By Frank Mitchell
As the most commercially dominant American sire of the past decade, Storm Cat also had more sons enter stud than any other stallion.
Some were very high-class on the racetrack, such as Tabasco Cat and Giant's Causeway, others had tremendous presence and speed like Tale of the Cat or Hennessy, but for good looks and potential hinted at but not quite realized, perhaps the leader would be Stormin Fever.
A near-black son of Storm Cat out of the Seattle Slew mare Pennant Fever, Stormin Fever was a striking animal. With four white feet and dabs of white on his face, Stormin Fever was as attractive as any son of Storm Cat, and he may have been as fast too.
On the racetrack and as a stallion, there have been times when Stormin Fever seemed on the precipice of stardom but fell back from the brink. A runner who twice ran second in the G1 Vosburgh, Stormin Fever sired a G1 winner in each of his first two crops.
Those winners (Tarlow and Sweet Talker) were both fillies, as was his third winner at the highest level, Check the Label, who checked in first on Saturday in the Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park. The 3-year-old Check the Label is from the seventh crop by Stormin Fever.
As that gap between the second and seventh crop suggests, the top performers by Stormin Fever were too far between to keep him in Kentucky, even with the deep support of the broodmare band at Brereton Jones's Airdrie Stud, along with the support of the owner syndicate.
So when an offer to purchase the horse came from Golden Eagle Farm, Stormin Fever sped across the Great American Desert and became a resident of the Golden State.
From being a stallion whose offspring were not considered viable at the Kentucky sales, Stormin Fever went to the top of the tree in California, ranking alongside such prominent stallions as Bertrando, Benchmark, and Unusual Heat, if not quite matching California breeders' demand for the irrepressible In Excess.
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And the results of his progeny's racing over the last two seasons can only have whetted the appetite of California breeders for this handsome stallion.
Last year, Stormin Fever was ranked nationally just outside the top 100 stallions with $2.6 million in progeny earnings. This year, he has already topped that figure, is represented by a highly ranked 3-year-old colt in A Little Warm (G2 Jim Dandy Stakes), and has added that ever-elusive third G1 winner.
The stallion accomplished this in good part due to the consistent support of the breeders who believed in him and supplied him with good mares to the end of his residence in Kentucky.
Among those, naturally, was Brereton Jones, who bred Check the Label, as well as her first two dams, Don't Trick Her (by Mazel Trick) and Lucy Sims (by Northjet). Both mares are by Airdrie stallions, and neither even started in a race.
But they made up for that oversight by producing stakes winners. Check the Label is the third foal and second stakes winner from Don't Trick Her, a 9-year-old chestnut mare. The mare's first stakes winner is On the Menu (by Canadian Frontier). Her subsequent foals are a 2-year-old filly (Include Me Out) and a yearling colt, both by Include. The mare produced a filly of 2010 by Divine Park, winner of the Metropolitan Handicap.
Don't Trick Her's dam, Lucy Sims, produced stakes winner Tiffany Diamond, and Don't Trick Her was the mare's 12th foal.
Another daughter of Lucy Sims, the Stalwart mare Another Vegetarian, produced Sweet Talker, the daughter of Stormin Fever who won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Invitational at Keeneland in 2005.
In the spring of 2006, Jones bred Stormin Fever to Another Vegetarian's half-sister Don't Trick Her, and Check the Label was born the next year.
The Garden City winner comes from a grand old family. Her fourth dam is the splendid producer Nato II, a foal of 1953 by Court Martial.
Imported to the US, Nato's descendants include Quack (Hollywood Gold Cup and Californian), Bundler (Frizette), Royal Bund (Golden Rod Stakes), To the Quick, It's Freezing, Personable Lady, and many others.
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