02/13/2015 4:32PM

Leading Kentucky sires: Storm Cat

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Barbara D. Livingston
The late Storm Cat, who stood at Overbrook Farm, continues atop the broodmare sire leaderboard.

Leading Kentucky broodmare sire by earnings

Since the modern Thoroughbred was crafted into existence some 300 years ago, numerous prominent sires have contributed their DNA as genetic building blocks. Ultimately, though, only a handful could be termed true game changers: Eclipse, Lexington, Hyperion, Nearco, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector – individuals of such profound influence, they altered the landscape of the sport itself. These days, few would argue against the late Storm Cat’s inclusion on that elite list of breed-shaping sires.

Chunky and compact, short-necked with offset knees, Storm Cat may not have looked like an earth-shaker when he was born on Feb. 27, 1983. But the W.T. Young homebred was bred in the purple, from a brilliantly fast daughter of Secretariat, by a champion son of Northern Dancer, then the biggest name in all of racing. And Storm Cat did not disappoint.

Storm Cat became a Grade 1 winner, and though not hickory sound, his character was cast of iron to the very core. Hall of Fame trainer James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons long ago surmised it was size of heart that mattered most, and if so, Storm Cat’s ticker must have been enormous. For more than 20 years he handed down class and a burning will to win in ridiculous abundance – first, as a generator of superior runners (27 percent stakes horses from starters), later as a monumental sire of sires and top-flight broodmares.

Storm Cat reigned six times as America’s leading juvenile sire, twice as leading general sire, and in 2014, for the third consecutive year, he stood atop the broodmare sire standings, with nearly $20 million banked by maternal grand-progeny, finishing well ahead of past leaders A.P. Indy, Sadler’s Wells, and Danehill. The 35 stakes winners (counting one steeplechase winner) from Storm Cat’s priceless daughters represented a single-year high for an American-based stallion.

The quality of Storm Cat mares cannot be overstated, and was showcased in high fashion throughout the year and around the globe. Their offspring captured stakes at 26 tracks, from five to 24 furlongs, on dirt, synthetic, and grass, and over jumps. While the two biggest earners were American main-course specialists, 20 of the 35 (57 percent) scored their most important victories on turf, among them, Australian Group 1 winner Trust in a Gust and Japanese Group 1 winner Lachesis.

Storm Cat matrons once again proved remarkably versatile, crossing well with most popular male lines, but in particular gleaming like spun gold when nicked with Mr. Prospector. Fifteen (43 percent) of their 2014 stakes winners were by sons or male-line descendants of that incomparable titan, himself a former nine-time leading broodmare sire. Easily best of this group were Eclipse Award finalist Shared Belief and newly crowned champion older female Close Hatches, both three-time 2014 Grade 1-winning millionaires by paternal great-great-grandsons of Mr. Prospector, but this potent blend also produced grade/group winners Cat O’Mountain, Lemon Drop Dream, Cloud Scapes, Lucky Player, and Strike Charmer. Storm Cat daughters clicked especially well with Mr. Prospector’s son Smart Strike, and, in turn, with his Eclipse Award-winning sons Curlin and Lookin At Lucky – matings that netted six stakes winners last season, plus classic contender Ride On Curlin.

Another potent cross came with Hail to Reason-line stallions, a genetic union that turned out seven stakes winners. Three were by Sunday Silence’s Japan-based son Deep Impact, two by Kentucky’s late Dynaformer, and one each by Australian Keep The Faith (also by Sunday Silence) and Japan’s Taiki Shuttle.

Four inbred stakes winners hailed, like Storm Cat himself, from the Northern Dancer patriarchal line, and another four from that of pensioned A.P. Indy. The Northern Dancer line was notably represented by European Group 1-winning siblings, juvenile Gleneagles and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Marvellous, both by Galileo, from Giant’s Causeway’s group-winning full sister You’resothrilling. The A.P. Indy cross included a trio of stakes winners by America’s 2014 leading general sire, Tapit, among them graded victors Coup de Grace and Snowbell.

Sires unrelated to the above noted lines but who also generated stakes winners from Storm Cat mares included Macho Uno, Pleasant Tap, Monarchos, Indian Charlie, and Manduro.