‘He Was Good To Me’: Hootenanny Returns To Ward Ranch To Stand Privately

by | 09.13.2019 | 9:04pm
Hootenanny and Frankie Dettori capture the BC Juvenile Turf in 2014

In many ways, Hootenanny represented the best of what Wesley Ward has done as a trainer. Now, he'll try to do the same for Ward as a stallion owner.

The 7-year-old son of Quality Road relocated to Ward Ranch across the road from the Keeneland property in Lexington, Ky., this past breeding season to stand privately for the trainer. He stood his first season in 2018 at Buck Pond Farm in Lexington.

“He's going to be more or less a private stallion to breed my own mares,” Ward said. “He was my first Breeders' Cup winner, and he's just really a sweetheart of a horse. He was an overachiever. I breed my own mares and the foals won't be going to auction. We'll try to race them, and hopefully they can emulate him.”

Bred in Kentucky by Barronstown from the first crop of Quality Road, Hootenanny sold for $75,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and debuted for the partnership of Ward, Ken Donworth, and Ben McElroy as a juvenile during the spring meet at Keeneland Race Course. He won at first asking by 4 1/4 lengths.

After the Keeneland win, Hootenanny was pointed to the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in England, which has become an annual target for Ward's most precocious runners. Hootenanny was sold to the Coolmore partnership in the time between his debut and the Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot, remaining under Ward's care, but the purchase paid immediate dividends after the colt won by 3 1/2 lengths.

Hootenanny remained in Europe after the Windsor Castle, running second in the Group 1 Prix Morny in France. He then returned stateside, where he got up in time to win the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Park by three-quarters of a length.

The colt's juvenile campaign was enough to warrant a spot among the Eclipse Award finalists for champion 2-year-old male, which was ultimately won by future Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Hootenanny continued racing for three more seasons after his breakout juvenile campaign, but he never quite found the same spark. He never won another stakes race, but he earned runner-up efforts in the G2 King Edward Stakes and the listed Jacques Cartier Stakes, both at Woodbine. His on-track record finished at five wins in 16 starts for earnings of $876,698.

With such a deep bench of stallion prospects at any given time, the Coolmore partnership opted not to pursue starting Hootenanny's stallion career under its own banner upon his retirement. He debuted at Buck Pond Farm for the 2018 breeding season and covered 41 mares. The ensuing foals are weanlings of 2019.

Ward said his broodmare band runs about 25 deep, which means Hootenanny's opportunities to sire a knockout runner will be extremely limited going forward, assuming his books remain largely in-house. That's fine by Ward. Even if Hootenanny's first foals come out running in a couple years, he said the stallion was unlikely return to the commercial stallion market.

“You know how that works with stallions,” he said. “More likely than not, he'll just be a pet, but he was good to me and I'll make sure he's got a good home for the rest of his life.”

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