The old lion in the bush gave another growl over the weekend. Champion racehorse and leading sire A.P. Indy had two graded stakes winners with Majestic River winning the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth and Antipathy winning the G3 Shuvee at Saratoga.
Few stallions get weekend doubles with graded winners. So it is a measure of the grand old stallion's importance and success that he has had them regularly throughout his career. Now the sire of 156 stakes winners (13 percent from foals), A.P. Indy has sired a greater number of G1 winners than most stallions get as simple stakes winners.
And it's no easy task for a stallion to sire stakes winners.
Stakes winners have to be the best on the day against a group of good horses; graded stakes winners have to be even better. That is so because if we take into consideration all the things that can go wrong in bringing a horse to its best, a sire's crop has to be a deep well of talent to consistently produce stock that can perform in stakes competition.
With most sires, the variation in type and aptitude is too great to furnish the consistently superior horse. But like all really great sires, A.P. Indy has all the parts.
An exceptional yearling who sold for $2.9 million to lead the Keeneland July sale in 1990, A.P. Indy became a G1 winner as a 2-year-old, then expanded on that success. He matured well as a 3-year-old, when a minor foot issue prevented him from taking a chance in the Kentucky Derby. But the growthy bay came back five weeks later to win the Belmont Stakes and become a classic winner.
Closing his career with a sharp victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic, A.P. Indy was elected champion of his division and Horse of the Year for 1992. With eight victories from 11 starts, A.P. Indy earned $2,979,815.
With his looks, race record, and pedigree (by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a stakes-winning mare by Triple Crown winner Secretariat), A.P. Indy got a major chance at stud, and he made every inning a winner.
The stallion's graded winners last weekend are 4-year-old fillies from their sire's next-to-last crop, and A.P. Indy's last crop of racers is 3 and contains more promising athletes.
At the beginning of 2014, I thought the old lion had another big roar or two in him. Honor Code had won the G2 Remsen and run second in the G1 Champagne as a juvenile, and he appeared the perfect type of A.P. Indy who could come along and improve out of sight as the distances lengthened and his maturity came to the fore.
Unfortunately, that has not worked out yet for Honor Code. Instead, the dark bay colt was sidelined early in the year and missed the entire Triple Crown. Co-owned by Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, “Honor Code went back to Shug McGaughey two weeks ago” after recuperating at WinStar's facility near Lexington, Will Farish said.
“The colt appears to be 100 percent,” Farish noted, “but we're going to let him tell us when he's ready. Honor Code gets fit quickly, but we're in no hurry. We are looking forward to his 4-year-old season, which should be worth the wait, like with many good A.P. Indys.”
So, there is positive news about Honor Code, who has been the leader from his sire's final crop, and then there is A.P. Indy's later-maturing son Commissioner, who was clearly progressing early in the year. Then he ran a blinder in the Belmont Stakes, leading most of the way and being caught at the wire by Tonalist.
Both of these colts are important prospects, both for racing and for stud. In addition to A.P. Indy's contributions to sport, he has also been a steady source of classic quality, plus speed, that the breed has needed.
The depth of A.P. Indy's influence is seen in the high regard that is accorded his sons and daughters. Pulpit, from his sire's first crop, was the first important stallion son of A.P. Indy, but others have followed, including leading sire Malibu Moon, Mineshaft, Bernardini, Congrats, and Flatter.
As might be expected from a list of sires like that, a good number of young sons of A.P. Indy are still coming along with high hopes to make the grade as stallions. Among these are Astrology (third in the Preakness, standing at Taylor Made), Eye of the Leopard (Queen's Plate, Canadian champion; Calumet), Girolamo (Vosburgh; Darley), and Take Charge Indy (Florida Derby; WinStar).
In addition to these unproven horses, other farms like Lane's End, Claiborne, Ashford, Spendthrift, and Gainesway all stand successful sons or grandsons of A.P. Indy. The leading sire in the country right now is A.P. Indy's grandson Tapit, who has spent his entire career at Gainesway and who is having a memorable season with Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable, and numerous other major performers.
So the line goes on, and A.P. Indy watches. His eyes are filled with a luminescence that suggests wisdom and depth. He is the lion in winter.
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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