07/25/2013 12:44PM

DRF Breeding Hot Sire: Majestic Warrior

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Courtesy Ashford StudMajestic Warrior

Princess of Sylmar’s 38-1 win over a quality field of 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3 sent many handicappers and fans back to the Daily Racing Form and pedigree books to more closely examine her past performances and lineage. The win also generated a lot of anticipation for the next start for Ed Stanco’s homebred, since it would give the filly a chance to prove that her upset win at Churchill Downs was not a fluke.

On July 20, after a 2 1/2-month rest, Princess of Sylmar returned in the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga and impressively took her second consecutive Grade 1 race, overpowering four opponents with a strong early-stretch move under Javier Castellano to record a widening six-length victory. The filly has won six of eight career starts and emerged as the clear leader of her division.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said after the CCA Oaks that Princess of Sylmar would be pointed to the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at the Spa on Aug. 17. Based on the way she handled 1 1/8 miles in both the Kentucky Oaks and the CCA Oaks, the added furlong in the Alabama would appear to be well within her scope.

Stanco, who became involved in the Thoroughbred sport as an owner and breeder more than a decade ago and with partners campaigned multiple Grade 2 winner Capeside Lady, initially planned to breed his stakes-placed Catienus mare Storm Dixie to Grand Slam, a successful sire at Coolmore Stud’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. Grand Slam was reported to have suffered a minor injury the day before the scheduled breeding date, however, and Ashford’s first-year sire Majestic Warrior became the choice instead.

As a racehorse, Majestic Warrior excelled right off the bat for the late owner and breeder and New York Yankees kingpin George Steinbrenner, who operated the Florida-based Kinsman Stable. Majestic Warrior, a son of A.P. Indy, emerged in the competitive 2-year-old world of Saratoga in 2007 to win his 6 1/2-furlong debut by 3 1/2 lengths, and in his subsequent start, he rallied to take the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths.

Majestic Warrior went postward in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park that fall as the favorite but finished a well-beaten sixth, and things never were the same for him. Trainer Bill Mott kept Majestic Warrior out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after finding a separation in the colt’s left front hoof wall and gave him a long break before bringing him back for a 3-year-old campaign. Majestic Warrior never was able to recapture his early form in 2008, finishing no better than fourth in his four starts, all stakes.

The Coolmore-affiliated Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier had bought an interest in the colt after his Hopeful win, and Majestic Warrior was retired to the breeding operation’s Ashford Stud in the fall.

Despite his abbreviated racing career, Majestic Warrior had shown enough talent to draw a lot of interest from breeders, aided by an excellent pedigree. By Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, he was out of multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold. Dream Supreme produced two other stakes winners – Crystal Current, Majestic Warrior’s full sister, and his half-brother Evolutionist, by El Prado – and she was out of Grade 1 winner Spinning Round, by Dixieland Band.

Dream Supreme and Spinning Round, both Steinbrenner homebreds, won editions of the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga, and Spinning Round won at distances of up to 1 1/16 miles.

Majestic Warrior boasted a 3x4 cross to Secretariat, a 4x4 cross to Buckpasser, and a 5x4x5 cross to Bold Ruler in his pedigree. Although he never won beyond seven furlongs, his pedigree suggested he would be able to sire horses who could win at longer distances.

Princess of Sylmar is one of 114 registered foals in Majestic Warrior’s first Northern Hemisphere crop born in 2010 (he also shuttled to La Mission in Argentina for the 2009-10 breeding season). She easily is the best of that group to date, but Majestic Warrior also is the sire of Declan’s Warrior, a dual stakes winner this year whose triumphs include the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes, and Japanese Group 3 winner Best Warrior.

Majestic Warrior also has two other 2013 U.S. stakes winners from his first crop, Ante Up Annie and Rienzi, and another talented runner whose best may be yet to come in Majestic Hussar. That colt, a Joseph Witek homebred who tired to finish fourth in the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes in February after leading through a sub-46-second half-mile, has resumed training for Eddie Kenneally in New York.

Majestic Warrior finished 2012 ranked fourth on the freshman sire list by earnings but first by number of winners. With Princess of Sylmar leading the way, he now is second in progeny earnings behind Midnight Lute on the second-crop sire list through last Monday with more than $2.6 million.

The young sire has been popular at yearling and juvenile auctions – with progeny averages in the $50,000-to-$60,000 range for yearlings in 2012 and 2-year-olds sold at auction this year – and was bred to 167 mares last year, sixth-most among North America-based stallions. Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan said earlier this year that he expected Majestic Warrior’s progeny to improve with age and distance – and that is exactly what is happening.

Princess of Sylmar’s dam, Storm Dixie, won her debut at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and in 10 career starts, she placed in the Crockadore Stakes on turf at Belmont at the same distance. Golden Wave Band, Princess of Sylmar’s second dam, was a three-time stakes winner in New Mexico. The Dixieland Band mare produced 2000 Dubai Duty Free winner Rhythm Band and the Grade 3-placed Musical.

The aforementioned Spinning Round, Majestic Warrior’s second dam, also is by Dixieland Band, giving Princess of Sylmar a 4x3 cross to the late Lane’s End stallion, who was the leading broodmare sire of 2004.