03/13/2013 3:41PM

Arkansas: The Daddy, leading juvenile sire

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Richard and Frances Hessee have big plans for their Trophy Club Training Center, a 160-acre operation in Royal, Ark.—a dot on the map a few miles due west of Oaklawn Park. Since acquiring the property in 2009 from the late Arkansas Hall of Fame trainer Bob Holthus, they have strived to make it a go-to place for Southwest breeders looking for quality.

That they’ve succeeded is evident with a glance at Arkansas’ 2012 general sire standings, in which Trophy Club stallions occupy three of the top five spots. The Center’s current marquee attractions are 2012 leading sire Brahms and 2011 and 2012 juvenile leader The Daddy, a young stallion of high regional promise.

[MORE: See a list of Arkansas’s leading sires from 2012]

Though he did not run at two, The Daddy’s performance as a sire of early runners is no anomaly. He is a half-brother to two graded stakes-winning juvenile runners, and is a son of North America’s 2001 leading freshman sire, Valid Expectations.

The Daddy was conceived in Texas, foaled in New York, and sold in Kentucky by breeders Will Farish and Gaillardia (for $60,000 as a Keeneland November weanling). In August 2003, the big, dark bay sold again, for $125,000 to Greg Norman at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga. When he finally reached the races midway through his sophomore season and won his first two starts spectacularly, The Daddy looked like a world beater—but his inexperience showed when he then hooked a whirlwind in future sprint champion Lost in the Fog and finished unplaced in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes. He returned rather unexpectedly in the 1 1/4-mile Super Derby, but he won in near gate-to-wire fashion.

A splint injury suffered in the Super Derby failed to heal satisfactorily and eventually ended a career that spanned just four starts and 11 weeks. But in that brief time The Daddy had made an impression, scoring three victories at distances from six to ten furlongs and earning $517,700. He subsequently stood his first three seasons (2007-2009) at Martin Stables South in Florida, then moved for 2010 and 2011 to Airdrie Stud in Kentucky, before arriving at Trophy Club in time for the 2012 breeding season.

The Daddy brought with him numbers good enough to rank not only as Arkansas’ leading second-crop sire of 2011, but best by winners (29) in the entire Southwest region.

His lone stakes winner to date is Puerto Rican-raced My Doctor Waleska, but others by The Daddy have come close: In 2012, Youcan’tcatchme came up a nose shy of winning the $156,153 Ontario Fashion Stakes at Woodbine, while Manchurian High finished a neck back in third in the $103,000 Laurel Turf Cup Stakes. Additionally, Daddy’s Honor ran third behind champion Awesome Feather in the Nasty Storm Stakes at Belmont Park.

Six of The Daddy’s nine juvenile starters last season were winners, and several looked promising in winning at tracks in California, Florida, Kentucky, and Canada. His year-end juvenile progeny earnings of $143,233 put him safely ahead of runner-up Brahms, with $107,784.
The Daddy stands his second Arkansas season in 2013 for $1,500 live foal.