07/31/2003 12:00AM

Distant View, Mutakddim: Sires on the rise


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Last weekend at Saratoga, Sightseek won the Go for Wand Stakes by 11 1/2 lengths, and Lady Tak set a stakes record in the Grade 1 Test Stakes. Not so coincidentally, both descend from the same male line, that of the great sire Mr. Prospector.

Already this year, Empire Maker won the Belmont, Funny Cide, took the Derby and Preakness, Peace Rules won the Grade 1 Blue Grass and ran third in the Derby, and Strong Hope won the Dwyer. The reigning Horse of the Year, Azeri, is unbeaten this season. All descend from Mr. Prospector.

Although from the line of Seattle Slew, Sky Mesa's sire, Pulpit, is out of a mare by Mr. Prospector.

After her impressive victory in the Go for Wand, Sightseek is the strongest challenger to Azeri among fillies. The sire of Sightseek is the young Mr. Prospector stallion Distant View, who stands at Juddmonte Farms in Lexington, and Juddmonte is owner-breeder of Sightseek.

Juddmonte bred and raced Distant View, who won the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and ran second in the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes during his 3-year-old season. In training at 4, Distant View had a mishap and was unable to race again. Retired to stud the next year, his first foals arrived in 1997, and Sightseek is from his third crop.

Like Mr. Prospector, Distant View sired racehorses of great ability from his first crop, which included six stakes winners. The best was Observatory, who twice won at the group 1 level in Europe and defeated Giant's Causeway at 3. The previous season, Distant Music won the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at 2 and was the first-crop leader for his sire's 2-year-olds.

A handsome horse with a strong top, very good hindquarter, good length through the body, and very pleasing symmetry and balance, Distant View is out of the Irish River mare Seven Springs, who won a pair of Group 1 races at 2 in France.

Garrett O'Rourke, farm manager at Juddmonte, said, "Our new advertising ploy with Distant View is to call him the solid Saturday-Sunday sire. He's very similar to Seeking the Gold in that regard. If you breed a good mare to Distant View, he'll throw you a Sightseek."

Breeding to race on turf or dirt, O'Rourke said, "The big, strong types like Miswaki, Seeking the Gold, or Distant View can all sire horses who race well on turf or on dirt."

This adds versatility to their offspring, as well as greater demand. "Being a son of Mr. Prospector is a great thing to be as they're not making them any more," O'Rourke said. "He's proven to get a really good horse and the only one at his stud fee level who is proven."

"Commercially, the knock on him is that he gets a horse with a brown-paper wrapper," O'Rourke said. "This guy will throw you invariably a horse without flash, but they are great walkers and will race until they are four or five, which is important in this day. The biggest problem we have with the breed, I'm convinced, is that people are breeding to a pretty horse before they breed to a proven racehorse."

Similar in color - both are chestnut - and even more strongly put together than Distant View, Mutakddim is by Mr. Prospector's son Seeking the Gold.

A stakes winner in Europe, Mutakddim has sired horses with speed who show their best on firm courses. His body length and powerful hindquarters make him a very impressive horse in appearance, and in Lady Tak, he has sired the best sprinting filly in a year with several such talented sprinters. She has the speed to be a worthy challenger of colts at her best trip.

She is the first Grade 1 winner for her sire in the United States, and by succeeding so prominently, she is a powerful advertisement for Mutakddim. Standing at John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm, Mutakddim is a horse "who's always been particular favorite of mine," Sikura said. "We've bred 10 to 12 farm mares to him each year because we've had to really support him. But fortunately, some of our clients like John Franks, the breeder of Lady Tak, said if you like the horse, I like the horse, and sent good mares to him. He's been sold out and oversubscribed the last two years. He's the walk-on who made the team at the big-school camp."

Sikura was attracted to Mutakddim as a stallion prospect because of his deep, high-quality family. He is by Seeking the Gold out of the Seattle Slew mare Oscillate, a half-sister to champion Rhythm. They are out of Grade 1 winner Dancer Number, by Northern Dancer, and their second dam is champion Numbered Account, by Buckpasser.

Sikura worked hard marketing the young stallion and said, "His average foal-crop size was 46 in his first four crops. He's produced well from small books of mares, including mares without much black type."

In order to make the stallion more economically viable, Hill 'n' Dale shuttled Mutakddim to Argentina, and standing there at Haras La Quebrada, the stallion has been very successful, getting a half-dozen group 1 stakes winners in South America.

But Mutakddim won't be shuttling again. "He was extremely popular, bred a big book of mares this year," Sikura said. "He's proven not only to be a great sire in Argentina but also has a Grade 1 winner here. So we're going to keep him close to home. With the quality of mares he's breeding now, I would expect him to ascend to a new level and keep getting better." Standing for $6,500live foal this year, Mutakddim's "stud fee will rise, but he will still be good value," Sikura said.