01/05/2014 8:31PM

Hot Sire: Wildcat Heir

Louise Reinagel
Wildcat Heir, who stands at Journeyman Stud in Florida, landed his first Grade 1 winner as a stallion when Heir Kitty won the La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26.

Wildcat Heir, a prominent sire in Florida over the past several years, was represented by his first Grade 1 winner Dec. 26, when then-3-year-old filly Heir Kitty scored a hard-fought upset win in the La Brea on Santa Anita’s opening-day card.

Wildcat Heir, a 14-year-old Grade 1- winning son of Forest Wildcat, was one of the fastest sprinters of the mid-2000s and has consistently passed on that speed to his progeny, the best of which excel at sprint and mile distances on both dirt and turf.

Heir Kitty, a Florida-bred who has spent her entire career racing in California, won her debut in 2012 and finished second in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes in her second start. At 3, she placed in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes and the Sweet Life Stakes but posted disappointing efforts in two graded stakes at a mile, the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes and the Grade 3 Autumn Miss.

Shortened up to six furlongs in late November, Heir Kitty won an optional-claiming race over Hollywood Park’s synthetic track and then moved forward at odds of 13-1 in the seven-furlong La Brea, dispatching 4-5 favorite and Grade 1 winner Sweet Lulu in the final sixteenth. She earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 93, finishing in 1:21.47, and trainer Peter Miller said following the La Brea that he was leaning toward keeping the filly in six- to seven-furlong races.

Heir Kitty is out of the Silver Buck mare Be Silver, who was winless in 13 starts, with one second and eight thirds. Relegated to sprints in all but one start, Be Silver was stakes-placed at six furlongs.

Heir Kitty’s third dam, Leave It Be, by Lawmaker, was the epitome of a tough, sound, and versatile racemare, winning 24 times in 66 starts over five seasons during the late 1980s and early 1990s and racking up an impressive 15 stakes wins at tracks from Florida to Illinois.

One of Leave It Be’s 13 foals, the unraced Afleet mare Starfleet, produced three good stakes winners in Puerto Rico who all won at both sprint and middle distances, led by 2001 Puerto Rican Horse of the Year Estrellero. Starfleet is a full sister to Heir Kitty’s second dam, Beafleet.

Ultimately, though, it is Heir Kitty’s sire line that serves as the foundation for her top performances. Wildcat Heir was homebred in Florida by Everett “Eb” Novak, who, along with Fred Seitz, campaigned his multiple Grade 3-winning sire, Forest Wildcat, during the 1990s.

His dam, the winning Pentelicus mare Penniless Heiress, already had been represented by Wildcat Heir’s stakes-winning full siblings Forest Heir and Forest Heiress by the time her third foal reached the racetrack. His second dam, Royal Ties, by Distinctive, produced three stakes winners, including Grade 2 winner On to Royalty, dam of Preakness Stakes winner and sire Louis Quatorze and Grade 1 winner Royal Indy.

His fourth dam, Stavroula, by Nasrullah, was a full sister to 1955 Horse of the Year and good sire Nashua.

Lightly raced at 2 and 3, with his best effort a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, Wildcat Heir came into his own at 4, capturing the six-furlong, Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Pimlico in 2004. After an 8 1/2-month layoff, Wildcat Heir returned as a 5-year-old in August 2005 at his very best, winning the Teddy Drone Stakes by 5 3/4 lengths and earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 116.

That set him up for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Belmont in October, but after stalking the pace in third through a half-mile, the horse retreated on the turn and then stumbled at the finish, unseating jockey Stewart Elliott. Wildcat Heir had suffered a hairline fracture of the accessory carpal bone and was retired to stand at John Sykes’s CloverLeaf Farms II in Florida.

He had won half of his 12 career starts and earned $424,460, winning three stakes. He earned a Beyer of 90 or higher 10 times, eclipsing the 100 mark five times, and raced at six furlongs in 11 of his 12 starts, with the only exception coming in his very first start – and win – at five panels.

Wildcat Heir was well-received by breeders. His first crop of Northern Hemisphere foals numbered 122, and from that group came Grade 3 winners Derwin’s Star, Richiegirlgonewild, and Wildcat Marie, as well as stakes winners Black Diamond Cat, Dances With Ashley, John Johny Jak, Karmageddon, Sonofawildcat, Wild About Marie, Wild Mia, and Wildcat Heiress.

Many of those horses fashioned long, productive campaigns, such as Derwin’s Star, who won the lucrative Charles Town Oaks at 3 and was still good enough to win the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses and place in the Grade 1 Ballerina at 5. The majority of them also ran best in sprints, with occasional stakes winners at 1 1/16 miles.

Turf success came from John Johny Jak, a four-time stakes winner on grass who suffered a fatal injury immediately following his win in the Kerlan Stakes in 2012; Wild About Marie, another four-time turf stakes winner; and Wild Mia, a two-time turf stakes winner.

After his first foals were born in 2007, Wildcat Heir was transferred for the 2008 season to Journeyman Stud in Ocala, Fla., when Sykes relocated his CloverLeaf II operation to Kentucky. The stallion has remained at Journeyman, operated by former CloverLeaf manager Brent Fernung, and has been bred to more than 100 mares in for four of his six seasons at stud there.

Wildcat Heir finished 2009 as Florida’s leading first-crop sire and ranked fourth among all North American freshman sires. As runners from that first group continued to pile up stakes wins and earnings, he ascended to the top of Florida’s general sire list in both 2010 and 2011. The stallion ranked second to Put It Back in 2012 and ended 2013 in the third slot, behind since-departed leader Leroidesanimaux and runner-up With Distinction. He will stand for a fee of $10,000 this year.