While doing some work in a stall at Lane's End Farm, the new groom thought he heard a deep rumble coming from a nearby stall. After the third occurrence, he stuck his head out, looked up and down the broad aisle.
A fellow stallion groom was sweeping an errant piece of straw back into a stall, and the new guy asked, “Did you hear anything?”
“Like that,” as another rumble came down their way.
“Oh, he's just reading the race results from the weekend,” said the experienced groom.
“Who's reading, and what's so funny?”
“The big horse is having a good time with his reading material this morning…”
“What you mean reading. Horses don't read.”
The experienced groom sighed, “That's A.P. Indy down there, and if he takes a notion to fly, you better start wearing a muck bucket on your head.”
What's more, A.P. Indy had plenty to chuckle about after this weekend's racing.
On Nov. 28 at Aqueduct, A.P. Indy's grandson Tapit solidified his lead as the top sire in the country with the victories of Tonalist (Belmont Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup) in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and of the unbeaten Mohaymen (Nashua Stakes) in the G2 Remsen. Then in Florida, Tapit's juvenile son Rafting won the Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream West (nee Calder).
A.P. Indy grandson Sky Mesa sired a first-time stakes winner, the 2-year-old Family Meeting, in the G3 Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar.
Sons Malibu Moon, Bernardini, and Mineshaft also had graded stakes winners. At Churchill Downs on the 28th, Malibu Moon's daughter Carina Mia was a four and a quarter length winner of the G2 Golden Rod. The same afternoon at Aqueduct, Bernardini's daughter Lewis Bay came home a winner in the G2 Demoiselle Stakes. Those victories were the initial stakes and graded stakes successes for those promising young athletes.
Not so with Mineshaft's contribution to the roll of success for the A.P. Indy crowd. Established performer Effinex won the G1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and he defeated last year's winner of the Clark, Hoppertunity, by three-quarters of a length.
And finally (small drum roll here, please), A.P. Indy himself sired the winner of the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Saturday.
That 4-year-old colt is named Commissioner, and he is perhaps best remembered for a heroic front-running effort in the 2014 Belmont Stakes, going down in the shadow of the wire to Tonalist. A notably good prospect as he progressed toward the classics last season, Commissioner went out a good winner and will enter stud next season at WinStar Farm for $7,500 live foal.
Commissioner is one of two colts from A.P. Indy's last crop who will enter stud in 2016. The more heralded of the pair is Honor Code, a striking near-black animal who won the Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney Stakes this season. A colt who has drawn plenty of attention since the start of his racing career, Honor Code will enter stud alongside his greatly honored and pensioned sire at Lane's End. That farm also stands Horse of the Year Mineshaft.
Spendthrift has Malibu Moon; Darley has Bernardini; Three Chimneys has Sky Mesa; and Gainesway has Tapit. So these and other important sons and grandsons are well-dispersed among the leading stallion farms in the Bluegrass.
Commissioner makes three sons of A.P. Indy for WinStar, which also stands leading freshman sire Congrats and G1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. The latter will have his first yearlings in 2016 and has bred 296 mares in his first two seasons at stud.
The popularity of Congrats and Take Charge Indy with breeders should have a positive effect on Commissioner, who comes from a female family known for quickness and good looks.
The colt's first three dams are all stakes winners, and Commissioner's dam, the Touch Gold mare Flaming Heart, has produced two stakes winners. Commissioner earned nearly $1 million, and his stakes-winning half-brother Laugh Track (by Distorted Humor), earned $598,014 and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
This family contributes its share of quality and strong physical appeal, and Commissioner shows their influence, plus the trademark A.P. Indy look: great length of rein, deep shoulder, width and length through the body, plus a good hip. The A.P. Indys tend to look like classic horses, with plenty of leg, and the best of them have plenty of speed to go with their stamina.
A.P. Indy and his sire, Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, pulled the Bold Ruler – Nasrullah line back to the peak of importance as a source of classic prospects, and the classic influence of these horses is a tale with stories just waiting to unfold.
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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