12/20/2013 1:46PM

Hot Sire: Flower Alley


Courtesy of Three Chimneys FarmFlower Alley

The month of May 2012 brought Thoroughbred racing to the national stage for a brief but memorable period, as is always the case when a 3-year-old claims the first two legs of the Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another’s wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness also focused attention on young Three Chimneys stallion Flower Alley, a $2.5 million-earning son of Distorted Humor who captured the 2005 Travers Stakes and ran second in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I’ll Have Another’s come-from-behind wins at Churchill Downs and Pimlico set up high expectations that were dashed quickly when the colt was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes the day before the race. By fall 2012, a second Flower Alley 3-year-old, Neck ’n Neck, surfaced to capture headlines, but that colt was sidelined by a career-threatening injury in the fall while preparing for a start in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap.

Now, a year later, Neck ’n Neck has returned with promise, plus the juvenile Louies Flower emerged on Dec. 15 with a game upset win in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park to throw his hat in the ring as a potential 2014 Triple Crown contender among the Crescent City/Hot Springs contingent.

Florida-bred Louies Flower made his winning bid in early stretch and held on to win by a neck in the Springboard Mile, a stakes that last year lived up to its name by serving as a coming-out party of sorts for Eclipse Award favorite Will Take Charge when he posted a runner-up effort. The colt earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure after clocking a mile in 1:38.83, and has won three starts in a row, all at Remington.

Trainer Bret Calhoun said following the race that Louies Flower was a nominee for the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March and would likely fashion his sophomore campaign around Fair Grounds and/or Oaklawn Park races. However, since that time, it has been reported that New York owner James Covello has bought a majority interest in the colt, and future plans have yet to be announced.

Louies Flower is out of the winning Johannesburg mare Tembisa, a half-sister to Iowa Derby winner and $500,000-earner Swingforthefences. Other notable relatives include graded stakes winners Gild and Lucence, but overall Louies Flower sports a female pedigree deficient in star power that is common to foals out of young, untested stallions in the Kentucky market. I’ll Have Another, last year’s champion 3-year-old male, is from a female family comprised largely of stakes-placed horses through the first three generations (Grade 1 winner and sire Roanoke being an exception). Neck ’n Neck, Flower Alley’s second-best runner to date, has several accomplished immediate female-family relatives, including Midwest-circuit stakes winners Bendecida, Pleasantly Blessed, and Cat Hop.

This is to say that Flower Alley has done well with his early opportunities at stud, getting 12 stakes winners from 275 foals of racing age (4 percent) through four crops. Flower Alley’s own immediate pedigree on his dam’s side tilts toward the Land of the Rising Sun, which could offer partial explanation for the decision by I’ll Have Another’s owner, J. Paul Reddam, to sell the Derby and Preakness winner to Japan’s Big Red Farm during summer 2012 rather than to a U.S. outfit. Princess Olivia, Flower Alley’s dam by Lycius, a Group 1-winning son of Mr. Prospector, also has produced Japanese Group 1 winner Tosen Ra and stakes winner Spielberg, both by that country’s leading sire Deep Impact, and Group 2-placed Blooming Alley, by Symboli Kris S.

Delving deeper into Flower Alley’s bloodlines reveals a far wider scope, highlighted by several interesting offshoots via his fourth dam, Dumfries, by Reviewer. Dumfries is a half-sister to 1970s graded stakes winners and sires Nobiliary and Barcas but more importantly to Lyphard, by Northern Dancer, a leading sire in both France and the U.S. While Dumfries’s daughter Diamond Spring (by Vaguely Noble), Flower Alley’s third dam, started a largely Euro-centric female line of stakes winners, another of Dumfries’s daughters, Dance Review (by Northern Dancer), created a branch of stakes winners in the U.S. that includes Grade 1 winners Another Review and No Review and traces to such luminaries as Grade 1 winner and notable producer Urbane and last week’s Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes winner, Blueskiesnrainbows.

This international breadth gives Flower Alley inbreeding to both Mr. Prospector (3x3) and Northern Dancer (4x4x5). Flower Alley has not sired a grass horse yet on par with his best dirt performers – his other stakes winners include Puerto Rico champion imported filly and U.S. Grade 1-placed My Wandy’s Girl, Grade 1 Ashland Stakes winner Lilacs and Lace, and Grade 3 Delta Princess winner Bouquet Booth – but his pedigree suggests that the stallion is a viable candidate to get turf-oriented runners. Flower Alley was bred to 72 mares in 2013 per Jockey Club statistics, and Three Chimneys has reduced his fee to $7,500 for 2014 as part of the farm’s stated goal on value-pricing its stallions as it forges a partnership with Borges Torrealba.

Neck ’n Neck made his first start in 11 months in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Downs in October, and finished a fast-closing third for trainer Ian Wilkes, and is entered in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 22. If Wilkes’s patient handling pays off for Neck ’n Neck, and Louies Flower makes good on his Springboard Mile win as a 3-year-old, Flower Alley appears poised to be back in the headlines in 2014.