04/22/2015 10:41AM

Easter Bunnette, dam of Havre de Grace, dies at 17


Easter Bunnette, the dam of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, died April 18 due to hemorrhaging caused by foaling her Bernardini colt. She was 17.

Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm said the foal is doing well and has adapted to his new nurse mare.

“He’s a fabulous foal,” Bell said. “We couldn’t be any more pleased and thankful that he’s here and healthy.”

Easter Bunnette, a daughter of Carson City, was bred in Kentucky by Fox Ridge Farm and is out of Grade 2-placed stakes winner Toll Fee, who has become a noted producer of quality broodmares. Among her daughters are Settling Mist, dam of 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist; The Bink, dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Riskaverse and grandam of Group 3 winner Say; Rahfee, dam of Grade 3 winner Tasteyville; and Toll Order, dam of Grade 3 winner Bouquet Booth.

Easter Bunnette won 3 of 11 starts, first for her breeder in the Ohio Valley region, and finally for Ralph Paticchio and then Jack H. Smith III Thoroughbreds at Suffolk Downs, where she went undefeated in three starts.

After being bred to El Prado in her maiden season as a broodmare and failing to produce a foal, Easter Bunnette was sold for $450,000 at the 2003 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Bell’s Nicoma Bloodstock bought the mare as agent for breeder Nancy Dillman.

Easter Bunnette was part of the only book of mares for the ill-fated sire Saint Liam in 2006, and produced her fourth foal the following year, Havre de Grace. The 2011 Horse of the Year and champion older female was a six-time graded stakes winner for owner Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, highlighted by the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes where she bested male competitors.

Havre de Grace was offered at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale, where she sold to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $10 million, a world-record price for a broodmare prospect. Her first foal, a Tapit filly, is a yearling of 2015.

Foals out of Easter Bunnette became highly coveted at auction after Havre de Grace’s success. Brabbham, a Bernardini colt, sold to Darley for $1.2 million in 2011, while Tizavision, a Tiznow filly, brought $1.7 million in 2013.

In total, Easter Bunnette produced 10 foals, with three winners from five runners.

“It is everyone’s dream in this business to associate with a mare like Easter Bunnette,” Bell said. “Most of her foals were of the quality that let you believe they could be champions. Fortunately for breeder Nancy Dillman and owner Rick Porter, Havre de Grace fulfilled that dream being named the 2011 Horse of the Year.”