With a strong finish, the Discreet Cat colt Debt Ceiling came from behind to win the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
That made Debt Ceiling the first graded winner from his crop, and the colt won the race in a manner that suggested he will continue to prosper as the distances for 2-year-old races increase.
Bred in Kentucky by the Brandywine Farm of Jim and Pam Robinson, Debt Ceiling went through the ring at Keeneland first as a weanling, bringing $8,500 at the November sale in 2011, and then again as a yearling, bringing $27,000 from Tim O'Donohue at last fall's September sale as Hip 2008.
After the race, the owner said that it would take a sum “that boggles the mind” to buy the appropriately named Debt Ceiling, a colt who is currently unbeaten in three starts.
O'Donohue races the bay colt in his own name and has great hopes for Debt Ceiling. He said the plan was to take the colt to Saratoga for the juvenile features at the Spa. Those historic races include the Sanford and Hopeful Stakes.
Continued success by Debt Ceiling would propel the colt's siblings even farther upward in value, and Brandywine has a yearling half-brother in the September sale. Pam Robinson said, “We are hopeful for the September sale, where we also have siblings to Itsmyluckyday and a couple more nice, current stakes winners in the consignment.”
Robinson described Debt Ceiling as a “nice colt with a good disposition, athletic and very professional.” Debt Ceiling looked all those as he took back in the Bashford Manor, then came with a run to gain a lengthy advantage and coast under the wire in a hand ride.
The colt's dam is the Marquetry mare Top Marks. Brandywine purchased Top Marks out of the 2009 Keeneland January sale for $19,000. The mare was empty to a cover by leading sire Cherokee Run, but the stakes-winning mare had already produced stakes-placed Dean's List, a daughter of the important sire Holy Bull and a winner of $177,277.
In 2009, Brandywine sent the mare back to Holy Bull and got a full sibling. The following season, Top Marks went to Discreet Cat and produced Debt Ceiling.
The latter is from the third crop by Cigar Mile winner Discreet Cat, a son of the Storm Cat stallion Forestry. A good-sized horse with scope, Discreet Cat stands at Darley and is the sire of 10 stakes winners.
Looking for some more variety in type and bloodlines, Robinson sent Top Marks to the Spendthrift stallion Notional, and the mare's 2012 foal is a colt by that son of In Excess.
“Top Marks is a big mare, standing 16.2 hands, but she is both athletic and very attractive,” she said. The broodmare also gets competitive racehorses, with five earners of more than $100,000.
Safely in foal for next year, Top Marks was bred to the Spendthrift Farm stallion Into Mischief, the sire of Goldencents and Vyjack, on Feb. 17 but does not have a foal at side because of a late foaling last year.
Now 18, Top Marks was 16 when she foaled the Bashford Manor winner. That may have put off potential buyers for Debt Ceiling when he went to market because many people are prejudiced against older mares.
Robinson does not suffer that misconception herself. She said, “At age 25 this year, Champagne Glow had a filly by Roman Ruler, and that makes her a full sister to Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice. This filly is big and robust, a really nice foal.
“Now, it's not every mare who can give you a good foal at that age, and they'll let you know if they are ready to be pensioned. But Top Marks, for another example, doesn't look like an old mare. She is strong and carries her flesh well, and to me, she's not old.”
Brandywine operates north of Paris, Ky., in Bourbon County and has 103 mares of its own, plus about three dozen board mares. The Robinsons also consign horses to the major Kentucky sales.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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