03/15/2007 12:00AM

Corinthian boosting Pulpit's stud career


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With a victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Corinthian has reasserted his ranking among the best racehorses in the country. This appeared to be the case a year ago when the handsome chestnut son of Pulpit finished first in the Fountain of Youth, a race that his sire had won in 1997.

A poorly chosen path to the wire, however, cost Corinthian the victory. He was disqualified and dropped to third in the Grade 2 race. A subsequent physical issue kept him on the sidelines until earlier this season.

But now, unbeaten in two starts in 2007, Corinthian has overcome the physical problem and is showing form that makes him a serious challenger to Horse of the Year Invasor.

From his racing last year and this year, Corinthian appears to have the ability to place him among the best sons of his sire to date. This is important not only for the future stud career of Corinthian but also for the continuing success and rising importance of his sire, Pulpit.

Pulpit is the most accomplished son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, who is the most successful son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

"Pulpit's as exciting an $80,000 stallion as you could find right now," said Bernie Sams, who handles the stallion seasons for Claiborne Farm, where Pulpit stands. "He's great value for what he can do."

So far, that includes siring 25 stakes winners, but even more important than the volume of Pulpit's stakes winners is the quality of them. More than half have won a graded stakes.

"He's got to be one of the most versatile stallions at stud," Sams said. "They run on turf and dirt. He gets top fillies and colts. They can sprint or go two turns."

The offspring of Pulpit come by their talent naturally. From the first crop by A.P. Indy, Pulpit was an exceptionally talented racer, winning the Blue Grass and Fountain of Youth and then running fourth in the Kentucky Derby after setting the pace.

Pulpit was a top-class racehorse and he made a splash with his runners on the track, with Grade 1 winners such as Sky Mesa, Purge, Tapit, and Stroll in his early crops.

The bay stallion has continued to sire quality horses, such as New York Handicap winner Wend and Peter Pan Stakes winner Oratory. Sams said that if Corinthian wins a couple of Grade 1 stakes "and establishes himself at the top of the crop, that would be a major milestone."

To this point, Pulpit has found the fuel from his offspring to advance his stud career to the next level. The propellant behind A.P. Indy's ascent toward the very top of the sire lists, and a ranking behind only Storm Cat as a stallion of great value to breeders, has come from the production of racehorses of the highest class.

For instance, Horse of the Year Mineshaft, by A.P. Indy and out of a Mr. Prospector mare, was one of his sire's best racing sons, and he will have his first crop of racers in 2007. Another A.P. Indy colt, champion Bernardini showed tremendous class and classic quality, and he is covering his first book of mares this year.

In a situation similar to A.P. Indy's a few years ago, Pulpit is a "step away from joining the internationally recognized elite sires," Sams said. "Just imagine what a classic-winning 3-year-old would mean, or what would happen with one of his sons becoming a sire. If Sky Mesa or some of the other sons" - such as the commercially popular Tapit or Purge - "come through with runners, Pulpit's going to another level."

While Pulpit, like every other stallion, has to prove his worth at each level of competition, the domain of leading international sires is not foreign ground to members of this family, nor to the illustrious Claiborne Farm.

Out of the Mr. Prospector mare Preach, Pulpit was bred by Claiborne Farm, raced for it, and stands at the famous breeding farm on the outskirts of Paris, Ky.

Claiborne bred not only Pulpit but also his dam, Grade 1 winner Preach, and each of the next three dams. This family traces back to Monarchy, a major stakes winner herself and a full sister to Horse of the Year Round Table. They were both out of Knight's Daughter, whom A.B. "Bull" Hancock imported to the U.S. more than a half-century ago.

Round Table stood at Claiborne and was a leading sire. And the sire of each of the mares in Pulpit's female line, from Monarchy's sire Princequillo to Nijinsky, Honest Pleasure, and Mr. Prospector, also stood at Claiborne.

To breed Pulpit, Claiborne sent Preach off the farm to A.P. Indy and has hauled back the gold nugget: a top racehorse and stallion.

In addition, Corinthian is out of a mare bred by Claiborne and the Gamely Corp. The colt's dam, the Easy Goer mare Multiply, is the fifth generation of her family bred by Claiborne, descending from the imported mare Rough Shod. This is also the family of the great sires Nureyev and Sadler's Wells.