02/23/2017 10:36AM

Leading Florida sires: High Cotton, Gone Astray top key categories

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Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
R Angel Katelyn's four wins helped High Cotton to lead Florida's active general sires by earnings.

High Cotton started strong six years ago as Florida’s leading freshman sire of 2011, and he followed through on the potential in 2016 as the state’s top returning sire by overall progeny earnings.

The 14-year-old son of Dixie Union had 92 winners last year – also the most in the state for a returning sire – with earnings of $3,485,516. His five stakes winners and six stakes wins also led or tied all Florida stallions.

High Cotton stands at Ocala Stud in Ocala for an advertised fee of $4,000. He has seven crops of racing age.

“We’re happy to have him,” said J. Michael O’Farrell Jr. of Ocala Stud. “He’s done extremely well for us. It’s about getting runners, and he gets runners. That’s the name of the game.”

:: FLORIDA SIRES AND JUVENILE SALES: Check out all the content from the special edition ::

Leading the way among High Cotton’s runners was R Angel Katelyn, a filly out of the Southern Halo mare Send for an Angel, whose four wins in six starts during her 2-year-old campaign included the Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and the Juvenile Filly Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park West.

High Cotton was represented in the Florida Sire Stakes series by Meadow Star Stakes winner She’s Incredible, Unbridled Stakes winner Dream of Me, and four others who were stakes-placed during the series. His runners included Dream of Me and Call to Honor, who finished first and third in the Unbridled Stakes for Florida-sired 3-year-old males.

Outside of Florida, High Cotton was led by Karen’s Silk, winner of the Marshua Stakes at Laurel Park.

High Cotton has steadily climbed to the top of Florida’s sire ranks after besting his freshman contemporaries with a crop that included Grade 1 winner Currency Swap. High Cotton finished in the state’s top 10 by overall progeny earnings for the first time in 2015.

“He’s been a solid stallion for us over the years,” O’Farrell said. “He started off with a bang. He had a small book in his third year, which a lot of stallions do when they go to stud, but when the horses ran in his first few crops and showed what he could do, his books started to enlarge again.

“He’s gotten a lot of solid runners and a lot of happy owners. At the end of the day, it’s about happy people, and he gives you a lot of happy people.”

:: LEADING FLORIDA SIRES: Complete earnings charts | Beyer standings ::

While High Cotton led Florida’s active returning sires by progeny earnings, he finished behind the late perennial powerhouse Wildcat Heir among all Florida stallions.

In his third consecutive season atop the overall leader board, Wildcat Heir had 148 winners, the most of any Florida stallion living or dead, and earnings of $6,177,581. His top runners included Grade 2 winner Wild Dude, Grade 2-placed Chief Lion, and Grade 3-placed My Dear Venezuela and Sword Fighter.

Wildcat Heir died in early 2015 at age 15. He had stood at Journeyman Stud in Ocala.

– Joe Nevills

Leading juvenile sire: Gone Astray

With the select Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old sale at Gulfstream Park and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. hosting several prominent sales, Florida is at the epicenter of the nation’s 2-year-old sales action. As those youngsters graduate from the sales ring to the racetrack, they have ample opportunities on the Sunshine State’s busy racing calendar – with the lucrative Florida Sire Series and other events providing added incentive for in-state stallions. Thus, it’s no small thing to be a leading juvenile sire in Florida.

Leading that important category in 2016 was Northwest Stud’s Gone Astray – whose bankroll of $1,323,548 earned by his 2-year-olds edged out the state’s leading active general sire, Ocala Stud’s High Cotton, with $1,222,384. Gone Astray, a son of Dixie Union who stands for $5,000, finished sixth on the general sire list.

Millionaire Gone Astray won three graded stakes during his own racing career, taking the Pennsylvania Derby and Ohio Derby, both Grade 2 events, and following up with the Grade 3 Salvator Mile the next year. He entered stud in 2012 and was third on the 2015 freshman sire list.

