Sky Mesa (by Pulpit) got his third U.S. Grade 1 winner from 13 crops of racing age when Perfect Alibi won the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 1 after a game contest with the Into Mischief fillies Frank's Rockette and Figure of Speech. On the same day, Sky Mesa's juvenile daughter Sky Kitten finished third in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth.
Both of the sire's previous G1 winners in the States came from his second crop, foals of 2006. Sky Diva won the 2008 Frizette Stakes and was third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies; the next season, 3-year-old General Quarters won the Blue Grass Stakes, then the next year won the Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs.
With G1 winners from his second and 13th crops, Sky Mesa is an anomaly among contemporary stallions, and as part of the Kentucky corps of veteran sires, the powerful son of Pulpit is a definite outlier. In particular, the contemporary stallion market is so skewed in favor of the young and unproven sires that a horse must score and score well with his initial stock to remain in favor with breeders. Otherwise, he'll be sent packing to a new home.
Of the 40-odd stallions who entered stud in Kentucky in 2004, today only five are at stud. They are classic winner Empire Maker (Unbridled), standing for $85,000 at Gainesway, and the once-unheralded Flatter (A.P. Indy), $40,000 at Claiborne. At a mid-range stud fee, there is Horse of the Year Mineshaft (A.P. Indy), standing at Lane's End for $20,000, and the unbeaten juvenile Sky Mesa, standing at Three Chimneys for $15,000, with champion juvenile Macho Uno (Holy Bull), rounding out the group at Adena Springs for $10,000.
There is no simpler way to illustrate the ultra-competitive nature of the stallion business than to see how a large group of stallion prospects is winnowed down so emphatically to a select few.
Sky Mesa has remained because he has maintained a high consistency of quality and competitiveness among his foals, and even today his sales yearlings garner interest from buyers.
When Perfect Alibi came to the sales just over a year ago, she was a lovely sort of sales horse, and at the Saratoga select yearling auction, she brought $220,000, the second-highest price of the year for a Sky Mesa yearling. The buyer was owner Tracy Farmer, who earlier this year won the Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston (Awesome Again).
Bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud, Perfect Alibi comes from a family that has long been a part of the Pin Oak story. The Spinaway winner's fourth dam is the marvelous T.V. Lark mare Miss Carmie. A winner of the Clipsetta Stakes during her racing career, Miss Carmie produced champion Chris Evert (Swoon's Son) as her second foal, and the mare's fourth foal was stakes winner All Rainbows (Bold Hour), who later became the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors (Caro).
In between, Josephine Abercrombie, owner of Pin Oak Stud, had become part of the Miss Carmie Partners that owned the very valuable and successful producer. In all, Miss Carmie produced 10 daughters, and nine produced stakes winners.
The mare's 13th named foal, born in 1985, was a bay filly by French champion Blushing Groom (Red God) later named Missed the Wedding. A non-winner from two starts, this mare was a “nice, Blushing Groom type of mare,” according to Pin Oak farm manager Clifford Barry. “As I recall it, Ms. Abercrombie bought out the partners in the filly, and that's how she came to Pin Oak.”
Like her dam and half-sisters, Missed the Wedding was a good producer. Her first foal was the Storm Cat filly Missed the Storm, who won the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga, and her third foal was the multiple graded winner Green Means Go (Green Dancer).
One of the mare's non-winners was Rumors Are Flying (Kris S.), who produced the stakes winner No Use Denying (Maria's Mon) as her fourth foal. No Use Denying is the dam of the Spinaway winner, who is the latest of five winners from five foals to race from the dam.
Now a winner in three of her four starts, Perfect Alibi has earned $380,988. Pin Oak “has just weaned a lovely Flatter filly out of No Use Denying,” and the mare is back in foal to freshman sire Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) for 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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