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Monday, November 16, 2009

Better Than Honour Strikes Again!

Broodmare extraordinaire Better Than Honour struck again on Sunday, when Cascading, the 2-year-old daughter of her daughter Teeming (Storm Cat), won the Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine in only her third start. Watch the race replay here. A beautiful ride by Patrick Husbands, and a good training job by Josie Carroll who’s having quite a run with fillies these days, most notably G1 Alabama winner Careless Jewel. With her pedigree—by A.P. Indy, just like Rags to Riches—one can only hope that Cascading has a brilliant 3-year-old campaign ahead of her.

Can’t IEAH do anything simple? First, they buy Diamondrella, run her in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (where she finished 11th of 14), then ship her to Kentucky for the Fasig-Tipton sale only to buy her back at $1.1 million, and now ship her back to California and place her with new trainer Gary Stevens. She’s schedule to run in the November 28 G1 Matriarch at Hollywood. Not that I wish Diamondrella ill-will, but no wonder Michael Iavarone needs a burly bodyguard—those IEAH investors must be pissed with him flinging money away, flying her back and forth, paying Fasig-Tipton’s fees and now probably having a horse that is not in prime condition after her cross-country misadventure.

And since I’m mini-ranting, it blows my mind that a quality racemare like Indian Blessing is being sent to an unproven sire (and frankly dubious-quality racehorse) in the form of Zensational. I don’t know how much sway Bob Baffert has over his owners, but, damn, if Hal and Patti Earnhardt are buying his bullshit... “The reason we are breeding Indian Blessing to Zensational is to come up with the perfect Thoroughbred. They were both unbelievable on the racetrack with perfect conformation and exceptional brilliance. We are all after the super horse, and I was blessed to train both of them.”...then they deserve whatever crappy horse is produced.

While Foolish Pleasure’s success at stud was marginal at best, as I’ve mentioned on this blog two or three...okay, maybe a zillion...times, his influence continues in the damline of some very nice turf horses—Grand Couturier, Banrock and Get Stormy, who won the G3 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill in stakes-record time on Sunday for trainer Tom Bush. He’s matured a great deal this year, finally stretching out beyond a mile, and, with a much-deserved break, he looks to be even better as a 4-year-old in 2010. What a looker too, with his sire Stormy Atlantic’s bay coloring and wide blaze, but with four white stockings!

With only five starters, you might not take a second-glance at Aqueduct’s Race 3 this coming Thursday, but it depresses me as it’s filled with has-beens and might-have-beens. Two millionaires—recent G2 Suburban winner Dry Martini and G2 UAE Derby victor Honour Devil—join the much-ballyhooed Peruvian “mystery” horse Tomcito (remember him?), along with 2007 G3 Stuyvesant winner Hunting (a 6-year-old gelding in for a $100k tag—after winning less than $70k in the past two years?) and 5-year-old Giant Chieftan (sic), a $950k yearling purchase that has earned a grand total of $187,957 in 22 lifetime races.


PEM said...

I can see your point about Indian Blessing to some degree-but I'd have to say kudos to the Earnhardts for perhaps getting an edge on the rest of the world in breeding the perfect synthetic one-turn horse.

Not that I find anything redeeming in the words "synthetic" or "one-turn horse", IMHO a sprinter is a horse that failed at classic distances and is pointed to the shorter races. I myself would never buy a two year old with the thought they could not compete beyond 6F as they matured but unfortunately that's just what you end up with more often than not.

BUT-if you were looking to make a horse that could compete well on synthetics-with plenty of speed-you might have created the perfect beast. I would assume someone is now compiling some sort of Tomlinson list of synthetic sires and lines and nicks-maybe they are using some simular method?

Anyway-don't forget Baffert helped put together Indian Charlie-so I think he has the Earnhardt's ear.

No if I had their millions I don't think it's what I'd want to do with the filly-but I do have to admire some creative thinking.


sid fernando said...


The Earnhardts are pretty savvy. They bred and raced Indian Charlie, and they bred and raced his daughter Indian Blessing -- both fine horses.

