12/13/2013 1:23PM

Hot Sire: Smart Strike


Courtesy of Lane's EndSmart Strike

Smart Strike rose to prominence in the mid-2000s, and in 2007 and 2008, he finished atop the North American general sire earnings list after his sons English Channel and Curlin earned Eclipse Awards and became among the best racehorses of their era.

An Ontario-bred son of leading sire Mr. Prospector, from a Sam-Son Farms female family that has produced numerous Canadian and U.S. champions, Smart Strike moved toward center stage at Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., on the crest of his late-decade success, and following the retirement of A.P. Indy, he has become the anchor of the farm’s 18-stallion roster.

Curlin’s Horse of the Year campaigns in 2007 and 2008 and bankroll of more than $10 million had a lot to do with Smart Strike’s rise to the top of the earnings list, but the sire has remained productive in the years since by getting talented runners on all surfaces, many of whom have displayed stamina.

In winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at Betfair Hollywood Park last Saturday, Streaming became the third top-level winner for Smart Strike in 2013. The 2-year-old filly stepped up against Grade 1 company after winning her maiden first out at Hollywood in November and appeared to relish every bit of the Starlet’s 1 1/16-mile distance, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths over maiden winner Taste Like Candy, by Lane’s End stallion Candy Ride, and defeating stakes winners Untapable, Arethusa, Bajan, and Concave.

Owned and bred by John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms and Edward McGhee, Streaming flashed an impressive degree of professionalism in her second start and could be pointed by trainer Bob Baffert to the one-mile, Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 1 at Santa Anita for her sophomore debut. The filly’s connections have good reason to be excited about her prospects, based on her performance and pedigree.

Streaming’s dam, the Storm Cat mare Teeming, won three races and has produced five winners from as many foals to race, including the stakes winner Cascading, by A.P. Indy, and two stakes-placed horses. Streaming’s second dam is arguably the most influential North American producer of the young 21st century: 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, whose value was reflected in her world-record $14 million sale price at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale.

The Grade 2-winning Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister, is the dam of champion and Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches, Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, Grade 2 winner Casino Drive, and Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron. The female family includes a multitude of Grade/Group 1 horses from around the globe, led by champions El Gran Senor, Peeping Fawn, Aldebaran, and Redoute’s Choice.

Streaming is the latest product of a very fecund breeding pattern for Smart Strike: crossing the sire with Northern Dancer-line mares. Curlin (out of Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister), English Channel (out of Belva, by Theatrical), dual champion Lookin At Lucky (out of Private Feeling, by Belong to Me), and champion My Miss Aurelia (out of My Miss Storm Cat, by Sea of Secrets) are the most accomplished examples of this pattern.

Smart Strike’s own pedigree is well documented, as he is out of Canadian champion and 1991 Canadian Broodmare of the Year Classy ‘n Smart, making him a full brother to Grade 1 winner Full of Wonder and Grade 2 winner Strike Smartly and a half-brother to U.S. and Canadian champion and Grade 1 producer Dance Smartly, by Danzig.

Classy ‘n Smart counts three champions and one Grade 1 winner among her siblings, the best of which, U.S. and Canadian champion Sky Classic, continues his successful stud career at Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud in Versailles. On the racetrack, Smart Strike was a good allowance-level performer who improved to win the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park at age 4 in 1996.

Smart Strike’s sire career will be his legacy, however. At age 21, he is entering the latter stages of his peak period at stud but remains very active, covering 127 mares in 2013, according to Jockey Club statistics. Versatility remains his calling card, as his two other Grade 1 winners in 2013 are the recently retired sprinter-miler Swagger Jack and the classy middle- distance turf filly Centre Court.

Smart Strike’s popularity at auction shows no signs of waning, either, as his yearlings averaged more than $265,000 at auction in 2013, led by a $1 million Keeneland September colt out of Canadian champion and Grade 2 winner Serenading, by A.P. Indy.

As for Smart Strike’s potential to shape the breed in the decades ahead, the next several years will tell the tale. His sons English Channel and Curlin have gotten off to auspicious starts as young sires, with Lookin At Lucky’s first Northern Hemisphere foals due to hit the racetrack next year.