With a stunning victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Seeking the Soul became the second G1 winner for his sire, the veteran stallion Perfect Soul (by Sadler's Wells). The stallion's previous winner at the premier level is Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and in an ironic turn of chance, both victories came at Churchill Downs.
In addition to this pair, Perfect Soul is the sire of Golden Soul, who was second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby behind Orb, and of Perfect Timber, who was second in the G1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine.
Bred and raced by Canadian precious minerals tycoon Charles Fipke, like his sire, Seeking the Soul is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking the Title, a granddaughter of the great racemare and producer Personal Ensign.
Sid Fernando, president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants and an adviser to Fipke, recalled the circumstances that led to the production of the Clark winner's dam.
“Mr. Fipke bought Title Seeker (Monarchos) in foal to Seeking the Gold for $1.7 million at the 2006 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.”
The mare produced Seeking the Title the following year, but the result was not what one would hope from such an expensive purchase.
Fernando recalled “the dam of Seeking the Soul was not exactly perfect conformationally, but Mr. Fipke wanted to give her a chance on the racetrack and sent the mare to Dallas Stewart for training. Seeking the Title has some chip issues, conformation issues, and Mr. Fipke sent her into training with strict instructions to retire her immediately if she showed any reluctance or inability to train.”
The breeder's enterprise was well rewarded.
As a 3-year-old, Seeking the Title won the G3 Iowa Oaks, and she finished third in the G1 Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park later that year. The athletic bay had proved her class, and Fipke brought her home to be a broodmare.
And then bred his G3 winner from one of the great producing families in the stud book to his home stallion Perfect Soul.
There was, however, a reason for this.
Fipke said, “We found, eh, that Perfect Soul works best when you have La Troienne in the family, as well as Mr. Prospector, and in the case of Seeking the Soul, he has them both.” This was the pedigree pattern that Fipke was seeking in making out the mating that produced the Clark Handicap winner, and there's more.
Fipke continued, “In the case of Seeking the Soul, Dallas Stewart likes the colt's younger brother and thinks he may be even better than Seeking the Soul.”
That match has certainly paid off for Fipke, and Seeking the Soul is the second foal out of Seeking the Title. The 2-year-old full brother is the mare's third and is named Perfect Seeker. Seeking the Title is back in foal to Perfect Soul for 2018.
Standing for $2,000 live foal, however, Perfect Soul is no longer a stallion with commercial appeal in Kentucky
So why would Fipke use the horse?
There are several reasons. One is that Perfect Soul had a high-class race record, becoming a champion turf performer in Canada and a G1 winner the States as a 5-year-old, and the horse has a very good pedigree, being by European supersire Sadler's Wells and out of a daughter of Secretariat.
Another important reason is that Fipke employs this approach because he can.
Fernando explained: “Mr. Fipke plans his matings and spends a lot of time on them, and the entire process related to that gives him great pleasure. He is, in many ways, a throwback to the great owner-breeders from the middle of the past century because he derives the greatest satisfaction from breeding his own mares to his own stallions and looking at this as a competitive enterprise. As a result, he is constantly seeking homebred colts that may become stallions for his breeding program.
“This isn't a common practice nowadays.”
That's an understatement. There might be five similar breeders in Europe and the States, or perhaps not so many.
Fortunately for Fipke, he has the luxury of doing what he wants with his horses, and for 2018, the breeder will be standing his Perfect Soul son Perfect Timber, G1-placed in the Northern Dancer, in Canada because, according to Fipke, the horse “is the best-looking horse I've ever bred.”
Also, Fipke stood Perfect Soul's full brother, unraced Not Impossible, in Canada, and that horse became the first Sadler's Wells stallion to sire a North American classic winner with the Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon, who also is a stallion in Canada.
Another son of Not Impossible is Society's Chairman, who likewise went to stud in Ontario and sired Canadian Horse of the Year Caren from his first crop of racers. Society's Chairman did not debut on the racetrack till he was 5, and Fernando said, “That's how Mr. Fipke perseveres with horses, and this one, Society's Chairman, was able to win the Grade 3 Appleton at 7 and place second in the G1 Turf Mile at Keeneland behind champion Gio Ponti.”
Fernando recalled that Fipke chose to stand Not Impossible due to the circumstance of Viceregal and Vice Regent, both bred by E.P. Taylor in Canada and sent to stud at his Windfields. Whereas Viceregal was a divisional champion in his homeland, Vice Regent was lightly raced and not a stakes winner, but a better specimen and became a high-class sire, numbering champion and leading sire Deputy Minister among his numerous good offspring.
Using that example as his model, Fipke got a Canadian classic winner from Not Impossible and came close to getting an American classic winner from Perfect Soul.
With Seeking the Soul, Fipke has an improving 4-year-old with the potential to challenge the divisional leaders and may do exactly that in the Pegasus World Cup next year.
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 chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and 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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