Winner of the Grade 1 Pegasus Turf Invitational in his previous start, Bricks and Mortar was odds-on to win the G2 Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds on March 23, and the dark bay son of Giant's Causeway (by Storm Cat) prevailed by the narrowest margin over a fellow 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, Markitoff.
Markitoff had led the whole way at a snail's pace and turned the race into a serious sprint to the wire, and then after Bricks and Mortar headed Markitoff early in the stretch, the pair of paternal half-brothers battled stride for stride to the wire. They are a credit to their sire.
The best horse racing son of the great sire Storm Cat (Storm Bird) and his most consistent son at stud, Giant's Causeway won a half-dozen G1 races at 2 and 3, then retired to a distinguished stallion career. Many of the sire's offspring showed versatility in regard to racing surface, locale, and racing tactics. They were racehorses, and they raced.
In North America, the best stallion son of Giant's Causeway has been First Samurai, a top juvenile who tends to get horses that improve as they mature and is the sire of the March 23 Sunland Derby winner Cutting Humor, and in Europe the best son of Giant's Causeway has been Shamardal, a top 2-year-old and classic winner at 3 whose stock show speed and the ability to carry it at least a mile.
Giant's Causeway died last year on April 16 at Ashford Stud in Kentucky, where a statue of the stallion graces the forecourt of the stallion barn that houses the two living Triple Crown winners, American Pharoah and Justify.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Bricks and Mortar in January became the 32nd G1 winner for his famous sire and is out of the Ocean Crest (Storm Bird) mare Beyond the Waves.
The match that produced Bricks and Mortar is noteworthy for inbreeding to the very high-class Northern Dancer horse Storm Bird through his most famous son Storm Cat and through one of Storm Bird's much less famous sons, Ocean Crest. Out of a Seattle Slew mare, Ocean Crest won a single stakes, the G2 Del Mar Derby of 1994, and that circumstance got him a place at stud in Kentucky at Prestonwood Farm alongside leading sire Kris S. and soon-to-be leading sire Distorted Humor.
Ocean Crest did not find immediate success during his time at stud in Kentucky and was sold and exported to Turkey in 1999. But one of the horse's very best racers was Beyond the Waves, winner of the Prix des Tourelles in France, as well as runner-up in the G2 Prix de Royallieu, G3 Prix Corrida, G3 Prix de Flore, and G3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland on returning to the land of her birth.
Owner-breeder Strawbridge said, “Beyond the Waves wasn't brilliant but was really good. She was known for trying very hard; hence you have Bricks and Mortar trying very hard, and he is a really tough horse.”
At stud, Beyond the Waves has surpassed the good form and passed on the courageous nature she displayed on the racecourse. Bricks and Mortar is the mare's third stakes winner, plus a pair of stakes-placed racers, from 10 foals. And Strawbridge advises that “the mare is still alive and well at Stone Farm in Kentucky.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ward Stiff and George Strawbridge, Beyond the Waves is out of the Exceller mare Excedent, and Beyond the Waves is one of two stakes winners out of the dam, who also produced Seahawk Gold (At the Threshold), winner of more than $500,000, as well as the dams Miss Excitement (G1 winner Bordonaro and G1-placed Miss Empire) and Excedius (stakes winner Slamit).
In one of many unpredictable twists of racing fate, “Ward Stiff was a bloodstock agent in Lexington and unfortunately he went bankrupt,” Strawbridge recalled, “and that's how I ended up owning all the mare. Sent her to France, where she was trained by Jonathan Pease. She was never a favorite but ended up winning some really nice races.”
When the mare's good-looking Giant's Causeway yearling came along, Beyond the Waves was already the dam of two stakes winners, and the breeder sent the colt to the 2015 Keeneland September sale with the consignment from Arthur Hancock's Stone Farm, where the colt had been raised. Bricks and Mortar brought $200,000 and races for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence.
“He was raised right, tough and athletic,” Strawbridge said, “and frankly I thought he would bring more than $200,000 but when I put horses up for sale, they are up for sale, rather than me being the underbidder.”
Now the tough, game, good-looking bargain in hindsight is one of the leading turf performers in the country, and perhaps there is even a stud career in the future for the bay horse with seven victories from nine starts to date.
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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