Gone Astray’s second crop of juveniles in 2016 was led by four-time stakes winner Three Rules, who followed a score in the Birdonthewire Stakes by sweeping the Florida Sire Dr. Fager, Affirmed, and In Reality divisions. For the victory in the Dr. Fager, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 – the 12th best by a 2-year-old male nationally in 2016.

Three Rules suffered his first loss when sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He finished second in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes last month at Gulfstream Park in his 3-year-old debut. He will look to step onto the classics trail by stretching out in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes next out.

Gone Astray’s juveniles last year also included Pretty Boy Flash, who finished third in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, and Alice B Winkle, third in the Furlough Stakes at Aqueduct.

Gone Astray, who raced as a homebred for the vaunted Phipps Stable, is out of a daughter of champion Inside Information, who also produced champion Smuggler. It is the family of Grade 1 winner Educated Risk.

– Nicole Russo

Leading turf sire: In Summation

In Summation’s showcase runners almost uniformly did their best work on the main track, but a steady stream of performers on the grass helped propel the stallion to the top of Florida’s list of active returning sires by turf earnings in 2016.

The 14-year-old son of Put It Back had 11 turf winners last year and combined progeny earnings on the grass of $579,752. He stands at Ocala Stud in Ocala for $2,500.

Heading up In Summation’s turf runners were stakes-placed Summation Time and Awsum Roar.

“He’s got the feet of a turf horse himself and gets a lot of his individuals with turf feet, so a lot of them do run well on the turf, which is great,” Ocala Stud’s J. Michael O’Farrell Jr. said. “There’s way more turf-sprint races in the world than there used to be 30 years ago.”

A pair of horses tied for In Summation’s highest Beyer Speed Figure performance on the turf, each registering a 96.

Summation Time earned that number finishing second in the Gin Rummy Champ Stakes at Gulfstream Park West and earned Beyers of 95 and 94 earlier in his campaign. Calculator earned a 96 Beyer for a third-place effort in a Del Mar optional-claiming race.

In addition to earning In Summation’s co-highest Beyer in 2016, Calculator finished second in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap and Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and ran third in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes, all on dirt. Other main-track runners by In Summation of note last year included Grade 3 winner Puntrooskie and Puerto Rican Group 1 winner Derek Adrian.

Wildcat Heir had 32 turf winners, the most by any Florida sire and more than double the next-closest sire. His leading runners on the grass included stakes winners Rainbow Heir and Daring Kathy.

– Joe Nevills

Leading freshman sire: Biondetti

Biondetti was a May foal, but nevertheless developed quickly to stand out among his peers. He won three of four starts as a 2-year-old, including the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Italy. As his stud career begins, he seemingly has passed his precocity on to his own foals.

Biondetti, standing at Woodford Stud for $4,000, led the Florida freshman sire list by both earnings and winners for 2016, with 10 winners bankrolling $401,462. Overdriven, standing at Ocala Stud, was second in both categories, with nine winners and $335,495. Biondetti’s juvenile statistics were good enough to place him fifth among active sires on Florida’s overall juvenile sire list.

Biondetti’s earnings in 2016 were led by a pair of fillies: Bella Vincenza made eight starts, winning once and finishing second three times, and Clever Girl won both her starts, which came at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds. None of Biondetti’s runners made an impact in stakes company as a juvenile, but another of his daughters, Lady Racer, finished second in the OBS Sprint Fillies’ Division in January in her 3-year-old debut.

From the first crop of Bernardini, Biondetti is from an accomplished female family. He is a half-brother to Delta Princess, dam of the late three-time Eclipse Award champion Royal Delta. This family is beginning to produce solid young sires. In addition to Biondetti’s success in Florida with his first crop, Royal Delta’s Grade 2-placed half-brother Empire Way was California’s leading freshman sire by earnings last year.

– Nicole Russo