of a lifetime" indeed.

Eric Kords

Dallas, TX

Eric Kords 24 Apr 2013 9:51 PM

Storm Cat's passing marks the end of an era. He lived a long life and his legacy will continue in his sons and daughters, and all of their offspring. It's sad to see him go but it's part of life and reminds us that time waits for no one.

Hopefully he was happy, even in the last few years, when he was the only horse on the Overbrook property.

Tom Zabinski 24 Apr 2013 10:22 PM

Thank you Blood horse for the beautiful picture of Storm Cat. His spirit runs the rail in the morning and evening mist at Overbrook. Don't be sad he is always there with you forever.

Fran Loszynski 24 Apr 2013 10:39 PM

I had a dream this morning that I got to meet Storm Cat and Terlingua.  I was so excited because I have always been a big fan of Secretariat and never had the privilege of meeting him.  I woke up thinking it was a great dream.  Then I got on the computer, and after checking mail, went on Bloodhorse.  I scanned the headlines and got the awful news.  I knew Terlingua had died at 32 and remembered thinking that Storm Cat was getting up there.  This was about a month ago.  So I will miss him and am still glad that I got to "meet" him and his mother.  RIP dear boy and please tell your mom and grandpa that I love them.  

Debbiek 24 Apr 2013 11:19 PM

Truly a breed shaping sire. Visited him at Overbrook farm in 2007 and thought he could still go the next 5 years with his condition and physique.

We got one of his sons on this side of the world and he is also proving to be a remarkable sire. Indeed a privilege.

Kerby Chua


Kerby Chua 24 Apr 2013 11:24 PM

The Incredible STORM CAT !  I cannot remember when he became my favorite sire.  He was a magical horse, and his royal blood lives on in his offspring for years and years to come.  How fortunate are we that fate kept him stateside for his magnificent breeding career.

pat 24 Apr 2013 11:56 PM

30 years is a good long life for a stallion. Storm Cat's presence has been like Man O' War's was....always there, almost omniscient. I think we will all miss him, and miss what he brought to the breed but his like is in the blood of his sons and daughters and that legacy will never change. It will only grow richer with each baby born and each generation that comes. Good Bye Storm Cat.

SMJaniczek 25 Apr 2013 3:38 AM

Storm Cat's dam Terlingua, by Secretariat, is given little credit for her offspring's notable qualities.  Genetics do show that she could likely have passed some of Secretariat's traits on to Storm Cat.

Terlingua was named for the well known chili cookoff in the town of the same name. Tabasco Cat is the only close reference given to her namesake.

I live in Terlingua and we do not forget her.

OuijaWest 25 Apr 2013 7:20 AM

@B Allen - it is more like 3-4 times the late 80's number of mares on the case of Giants Causeway.   He has bred well over 200 mares several years, and that doesn't count mares bred in Southern Hemisphere when he shuttled.  

Storm Cat was a great legacy for his grand sire, which makes me wonder what Northern Dancer's fee might have been had he been born 20 years later.

Lmaris 25 Apr 2013 7:21 AM

RIP Dear Storm Cat I never got to see you but you will always be remembered. Run free with your grandpa Secretariat

Darlene 25 Apr 2013 9:20 AM

What a lineage this sires offspring will live forever

thammatlehmanroberts.com 25 Apr 2013 10:45 AM

One comment describes Storm Cat's passing as a tragedy. Losing him at 10, or 20 might be a tragedy. But any horse who gets to spend his entire career and post career getting the marvelous care that Storm Cat did. Who gets to live to the ripe old age of 30, and who is allowed to go humanely when his body can no longer sustain him, cannot be said to have come to any kind of tragic end. We can love them, but we can't keep any of them forever.

Storm Cat was an unlikely breed changer, but he leaves behind a massive legacy. His foals often had their conformational or temperamental shortcomings, but but they proved their mettle on the race track time and again.

He was dominating at the sales, and I was always amused when I read of one of his yearlings bringing a stellar price with the interviewed buyer outlining their purchase's strong points and concluding, "And he was pretty correct for a Storm Cat!" Shows that while perfection is nice, it does not always occur in the best race horses... or sires.

Donut Jimmy 25 Apr 2013 11:19 AM

Saddened to see such a well known sire have passed away, but knowing he is no longer in pain. I have seen several sons and grandsons of Storm Cat race in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Delaware and in Texas. Thank you Overbrook Farms for caring for such a great sire who's legacy still lives on his descendents. RIP Storm Cat.

Tonya LaFarr 25 Apr 2013 12:05 PM

I seen the news of Storm Cat's passing while watching TVG. He was a great stallion and he will be greatly missed. RIP big boy!!!

Sharon 25 Apr 2013 1:36 PM

I was fortunite enough to be allowed to meet storm cat in person back in 2006.

aajanachle 25 Apr 2013 4:26 PM

I have a broodmare grandaughter of Storm Cat and a 2yo great grandaughter.  I can see the Cat in them, and I thank God for the opportunity to see the young one race, hoping her temperment will continue his legacy.  He was one of the truly greats.

sassy old cat 25 Apr 2013 5:48 PM

Lovely article - I had never fully realised just how long he has been part of the breeding world until I read this. I was never able to see him in the flesh, but he had a great place in my heart. Newmarket sends their respect.

Laura Graham 26 Apr 2013 10:48 PM

I was so extremely fortunate to care for Terlingua and to escort her to the breeding shed on the day she conceived Storm Cat. She was an absolute joy to be around. Storm bird gave Storm Cat his fire and I would say Terlingua his heart and will to win. They live on in their offspring and our memories.

Jan B. T. 29 Apr 2013 11:41 AM

Living in Scotland but having always been a huge fan of North American racing I was saddened to read of the death of Storm Cat. I remember when he and the late, great Sadler's Wells were retired from stud duties at the same time but they have left behind huge legacies in particular Giant's Causeway and Galileo. What a gorgeous horse he was. RIP legend.

Tracey Gilbert 29 Apr 2013 3:36 PM

STORM CAT. I will never forget him - Rip old friend

richie 14 May 2013 9:08 AM

Storm Cat I will never for get the bet I made on you.  It was my first.  And all these years later, to hear about his death breaks my heart, however to be blessed to have a Own Son of his is a dream come true. Here's to Market Force our Stallion by Storm Cat and all the wonderful colt you have blessed us with.  How Happy You Have Made Us.

Janette Troncale 08 Jun 2013 3:23 PM

Sharon be advised that SC is not a person.Just kidding!

andyod 07 Aug 2013 10:37 AM

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