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Stellar Rain: Devon Lane's Heir Apparent?

On June 30, 1996, Devon Lane made his racing debut against two other Thoroughbreds and six Quarter Horses. He finished third in the 870-yard "around the hook" event at New Mexico's Ruidoso Downs. A Quarter Horse won the race. The runner-up, a Thoroughbred, was by a stallion with an advertised stud fee of $500. Devon Lane's sire, Storm Cat, had stood the 1996 season for $125,000.

This scene is true to the rough-and-tumble Southwest racing circuit, where it's all about speed and not about frills. Or maybe Devon Lane's connections knew they had a fast horse and that's right where he belonged.

Against his own breed, Devon Lane won three races—all sprints at Ruidoso—before retiring to stud in New Mexico.

He became a successful dual-purpose regional sire, covering both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse mares. His Thoroughbreds include 19 stakes winners, most notably Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) winner River's Prayer.

Photo: New Mexico Horse Breeders Association
Devon Lane (Storm Cat—To the Hunt, by Relaunch)

Devon Lane earned a following in the Southwest, but his multiple grade I-winning half sisters Starrer (by Dynaformer) and Stellar Jayne (by Wild Rush) are better known to the industry at large.

Darley bought Stellar Jayne for $3.6 million in 2004 and, after racing her another season and winning another grade I, bred her to Storm Cat. The foal was Stellar Rain (who, coincidentally, I helped foal while a member of the Darley Flying Start program).

Photo: Ian Tapp
Stellar Rain as a newborn foal with his dam, Stellar Jayne, in 2008

Stellar Rain never raced, not against Thoroughbreds or any breed. He injured a suspensory in the paddock as a yearling which delayed his training and ultimately kept him from ever making it to the races. Darley's rehoming program, which finds suitable homes for Darley ex-racehorses, set out to find a buyer for the young stallion prospect.

Enter Wendy Davis, the associate coordinator of the Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) at the University of Arizona. Wendy also breeds horses on a small scale in New Mexico and was quite familiar with Devon Lane.

"The first thing that jumped out at me was that he was very closely related to Devon Lane," Wendy said. "The second was that he had the look that horsemen in the Southwest generally preferred: well-muscled and not too tall."

Photo: Wendy Davis
Stellar Rain (Storm Cat—Stellar Jayne, by Wild Rush) in 2012

Wendy suspected Stellar Rain could be the right kind of horse for a very sprint-oriented regional market. "This horse did not have the look of the classic two-turn horse, and for probably the first time in his life, that became an attribute."

Wendy also knew that in New Mexico, such a stallion had twice the appeal. "Devon Lane was not only popular with the Thoroughbred breeders, but he also had some excellent Quarter Horse runners," Wendy said. "Having two potential markets made sense, so I jumped into stallion ownership knowing full well the very long odds of making a stallion."

As it would play out, Stellar Rain was in the right place at the right time. When 19-year-old Devon Lane died of heart failure last year, Stellar Rain was ready to fill the vacancy. Wendy read the press release about Devon Lane's passing and immediately called Terry Lane of TNL Farm, where Devon Lane had stood.

"I'm sure I caught Terry quite off guard as all I said was that I had a stallion related to Devon Lane, and would he be interested in talking about standing him," Wendy said of the initial phone conversation. "Terry researched who the horse was and called me back pretty quickly saying, 'Do you know what you have?!' "

Earlier this year, Stellar Rain stood his first season at TNL for a modest $1,000 fee. He covered about 30 mares—split evenly between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse—including a few stakes and stakes-producing mares. Thirty mares is a pretty good number considering the increasingly strong credentials to be found among the New Mexico stallion colony.

The odds are likely still long for Stellar Rain to reach the heights of his predecessor, but as Devon Lane reminded us, sometimes sires emerge from the most unexpected beginnings.

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14 Comments:

As Devon Lane did, Stellar Rain and his babies will touch everyone's heart on the farm and the track. Stellar Rain is a fantastic horse, he is going to be an awesome sire following in Devon's footsteps.

TNL Farm Inc. 19 Jul 2013 11:24 AM

An interesting look at how proper placement can benefit a stallion. No pretense here.

JerseyTom 19 Jul 2013 12:17 PM

The similarity between these two stallions is striking. Best of luck to Stellar Rain in his new career. Can't wait to see his babies.

Lmaris 19 Jul 2013 6:54 PM

I have long been of the opinion that, unlike other some other color-affecting genes, the greying gene sits on a chromosome that determines more than a few phenotypical characteristics. The 3/4 brothers Devon Lane and Stellar Rain give me another example for my mental catalogue.

And yes, they both look like the Quarter-mile sort of the TB that branched off from the classic TB out west in the 19th century and became the basis of the modern Quarter Horse racer.

