One of the fascinating things about the horses entering stud for 2020 is that they show such a wide variety, in both pedigree and racing character, that breeders are virtually sure to find one or more they can't live without.
In addition to pro-tem divisional champions like Breeders' Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso (by Curlin) and BC Sprint winner Mitole (Eskendereya), the higher-end new sires for 2020 also include racers like Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags), who is in the model of the tried and true fast miler on dirt, and Yoshida (Heart's Cry), who is a top-class switch hitter on dirt and turf.
For next season, Catalina Cruiser goes to stud at Lane's End as the fourth generation of a series of stallions who earned high honors at the Versailles, Ky., farm founded by Will Farish. Beginning at the beginning of Lane's End, Dixieland Band (Northern Dancer) was one of the three original stallions at the farm, and he was an unqualified success as a high-quality sire and broodmare sire.
At Lane's End, Dixieland Band sired 111 stakes winners, including French classic winner Egyptband, who won the Prix de Diane, as well as G1 winners Dixie Brass, Sharp Lisa, Spinning Round, and Dixie Union.
Dixie Union became an important sire at Lane's End and got 48 stakes winners before his death at age 13 in July 2010. A big, scopy dark brown, Dixie Union sired G1 winners Dixie Chatter (Norfolk), Hot Dixie Chick (Spinaway), Overanalyze (Arkansas Derby), and Union Rags, winner of the G1 Champagne at 2 and the Belmont Stakes at 3.
A very talented juvenile, Union Rags has risen to the lead among fourth-crop stallions of 2019 due to the quality of his later-maturing stock, such as Paradise Woods and Catalina Cruiser, although the stallion also sired the juvenile G1 winners Free Drop Billy (Breeders' Futurity) and Union Strike (Del Mar Debutante). To date, Union Rags has 15 stakes winners, including five this year, and he will stand for $60,000 live foal in 2020.
Catalina Cruiser comes from his sire's first crop, like Paradise Woods and Union Strike, and the brawny chestnut will be priced at $20,000 live foal. He is out of a very “Lane's End” pedigree. In addition to the generations of sires that stood at the farm, Catalina Cruiser is out of a mare by champion Mineshaft (A.P. Indy).
A winner in his debut at 3, Catalina Cruiser won six of his subsequent eight starts at 4 and 5. The handsome horse won five times at the G2 level: the San Diego Handicap twice, the Pat O'Brien twice, and the True North, earning $711,100.
Whereas Catalina Cruiser is the prototype for the American dirt miler, with his principal victories coming at distances from 6 ½ furlongs to 8 ½ furlongs, Yoshida is cut from a different bolt of cloth.
First of all, the 5-year-old Yoshida wasn't even bred in the U.S. He was bred in Japan by Northern Farm and is by the high-class racehorse Heart's Cry.
Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm, said that “we wanted to bring back an outcross, especially something from Sunday Silence's line, and Heart's Cry is probably Sunday Silence's second-best son behind Deep Impact.”
To get the colt, of course, WinStar and partners had to outbid some of the leading outfits in Japan. Walden recalled, “When Tom Ryan and I went to Japan, we were looking for a horse that could possibly come over here to stand at stud. We ended up buying five: two yearlings and three foals. At their premium sale, the breeders' sales company auctions both at the same time in July, and the foals are still on the mares.
“He was the most expensive horse we bought, paid about $800,000 U.S. for him. He was the one we wanted and the others were nice,” Walden said. “We felt so strongly about him that we stretched to get him, and fortunately it has turned out very well.”
Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock recalled that, when the partners embarked on the Japan project, “we weren't exactly targeting sons of Heart's Cry but were definitely looking to get involved in the Deep Impact – Sunday Silence sire line. That said, it's amazing the strides Heart's Cry has taken in the last few years. He's about the most universally successful stallion going right now.”
At the time of sale, the point that brought both Walden and Ryan on board for this particular colt was his physical appeal. Ryan said, “What made Yoshida appealing to me personally as a yearling was his physique and his athleticism. He moved as effortlessly then as he does now.”
Walden was even more emphatic. He said, “When Yoshida was walking around the ring in the back [of the sale area], he gave me a message. He just had a presence and a sense of charisma that is something extra.”
Yoshida has proven himself the most successful racehorse to be purchased and exported from Japan, where the purses are so rich that it is very challenging for U.S. or European owners to buy in the Japanese home market and then export to race elsewhere for relative peanuts.
Yoshida, however, has proven to be a “really special horse for the international development of our roster here at WinStar,” Walden said, and the horse has proven himself an unexpectedly versatile and talented and sound athlete. A winner in five of 18 starts over four seasons, Yoshida earned slightly more than $2.5 million, and his most important victories came in the G1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the G1 Woodward on dirt at Saratoga, and the handsome bay affirmed his form on dirt with a second in the G1 Whitney and a third in the Woodward this year.
In truth, there was every reason to expect that a strongly built grandson of Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Sunday Silence would prove just as effective on dirt as on turf, but Yoshida proved it, and no doubt, the marketplace will reward him for this accomplishment.
Sunday Silence's sire Halo had been a champion on turf, as well as a multiple stakes winner on dirt, and his sire Hail to Reason was adept at getting horses whose form on dirt was as good as that on turf. This line goes back through Turn-to to Nearco's high-class son Royal Charger, who carried high weights on turf in Europe and sired high-class performers, mostly on dirt, here in the States.
Interestingly, Yoshida's sire had a nearly identical career to Yoshida, winning five of 19 starts but earning slightly more than $8 million from the better purse structure in Japan. The sire's best victories came in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic and G1 Arima Kinen, and he was also second in the Japan Cup and third in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The ability of Heart's Cry to travel and reproduce his best form bought him a good place at stud at the Shadai Stallion Station. There, Heart's Cry has produced some notable successes, including Japan Cup winner Cheval Grand, champion older horse Just a Way, and champion filly Lys Gracieux.
Just like his sire, Yoshida has earned him a serious opportunity at stud through his racing excellence, and Walden noted that “typically we have pretty strong books. Our first-crop sires last year had books in the 160s. So, we are breeding a lot of mares. [Partners] China Horse Club and SF Bloodstock are breeders of significance and becoming more important. It's good to have a strong group of shareholders to support these horses.”
“SF plan to support Yoshida and will do so with confidence,” Ryan said. “He retired sound and performed at the highest level on a global stage on both surfaces. He has the makings of a very versatile stallion, and that's exactly what the world needs more of.”
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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