The first 2-year-old stakes races at the 2019 Saratoga meeting went to bright, unbeaten young things sired by a first-year stallion and by a proven sire of the highest order.
In the meet's opening day Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes on July 11, Comical (by Into Mischief) won the six-furlong dash by a neck in 1:11.66 from Kiss the Girl and Shippy. A G1 winner on the racetrack, Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday) has proven one of the best stallions in the country with the speed and consistent quality of his racers. Standing for $150,000 live foal at Spendthrift Farm in 2019, Into Mischief is a stallion that breeders obviously want for their mares.
Into Mischief has sired 51 stakes winners to date from eight crops of 805 foals of racing age, and he stands in second position among the leading sires of 2019, after being fourth on last year's general sire list.
In contrast to the well-proven son of Harlan's Holiday, Constitution (Tapit) has only his first crop of racers now on the track, but his juvenile son By Your Side became the sire's first stakes winner and graded winner with a three-length victory in the G3 Sanford Stakes on July 13.
With a freshman crop of 123, Constitution has had 11 racers so far, with five winners, including By Your Side, who is unbeaten in two starts. Expectations have been high for the first crop by Constitution, as indicated by the sales results for his first batch of juveniles in training. This year, 41 of them have sold for an average price of $110,844 and a median figure of $70,000. Those are strong numbers for a contemporary stallion standing for $15,000, but as a son of leading sire Tapit and a winner of the G1 Florida Derby, Constitution was well-supported with mares and buyers.
Bred in Kentucky by Columbiana Farm, By Your Side is out of the grand-looking Dixie Union mare Revered that Jay Em Ess Stable bought for $300,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2009. Twice third from six starts, Revered was sold as a broodmare prospect to Sequel Stallions New York at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February sale for $52,000; then at the 2017 Keeneland January sale, the mare brought $50,000 from Berkey Bloodstock, agent for Columbiana. Revered was in foal to Constitution and carrying her second foal, later named By Your Side, and Columbiana sold the smart-looking colt to Anderson Stables for $240,000, the second-highest price for a Constitution yearling in 2018.
The Schuylerville winner is out of Kayce Ace (Tiznow), and she is a stakes-placed full sister to major winner and sire Colonel John (G1 Travers and Santa Anita Derby; 2nd G1 Hollywood Futurity) and to Mr. Hot Stuff (3rd G1 Santa Anita Derby). Kayce Ace wasn't a G1 performer herself, but she did finish second in the Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland and earned $151,190.
Comical is her dam's first winner and stakes winner, but the eighth and 10th dams of the Schuylerville winner were two of the best mares of their generations around a century ago.
The eighth dam is Untidy, a bay mare bred in Kentucky by Greentree Stable in 1920 by leading sire Sweep (Ben Brush) out of Café au Lait (Meddler). As a juvenile, Untidy won a maiden at Saratoga, but as a 3-year-old, she bloomed into a first-class performer in 1923, winning the Alabama Stakes at the Spa, along with the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and the Gazelle. In addition, Untidy was second in the Lawrence Realization against colts and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Untidy's grandam was, if anything, even more highly regarded.
Bred in Kentucky by John Madden, Gunfire was foaled in 1899 from the first crop by Hastings (Spendthrift) out of Royal Gun (Royal Hampton). Gunfire was impressive enough as a 2-year-old that Madden sold Gunfire to W.C. Whitney for $10,000, and the filly became a multiple stakes winner at 3.
The mare reached her greatest form at 4 and 5. On May 7, 1903, she won the Metropolitan Handicap in an effort that the Daily Racing Form described as “lucky and superbly ridden,” then was second in the Brooklyn Handicap, presumably not just by luck. Both of those and nearly all the significant racing opportunities at the time for older fillies and mares were against colts.
That Gunfire was persevered with at 4 and 5 indicates both her considerable natural ability and her hardiness for competition. She came by both naturally.
From the first crop by her sire, Belmont Stakes winner Hastings, Gunfire was only one of a lively first set of racers that made their sire the nation's leading sire with only juveniles and 3-year-olds at the races. Hastings was so effective as a sire that, aside from 1913 (ranking 14th), he was among the top 10 sires from 1902 through 1917, the year that he died.
That is also the year that his famous grandson Man o' War (Fair Play) was foaled. Hastings had the same number of starts (21) as Man o' War, winning 9 and placing second in 8. Hastings led the national sire list for the second time in 1908, when his son Fair Play was a 3-year-old, and Fair Play succeeded his sire as the leading influence at August Belmont's Nursery Stud in Lexington.
The smooth stability of a life in Lexington was not the fate of the first famous daughter of Hastings. Gunfire was sold at the Whitney dispersal to Herman Duryea, then passed into the stud of Clarence H. Mackay, who bred Café au Lait, the dam of Untidy. Due to the restrictions and near elimination of racing due to the gambling blackout in New York and other jurisdictions in the first decade of the 20th century, Gunfire went to France for stud in 1910, but Café au Lait returned to her homeland and became the primary line of descent to the present for this talented mare.
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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