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DRF Breeding Hot Sire of the Week 3/17-3/23: Hat Trick
By Patrick Reed
Joy Gilbert photo
Japanese champion miler Hat Trick entered stud in 2008 at Walmac Farm in Lexington, Ky., with no small amount of interest as he represented the first Group 1-winning son of Japan’s breed-shaping sire Sunday Silence to stand in Central Kentucky.
His first crop to race has so far produced both a Grade 1 winner and a Group 1 winner, and this month Hat Trick is represented by another breakthrough performer from that cohort. Bright Thought established a world record for 1 1/2 miles in winning the San Luis Rey Stakes on March 16 at Santa Anita, soundly defeating an accomplished field and emerging as an up-and-coming contender in the long-distance turf division. Bright Thought, a 4-year-old colt owned by co-breeder Alex Venneri and Marjorie Dye, covered 1 1/2 miles in 2:22.72, good for a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. That time, accomplished in a race where the first three furlongs were contested on Santa Anita’s downhill slope, eclipsed Hawkster’s world record of 2:22.80 set over the same Santa Anita turf course in 1989.
Hat Trick moved to Antony Beck’s Gainesway in Lexington for the 2012 breeding season, and his syndication was reorganized with Gainesway purchasing a significant interest and Walmac Farm retaining an equity stake as well (the stallion has also shuttled to Australia and South America). The move was announced just as Hat Trick was putting the finishing touches on a season in which he ranked as the fifth-leading freshman sire in North America in 2011 with more than $800,000 in earnings. During that summer, juvenile colt Dabirsim put Hat Trick on the map in Europe by winning three consecutive group stakes in France—including back-to-back Group 1s in the Prix Morny and the Grand Criterium—and receiving the Cartier Award as Europe’s top 2-year-old male.
Last year, two more strong turf runners surfaced from Hat Trick’s first crop. Team Valor’s Howe Great captured three stakes, including the Grade 3 Palm Beach where he defeated Dullahan, and placed in three others. King David, who did not hit the board in four starts as a juvenile and began 2012 in the claiming ranks, suddenly elevated his game in the autumn to score a Grade 1 win in the Jamaica Handicap; he has since finished second in two more graded events, including the Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup in January.
This trend of late development from Hat Trick’s first-crop runners continues with Bright Thought. The stallion’s second crop is represented by French stakes winner Zenji, who captured a listed race as a juvenile last year. All five of Hat Trick’s stakes winners to date have come on turf—he has three stakes-placed dirt runners so far, led by Grade 3-placed Emona—and therefore it comes as no surprise that he has developed a growing reputation among European breeders interested in bringing their mares to Kentucky.
Michael Hernon, director of sales at Gainesway, said that Hat Trick would likely be bred to 125 to 130 mares in 2013 after breeding to 134 last year, and that Bright Thought’s performance will only enhance the stallion’s appeal, particularly at his current fee of $15,000.
“Bright Thought is an exciting horse for the stallion going forward, and Hat Trick’s already shown significant ability as a young sire,” Hernon said. “He did breed to a good quality of mares last year, and plenty of them. He gets good internal support from the syndicate … it’s a good cross section of breeders, including European interests.
“I think being a son of Sunday Silence, Sunday Silence was such a brilliant racehorse, and it’s the Hail to Reason line, so it gives a lot of breeders an opportunity to get some different blood in their mares,” he added. “Hat Trick was a champion himself, and I think his commercial appeal will appreciate.”
Hat Trick possesses no inbreeding through his first five crosses. His dam, the Lost Code mare Tricky Code, won nine races in four seasons and earned more than $600,000, highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Santa Anita. His second dam, the Damascus mare Dam Clever, is a half-sister to Arkansas and Louisiana Derby winner Clev Er Tell and to Smart Queen, who is dam of Grade 3 winner and Saratoga course record-setter Phi Beta Doc and second dam of 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner Dayatthespa.
Bred in Japan by Oiwake Farm, Hat Trick was campaigned by U Carrot Farm from ages three to six and produced his best season by far as a 4-year-old in 2005, when he won four group stakes at a mile, including the Grade 1 Mile Championship at Kyoto and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, to earn champion miler honors in his home country. Hat Trick did not show much interest in racing during eight subsequent starts, and never won at distances longer than a mile, but both Howe Great and King David have already won stakes beyond that distance and Bright Thought took a 1 1/4-mile optional claiming race by 5 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita before his 3 1/4-length rout in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey.
Bright Thought’s pedigree on his dam’s side unfolds nicely to reveal a female family stocked with high achievers. His dam, the winning Smart Strike mare Smart Thought, has produced three winners in addition to Bright Thought; she is a half-sister to stakes winner Rage Till Dawn. Relations get really interesting with Bright Thought’s third dam, Right Word, by Verbatim. She placed only once in six starts during the mid-1980s but produced 10 winners from 11 starters, including Grade 3 winner Ascutney and multiple stakes winner Words of War.
Ascutney, by Lord At War, won the Miesque Stakes on turf at Hollywood and is the dam of 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, English Group 1 winner, and promising Darley sire Raven’s Pass as well as Grade 3 winner and sire Gigawatt. Ascutney’s full sister Words of War produced E Dubai, sire of 2012 Breeders’ Cup winner Fort Larned; and Del Mar Oaks winner No Matter What. No Matter What has in turn produced Grade 3 turf winners Just as Well and Winter View along with the sensational multiple Group 1-winning Rainbow View, who received the Cartier Award as European champion 2-year-old filly in 2008. Right Word is also the dam of multiple stakes winner Word o’ Ransom, who has produced three stakes winners.
It is an understatement to point out that Sunday Silence transformed the Japanese bloodstock industry during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but his potency as a sire has remained confined largely to Japan, until recently. His best son, the brilliant Deep Impact, made inroads in Europe during 2011-2012 with three stakes winners in France, led by last year’s French One Thousand Guineas winner, Beauty Parlour. Hat Trick’s success in the U.S. and abroad will only aid in the promulgation of Sunday Silence’s influence, and Gainesway’s Hernon noted that Dabirsim, now back in training, is scheduled to make his first start of 2013 in April in a Group 3 stakes at Saint-Cloud.
Stateside, Bright Thought will shoot for his first Grade 1 in his next scheduled start, as trainer Jorge Gutierrez told Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman he will point the colt to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard. Three under-the-radar turf horses by Hat Trick to watch are currently training in Florida and California. Tricky Hat, bred and initially raced in Chile, was acquired by an ownership group including Gainesway and shipped to the U.S. last fall. The 4-year-old easily won in his second Northern Hemisphere start at Gulfstream in December but has underperformed as the favorite in two subsequent turf starts in South Florida. Le Fascinator, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly owned by Bret Jones and Gatewood Bell, picked up her second career win at Tampa Bay in February and is entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway. Lastly, Waitwaitdonttellme, a 4-year-old Milt Policzer homebred with name appeal to National Public Radio listeners, notched his maiden win with a late rally on March 15 at Santa Anita.
Ironic that the colt that no one wanted in Kentucky (Sunday Silence) went on to win the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders Cup Classic, make the Hall of Fame, and become, in terms of money won by his progeny, one of the greatest sires in the history of racing, now has his son Hat Trick standing at stud in Central Kentucky. It is a fitting, reasonable...Hail To Reason.