06/27/2013 2:25PM

Hot Sire: Royal Ascot winner latest success for Scat Daddy

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Scat Daddy, himself a Grade 1 winner on the racetrack, has become a versatile sire, with his latest success the victory of No Nay Never at Royal Ascot.

No Nay Never’s trans-Atlantic jaunt to Royal Ascot and smashing performance in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes on June 20 proved to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the tradition-rich, early-summer meeting.

The Wesley Ward-trained No Nay Never overcame a slow start and set a course record for a 2-year-old of 58.80 seconds going five furlongs, drawing high post-race praise from Ward, who previously won at Royal Ascot in 2009 with Strike the Tiger and Jealous Again. In No Nay Never, Ward and owners Linda Shanahan and Ice Wine Stable have the latest emerging member of a talented, young group of horses who continue to flatter their sire, Ashford Stud resident Scat Daddy, with strong performances on all racing surfaces.

Scat Daddy’s success as a sire came quickly, and the achievements of his first crop once they hit the racetrack in 2011 brought the then-7-year-old back to the spotlight as he dueled with Darley stallion Hard Spun all year at the top of the North American freshman sire list.

Based on the horse’s own racing career, the precocity of his first crop was not surprising. Trainer Todd Pletcher bought Scat Daddy, who was from the first crop of champion Johannesburg, for $250,000 as agent at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale, and expectations for the colt were high from the outset.

Racing for James Scatuorchio, Todd Pletcher, and Todd’s father, Jake, Scat Daddy won his first two races at Saratoga during the summer of 2006, including the Grade 2 Sanford, and then finished second to Circular Quay in the Grade 1 Hopeful after stumbling at the start. The Pletchers sold their interest to Coolmore partner Michael Tabor before Scat Daddy’s next start in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont, and the new co-owner was rewarded with a Grade 1 victory as the colt outfinished Nobiz Like Shobiz in the late stages.

By this point, Scat Daddy was garnering attention for his tactical speed and professionalism, which enabled him to settle just off the pace in the early and middle stages of his races before coming up with strong closing efforts.

After finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Scat Daddy was rested in south Florida and prepared for a run at the Triple Crown. He finished third to Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Grade 3 Holy Bull, and then scored a hard-fought win in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth leading up to the best race of his career. In the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Scat Daddy made an aggressive move for the lead at the quarter pole under Edgar Prado and was all out to post a 1 1/4-length win at Gulfstream, picking up his second Grade 1 victory.

Coolmore partner Derrick Smith bought part of Tabor’s interest following the Florida Derby, and Scat Daddy left the post in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill as the third betting choice.

Unfortunately, Scat Daddy did not fire in a rough trip under the Twin Spires, finishing 18th, and the colt was retired by Pletcher that June after a tendon injury in his right foreleg was discovered. By then, his early promise had become overshadowed by champion juvenile Street Sense’s history-making Kentucky Derby and the emergence of Preakness winner and eventual Horse of the Year Curlin.

Scat Daddy was sent to begin his Northern Hemisphere stallion career at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud division in Versailles, Ky., at a $30,000 fee for 2008 and was shuttled to Coolmore’s Australia division for Southern Hemisphere duties. He was strongly supported in his first season, registering 111 Northern Hemisphere foals in 2009, but as with many young stallions, Scat Daddy’s second and third crops (2010 and 2011 foals) diminished as breeders waited to see how his first group performed on the track.

His stud fee bottomed out at $10,000 in 2011 but would quickly rebound and now sits at its original $30,000. According to Jockey Club statistics, he was bred to 217 Northern Hemisphere mares in 2012; only Cape Blanco, a first-year stallion last year at Ashford, covered more mares.

From 64 starters, Scat Daddy’s first Northern Hemisphere crop produced 29 winners earning $1,521,410, a mere $11,175 ahead of Hard Spun. Five stakes winners hit in 2011, led by Group 2 winner Daddy Long Legs and Grade 3 winner Finale. Most impressively, several members of his first group to race have gone on to rack up stakes wins at ages 3 and 4.