When they bred Indian Charlie, they went to the unproven In Excess, in his 2nd year at stud, probably at the suggestion of Baffert, whose main client, Mike Peagram, had an interest in him.

Baffert also purchased Behaving Badly and El Corredor for them, so they've done well by him.

dana said...

Glad to see someone else not swooning over the Indian Blessing / Zensational match-up.

And all I have to say to this is "wow":

"IMHO a sprinter is a horse that failed at classic distances".

Superfecta said...

I've said it elsewhere, and while I really like Indian Blessing, breeding her to Zensational isn't going to create the perfect thoroughbred - but it's a good way to get a fast quarter horse!

Valerie Grash said...

Sid, I apologize for being crabby about Indian Blessing, and flippantly insulting the Earnhardts. I do hope the match is successful, if only for Indian Blessing’s sake. I had really hoped they would play up a little more stamina in her to get that classic distance in her offspring. If they wanted proven synthetics form, how about Tiznow? As for Zensational—well, I’m totally not impressed. More quarter horse speed; add love of synthetics (which IB didn’t particularly enjoy) and a horse that runs to age 3—just what we need! But then again, that’s why I’m not in the breeding profession and they are :)

PEM said...

Dana--There are about 112 or so Grade 1 races held in the US any given year-and maybe 15 or 16 are sprints. Better than half of those are age restricted-many are for 2 year olds at the premier summer meets of Del Mar and Saratoga. These two year old restricted sprints are generally preps for Grade 1 routes at the end of the meet.

Think about it--there any celebrated series of races held for the best 3 year old SPRINTER in the United States? And then look at the past performances of the candidates in a Grade 1 sprint. Go back a few lines and you'll very often see a horse coming right out of the claiming ranks. That's just not going to be the case in Gr 1 routes. A successful two-turn horse is just a much more valuable commodity.

And then there's the old trainer's adage "speed kills". They would just rather not sprint their horses. They will try different tactics, equipment, surfaces before going short with a horse. This is not an uncommon sentiment among trainers.

Anyway-from an owner's perspective-from the pure dollars and cents side of it-I believe you'll want to make sure your horse fails at two turns before you commit him to sprinting.

There's just a lot more money and opportunity in the routes.


dana said...

PEM - of course you're entitled to your opinion, but just because the breeding machine wants routers doesn't mean that sprinters are failed routers. Of course, that's just my opinion.

PEM said...

Sorry Dana I don't understand your point.

I mean I love to watch sprints--and my very favorite race to watch is 5f on the weeds-one of the finest horses I ever laid my own hands on was a gelding named NOT SUPRISING (Eclipse Winner) but I don't think anybody goes through the trouble and expense to say "we are hoping to produce a great 6 furlong horse". Unfortunately not all horses are capable of going a mile or better-they become sprinters.

And of course there are that rare few horses that compete at classic distances are capable sprinters as well. Those are some real talents there!

But if you look at the sheer number of big races-look at the size of the purses-as an owner you'd be far happier with a horse that compete at a mile or greater than one that is limited to shorter distances. It just allows you so many more options.


440yards said...

As a Quarter Horse man myself, I would love to see Indian Blessing bred to a horse like First Down Dash or Corona Cartel. Then, transplant the embryo into a recipient mare and breed her to a proven stallion. Two foals in one year getting the best of both worlds.

dana said...

"But if you look at the sheer number of big races-look at the size of the purses-as an owner you'd be far happier with a horse that compete at a mile or greater than one that is limited to shorter distances. It just allows you so many more options."

Yes, all of that is true but it still doesn't mean that a sprinter is a failed router. I get what you're saying but my point is that just because the industry favors a particular distance doesn't, at least in my mind, indicate that horses who are better at other distances are failures.

PEM said...

The Industry?

Dana--horses are currently running far shorter distances than ever before. It sounds to me like you think the idea of a horse being able to make it beyond a mile and a sixteenth was some heavy-handed proclamation handed down by some Kentucky hardboot from the tallest hill in the Bluegrass Country within the past few years.

