Keeneland presents American Graded Stakes Standings: Singing Dixie
Lost in all the excitement surrounding the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victory by the 3-year-old Dixie Union colt Union Rags was a stakes win only 30 minutes earlier by Simmard, a 7-year-old by Dixieland Band, sire of Dixie Union, in the G2 Mac Diarmida, a 1 3/8-mile fixture on the Gulfstream Park turf course.
It was the first American Graded Stakes victory by Simmard, who was bred by Haras Santa Maria de Araras but now races for trainer Roger Attfield and William Werner. (It was incorrectly reported in an earlier version of the story that Simmard still races for his breeder.)
Dixieland Band was one of three foundation sires at Lane’s End when William S. Farish established the stallion division of the Versailles, Ky., Thoroughbred nursery in 1985.
A foal of 1980, Dixieland Band was bred by Mrs. Bayard Sharp, the mother of Farish’s wife, Sarah, and carried her colors to stakes victories at ages 2, 3, and 4. He was a good-looking son of Northern Dancer out of stakes winner Mississippi Mud, by the useful sire Delta Judge, a stakes winner at 2 who also won the Fall Highweight and Gravesend Handicap at 4 and finished third in the Whitney Stakes.
Dixieland Band had a long and distinguished career at stud. He was pensioned in 2008 and died two years later at the age of 30. Among the best of the 117 stakes winners he sired was Dixie Union, who joined Dixieland Band at Lane’s End in 2001 after beginning his stud career at Gerald Ford’s Diamond A Farms.
Sadly, Dixie Union developed a neurological problem and was euthanized in July 2010, only a few months after his sire had died.
Dixie Union was bred by Herman Sarkowsky and raced in partnership for Sarkowsky and Gerald Ford’s Diamond A Racing. Trained throughout his career by Richard Mandella, Dixie Union won his first three starts at 2, including the G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar, and later that year won the Norfolk Stakes during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, when the race was a G2. He missed the Triple Crown series, but won the G1 duo of the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita at 3. He came out of the latter race with a bowed tendon and was retired.
Union Rags is a member of Dixie Union’s 2009 foal crop, the same year that the last of the Dixieland Bands were born (the latter has 32 foals of 2009). There were 102 foals by Dixie Union born in 2010 and 93 last year, so there is more to come from this promising sire line. Right now, though, Union Rags, who won last year’s G2 Saratoga Special and G1 Champagne Stakes and is the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby, has the best chance of carrying on the Dixieland Band line through Dixie Union.
Some have questioned whether a son of Dixie Union is capable of winning at the American classic distance of a mile and a quarter. With influences of the great Northern Dancer just three generations away on his sire line and four generations back in his female family (his second dam, Terpsichorist, is by Northern Dancer’s staying son Nijinsky II), I wouldn’t sell Union Rags short.
Dixieland Band’s son Simmard, who didn’t get warmed up until he raced a mile and a quarter (that was the distance over which he broke his maiden), certainly has proven that he can all day long.