March 24 was a smashing day for the A.P. Indy tribe, and it was most exceptional for the A.P. Indy son Take Charge Indy, a winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby during his racing career who went to stud at WinStar Farm in Kentucky but who is now standing in Korea.
The Pulpit set of A.P. Indy, primarily through leading sire Tapit, shook the trees and gathered the fruit with their usual enthusiasm. Synchrony won the G2 Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, and Madison's Luna won the G3 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park to remain unbeaten. Good Samaritan (out of a Pulpit mare) won the G2 New Orleans Handicap from the Tapizar horse Hollywood Handsome and the Tapit gelding Scuba.
Among the other sons of A.P. Indy, there were good results, including in the G2 Louisiana Derby, won by Take Charge Indy's son Noble Indy, now a winner in three of his four starts. Second in the race was Lone Sailor, by the A.P. Indy stallion Majestic Warrior, and third was My Boy Jack (Creative Cause), out of a mare by the A.P. Indy stallion Mineshaft.
Take Charge Indy's first crop of foals raced last year at 2, and the results were acceptable, not notable. But getting early juveniles is not the profile of the typical A.P. Indy stallion. Instead, they tend to sire stock that comes to hand at the end of their juvenile season, improves markedly through the first half of their 3-year-old form, and frequently continues to improve with maturation.
Noble Indy became the second graded stakes winner by his sire with victory in the Louisiana Derby; the other graded success came last month in the G3 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream. C.S. Incharge won the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay, and on Saturday, Split Time won the Maddie May Stakes at Aqueduct.
These are the four 2018 stakes winners by Take Charge Indy.
The tall, scopy son of A.P. Indy would be one of the “in-demand” sires in Kentucky this year, except that he is standing at Jeju Stud Farm in South Korea.
On Nov. 23, 2016, WinStar announced that the Korea Racing Authority had purchased Take Charge Indy with an “offer that was too good to turn down,” according to WinStar president Elliott Walden. After covering three books of mares at the farm, averaging 133 mares per book, taking the offer was not an easy call.
Reached in between sets of juveniles in-training at Fasig-Tipton's Florida sale, Walden said, “Financially, we had to take a look at the offer and make a judgment on the soundness of selling or not selling. Although the farm and the syndicate had supported the horse well, the commercial buyers were not as receptive. The horse's yearlings tended to be big, kinda lanky horses that looked like they wanted two turns. With that type, the pinhookers weren't strongly involved in buying them.”
In addition, Take Charge Indy was coming up to his fourth season at stud, and the fourth year of a young sire's tenure at stud is always the most difficult because nobody wants to be stuck with foals from a sire that the marketplace has deemed “a failure.” When that happens to breeders, the options are to sell for less than the cost of production or to take the young animals home and race them. Neither is a happy business decision in most cases.
Bloodstock consultant John Stuart is a principal in Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, and among their clients is “Merriebelle Stable, who owned a quarter of the horse,” Stuart said. “I brokered the horse for owner Chuck Sandford with WinStar.
“We liked what we got from the horse,” Stuart continued. “But the commercial market got it wrong on the stallion, for whatever reason, and I think the reason is that they were leggy and immature horses [as yearlings], which is typical of the sire line. As a result of the market taking it the other way, we went along with the deal to sell the horse but only because we knew there was the option to get him back if he was a star.”
Walden concurred: “The only way the deal was going to go through was for there to be a buy-back clause. It's something that's out there; it's something we're thinking about. But we're not at a point of making a decision about that.”
But the dark brown son of A.P. Indy has four stakes winners so far this year. He's the leading sire among second-year stallions by 2018 earnings, and his half-brother, Travers winner Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song) is one of the favored prospects for leading freshman sire in 2018. Their half-sister is champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), and the trio are out of the exceptional racemare Take Charge Lady (Dehere).
With all these considerations, bringing a horse back after a sale abroad requires the marketplace to reverse its assessment of a sire's stock, and that is accomplished first on the racetrack, then franked by a positive reception in the sales ring.
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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