03/20/2008 11:00PM

Idiot Proof extends Wygods' empire globally


The breeding operation of Marty and Pam Wygod stretches from California to Kentucky, and it includes River Edge Farm in Buellton, Calif., the ownership of Kentucky-based stallions After Market and Yankee Gentleman, and numerous top-level mares in that state.

In the next week, the Wygods' racing stable will go global when Idiot Proof starts in the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai.

For the Wygods, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the California-bred Idiot Proof is the leading horse in a stable that in recent years has included the Grade 1 winner After Market, the 2004 champion 2-year-old filly Sweet Catomine, and other major stakes winners in this decade such as Silent Sighs, Smooth Player, and Tranquility Lake.

Last year, their stable had two finalists for Eclipse Awards - Idiot Proof as outstanding sprinter and After Market as outstanding turf male.

Idiot Proof, the runner-up to Midnight Lute in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park last October, will enter the Golden Shaheen on a three-race losing streak. His last win came in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita last fall. Trained by Clifford Sise, Idiot Proof, 4, has lost twice this year, finishing third in the El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 1 and second in the Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise on Feb. 16.

In the Golden Shaheen, Idiot Proof will try to become the second California-bred to win the six-furlong dirt straightaway race, joining Proud Tower Too, the 2006 winner.

"I think he'll run very big," Marty Wygod said. "He's a funny horse. There are tracks that he likes and tracks that he doesn't like. He prefers plain dirt. It depends on how he ships and how he reacts. I think he's just coming into his own."

The Wygods bred Idiot Proof at River Edge Farm. He is by their homebred stallion Benchmark, one of three River Edge stallions that have thrived in recent years. Bertrando, the champion older male of 1993, led California stallions in progeny earnings in 2007 with $4,235,168. At the age of 19, he remains in high demand among California breeders.

The upstart has been Tribal Rule, 12, whose racing career was cut short by injuries. A winner of 2 of 4 starts and the leading freshman sire in California in 2006, Tribal Rule stood for no breeding fee for his first three years at stud. A breeding season now costs $5,000. Wygod said there has been interest from Kentucky farms about relocating the Storm Cat horse.

Wygod said that River Edge farm manager Russell Drake "can't understand why all the owners of Kentucky farms are so friendly to him."

Speaking of Tribal Rule, Wygod said, "What he's been able to accomplish has shocked me. I didn't have the same confidence as Russell did."

For now, Tribal Rule is not leaving the state, though Wygod wonders if California can support such a promising stallion.

"I think I'd like to keep him here if I can stand him at a price close to what he would stand for in Kentucky," he said. "I think $10,000 is about as high as California will go."

Wygod said he will breed 20 of his mares to Tribal Rule and that the stallion will have a book of more than 140 mares this year, a large number for a California stallion.

The Wygods bred Tribal Rule as well as his dam, Sown, a half-sister to the late stallion Pirate's Bounty, who stood at River Edge and was a leading sire in California.

After Market and Yankee Gentleman were bred by the Wygods.

After Market, who stands for $30,000 at Lane's End in Versailles, Ky., is by Storm Cat out of Tranquility Lake, a half-sister to Benchmark. Tranquility Lake's full-brother Jalil was sold by the Wygods for $9.7 million at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale to Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and is a probable starter in the $6 million Dubai World Cup next Saturday.

Yankee Gentleman, who stands for $7,500 at Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., is by Storm Cat out of the Gradeo1 winner Key Phrase, who is a half-sister to Tribal Rule.

"All the families come back to claiming horses we had 30 years ago," Wygod said. "It's all come together with the old families."