Pedigree Ann 20 Jul 2013 10:59 AM

On types of mares that might fit, Wendy said she's sending Stellar Rain "pretty scopey" mares and mentioned that it would be nice to have a good cross for Desert God mares (plenty of them in New Mexico), who Wendy described as typically big and rangy, sometimes raw-boned.

She also called Stellar Rain "incredibly correct in front for a Storm Cat."

Ian Tapp 20 Jul 2013 1:34 PM

Ann,

Interesting observation. The mutation that causes grayness is located in a gene named STX17 on Chromosome 25. Its located at 6,531,290-6,582,662bp. If there was an associated phenotypical characteristics that were in linkage with the mutation they would most likely be associated within 400,000bp of the mutation. Of the known genes within that space there doesn't seem to be any that are associated with size or phenotypic characteristics. This of course doesn't preclude it being a gene that is not annotated yet.

Byron Rogers 21 Jul 2013 12:05 AM

ANN... there are two types of Quarter Horse.. Ranch/Rodeo/Pleasure, etc.. descending from foundation stock,and the Racing Quarter Horse, the source of which is quite modern, viz :- through My Texas Dandy (1928) Brush Mount (1938) Gold Heels (1940) Three Bars (1940) Leo (1940) Piggin String (1942) Top Deck (1945) Grey Sovereign (1948)

Hal Dane 21 Jul 2013 8:33 AM

Byron -

Opinions are made to be refuted by facts. Let me know if anything turns up in the future, if you please. The greying gene being dominant, I may just be seeing unconnected dominance arising together.

Pedigree Ann 21 Jul 2013 10:36 AM

I wish someone at Darley could tell me and the rest of the world where in Russia is Mastery a three time Group 1 winner.

denniscraig2 21 Jul 2013 3:29 PM

Wendy is one of the good people in the horse industry. Glad to see her recognized.

goodwit 23 Jul 2013 11:04 PM

Hal,

I do have a cutting Quarter Horse here, with a thoroughbred sire line.

He's actually from the Hermit male line, which through Quarter Horses has outlasted it's thoroughbred strip. He's by a grandson of the racing Quarter Horse Skychief Bar (by Three Bars). He's also got Stella Moore, famous for her match with the thoroughbred Olympia.

We've also got a Tennessee Walker (tail-male to Flying Childers), and a couple of off-track thoroughbred riding horse. One of the thoroughbreds is by Notebook (Bold Ruler line to Eclipse/Darley Arabian), but the other is by Mister Jolie (Matchem/Godolphin Arab), so ironically, even though he's a thoroughbred, the Quarter Horse and Tennessee Walker are more closely related in Y-chromosome terms to the other thoroughbred - all going back to the Darley Arabian) than he is.

Alan Porter 25 Jul 2013 12:46 PM

I like this

paula 25 Jul 2013 2:11 PM

Alan.. the vast, vast, majority of "working" Quarter Horses, descend from the male line of Matchem, through his grandson, the beautifully bred TICKLE TOBY, (dam by Herod out of the sister to Eclipse) who was imported to Virginia, from his first crop he sired SIR SOLOMON (1805) who was the sire of Mr Thomas' BIG SOLOMON (1819) out of the mare Trumpetta II (1810) by Hickory... this horse is not in the American Studbook, although his dam is.. she is the ancestress of Virgil, Meridian, Henry of Navarre, Kingmambo among others.. Sir Solomon was owned by Mr Bela Badger his son Big Solomon was said to have been sent to Warren County in North Carolina, but he left a son VAN TROMP (1835) in Tennessee who sired a colt there in 1844 named SHILOH, head of the main foundation line of Quarter Horses.

Ignore the pedigree given for Shiloh on the Pedigreequery database, it's just nonsense..  

Hal Dane. 28 Jul 2013 8:58 AM

Hal, you're spot on in regard to Shiloh's traditional topline pedigree. The 19th century manuscript source for it most likely misinterprets an earlier written or narrative version but the earliest QH chroniclers accepted the ms. uncritically, as have most since except for Mackay-Smith. However, it's been several decades since the vast majority of working Quarters descended in tail male from Shiloh, and even then his topline dominance was wholly dependent upon the AQHA's "correction" of a pedigree as recorded 50 years previously in a breeder's personal ledger and in the American Stud Book. The vast majority of contemporary working Quarters trace to Eclipse (1764) via Three Bars, most often through Doc Bar or Sugar Bars. The largest minority trace to same via Joe Blair (1911), the most recent registered TB in the topline of the late great Mr. San Peppy.

~~~

Wonderful article on Stellar Rain. Thanks!

Judy Baugh 07 Aug 2013 3:55 PM

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