As of June 24, his first crop had earned more than $7.9 million. In addition to the aforementioned pair, his progeny includes multiple Grade 1 winner Lady of Shamrock, Grade 2 winner Handsome Mike, and Grade 3 winners Daddy Nose Best and Shared Property. Scat Daddy would flip spots with Hard Spun on North America’s second-crop list in 2012, and he ranks fourth on the third-crop list for 2013.

Versatility is a calling card among Scat Daddy’s runners. Lady of Shamrock is one of the best turf females in training, and Daddy Long Legs has Group 2 wins on turf in England and on Meydan Racecourse’s all-weather Tapeta surface in the 2012 U.A.E. Derby. Handsome Mike won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on dirt last year and the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on Polytrack in April.

Daddy Nose Best also has graded stakes wins on dirt and synthetic surfaces.

No Nay Never falls right into line in this regard, scoring by two lengths in a Keeneland 4 1/2-furlong maiden race on Polytrack near the end of the track’s spring meet before excelling on the Royal Ascot turf in the Norfolk.

Scat Daddy raced on dirt for the duration of his career, but there is turf influence on both sides of his pedigree. Before taking the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Belmont, Johannesburg was a grass sensation in Europe, winning all six of his starts at six different venues, including Group 1 races in the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes and a stout 1 1/4-length score in what was then the Group 3 Norfolk at Royal Ascot.

Scat Daddy’s dam, the Mr. Prospector mare Love Style, was unraced, but his second dam, the Grade 1 winner Likeable Style, by Nijinsky II, shows a Grade 3 turf win in the Senorita Breeders’ Cup on her résumé. Likeable Style’s daughter and Love Style’s half-sister Grat, a stakes-winning daughter of A.P. Indy, is the dam of Old Time Hockey, who won the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap on turf at Del Mar last year.

No Nay Never’s dam, the Elusive Quality mare Cat’s Eye Witness, won 1 of 12 starts, that coming at Hoosier Park, but is a half-sister to turf stakes winners Cat’s Career and Al’s River Cat; Cat’s Career also won the Grade 3 Ack Ack on dirt at Churchill.

No Nay Never’s second dam, Comical Cat, by Exceller, set a track record of
1:08 1/5 for six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s main track and is a half-sister to both Del Mar Futurity winner Winning Pact and to English highweight Half a Year, who took the Group 2 St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1987.

Based on pedigree, No Nay Never seems to be best suited for sprint distances, and Ward said following the colt’s performance at Royal Ascot that his plan for the colt is to train at Keeneland and then return to Europe for a shot at the 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) Prix Morny at Deauville on Aug. 18.

No Nay Never joins 2013 El Camino Real Derby winner Dice Flavor and Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy as top performers from Scat Daddy’s second and third crops, and several from his first crop enter the summer still going strong as 4-year-olds. One of these, Scatman, showed flashes of potential at Oaklawn Park during the spring of 2012 but now may be rounding into his best form, recently picking up his first stakes win in the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill.

B T Shannon More than 1 year ago
Let me add that it is not JBBA who "deprived" us of Scat Daddy's sire, Johannesburg. JBBA made a smart buy. The mistake is Coolmore's.
B T Shannon More than 1 year ago
What a sire of sires Johannesburg has turned out to be with his first crop, between Scat Daddy and Teufflesberg, sire of Trinniberg. Though his later crops were not as successful, something was clicking with the mares he got first time around and he could have repeated his success. What a shame that we in the Western hemisphere have been deprived of what could have been one of the significant sires of our time.
Matthew Linda Jr. More than 1 year ago
NO NAY NEVER is a royally bred Colt from Scat Daddy. One of many trained by Pletcher, never had an opportunity to become a Champion. Perhaps a hands-on trainer with fewer horses could re-echoe courage rather than retirement. God, please keep - Scat Daddy healthy and 'overwhelming' handsome to the Ladies. Jersey Skip