Well it's not. It's not a new concept whatsoever. The idea of a "stayer" is as old as breeding thoroughbreds itself. 300+ years of selective breeding. A lot of folks-especially on the other side of the pond-think we've polluted the concept already on our shores. And the way horses are so lightly raced and prepped in our country in order to get ready for Derby races sometimes I think they're not so far from wrong.

Anyway-never said a good sprinter was a failure-a winner is a winner-but they are usually shown to be lacking at classic distances.


suebroux said...


sid fernando said...

Val, no apologies needed. I wouldn't have bred her to Zensational, either. And last year, Bob told Jack Werk she was going to be bred to Empire Maker, a Belmont Stakes winner! So, they've reversed the distance spectrum, but they did stay the same on the sire line (Unbridled).

My only point was that Bob does have an incredible record with these things. In 2001, a mare that Bob had trained named Truly Blessed was running cheap in a claimer. I asked Jack to ask Bob about her because he had once trained her, and I thought she'd fit In Excess. Bob said she was OK.
She ended up being the dam of Notional. This is from Jack's blog:

"The year was 2001, and the mare’s name was Truly Blessed. She was by the very good stallion French Deputy, owned by WTC client Irv Cowan, and she was out of Love Bunny, by Exclusive Native. She had been trained early in her career by Bob Baffert.

"In 2001, Ed, who liked the mare physically, had Truly Blessed for sale, and I spoke to Bob about her because I was looking for a mare for Scoop Vessels for his stallion In Excess. Bob liked her on conformation, too.

"I loved the stallion French Deputy, but what persuaded me to recommend the mare to Scoop was Sid’s evaluation of her on several fronts. He thought the pedigree would improve, and that because she descended in tail female from the mare La Morlaye, also the second dam of Siberian Express – the sire of In Excess!— she would fit In Excess well (Rasmussen Factor 4×4). Sid had also seen Truly Blessed’s half-sister, Helen D., in Argentina, and he knew Helen D.’s daughter Lovellon had won the Argentine Oaks in 1999 and had been sold to race in California. He felt that on form Lovellon had a great chance to win a Grade 1 in the US!"

The full story is here:

Anonymous said...

440 Yards, what a great idea. Cross over thoroughbred love for the quarter horse crowd.

Bo said...

Reading this entire post I couldn't agree more with your views on Michael Iavarone. A true wheeler and dealer that makes sure he always gets facetime and that his tan is perfect.

As for Indian Blessing she has proven herself enough on the racetrack that I believe she deserves to be bred to high quality proven sire.

PEM said...

You know-you guys might be letting someone's personality sway your opinion of the possible progeny here....back female side of Zensational is admirable. Could this stallion be the next Mr. Prospector-quick and short but becoming one of the greatest sires-esp. on the female side-of our time.

You know that's a hell of a reach, I will gladly admit that-but what was Birdstone standing for a year ago? Think it was 10K---and I have a friend down here with a South American mare --someone up there in Lexington found some nick in the breeding and offered her a season for $2500--I mean this was just late last summer. Unfortunately she passed on it--but I think the only critters by him that had been seen at that time were Texas Birdstone and Hoopoe I believe--I mean winners-but not pop-yer-eyeballs-out winners.

Anyway-I have to applaud creative thinking. And they can always go to Smart Strike next year....


dana said...

Just made my way back here, let my try this one more time...

PEM - I understand your points and am not quite sure why you seem to think I have some kind of issue with routers/distance. I love distance runners and would love to see more "marathons". My point is simply that because the consumers (owners) prefer routers doesn't make all horses who excel at other distances (sprinters, milers, and even marathoners!) failed routers.

Sure, if an owner takes a 6F horse and keeps trying them at distances beyond their capabilities I suppose you could then technically consider that horse a failed router, however I'd consider that
more of failure of the owner.

I guess the thing that keeps bugging me about that POV is that it seems very narrow minded. To say that any horse who excels outside of the parameters of what the market dictates is a failure is just a bit much IMO.