05/14/2013 5:41PM

Hot sire: Rockport Harbor

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Photo courtesy of Darley
Rockport Harbor moved to Pennsylvania for the 2013 breeding season after six seasons in Kentucky and stands for a $7,500 stud fee at Pin Oak Lane Farm.

Rockport Harbor relocated to Pin Oak Lane Farm in New Freedom, Pa., for the 2013 breeding season after standing his first six seasons at Darley at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky. The 11-year-old Unbridled’s Song stallion has acclimated quite well to his new surroundings, as his penchant for siring winners at all levels has elevated him to the top of the Keystone State’s general sire list heading into the summer.

As of Monday, Rockport Harbor had been represented by 49 winners – also tops in the state – who had earned $1.5 million, putting him some $350,000 ahead of second-place E Dubai.

“He’s the franchise here at the moment,” William J. Solomon, Pin Oak Lane’s owner and manager and a veterinarian, said of his new stallion. “He has more winners than any other sire and more wins. We think he will dominate the Pennsylvania program over the years.”

From his first three crops ages 3 and older, Rockport Harbor has sired 167 winners – with 12 stakes winners – who have earned $11,127,521. He has sired two graded stakes winners: May Day Rose, who won the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2011 and is her sire’s all-time leading earner in North America at $399,570, and Pataky Kid, the winner of last year’s Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. His top earner is Rhein Ange, with $546,563 earned in Japan.

His runners have performed well across the continent, with stakes winners also coming at Saratoga, Woodbine, Delaware Park, Northlands Park, Remington Park, Colonial Downs, and SunRay Park.

Rockport Harbor’s leading earner in 2013 is the 3-year-old Fighting Hussar, who is winless this year but had back-to-back runner-up efforts in Southern California in the Snow Chief Stakes and Echo Eddie Stakes in his most recent starts, beaten less than three-quarters of a length combined. The colt, bred in California by Thomas Bachman, also finished second in the King Glorious Stakes as a juvenile and has bankrolled $234,724 in 10 career starts. He is out of the Grade 3-placed Lightning Pace, by Regal Classic, and is from the family of Grade 2 winner Soldat and Grade 3 winner Mulrainy.

The stallion’s other top runner this year, Unfettered, is 3 for 3 in his career, including a win in last weekend’s SunRay Park and Casino Handicap. The 3-year-old colt was bred in Florida by Sally J. Andersen and is out of the Phone Trick mare New York Jessica, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Unbridled Belle.

Rockport Harbor’s move to Pennsylvania marks a return to the place where he first drew accolades for his talent as a racehorse. His raw speed and precocity helped the state’s racing community hold the spotlight during the second half of 2004 after dual classic winner Smarty Jones dominated the spring and early summer.

Purchased by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm for $470,000 as a yearling at the 2003 Keeneland September sale, Rockport Harbor debuted at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) for trainer John Servis in September 2004 and won his first two starts, at 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 furlongs, by a combined 16 1/4 lengths. Shipped to New York, stretched out, and tested for class in the one-mile, Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct, the gray or roan colt made all the pace and drew off to a 6 1/4-length win.

Rockport Harbor was challenged in his final start as a juvenile, staving off constant pressure from Galloping Grocer to win the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct by a neck over that foe in a gritty performance. Unfortunately, the colt injured his right rear hoof in the race and never would fully recapture his 2-year-old form over the next two seasons, making only four more starts.

He returned as a 3-year-old to finish second in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn but would only race once more that year. At 4, he won the Grade 3 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn in his first start in almost 9 1/2 months, but the scar from his Remsen injury reopened in his next and final start in the 2006 Razorback Breeders’ Cup Handicap.

Rockport Harbor was then retired to Darley to stand at stud with a career record of five wins from eight starts and $324,800 in earnings.

Out of the stakes-winning Copelan mare Regal Miss Copelan and from the family of Grade 2 winner Regally Appealing, Rockport Harbor possesses no inbreeding in his first four generations. Despite a less-than-superlative pedigree, the horse has carved out his niche through the past half-decade as a productive middle-market stallion.

Standing for a $7,500 fee at Pin Oak Lane, the horse attracted substantial interest from area breeders this spring, and his racing accomplishments in Pennsylvania and New York should add to his appeal as a regional sire, Solomon said.

“One, he raced here with John Servis, and he was very popular,” Solomon said as he listed the stallion’s attributes. “Second, he is about as good-looking a horse as you’ll ever lay your eyes on. He’s beautifully conformed, and he produces a lot of speed, which is very helpful here, with the kind of racing we have in the Northeast. For an Unbridled’s Song, he’s got a lot of horses that are [racing] two, three, and four years. He’s got a lot of 5-year-old runners. It seems like his offspring are pretty durable, more so than anybody would have expected.”

E Dubai ranks second on this year’s Pennsylvania sire list with $1.15 million in progeny earnings. The Northview, Pa., resident led the state’s sires in 2012 at almost $8 million in progeny earnings, as his son Fort Larned won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Whitney Invitational Handicap.

Smarty Jones, Silver Train, and Jump Start – solid performers all – round out the top five. They are followed by Wiseman’s Ferry, the sire of reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan; Petionville; the late champion Real Quiet; Offlee Wild; and Eurosilver.