05/25/2006 11:00PM

Classic potential comes to fruition

Bernardini wins the Preakness, becoming the first offspring of A.P. Indy to capture a Triple Crown race.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Bernardini's victory in the Preakness is the first in an American Triple Crown event for a son of the excellent sire

A.P. Indy. A winner of the Belmont Stakes in his only Triple Crown appearance, A.P. Indy has become the most reliable source of classic quality and talent among contemporary stallions in the United States

Will Farish, who bred A.P. Indy and stands him at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky., said that "he's the ideal horse to get a classic winner" because of the horse's combination of speed and stamina.

In addition to siring the Preakness winner, A.P. Indy was represented in the Kentucky Derby by the talented graded-stakes winner A. P. Warrior.

The leading sire in North America in 2003, when his son Mineshaft became Horse of the Year, A.P. Indy also has become a promising sire of stallions. His most successful son so far is Pulpit, standing at Claiborne Farm, and other young sons of A.P. Indy include a pair of stallions who have sired recent champion juvenile colts: Malibu Moon (sire of Declan's Moon) and Stephen Got Even (Stevie Wonderboy).

Such accomplishments are the results expected from A.P. Indy. As a grand-looking son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and out of the great Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise, A.P. Indy was always supposed to be something special.

But unlike the general run of highly promising colts, A.P. Indy accomplished what was expected of him and perhaps more.

After leading the Keeneland July sale with a price of $2.9 million, the handsome bay won 8 of his 11 starts and earned $2,979,815. A Grade 1 winner at 2, A.P. Indy climbed the ladder of racing success to become a classic winner at 3, defeat his elders in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and earn election as Horse of the Year in 1992.

As is the case with successful stallions, however, A.P. Indy has earned his syndicate owners far greater rewards as a sire than he possibly could have yielded from racing.

His first crop raced in 1996, and although A.P. Indy won a stakes late in his 2-year-old season, his offspring showed somewhat greater precocity.

Regarding the racing qualities of the stallion's offspring, Farish said: "I think that they tend to be sound horses. They tend to be solid middle-distance horses, about nine furlongs, that will stretch out, and with the influence of Mr. Prospector mares, we have seen horses with a good deal of speed and precocity. In racing, they tend to lay just off the pace and make a run. They tend not to be sprinters, but some horses, like Old Trieste, have a lot of speed."

With the racing performances of such stars as Mineshaft (winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Pimlico Special), Pulpit (Fountain of Youth, Blue Grass), A P Valentine (Champagne), Tomisue's Delight (Ruffian, Personal Ensign), Aptitude (Jockey Club Gold Cup, Hollywood Gold Cup), Tempera (Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies), Golden Missile (Pimlico Special), Stephen Got Even (Donn), and Secret Status (Kentucky Oaks, Mother Goose), the demand for seasons to A.P. Indy and for his finer yearlings has risen continually.

A.P. Indy stands for $300,000 live foal, and it can be difficult to secure a season to the stallion. Farish said, "We limit his mares in terms of quality and numbers," with the horse covering about 110 to 115 mares yearly.

The relative scarcity of seasons to the stallion makes his shares, which carry an annual breeding right to the horse, even more valuable for homebreeders. Ownership of a share in a stallion like A.P. Indy is comparable to ownership of fine art. It is a remarkable thing to own in itself, and ownership also offers access for the share owner. In addition to annual access to one of the best stallions in the breed, having a share gives the individual a closer relationship with the farm that stands the stallion, as well as possible benefits like knowledge of new stallions becoming available for syndication.

A somewhat restricted book also allows the stallion to have the best mares possible as his mates.

"When we syndicated him," Farish said, "the members were the top breeders in the country and in Europe, and it has pretty much remained that way. He has been fortunate enough to get an excellent group of mares every year."

One of the most desirable mares to have in A.P. Indy's book would be the dam of the Preakness winner.

Bernardini is out of the Grade 1 winner Cara Rafaela. Her two most recent foals are both fillies by Storm Cat, and Cara Rafaela is in foal to A.P. Indy on an April 12 cover. Her foal for next year would therefore be a full sibling to the Preakness winner, out of a grand racemare and producer, by a great stallion, and worth its weight in bullion, sterling, rubies, or something similar, like dreams of greatness on the racecourse.