Good As It Gets - By Evan Hammonds

Sometimes racing is a game of repetition. This past weekend at Saratoga Race Course, a pair of New York-breds won the two graded stakes on Aug. 11—much as they had done the previous weekend when Diversify and Mind Your Biscuits ran 1-2 Aug. 4 in the grade 1 Whitney Stakes and Sandy’z Slew took the following day’s Troy Stakes (G3T). This time around it was Barry Schwartz’ Voodoo Song going wire-to-wire in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) and Sue’s Fortune scoring in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) for juvenile fillies.

At Arlington International trainer Chad Brown ran 1-2-3 in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1T) with Sistercharlie, Fourstar Crook, and Thais, and 1-2 in the Arlington Million XXXVI Stakes (G1T) with Robert Bruce and Almanaar, which was an improvement on his 1-3-4 finish in last year’s Million. It has been an impressive run by the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer in Chicago.

Fasig-Tipton’s yearling sales—The Select Sale Aug. 6-7 and the sale of preferred New York-breds Aug. 11-12 reached new high-water marks.

However, it was out at Del Mar, where the 2-year-old Instagrand ran off the screen in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), that delivered something new to get excited about.

Talk to consignors, and they might tell you August is a critical time of year when it comes to promoting their yearling consignments. Two-year-old racing is in full swing, and one eye is kept to the results from Saratoga Race Course, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and increasingly Ellis Park.

A sharp winner by a freshman sire will help boost the stallion’s stock, and a “catalog update” on a yearling can raise the youngster’s prospects as it is being prepped for the Keeneland September yearling sale next month.

Instagrand, a $1.2 million sale purchase at Fasig-Tipton’s The Florida Sale by Larry Best, one-upped his 10-length maiden score with a 10 1/4-length tour de force in the six-furlong Best Pal.

For breeder Jim Stone (Stoneway Farm) and breeding partner Terri Birch, it is the kind of “catalog update” one can only dream about. Instagrand’s half brother, by Cairo Prince out of Assets of War, by Lawyer Ron, is cataloged in Book 1 of the September sale.

“We bought into the family with Assets of War in 2011, and the family has been so good to us,” said Birch from her home in Louisville.

“It was really thrilling to watch and thrilling to know we bred him,” Birch added. “As a breeder, it’s so important to have your horses get into the right hands, and Instagrand certainly is.

“It’s thrilling to know you’ve bred a horse like this,” she said. “That’s most rewarding. That really helps us, and helps the family, and helps our breeding program.”

Instagrand is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“Some people might get a horse like that and push them until the wheels come off, but once this horse broke his maiden, you could see Jerry really slowed down his works and allowed him to progress slowly. And (jockey) Drayden Van Dyke, he really had him geared down when he could have pushed,” Birch said.

As for the yearling, Birch is quick to go into sales mode:

“We’re really excited; if anything he’s a bit on the short side, but at this time of year they grow so fast. He’s got a powerful hip on him; he’s smart; he’s learned his lessons and has been easy to prep. He has an exquisite body. We couldn’t be happier.”

As for the consignor, a key catalog update is the best advertisement.

“Oh, what a machine,” said Pat Costello of Paramount Sales, the day after the race.

Costello’s outfit has consigned horses, including Instagrand as a yearling (for $190,000), for Stoneway for about 10 years.

“He’ll (Instagrand) probably go in a grade 1 next and add significant value to the yearling. That catalog update is as good as it gets.”

The September sale is as big as it gets. It gets underway Sept. 10.

Recent Posts

More Blogs