01/23/2015 11:46AM

Leading California sires: Grace Upon Grace

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Brenda Nellums
Grace Upon Grace, California's leading freshman sire of 2015, stands at Lovacres Ranch.

It took little for Grace Upon Grace to lead California’s freshman sires in 2014.

The 8-year-old stallion had six runners who earned $81,872 in 2014. None were winners. His most successful foal was London Legacy, who was winless in four starts, finished second three times, and earned $39,400.

It was still good enough for the freshman stallion title.

“He kind of backed into it, didn’t he?” stallion owner Terry Lovingier said.

Lovingier considered Grace Upon Grace’s 2-year-olds of 2014 to be a test crop, and is hopeful the 2015 season can show the stallion’s ability. Supporting his argument, a Grace Upon Grace yearling colt was purchased for $50,000 by trainer Jeff Bonde at the 2014 Northern California yearling sale.

Grace Upon Grace stands for $2,000 at Lovingier’s Lovacres Ranch in Warner Springs, Calif. Grace Upon Grace had 13 named 2-year-olds in 2014. The 2015 2-year-olds will have a greater presence, Lovingier insists.

“He’s going to do really well,” Lovingier predicted recently. “I’ve bred more to him. He’s got some really nice babies. His best years are still to come.”

Grace Upon Grace’s progeny earnings for 2014 were the lowest in recent memory for a leading freshman stallion. In the last decade, the leading freshman stallion who came closest to Grace Upon Grace’s figure was Royal Cat, who had progeny earnings of $121,971 in 2005.

By comparison, Square Eddie led the 2013 freshman list with progeny earnings of $473,045, ranking 10th on the national list. In 2012, Heatseeker led the California list with earnings of $415,412, ranking 16th nationally. Grace Upon Grace was 37th on the national list in 2014.

In 2014, The Pamplemousse finished second on the California freshman list, with progeny earnings of $68,906. The Pamplemousse had six runners, including one winner. He stands for $2,500 at Rancho San Miguel in San Miguel, Calif.

Only four freshman sires in California sired winners in 2014 – Elusive Warning with three, and Many Rivers, Mesa Thunder, and The Pamplemousse with one each.

This was the second time in four years that Lovacres Ranch had the leading freshman sire in the state. In 2011, Awesome Gambler led first year-stallions with progeny earnings of $287,862. Awesome Gambler, who stands for $5,000 at Lovacres this year, ranked 44th on California’s general sire list in 2014 with progeny earnings of $461,909.

Grace Upon Grace, by the Nureyev stallion Rio Verde, won 3 of 12 starts and earned $162,646 in a two-year career in 2009-10.

After beating maidens in his debut at Hollywood Park, Grace Upon Grace ran in five consecutive stakes from June through September of his 2-year-old season in 2009. He was second in two stakes during that span, the Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes against open company at Hollywood Park and the Graduation Stakes against California-breds at Del Mar.

As a 3-year-old, Grace Upon Grace won twice, an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on turf and a $40,000 claimer at Del Mar, both in sprints. Lovingier said that a bowed tendon compromised Grace Upon Grace’s racing career.

Grace Upon Grace entered stud in 2011 at an advertised fee of $2,000.

Lovingier bred and raced Grace Upon Grace, who is out of stakes winner Chasing Wind, the dam of three stakes winners. Chasing Wind’s most notable foal is Rgirldoesn’tbluff, a four-time stakes winner at Calder, and the runner-up in the Grade 3 First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park in 2008. Rgirldoesn’tbluff earned $214,270.

“He’s got a fantastic pedigree on the bottom side,” Lovingier said.

Lovingier said he is ready to lead by example, investing in better mares for the stallions at his farm. The expenditure is what is needed to support Grace Upon Grace.

“I’m raising the quality of the mares for all my stallions,” he said. “I’m kind of excited about it.”