09/28/2016 10:30AM

Air Force Blue retired, will stand in Kentucky


European champion Air Force Blue has been retired from racing and will begin his stallion career at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for a fee to be announced later.

The 3-year-old son of War Front finished his ontrack career with four wins in nine starts for earnings of $844,919. He is owned by the Coolmore partnership and trained by Aidan O’Brien.

He was named Europe’s champion 2-year-old male in 2015 after winning the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and Phoenix Stakes in Ireland and the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes in England.

“With the exception of Frankel, who has made such a brilliant start to his stud career, Air Force Blue is Timeform’s highest-rated juvenile in nearly 20 years,” said Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan. “In fact, he’s the highest-rated juvenile ever from the Danzig line.”

Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, Air Force Blue is out of the multiple stakes-placed Maria’s Mon mare Chatham, who is the dam of three winners from five foals to race. He was a $490,000 purchase by Coolmore out of the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Air Force Blue is from the family of champions Flanders and Surfside; Grade 2 winners Battle Plan, Fiery Pursuit, and Open Water; and Grade/Group 3 winners Irish Surf, High Celebrity, Storm Star, and Syourinomegami.

“Arthur Hancock [of Stone Farm] has bred many very good horses over the years, and all of our team loved Air Force Blue when we saw him as a yearling at Keeneland,” Ryan said. “He was a very racy sort with plenty of size and scope and a great action, so he very quickly went on the shortlist.

“He proved himself to be a brilliant 2-year-old, and it’s great to see War Front now heading the leading 2-year-old sires table. Aidan O’Brien already has four Group-winning juveniles by him this year, including the 1-2 in last weekend’s Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. We’re absolutely thrilled his best 2-year-old son is coming to Ashford.”

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