04/18/2013 12:08PM

DRF Breeding Hot Sire of the Week: Dixie Union


Dixie UnionTony Leonard photo/courtesy Lane's EndDixie Union

Overanalyze’s win in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 13 accomplished several things. The 3-year-old bay colt now has enough points, 110, to secure a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. He also became another strong classic contender in trainer Todd Pletcher’s overflowing stable, along with Verrazano, Revolutionary, and possibly Palace Malice. Overanalyze also will represent the second-to-last opportunity for his late sire, Dixie Union, to earn a victory in this country’s most prestigious race.

Overanalyze, from Dixie Union’s penultimate crop, was purchased by Mike Repole for $380,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. Debuting at Saratoga in August, the colt immediately flashed his potential with a 1 1/4-length win in a five-furlong maiden special weight race.

He was then elevated to stakes company and finished fourth to stablemate and eventual champion juvenile male Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 2 Hopeful Stakes. But Overanalyze secured his first stakes win in the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 30. He next shipped to Churchill Downs for the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes but could only muster third, as Uncaptured ran away to a clear win.

Returning to New York, Overanalyze answered a lot of questions about his ability and stamina at the end of his 2-year-old season when scoring by a determined nose over likely Kentucky Derby starter Normandy Invasion in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, his first start around two turns.

The colt disappointed in his 3-year-old debut when fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, but he easily dispatched nine opponents at Oaklawn Park in the Arkansas Derby despite racing four and five wide throughout. He also appeared to relish every bit of the race’s 1 1/8 miles, and the colt is now 2 for 2 at that distance.

Overanalyze is out of the unraced Unaccounted For mare Unacloud, who produced six winners from eight foals to race. He is a half-brother to Meadow Breeze, who won the Grade 1 Matron Stakes at seven furlongs, and to the Grade 2-placed Mighty Monsoon. A half-sister to Overanalyze, a filly by Elusive Quality, sold for about $128,000 to Oliver St. Lawrence Bloodstock at the Tattersalls Craven breeze-up sale April 17.

Delving deeper into Overanalyze’s third and fourth dams reveals additional stakes winners, mainly racing on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, but very little stamina. If this gives Derby handicappers pause, then they should recall last year’s Belmont Stakes, in which Dixie Union’s best son, Union Rags, ground out a rail-hugging win in the 1 1/2-mile classic.

As for Dixie Union, while it is true that he unleashed his most dominant performances on the track within the 6 1/2-to-seven-furlong range, he did win the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes at a mile during his 2-year-old season in 1999, and he captured the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 1 Haskell Invitational the following summer.

Purchased by Gerald Ford for $425,000 at the 1998 Keeneland July select yearling sale, Dixie Union was trained in California by Richard Mandella and was campaigned by Ford’s Diamond A Racing Corp. and his breeder, Herman Sarkowsky.

The colt endured two injury-plagued seasons of racing but still managed to win seven times in 12 starts and earn more than $1.2 million. He won five graded stakes, including two Grade 1 races, and in two others – the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2000 Travers Stakes – he suffered minor injuries that compromised his chances. Dixie Union was retired in late 2000 after tearing a tendon in his last start, a win in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.

Dixie Union, who was produced by the Grade 2-winning Capote mare She’s Tops, began his stud career at Ford’s Diamond A Farms in Versailles, Ky., in 2001 but was moved to nearby Lane’s End that same spring to facilitate a more routine breeding schedule. He rose through the ranks to become a productive stallion by the late 2000s while never threatening the versatility and international reach of his own sire, Dixieland Band, who was one of the first Lane’s End stallions.

By 2010, Dixie Union was an integral part of the Lane’s End roster and was expected to help carry on the influence of Dixieland Band, who was euthanized that April due to the infirmities of old age. But Dixie Union would not live out the year, as he was euthanized in July due to a deteriorating neurological condition. The 13-year-old was buried at Lane’s End’s cemetery along with his sire.

Through his first nine crops of racing age, Dixie Union has sired 408 winners from 736 foals, with progeny earnings of just under $36 million. He has sired 46 stakes winners (6 percent from foals of racing age) and 21 graded stakes winners.

Aside from Union Rags, his best progeny include multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire and Florida stallion Gone Astray; Canadian classic-winning filly Dixie Strike; Grade 1 winners Dixie Chatter and Hot Dixie Chick; Grade 2 winners Nothing But Fun and Justwhistledixie; and Grade 3 winners and sires Grasshopper and High Cotton. Dixie Union’s final crop, foals of 2011, numbers 95 foals.

Union Rags, out of the winning Gone West mare Tempo, was bought back by breeder Phyllis Wyeth for $390,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training in March 2011 after selling at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction for $145,000. The powerfully built colt emerged as one of the best of his crop, taking his first three races by open lengths and scoring in the Saratoga Special and Champagne Stakes. He lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by a head to Hansen, and thus the juvenile championship, while continuing to exhibit a tendency to drift in the stretch. But upon his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth – a four-length romp – Union Rags appeared to be a fully professional racehorse.

A third in the Florida Derby and a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby killed all momentum, however, and Union Rags’s previous brilliance was overshadowed by I’ll Have Another’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins heading into the Belmont. In what would be his final start, Union Rags overtook Paynter near the finish of the Belmont for a career-defining win. He was retired in July after suffering a suspensory injury.

Now a third-generation sire at Will Farish’s Lane’s End, Union Rags drew a full book of mares in his inaugural season this year at a fee of $35,000, the highest for a first-year stallion in North America.

Dixie Union’s popularity in the commercial market continued after his passing and will extend for a couple more months until the juvenile sales season winds down. His yearlings averaged just under six figures in 2012, and this spring his 2-year-olds have generated substantial interest in the select sales, averaging almost $250,000.

His daughter T. R. Indy, out of the A.P. Indy mare Sugar Canyon, sold to Nat Rea’s Regis Farms for $485,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale in March, and he is represented by the filly Dixie Blossom, a $300,000 Keeneland April graduate who led the sale’s under-tack show with a one-furlong workout of 9.80 seconds. She was bought by Marc Keller. As of April 17, Dixie Union has six juveniles cataloged for the OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, held Monday through Thursday.