08/30/2009 11:00PM

Juddmonte program shows its muscle


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sunday's impressive Personal Ensign Stakes heroine, Icon Project, was one of six winners last weekend descending from Juddmonte Farms' tremendous breeding program. The group included everything from Grade or Group 1 winners to maiden winners, and they appeared in winner's circles from California to the Curragh.

"It would be nicer if some of them were carrying our silks," quipped Juddmonte's American-based manager, Garrett O'Rourke.

In fact, none of them was, but in the tide of winners one glimpses the influence Khalid Abdullah's breeding program is having here.

The weekend's three graded winners were Icon Project, Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Termagant, and Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap victor Spring House. All three are by Grade 1-winning stallions that Juddmonte bred: Empire Maker, Powerscourt, and Chester House, respectively. Only one of those sires - Icon Project's sire, Empire Maker - still stands under the Juddmonte banner at its Lexington farm. His fee in 2009 was $75,000.

Termagant is the first winner, stakes winner, and Group 1 winner for her sire, Powerscourt. Powerscourt was bred by Juddmonte on a foal-share agreement with Coolmore, which stood his sire, Sadler's Wells. Coolmore chose Powerscourt from a group of horses bred under such terms, and he now stands at Coolmore. Termagant's dam, too, is a Juddmonte-bred. She is Rock Salt, by Selkirk, and Juddmonte sold her to Sheehy Brothers, agents, for $200,000 in 2005.

Spring House, now 7, is from the first of just three crops that Chester House sired before his untimely death from bone marrow cancer in 2003 at age 8. Another Chester House runner fared less well but still hit the board on Sunday. That was the 5-year-old mare Devil House, the Lady's Secret winner in early August. She finished third Sunday behind Luna Vega in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher.

Like his half-brother Chester House, Empire Maker is out of the great broodmare Toussaud. His daughter Icon Project undoubtedly was the weekend highlight for this young sire, but he also got two smaller boosts on Sunday at Arlington Park when A.S. Miles Jr.'s juvenile colt Harken Up and Jim Tafel's homebred 3-year-old Country Flavor both won maiden races. Empire Maker bred between 80 and 90 mares in 2009, according to Juddmonte.

"Where we really start to appreciate Empire Maker is when he starts doing what Chester House has done, get horses like Spring House that show talent at 3, get better at 4, reach a peak at 5, and then keep on doing it year after year, super-sound and very game horses," said O'Rourke. "There are certain horses people look to to get 2-year-old winners, and there are other horses like A.P. Indy or himself that people breed to in order to get classic-type horses or Grade 1 horses. He seems to be going in the right direction for us."

Aptitude, Juddmonte's least expensive United States-based stallion this year at $10,000, also had a stakes winner last weekend when the Gary Lucas and Linda Woods homebred Champagne Attitude took the Iowa Breeders' Oaks at Prairie Meadows.

"You get the feeling that the families are still producing at the very highest level, both from the female family side and the sires," said O'Rourke.

Proud Accolade gets posthumous winners

Another stallion who is having success posthumously is Proud Accolade. A 7-year-old Yes It's True horse, he was euthanized June 16 because of a neurological condition. His death came just 10 days after Mr. Green became his first winner. Since then, Mr. Green has developed into the first-crop sire's richest runner with earnings of more than $75,000 from his four starts at Calder. So far he has placed in three stakes, most recently the Aug. 29 Florida Stallion Affirmed Stakes.

Proud Accolade also has gotten Enumerate, runner-up in the Grade 2 Sanford and now pointing for the Sept. 7 Hopeful, and stakes-placed Gesu from his first crop. These and six other winners this year have combined to put Proud Accolade in third on the freshman sire list with combined progeny earnings of $356,387.

Proud Accolade's yearling average has risen on the updraft of these performances. In 2008, eighteen of his yearlings sold for an average of $14,939 and a $10,000 median. That has gone up so far this year, with seven selling through Aug. 30 for a $24,129 and a $23,000 median. In an economy where yearling prices are down for the most part, that should be happy news for breeders who got to Proud Accolade this season at his $4,000 stud fee.

"It's unfortunate, but sometimes that's the way it goes: The karma kicks in once they pass away," said Sasha Sanan, whose family's Padua Stables raced Proud Accolade and owned him at stud. Padua Stables stood Proud Accolade at Bridlewood Farm at his death.