02/16/2012 4:44PM

2011 stallion honors: Scat Daddy, leading first-crop sire

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It took a few days after the new year for the last earnings to trickle in and push Scat Daddy past Hard Spun as 2011’s leading freshman sire. He cut it close, but Lady of Shamrock and Swag Daddy’s stakes wins Dec. 30 and 31 made the difference. The final margin was $11,175.

Besides total progeny earnings, Scat Daddy also was the leading freshman sire by winners (29), stakes winners (5), and stakes horses (11).

Named for one of his owners, James T. Scatuorchio, Scat Daddy was bred in Kentucky by Axel Wend and sold at the 2005 Keeneland September sale for $250,000. His neck victory in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga made him the first stakes winner for his sire, the dynamic Johannesburg, champion 2-year-old of 2001. After losing the Hopeful Stakes to fellow Todd Pletcher-trained horse Circular Quay, Scat Daddy came back to win in the Champagne Stakes, beating Nobiz Like Shobiz and stamping himself as the best 2-year-old on the East Coast. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, he finished fourth to a rampaging Street Sense.

Scat Daddy returned as a 3-year-old in the Holy Bull Stakes, finishing third to Nobiz Like Shobiz and Drums of Thunder, then ran down Stormello to win by a nose in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. In the Florida Derby, Scat Daddy stayed closer to the pace, took over in the stretch, and confidently held off Notional. In the Kentucky Derby, Scat Daddy got the worst of traffic and ran unplaced behind Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin. A tendon flared up after the race, leading to Scat Daddy’s retirement in late June. He went to stud at Ashford beside his sire, Johannesburg, for the 2008 breeding season.

In one of the strongest foal crops in recent memory, Scat Daddy was one of the best at 2, so it was not a surprise to see him rise to the occasion as a sire of 2-year-olds when his first foals hit the races last spring. At the end of July, he already had four winners. At the end of August, he had 11, including the stakes winner Finale, but he was second to Hard Spun in earnings.

By October, Scat Daddy had actually reached the top of the juvenile sire list and freshman sire list by earnings with 19 winners and three stakes winners. He fell behind in freshman earnings to Hard Spun later that month, but quantity and quality pulled him back to the top in the end.

Scat Daddy finished the season with 29 juvenile winners, including Finale, who was his leading earner with $257,345. Out of a mare by Lively One, Finale scored in the Continental Mile at Monmouth in August and the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine in September, both mile events on the grass.

Scat Daddy’s other stakes winners were Daddy Long Legs, winner of the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes in England, also at a mile; Shared Property, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity over a mile on synthetic; Lady of Shamrock, winner of the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita at a mile on the turf; and Swag Daddy, winner of two restricted New York-bred stakes at Aqueduct, both at a mile and 70 yards.

It’s tempting to compare Scat Daddy to Johannesburg and his grandsire, Hennessy, but as Coolmore’s Dermot Ryan notes, “Scat Daddy has an added element in that he also showed some really top-notch form at 3 in both the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby.”

“We think he’s got a great chance of coming up with some classic runners as well as brilliant juveniles,” Ryan said.

Scat Daddy has eight Triple Crown nominees, including proven dirt colts Swag Daddy and Shared Property, who recently was third in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds. Ryan noted that Daddy Long Legs may be Derby-bound as well.

“He’ll certainly be going down the classic route,” he said. “It’s just a case of whether he’ll go to Newmarket [for the 2000 Guineas] or to Churchill Downs.”

Scat Daddy’s five stakes winners are from five broodmare sires and sirelines, a good sign for an up-and-coming stallion, since it suggests he’ll do well with whatever he’s presented with. For now, things couldn’t look more hopeful for Scat Daddy.

Scat Daddy pedigree