03/04/2016 10:27AM

Leading Florida general/turf sire: With Distinction

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Barbara D. Livingston
With Distinction was the leading active sire in Florida in 2015.

With Distinction was the leading active sire in Florida last year for a number of reasons: Runners, runners, and more runners. And lots of winners.

In 2015, With Distinction had progeny earnings of $3,118,658, and he had the most runners and most winners of all active sires in Florida last year.
The leading sire by progeny earnings in Florida in 2015 was Wildcat Heir, with more than twice the earnings of With Distinction, but he died of colic on Jan. 5, 2015, before the start of the breeding season. The son of Forest Wildcat had stood at Journeyman Stud and was the leading sire in Florida in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

Wildcat Heir may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten for quite some time by owners of his racing stock or potential buyers of his progeny at auction. He has 90 2-year-olds of 2016 and 44 yearlings in his last crop, so he’ll be a force on the track and a presence on the Florida sire lists for years to come.

With Distinction, who stands at Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla., is a son of leading sire Storm Cat out of the Alydar mare Extravagant Woman, and he gets most of his physical characteristics from his sire, especially in conformation. As a racehorse, With Distinction was campaigned by Robert and Beverly Lewis and trained by D. Wayne Lukas. He basically was a sprinter, and he has passed along that specialty in large part to his progeny.

Unraced until his 3-year-old season, With Distinction raced through age 5 and made 29 starts, winning six times. He made 11 starts at a mile or farther and won just one, a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs. His lone stakes win came in the 5 1/2-furlong El Conejo at Santa Anita, and he was second or third in six stakes.

He retired to stand the 2007 breeding season at Hartley/De Renzo, and he has churned out a lot of winners from good-sized crops and has become a prominent fixture on Florida sire lists. In his first six crops of racing age, With Distinction averaged 76 foals per year. He was the leading freshman sire in Florida of 2010, the state’s leading second-crop sire of 2011, and the leading third-crop sire of 2012.

In 2015, With Distinction was represented by one of his best runners, Distinctiv Passion, who a year earlier captured the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes at age 4. Last year, Distinctiv Passion won the Grade 3 Los Angeles Stakes and earned $146,220. His connections thought enough of him to send him last March to Dubai, where he finished 13th in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint. He won the Los Angeles in his first start back in the United States, and later that summer was second in the Green Flash Handicap at five furlongs on turf at Del Mar. This year, he finished sixth in the Midnight Lute in January at Santa Anita. Distinctiv Passion has won 8 of 21 starts and earned $482,650. He is his sire’s second-leading money winner.

With Distinction’s only other stakes winner last year was then-sophomore colt Charlie’s Brother, winner of the $75,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay, a seven-furlong race restricted to registered Florida-breds. Charlie’s Brother won 2 of 5 starts last year and earned $69,500.

With Distinction sired another five horses who placed in a stakes in 2015: Padilla, second in the Mr. Steele Stakes at Gulfstream Park; Fond of Sarah, third in the Tangelo Handicap at Gulfstream; Decisive Moment, third in the $200,400 Presque Isle Mile Stakes; Angie’s Prim Lady, third in the Hard Worker Stakes at Gulfstream; and Corner the Market, second in a pair of stakes at Fonner Park.

The 8-year-old gelding Decisive Moment is the career earnings leader for his sire, with $974,273 from 45 career starts, and he’s a four-time stakes winner.

With Distinction also is the sire of the good sprinter Merit Man, winner of 4 of 9 starts and $462,030, including the Spectacular Bid Stakes at age 3.

With Distinction has sired 12 stakes winners from 497 foals of racing age, a strike rate of 2.4 percent, with 365 starters, 284 winners, and progeny earnings of $19.53 million.

With Distinction, now 15, will stand the 2016 season for a fee of $7,500.