02/05/2016 2:04PM

Kentucky’s new stallions a top-notch group

Michael Amoruso
Honor Code is one of four new stallions at Lane's End for 2016.

Even without Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the mix, the incoming group of Kentucky stallions for 2016 would have to be considered among the strongest in recent memory. The remainder of this year’s class has combined to win two editions of the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint; international classics that include the French 2000 Guineas and Chilean Triple Crown; two editions each of the Metropolitan Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Donn Handicap; and other major events including the Whitney Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Cigar Mile Handicap, and Dubai Golden Shaheen.

“It’s going to be a great crop of sires, not only ours, but the whole crop in general,” WinStar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden said. “It’s a good group. Hopefully we can get two or three proven sires out of this crop, whether they’re ours or somebody else’s, but we need good sires. Hopefully someone will come forward.”

To see the entire 20-page New Stallions issue as a pdf, click here: http://static.drf.com/PDFs/breeding/2016/NewStallions.pdf

The strongest incoming multi-stallion group in the Bluegrass State belongs to Lane’s End, which adds a quartet of Grade 1 winners in Honor Code (by A.P. Indy), Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song), Mr Speaker (Pulpit), and Tonalist (Tapit). Honor Code earned 2015 Eclipse Award honors as champion older dirt male, with on-track rivals Liam’s Map and Tonalist the other two finalists.

“Tonalist and Liam’s Map – we were at each other all year,” Lane’s End owner William S. Farish said while accepting Honor Code’s Eclipse trophy. “I had great respect for both of them and for their owners, and am also very happy that they get to join Honor Code at Lane’s End and spend the rest of their stud careers. … It’s just been a fabulous year.”

Lane’s End bought into Honor Code, a member of its flagship sire A.P. Indy’s final crop, as a yearling from breeder Dell Ridge Farm. A graded stakes winners as a juvenile, the horse put together his best season as an older horse in 2015, with dramatic late charges to win the Met Mile and Whitney Handicap. He now resides in the stall beside his pensioned sire at Lane’s End.

Front-running Liam’s Map rebounded from a narrow loss to Honor Code in the Whitney to win the Woodward and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Tonalist, third in the Whitney, went on to repeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, then added the Cigar Mile in his career finale.
Tonalist, winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes, is one of several multiple Grade 1-winning sons of two-time reigning leading sire Tapit to retire to stud this year. The horse is from the family of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, champion Plugged Nickle, Grade 1 winners Riskaverse, Sauce Boat, and Christiecat, and leading sire Raja Baba.

Another Belmont Stakes winner retiring to stud this year is Palace Malice (Curlin), who joins the roster at Three Chimneys. The horse captured the 2013 edition of the classic, and returned the following season to win the Met Mile, displaying brilliance along with his stamina.

WinStar Farm also has a strong hand, featuring a quartet of newcomers with classic influences and ties to leading sires. Constitution (Tapit) dominated at Gulfstream Park, winning the 2014 Florida Derby and adding last year’s Donn Handicap with a Beyer Speed Figure of 111. Multiple graded stakes winner Commissioner (A.P. Indy), also from his sire’s final crop, finished a close second to Tonalist in the Belmont. Daredevil (More Than Ready) and Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) were both Grade 1-winning juveniles, and Carpe Diem added the Blue Grass Stakes the following spring.

“The one thing about them is three of the four have different sire lines – Giant’s Causeway, Tapit, and More Than Ready, then Commissioner is an A.P. Indy, so he’s similar to Constitution at a different price point,” Walden said. “In some ways it’s been good, because it allows people to come and look at two or three horses. I feel like from a competition standpoint, if we didn’t stand them, they’d be standing somewhere in Kentucky anyway, so I don’t feel like it’s a detriment to have four new horses at the same time. I’m really excited about these four horses because they all bring something to the table, and I think that gives them a chance to be successful sires. It’s like anything else, they have to do it now, but they’re all going to get their chance.”

Spendthrift Farm, which has revolutionized the stallion business with its incentive programs such as “Share the Upside” and “Breed Secure,” adds six new stallions to its arsenal in Kentucky alone, led by a pair of classic-placed performers in Grade 1 winner Danza (Street Boss), who was third in the Kentucky Derby, and multi-surface stakes performer Medal Count (Dynaformer), who was third in the Belmont. Also beginning their stud careers at Spendthrift are Grade 1 winners Palace (City Zip) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun), plus multiple Grade 2 winner Race Day (Tapit).

Standing his first Northern Hemisphere season for Spendthrift will be Hampton Court (Redoute’s Choice), who launched his stallion career with the recent Southern Hemisphere season at Spendthrift Australia. The Group 1 winner, by one of that continent’s leading sires, is from the family of champion Makybe Diva.

Hampton Court is one of several international influences available to North American breeders this season. French 2000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Bernstein) remained stateside to begin his stallion career at Gainesway, while Hakassan (Sir Cat), winner of the Chilean Triple Crown, is new to Millennium Farms. Both are from outstanding female families, with Karakontie produced from the line launched by two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Miesque, and Hakassan from the family of Triple Crown winner and prominent sire Seattle Slew.

Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern (Offlee Wild) and Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle (Eddington) were stablemates during their racing careers and have remained together in retirement, both joining the stallion ranks at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms.

Other Grade 1 winners retiring to stud in Kentucky for 2016 are Competitive Edge (Super Saver) at Ashford Stud, Jack Milton (War Front) at Crestwood Farm, and Lea (First Samurai) at Claiborne Farm.