11/01/2013 9:00PM

Breeders’ Cup: Classic could be historic for Adena sires

Adam Coglianese
Adena Springs sire Ghostzapper could join his sire, fellow Adena stallion Awesome Again, as the only Breeders' Cup Classic winners to sire a Classic winner.

Adena Springs stallion Awesome Again is in rarified air – and his son and fellow sire Ghostzapper has a chance to join him when the Breeders’ Cup Classic is run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.

Awesome Again, winner of the 1998 renewal of America’s richest race, is the only Classic winner to sire a Classic winner, achieved when Ghostzapper won the race in record time in 2004. Ghostzapper is one of two stallions with a chance to match that feat this year, as he will be represented in the field by Grade 2 winner Moreno. However, Awesome Again is not without an arsenal of his own for this Breeders’ Cup, as he will be represented by seven-time Grade 1 winner Game On Dude, the likely race favorite; and Grade 1 winner Paynter. A victory by either would make him the only stallion to sire two individual winners of the Classic.

“It means the world to the program,” Adena Springs general manager Eric Hamelback said of Frank Stronach’s two homebreds. “Working with two like this is a dream for horsepeople. It’s a testament to Frank and the resources he puts into the game.” 

Awesome Again, a 19-year-old Deputy Minister horse, won the 1997 Queen’s Plate, and then swept all six of his starts in 1998. He capped that season with a hard-charging Classic victory over a field that included champion Skip Away, dual classic winner Silver Charm, Belmont Stakes winners Victory Gallop and Touch Gold, and Grade/Group 1 winners Swain, Arch, Coronado’s Quest, and Gentlemen.

Retired to Adena the following spring, Awesome Again produced Ghostzapper in his first crop. The brilliant runner won nine of his 11 starts, at both sprint and route distances. His career was highlighted by a victory in the 2004 Classic at Lone Star Park in stakes-record time, completing the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.02 over a field including champion mare Azeri, Grade 1 winner Roses in May, defending winner Pleasantly Perfect, dual classic winner Funny Cide, and Belmont winner Birdstone.

In addition to Ghostzapper, Awesome Again has sired three other Breeders’ Cup winners – 2007 Distaff winner and champion Ginger Punch, 2006 Distaff winner Round Pond, and 2004 Juvenile winner Wilko.

“Awesome Again has done everything anyone could ever want, first on the racetrack and now as a sire,” Hamelback said. “One can certainly say he is a consistent racehorse sire. From the time his horses first hit the track, he really has hit.”

While he has consistently sired top runners in his decade-plus at stud, Awesome Again has enjoyed a resurgence in 2013. In addition to Game On Dude, who has won all five of his starts to stamp himself as the Classic favorite, Awesome Again was represented by his first classic winner this year when Oxbow scored in the Preakness Stakes.

Ghostzapper, who joined his sire on the Adena roster in 2006, is also enjoying a breakout year. The stallion has become known as a versatile sire of high-quality runners, as evidenced on the afternoon of July 6, when three of his offspring won graded stakes within hours of each other in vastly different settings - Starship Truffles in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap sprinting at Calder; Moreno in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes at a route distance at Belmont; and Schiaparelli in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Mile on turf at Hollywood Park. Moreno went on to finish second in the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby and will give his sire the chance to become the second Classic winner to sire a Classic winner. Also with a chance to join that exclusive club this year is Curlin, represented by Palace Malice.

Moreno and Starship Truffles (Filly and Mare Sprint) are both pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup, along with Judy the Beauty (Filly and Mare Sprint), winner of the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America on the synthetic surface at Keeneland, and turf standout Za Approval (Mile) Ghostzapper has also been represented in 2013 by Better Lucky, a Grade 1 winner on turf.

“He has had a dream year,” Hamelback said. “Statistically, right now, he is number one in Kentucky on stakes horses. We all are happy it’s come around, having worked with him from the time he was a young horse to his stallion career – we’ve certainly enjoyed the ride.”

Awesome Again and Ghostzapper were both produced by Broodmare of the Year honorees in Primal Force and Baby Zip, respectively.

“Their progeny tend to look very similar, even though Awesome Again and Ghostzapper [don’t necessarily look alike]. Each looks like their damside,” Hamelback said. “The physical nature of the Ghostzappers, interestingly enough, do resemble Awesome Again many a time.”