03/12/2015 6:49PM

Leading New York sires: Desert Party

Barbara D. Livingston
Desert Party was the leading freshman sire in New York for 2014.

Leading freshman sire

When Darley moved its homebred Desert Party to Sequel Stallions in Hudson, N.Y., after his second season at stud in Kentucky, the goal was almost certainly to position him as one of the Empire State’s most attractive offerings. So far, so good.

The 9-year-old son of Street Cry led all current New York sires by first-crop earnings, with his initial foals of Kentucky-sired runners comprising nine winners from 38 starters and earnings of $474,780. The figure more than doubled the progeny earnings of the second-place freshman sire, Musket Man, who moved to New York for the 2015 season after beginning his stud career in Louisiana.

Desert Party stands at Sequel Stallions for an advertised fee of $7,500 for the 2015 breeding season. Becky Thomas of Sequel Stallions said the best is yet to come for both Desert Party and his foals.

“We’re just waiting for the big horse,” Thomas said. “He’s got some good horses out there that haven’t started or are coming back, so we are watching carefully to see what happens. He had a great sales year, and they’re being well received.”

Desert Party’s first crop of juveniles was led by Heart’s Song, a filly out of the Cryptoclearance mare Secret Psalm who won 2 of 6 starts in 2014 and earned $138,910. The filly competed at tracks across the Midwest, winning the City of Anderson Stakes at Indiana Grand. She finished third in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs, along with two other stakes placings.

Desert Party’s graded-level offspring also include Can’t Happen Here, who finished third in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. Other notable runners included the stakes winner Party Pooper and the stakes-placed Rousanne.

“They’re big, stretchy, bold babies,” Thomas said. “They have really good balance. They have good hips, good shoulders, but they’re not rippling with muscles. You see a lot of distance to them. Pretty movers.”

Thomas said she is looking forward to the progress Desert Party’s first crop makes into age 3 and beyond, noting his progeny are built and bred to excel at two turns instead of the shorter distances often asked of juveniles.

“Of the Desert Partys that I trained last year, there was only one that was very, very quick, and the rest of them were horses that I felt like were going to be seven-furlong-or-better horses,” she said. “I see a horse that looks like he ought to get his best distance being a little longer than a sprint, not a 5 1/2-furlong-type horse.”

Desert Party himself did the bulk of his running at seven furlongs or longer, winning 6 of 10 starts and earning $928,467. He began his career in the U.S., winning the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, then was sent to the United Arab Emirates to train for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He won the Group 3 UAE Two Thousand Guineas at Nad al Sheba, then finished second by a half-length in the Group 2 UAE Derby before shipping back to compete at Churchill Downs.

He returned to Dubai at age 4, winning the Group 3 Mahab al Shimaal at the newly opened Meydan Racecourse before returning once again to the U.S. He made his final start in the Donald Levine Memorial Handicap at the former Philadelphia Park, winning by 3 1/2 lengths.

Bred in Kentucky by David Smith and Steven Sinatra, Desert Party is out of the winning Tabasco Cat mare Sage Cat. He is among five winners out of Sage Cat, who also produced stakes winner Elliecat.

Desert Party drew headlines as a juvenile when selling to John Ferguson, bloodstock adviser for Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, for $2.1 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale.

After his retirement from the track, Desert Party began his stud career in 2011 at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky. His first crop consists of 86 foals, according to The Jockey Club.

Desert Party is the latest success in the partnership between Darley and Sequel Stallions, which also stands Darley’s Grade 1 winners Alpha and Emcee. The New York farm began standing stallions for Darley in 2012, with the debut of the Grade 1 winner Girolamo, who since has been relocated back to Kentucky.