Combatant, a multiple Grade 2-placed runner who ran in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, will head to the west coast to continue his racing career after selling to a client of trainer John Sadler for $220,000 on Tuesday at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, per bloodstock agent David Ingordo.
The 4-year-old Scat Daddy ridgling has won three of 22 career starts for earnings of $648,498, racing up to this point for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton and trainer Steve Asmussen. Gainesway consigned Combatant, as agent.
He broke his maiden in his second career start, then finished second in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park in his stakes debut.
Combatant found himself in the national racing conversation during a spring campaign at Oaklawn Park that included second-place efforts in the listed Smarty Jones Stakes and Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, a third in the G2 Rebel Stakes, and a fourth-place finish in the G1 Arkansas Derby. The 32 qualifying points he earned on the Kentucky Derby trail left him as an also-eligible for the Derby, but a scratch after the initial pill pull put him in the gate at Churchill Downs. He broke from the outside post in the Derby, and finished a non-threatening 18th.
The remainder of Combatant's 3-year-old campaign saw him switch between dirt and turf, with a bit of success on each surface. His season finished with a third in the listed Zia Park Derby on the dirt, then another third in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita.
Combatant returned to Oaklawn over the winter and won a 1 1/16-mile dirt allowance, and he came into the sale off an optional claiming win in a rained-off dirt mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 8. Two starts prior to his Churchill Downs start, he finished second by a nose in a one-mile turf optional claimer at Kentucky Downs.
“He fits the profile of what we've bought over the past few years at these kinds of sales,” Ingordo said. “Steve's done a great job taking care of him. The horse vetted very cleanly. He's got a lot of run left in him, and probably has been a little unlucky with the surfaces. He might want some fast turf, so we'll send him out west and see what we can do with him.”
Bred in Kentucky by Paget Bloodstock, Combatant is out of the unraced Boundary mare Border Dispute, whose eight winners from nine runners also includes English Group 3 winner Long Lashes, Group 2-placed Mythical Border, and U.S. stakes-placed Bordini.
In addition to having a page filled with black type, Combatant is by Scat Daddy, whose sons have been in high demand by stud farms, owing to a combination of Scat Daddy's early demise and his son Justify's Triple Crown success. If Combatant can score a breakthrough win or two under new management, his stallion resume could grow considerably.
“I hope so,” Ingordo said. “He's by Scat Daddy, and we've had luck with Scat Daddy in the past. This horse has done enough early in his career that if he gets a little lucky out west and John can maintain him and do a few things, why can't he be a stallion?”
Ingordo, who serves as bloodstock agent for Lane's End, is a buyer at many different levels throughout the auction calendar, making selections on everything from broodmares to 2-year-olds in training.
Buying a racing-age prospect, he said, requires the horse to not just fit the bill physically and with its racetrack ability; it must also fit the program of both the buyer and the circuit where the new purchase will race.
“Obviously, they have to go out and perform,” Ingordo said. “Very quickly, we're going to find out if we're right or wrong here. You have to do your homework and know what you're looking for. If you buy it for X price, you want to make sure that you have some room to maneuver to place it properly.
“We sold a horse the other day to New York because he'd done what he could here (in Kentucky), but in New York, he has a starter [allowance condition],” he continued. “You're moving them where they belong, so when you're buying racehorses, you're trying to manage it like a puzzle piece and put it where you can immediately – hopefully – do some good with it.”
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