10/17/2014 5:09PM

Darley’s freshman Desert Party starting fast

Four-Footed Fotos
Party Pooper, who broke his maiden in the Westminster Handicap, is one of eight winners to come out of Desert Party's first crop.

The growth of New York’s breeding sector in recent years has been no secret and is one of the clear success stories within a Thoroughbred industry that is finally reaching a stable economic plateau after a slow recovery from the 2008 recession. As a result, the Empire State has become a viable destination for young stallions who possess both accomplished race records and quality pedigrees.

Darley’s graded stakes winner Desert Party moved north to stand at Becky Thomas’s Sequel Stallions in Hudson, N.Y., beginning in 2013, and the 8-year-old son of the recently deceased Street Cry is enjoying a solid freshman season as the runaway leader among New York’s first-crop sires, with progeny earnings of $361,592 through Wednesday. That total is good enough to place Desert Party ninth on the North American freshman sire list.

To date, Desert Party is represented by eight winners from 30 starters in his first crop, with two stakes winners – Heart’s Song and Party Pooper. Heart’s Song won her maiden in her second start at Churchill and, after running second in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes, broke through with a win in the City of Anderson at Indiana Grand on Oct. 1. Party Pooper won his maiden in the New Westminster Handicap in August at Hastings.

Can’t Happen Here, a colt owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trained by Chad Brown, has flashed graded stakes-caliber talent in his first two starts. After winning his maiden at Saratoga in August on turf in his debut, the colt closed well to finish third after a slow break in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland on Oct. 5.

Desert Party, bred in Kentucky by David Smith and Steven Sinatra, was an attractive prospect from the outset, selling to Paul Pompa Jr. via agent Hidden Brook for $425,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2007. Early the next year, the colt was offered at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training, where he brought a sale-topping $2.1 million from John Ferguson, bloodstock adviser to Darley owner Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.

As a son of one of Darley’s most promising young sires in Street Cry, Desert Party had obvious appeal to Sheikh Mohammed’s international operation as a potential stakes-winning racehorse and stallion. Street Cry had been represented by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense less than a year earlier, and his daughter Zenyatta had won her third career start without a defeat in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes several weeks before the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale.

Desert Party never reached the heights of Zenyatta or Street Sense, but he proved to be a competitive, versatile racehorse for Godolphin Racing during a patiently managed three-year campaign. He won his maiden in his debut at Arlington Park in June 2008 and then won the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths in his next start on a muddy track. Desert Party next finished a rough-trip sixth in the Grade 1 Hopeful and did not resurface until early 2009 in Dubai.

He won his first two starts at Nad al Sheba, including the Group 3 U.A.E. 2000 Guineas, before finishing second by a half-length to stablemate Regal Ransom in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby. Both Godolphin horses then went to the Kentucky Derby, where Desert Party finished 14th behind upsetter Mine That Bird.

After undergoing surgery to remove an ankle chip, Desert Party returned at 4 and won a Group 3 stakes in Dubai before shipping back to the United States. In his final start, Desert Party won the listed Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap and earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure. Desert Party was subsequently diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury and was retired with six wins from 10 starts and $928,467 in earnings.

Desert Party joined Street Cry and Street Sense for his first two years at stud at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky. He moved to Sequel for the 2013 breeding season and was bred to 68 mares at a fee of $7,500. Midway through last year, the stallion drew notice when one of his first yearlings at auction, a filly out of the Kris S. mare Lil Cozette, sold at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July for a sale-topping $460,000.

This spring, another Desert Party foal, a colt out of Satinet named Defined, sold to Xavier International Bloodstock, agent, for $425,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training.

As a product of the Machiavellian branch of the Mr. Prospector male line, Desert Party offers New York breeders international flavor with the potential for success on both dirt and turf – and he has even less inbreeding through his first five generations than the Kentucky-based Street Sense, sporting only a 5x5 cross of Barbizon on the bottom side. He appears to have a solid chance to join Street Sense and perhaps Street Boss and Street Hero as bearers of Street Cry’s influence at stud

But ultimately, Desert Party’s fortunes will depend on continued success from his first-crop runners, and on whether his second and third crops can continue the momentum. His first New York-sired foals arrive at the fall sales one year from now.