Updated on 09/17/2011 12:10PM

Chullo's arrival has Lomas optimistic


When Applebite Farms general manager Matthew Lomas was working as a bloodstock agent in Argentina in 1997, a 3-year-old colt named Chullo was in the process of winning Argentina's Triple Crown.

"I was staying all over the province of Buenos Aires and heard so much about him," said Lomas. "I was scheduled to leave the next day, but I wanted to see him run in the Pellegrini, which is sort of like their Arc. I saw him win, and he was an absolute freak."

Little did Lomas know that he and Chullo would cross paths six years later at Applebite in French Camp, a tiny town in northern California near Stockton.

Chullo is one of the reasons Lomas accepted his position at Applebite.

"If you watch his races, you would be bowled over by his acceleration the last half-mile," Lomas said. "He just leaves his rivals in the dust. In some races, he's buried in the pack, then he finds a seam and explodes. It's like he has an afterburner. He was an absolute stone-cold runner."

Applebite Farms, owned by Joan Rogers, is not a large property. It covers 100 acres and cares for 100 horses, with six stallions, including first-year stallions Gotham City and I'madrifter.

Chullo could be the stallion to put Applebite on the map.

His credentials surpass those of other South American runners currently at stud in the United States. Gentlemen, perhaps the best-known Argentine-bred, won three Grade 1 races as a 3-year-old in Argentina and won eight more graded stakes in the United States.

Chullo won five Argentine Grade 1's as a 3-year-old. He beat older horses and was named Argentina's horse of the year the same year Gentlemen was winning the Pacific Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, and San Antonio in the United States.

Chullo's $513,600 earnings in Argentina more than doubled those of Gentlemen and more than tripled those of Memo (four Grade 1 wins in Chile), Puerto Madera (three Grade 1 wins in Chile), Malek (two Grade 1 wins in Chile), and Siphon (one Grade 1 win in Brazil).

Chullo suffered an injury in his final race in Argentina and never completely recovered. He did, however, place second in the Grade 3 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita when returned to the races at age 6.

"It's hard to imagine what he could have done had he been healthy," Lomas said.

When he was finally retired, Chullo stood a partial season in 2001 at Applebite and was sent between 15 and 20 mares. His first crop will turn 2 in 2004.

Chullo is by millionaire Equalize, a grandson of Northern Dancer and Dr. Fager, who was named Argentina's leading sire in 1999. Chullo's dam, Que Ilusion, was Argentina's broodmare of the year in 1998 and is the daughter of Cipayo, a three-time leading sire in Argentina and two-time leading broodmare sire.

"He doesn't have the respect up here he deserves," Lomas said of Chullo. "He's got such a good pedigree. He was effective sprinting to 1 1/2 miles. He had a lot of ability, speed, and stamina. He's not purely speed."

Applebite stallion Gotham City was hampered by a series of injuries and suffered an extreme attack of colitis as a 2-year-old and almost didn't make it to the races. The only son of Saint Ballado standing in California, Gotham City was a $2 million Barretts purchase after he ran the fastest one-furlong work in Barretts history.

He was unplaced in two starts at ages 3 and 4 before a fractured sesamoid ended his career.

"He is so attractive, but he was a bad-luck horse," Lomas said.

The other Applebite stallions are: Rainbow Blues, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Derby and Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap; Western Fame, winner of the Suffolk Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap and placed in two graded stakes; Distinctive Cat, an unraced son of Storm Cat; and I'madrifter, a multiple stakes winner who won this year's Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap and will stand under private treaty.