By Frank Mitchell
One of America's leading stallions has contenders in two Breeders' Cup races on Saturday of different distances, the Dirt Mile, and in the 10-furlong Classic. The sire is Street Cry, who stands at Darley in Lexington at the old Jonabell Farm on Bowman's Mill Road. Street Cry himself was a top-class juvenile who came back to win both the 10-furlong Dubai World Cup and the nine-furlong Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs as a 4-year-old before beginning his first term at stud that resulted in champions Street Sense and Zenyatta.
In addition to racing's unbeaten champion Zenyatta, sure to be a heavy favorite in the Classic, Street Cry has the 4-year-old colt Here Comes Ben racing in the Dirt Mile.
A Grade 1 winner this year, Here Comes Ben is also unbeaten in 2010, and the dark bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Brandon and Marianne Chase and is trained by Charlie Lopresti.
With a small annual yearling crop, the Chases produce good racehorses, including such as Albertus Maximus, winner of the 2008 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and the 2009 Donn Handicap.
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The Chases have only three Kentucky broodmares, but that select group includes Chasethewildwind (by Forty Niner), who is the dam of Albertus Maximus, and her half-sister, Chasetheragingwind (by Dayjur), who is the dam of Here Comes Ben.
Chasetheragingwind won a maiden from a dozen starts, but she has produced better racehorses than herself. Her first offspring, foaled when the mare was 9, is the Favorite Trick filly Leave a Message, who won two of three starts.
Here Comes Ben is the mare's second foal. She has an Indian Charlie 2-year-old filly named Gottahaveadream, a yearling colt by Songandaprayer, and a weanling colt by Henrythenavigator.
Like Albertus Maximus and the Chases' other Kentucky stock, Here Comes Ben was foaled and raised at Clovelly Farm outside Lexington before being sent to Lopresti for breaking and early conditioning. He has been breaking horses for the Chases for 20 years, and they were “some of the first people that I started horses for,” Lopresti said.
Lopresti said that Here Comes Ben is a “really nice horse, and we expect him to run well. He's a real pretty horse, athletic, not great big, but stout and very muscular. Stands about 15.3 hands. But he is as broad as he is tall. He's got a great walk, swings his hips, is real efficient and covers the ground.”
In contrast, Lopresti noted that “Zenyatta is longer and taller and more a classic two-turn horse. This is the more speedy, sprint type, although Here Comes Ben has won going a mile, as well as a mile and a sixteenth on Polytrack.”
One of the things Here Comes Ben has going for him is that he doesn't need to carry his track with him. When the Chases and Lopresti wanted to check the colt for class, they sent him to Saratoga for the Forego in September.
Lopresti said, “Going to Saratoga, that race was a big test for him, and obviously he handled it. He was there for 16 to 17 days before the Forego, just to give him some time to see and feel the track. His exercise rider went with him, and the colt handled everything well.”
The son of Street Cry has won on dirt, synthetic, and turf. His acceptance of all courses is equaled by his sensible temperament.
Lopresti uses his location on Rice Road across from Keeneland and his farm nearby to give his horses the opportunity for sun and grass and a bit of change in their routine.
“Here Comes Ben came to the farm here for two weeks after [winning] the Kelly's Landing before going to Saratoga,” said Lopresti. “He came off the track, went in the round pen for a week, went out a week to be a horse, then off to Saratoga. I think it's hard to keep horses going 365 days a year, and for me, [having different surroundings] gives them some variety and helps them to relax or enjoy a change of pace.”
Perhaps that is one of the reasons that Here Comes Ben is peaking. Or maybe it's just the weather.
Lopresti said, “I couldn't ask him to be any better. I can't say he's going to win, because I can't look into a crystal ball, but this horse likes the cooler weather, which we got up at Saratoga, and since the weather changed here in the last three weeks, he's eating well, coat looks good, and I couldn't ask him to be any better going into this race.”
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 a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
Copyright © 2010, Frank Mitchell
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