03/07/2015 5:01PM

Leading Florida sires: With Distinction

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Barbara D. Livingston
With Distinction is the leading returning general sire for Florida.

Leading general sire, leading turf sire

The death of perennial leading Florida sire Wildcat Heir in January left a vacancy at the top of the state’s sire list, and the spot has been ably filled by With Distinction.

The 14-year-old son of Storm Cat’s ascension to the top of Florida’s returning sire list had been a few years in the making.

Perennially one of the state’s leading sires of juveniles, With Distinction finished second in 2013 by general progeny earnings among living resident Florida stallions and ranked third by turf earnings. A year later, Wildcat Heir’s death helped bump With Distinction to first in both categories.

With Distinction stands at Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla., for an advertised fee of $7,500.

“Sometimes, stallions can be one-flash wonders, but that’s not his case,” said Gayle Frasier, stallion and sales coordinator for Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds. “The shareholders are very supportive of him, and the only ones we’ve lost since I’ve been here are the ones that have retired out of the business completely. Everyone else has stayed in and supported him with mares every year.

“Year after year, he produces nice foals that are able to be precocious,” Frasier added. “I’ve never had anybody call me up and say, ‘I just had the ugliest With Distinction you ever saw.’ ”

With Distinction was represented by 191 starters in 2014, with 112 winners and total progeny earnings of $4,455,964.

His three North American stakes winners were led by Distinctiv Passion, who won the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes at Santa Anita and was second in the Katella Stakes at Los Alamitos.

However, With Distinction’s highest earner of the year was Decisive Moment, a member of the sire’s first crop who won 1 of 6 starts at age 6 for $170,727. Decisive Moment also extended his lead as his sire’s all-time money earner with a win in the Presque Isle Mile Stakes and runner-up finishes in the Memorial Handicap at Calder Race Course and the Eight Miles East Stakes at Gulfstream Park, increasing his lifetime earnings to $926,783.

With Distinction also was represented by Merit Man, the winner of the Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar. Internationally, the stallion’s runners included Nobody Catch Me, a stakes winner in Korea.

With Distinction was second or better among Florida’s resident sires by juvenile earnings from 2011 to 2013, and his crop of 2-year-olds was led in 2014 by Charlie’s Brother, who hit the board in a pair of stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing second in the Inaugural Stakes and third in the Pasco Stakes.

Also of note, With Distinction sired North America’s winningest female runner of 2014, Courtney Ryan. The now-6-year-old mare won 10 of 16 starts on the south Florida circuit, putting her one win behind overall leader Handsup Moneydown.

“They’re precocious as 2-year-olds, but they also have great staying ability,” Frasier said about With Distinction’s foals. “Merit Man almost won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, then he went on to place in the Florida Derby. He’s his first son to go to stud. He’s standing out in California this year [at Lovacres Ranch], so it’s nice that he can have sons that are good enough to go to stud.”

With Distinction won 6 of 29 career starts during his career for earnings of $447,717, including a win in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita. After winning the 5 1/2-furlong El Conejo, With Distinction stretched out to 1 1/8 miles to finish second in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap and was runner-up in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap. He also was runner-up in the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders’ Cup Handicap at six furlongs.

Bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish Jr., With Distinction is out of the unraced Alydar mare Extravagant Woman, who is the dam of seven winners from nine foals to race. He is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Living Vicariously and multiple Grade 1-placed Resort, who is the dam of Grade 2 winner Sightseeing.

With Distinction’s second dam is Grade 1 winner Squander, who is the pivot point for a family that also includes multiple Grade 1 winners Val’s Prince and Goodbye Halo and Japanese Group 1 winner King Halo.