Bloodlines: Tracing The Lines Of Saratoga Juvenile Stakes Winners

by | 07.26.2016 | 10:44am
Bitumen wins the Sanford Stakes

Both of the opening stakes at Saratoga, the Schuylerville for juvenile fillies and the Sanford for colts, were won by 2-year-olds from the A.P. Indy male line. Sweet Loretta (by Tapit) won the Grade 3 Schuylerville on July 22, and Bitumen (Mineshaft) won the G3 Sanford the next day.

While Tapit puts his stock into the top tier of juvenile performers with regularity, it is not a common thing for some other members of the A.P. Indy line, which can be rather demanding for time and maturity. Mineshaft, for instance, was raced overseas as a young horse, where he made only a moderate mark. Returned to the States, the scopy bay won 7 of 9 starts as a 4-year-old, with a pair of seconds, earning $2.2 million, and was named champion older horse and Horse of the Year for 2003.

Yet both leading sires fired with juvenile graded stakes winners at what is probably the toughest race meeting of the year. That's the kind of sire power the A.P. Indy line has used to move itself to the top of the stallion rankings, and it's interesting to look at the heritage that lies behind the line to see the characteristics that make these horses such imposing racers.

The keystone, Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, was the most-acclaimed stallion son of Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Seattle Slew. As a leading sire in the U.S. and as a leading broodmare sire (Horse of the Year Cigar and others), Seattle Slew has carved his name among the sires of lasting importance to the breed.

So what was the genetic force that propelled Seattle Slew and his stock to such heights and that comes to us today through A.P. Indy's many descendants?

One element would be the mass and speed of Seattle Slew's sire, Bold Reasoning.

Unraced at 2 due to relatively minor dings, Bold Reasoning ran nine times at 3, a trio of starts at 4; from the dozen, the big, dark brown horse won eight times, earning $189,564. He won the first seven of them in a string that pushed his name into the headlines. The fifth of Bold Reasoning's victories was the Withers Stakes, and the seventh was the Jersey Derby, in which he defeated a colt named Pass Catcher, who came back to win the Belmont Stakes that ended Canonero's bid for a Triple Crown.

A Florida-bred by the relatively obscure Bold Ruler stallion Boldnesian, Bold Reasoning sent racing men's heads spinning with his speed. Coming back to the races at 4, Bold Reasoning won only once, setting a record of 1:08 4/5 for six furlongs at Belmont Park. The muscular colt was also second in the Metropolitan Handicap to Executioner, beaten by a neck.

Impressed by the speed and intensity of the horse, Nelson Bunker Hunt stepped in and purchased Bold Reasoning as a stallion prospect, and he approached Claiborne Farm about standing his new acquisition. Syndicated with Hunt retaining a significant interest, Bold Reasoning was the first horse added to the stallion roster at Claiborne after the death of Bull Hancock.

Bold Reasoning was an appropriate horse to stand at Claiborne because Boldnesian had been bred and raised at the farm, where his sire Bold Ruler, male-line grandsire Nasrullah, and broodmare sire Princequillo stood. Bold Reasoning was out of the Hail to Reason mare Reason to Earn, and Hail to Reason's sire, Turn-to, had entered stud at Claiborne in the mid-1950s, siring champion First Landing in his first crop.

Bold Reasoning made his first season at stud in 1973, and the 7-year-old stallion was euthanized on April 24, 1975, after covering 28 mares in his third year at stud. The previous week, Bold Reasoning had fallen in the breeding shed, probably cracking his pelvis at that time, and the injury led to colic and subsequent euthanasia.

A bit more than two years earlier, in his first season at stud, the stakes-winning mare My Charmer was the third mare taken to Bold Reasoning. The following year, she produced a dark brown colt later named Seattle Slew.

The future Triple Crown winner, who emulated his sire by winning seven races in a row, did not make his debut till more than a year after his sire's death, but Seattle Slew blew through three races in such dramatic fashion that racing professionals were exhilarated by Slew's speed and ability to carry it. A record performance in the Champagne Stakes over the best 2-year-old colts cinched the divisional championship for Seattle Slew.

A star was born, and another, not fully recognized, had already passed.

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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