In 2017, Shadwell Farm in Lexington, Ky., had the wind to its back in anticipation over its newest stallion, Tamarkuz, a son of Speightstown who had won the previous fall's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile for the operation of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Two years later, Tamarkuz's first yearlings went through the auction ring, and the Shadwell stallion complex was abuzz once again with a new addition to its roster: Grade 2 winner Qurbaan, a fellow son of Speightstown who also ran under the Shadwell colors.
To an outside observer, standing a pair of stallions by the same sire, neither of which have foals of racing age yet, might appear to run a serious risk of cannibalizing each other's pools of potential mares. However, Shadwell stallion manager Kent Barnes said Tamarkuz and Qurbaan appeal to different demographics of breeders despite sharing half a pedigree.
“Speightstown really stamps his stock, but we've got a horse that was primarily a dirt specialist and won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile versus a horse that was a turf specialist, winning two runnings of the Bernard Baruch,” Barnes said. “I think they give breeders a choice of whether they want to breed a dirt horse or a turf horse.
“That said, I think both definitely have the ability to sire dual-purpose runners, similar to Speightstown himself,” he continued. “He certainly gets a lot of dirt horses, but he's gotten a fair number of turf runners, and he's got some good horses in Europe running on the turf. I think the breeders just need to come out and look at them, but there are multiple options for them there.”
Qurbaan is the newcomer of the duo, arriving at Shadwell at the end of an international career that saw him win seven of 22 starts for earnings of $854,408.
He started racing in France as a juvenile, winning his first two starts over all-weather courses. After a start on the dirt in Dubai, he returned to France, where he never finished out of the money as a 3-year-old, including wins over the synthetic in the 7 1/2-furlong Prix Casino Barriere Troubille and Prix Luthier, and a pair of stakes placings at a mile over the turf.
Qurbaan picked up another stakes win over the synthetic in France during his 4-year-old campaign, then was shipped to the U.S., where he truly began to blossom.
His first U.S. start was a winning one, battling to win the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. Qurbaan finished out of the money just once in his nine domestic starts, including on-the-board efforts in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker's 46 Mile, and Turf Classic Stakes, and he ended his career with a second win in the Bernard Baruch. Just four of his 22 starts came at a distance shorter than a mile.
Though he was born in Kentucky, Qurbaan's pedigree is just as international as his race record. He is out of the French-bred Grade 1-placed stakes-winning Zieten mare Flip Flop. The extended family has been especially successful in Japan, featuring Group 1 winner and sire Deep Brillante and Japanese St. Leger winner That's the Plenty.
“Qurbaan is out of a Danzig-line mare,” Barnes said. “There's been a very good nick with Speightstown and Danzig, so with him, you'd want to go with something that's not too close up with Danzig, but it opens several other possibilities. And with turf racing making a huge increase in the United States in the past few years, both in the number of races and the purse structure, I think Qurbaan is a good option.”
Like Qurbaan, Tamarkuz began his career abroad, starting in England at ages two and three, then moving to the U.A.E. for his next two campaigns. He became Dubai's top miler on the dirt at the start of his 5-year-old season, tallying wins in the G3 Burj Nahaar and Firebreak Stakes, and culminating with a score in the G2 Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup card.
Tamarkuz was transferred to the U.S. following his second season in Dubai, and he went straight for North America's top races in the dirt mile division. At age six, Tamarkuz built up his resume with a pair of runner-up efforts in the G1 Forego Stakes and G2 Kelso Handicap en route to a breakthrough 3 1/2-length score in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.
The extended page for Tamarkuz skews toward the dirt, as his race record would suggest, but his dam, the Lemon Drop Kid mare Without You Babe, has proven to be multi-faceted in her produce record. She is also the dam of English Group 1 winner Without Parole, by Frankel.
Without You Babe is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Stay Thirsty, classic-placed Grade 3 winner Andromeda's Hero, and Grade 1-placed Superfly. The third dam for Tamarkuz is the multiple Grade 1-placed Make Change.
“With Tamarkuz, he's a horse that could work with mares with Danzig in their line,” Barnes said. “We've got several mares here on the farm with Danzig blood that did go to him, and have been producing really nice foals and yearlings by him. He's got Mr. Prospector on the top and bottom, so I think Danzig suits him well.”
Tamarkuz will have a two-year head start on Qurbaan when it comes to proving his mettle at stud. His first foals are yearlings of 2019, and early returns have been positive, with an average yearling sale price thus far of $91,000.
“The ones I've seen, especially the colts, he's stamped those guys,” Barnes said. “They've got beautiful conformation, put together nice, nice walk on them. We've been pleased with the way they've been selling, and we're pleased with the ones we've been able to produce here on the farm. I'm excited about his first crop.
“Based on the sales of his weanlings last year, he had a higher book in his third season than he did in his second season, which is really saying something these days,” he continued. “I think breeders paid attention to that, and I think the way the yearlings are selling this year, we'll have an even larger book for him next year.”
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