Updated on 09/17/2011 10:56AM

Grand Slam's popularity should soar

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - With two graded victories and several stakes placings, Grand Slam's progeny put the ball out of the park for their sire last weekend. While Cherish Destiny ran second in the Grade 3 Landaluce at Hollywood and Sweet Jo Jo was third in the Grade 3 Debutante at Churchill Downs, Strong Hope and Limehouse were victorious in their races, the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont and the Grade 2 Bashford Manor at Churchill.

As the result of their successes, Strong Hope and Limehouse led the way in pushing their sire into the spotlight and making buyers and breeders more conscious of him in the weeks preceding the year's summer sales.

Only two yearlings by Grand Slam are cataloged for 2003's first yearling sale, the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select sale next Wednesday and Thursday. One of the colts is out of the multiple stakes winner Topsa and is consigned for Carl Icahn's Foxfield by Trackside Farm, which is the co-breeder of Strong Hope.

Tom Evans, owner of Trackside Farm, said that in choosing to patronize a young stallion such as Grand Slam, he "was very impressed by the courage and soundness that Grand Slam showed in coming back from his injury at 2."

Grand Slam, a dark brown son of Gone West, was seriously cut on his hind tendon during the early stages of the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and missed several months of training as he recuperated.

"That was a pretty severe injury," Evans said. "It took him out of action during the time of year when a lot of stallion prospects make their reputation" in the spring prep races for the Triple Crown.

Grand Slam came back in mid-1998, winning the Peter Pan and running second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and third in the Haskell.

Despite missing out on the Triple Crown, Grand Slam in the minds of many breeders confirmed the ability he had shown at 2, when he won the Grade 1 Champagne and Futurity.

Retired to Ashford Stud in Kentucky, Grand Slam has become one of the most favored young stallions, siring large crops and becoming quite popular with sales buyers. The top seller from his first crop was Strong Hope, who brought $1.7 million from Eugene Melnyk at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale nearly two years ago.

Bred in Kentucky by Trackside, Liberation Farm, and Arthur Seelbinder, Strong Hope was an outstanding yearling. Evans said, "He was a special colt from the start. He always had a lot of strength and never had a bump in the road going to the sales."

Like many big, growthy colts, Strong Hope needed some time to mature, and trainer Todd Pletcher was patient with him. Co-breeder Seelbinder said, "Todd has managed this colt so well. How can you do better than have two graded stakes winners in 10 minutes?" which was the situation when Strong Hope and Limehouse won the features last Saturday in New York and Kentucky.

In addition to his looks and the reputation of his sire, Strong Hope attracted more attention as a yearling due to the successes of his half-brother Bahamian Pirate (by Housebuster). Still racing at 8, Bahamian Pirate is a group winner in England and was twice second at Group 1 level. Seelbinder said, "Bahamian Pirate has been so sound and consistent" that he has been one of the top sprinters in Europe the past three years.

The dam of Bahamian Pirate and Strong Hope is the Deputy Minister mare Shining Through. In choosing Grand Slam for her, Evans noted that "physically, Grand Slam suited Shining Through very well, but we also liked the Gone West-Deputy Minister cross, as well as the contribution of speed from Grand Slam."

Shining Through produced a year-younger full brother to Strong Hope named Houndstooth, who sold for $460,000 at the Keeneland September sale last year, and the mare has a colt by Old Trieste in this year's September sale. Evans said, "He's a big, rangy, strong colt of Book 1 quality." Shining Through is back in foal to Mr. Greeley, another son of Gone West.

Limehouse, the weekend's other major winner by Grand Slam, is from the sire's second crop, and the 2-year-old colt is unbeaten in three starts for Dogwood Stable. Bred in Florida by Cheryl Curtain, Limehouse sold for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale last August.

Limehouse is the second foal of his dam, Dixieland Blues, by Dixieland Band. The mare has an Honour and Glory yearling colt and produced a full sister to Limehouse this year.