11/01/2007 11:00PM

Lord of the Dance gives Peak Dancer cachet

EmailFor every successful sire, there are countless stallions whose promising careers fizzle and fade into oblivion. Then every once in a while, a horse comes along and turns expectations upside down.

Such is the story of Peak Dancer, a 10-year-old son of Mt. Livermore who is quickly making his mark as a sire in West Virginia.

With only four registered foals in his first crop of 2-year-olds, Peak Dancer has three winners from as many starters.

And he has a standout in Lord of Dance, a gelding who tore undefeated through four starts, including two stakes, at Charles Town this season, his combined margin of victory adding up to nearly 30 lengths.

Peak Dancer’s owner, longtime Charles Town-based owner-trainer Eddie Householder, wasn’t looking for a stallion prospect when he bought him – sight unseen – in 2003. In fact, Householder assumed he was buying a gelding in the deal, arranged by a bloodstock agent in New York.

Peak Dancer had fallen steadily through the claiming ranks after winning in New York allowance company earlier in his career. And Householder was hoping he’d prove useful in low-level sprints at Charles Town.

When he wrote out the check for the supposed gelding, it didn’t much matter to Householder that Peak Dancer had sold for $650,000 as a yearling at the prestigious Keeneland July sale. Or that he happened to be out of a Mr. Prospector mare, Ballerina Princess, who produced three stakes winners, including multiple graded winner Pico Teneriffe (an earner of $583,646 who has since distinguished herself as the dam of 2007 Canadian classic winner Marchfield).

Peak Dancer’s sterling pedigree extends through his second dam, Aladancer (by Northern Dancer), a stakes-winning half-sister to the dam of multimillionaire and classic sire Cryptoclearance.

At first sight Householder was, however, struck by Peak Dancer’s handsome chestnut physique. Then it became apparent that he had gotten both more and less than he’d bargained for.

Peak Dancer started only once for Householder, giving a dismal performance in a 6 1/2-furlong race for a $5,000 claiming tag on Jan. 3, 2004, at Charles Town.

Breathing problems were making it all but impossible for him to race, and surgery provided no relief. With a career record of 19 starts, 4 wins, 4 seconds, 1 third and $127,975 in earnings, Peak Dancer retired to Householder’s 10-acre farm near Charles Town. With any luck, Householder thought, he might recoup some of his investment by racing Peak Dancer’s offspring.

Householder, whose focus is on the racetrack, had stood a few stallions over the past decades, breeding them to his own small band of broodmares and those of a few clients. He’d never sought to build a commercial stallion operation.

But even before Peak Dancer’s 2-year-olds started racing, word spread about his good-looking first crop. In 2007, he covered a dozen mares.

Now, Householder’s phone keeps ringing with broodmare owners inquiring about seasons for 2008. He has set Peak Dancer’s stud fee at $1,000 live foal.

Peak Dancer could no longer be considered a backyard stallion after West Virginia Breeders Classics night, Oct. 20, at Charles Town, when Householder saddled his entire active foal crop as a three-horse entry in the $100,000 West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders Classic.

Two of the geldings, both owned by Householder, finished out of the money, but Lord of Dance, campaigning as a homebred for Householder’s longtime client Stephen L. Lord, justified the entry’s 2-5 odds.

Lord of Dance preceded the Moscarelli Memorial with a win in the Henry P. Mercer Memorial at Charles Town on Sept. 8.

Out of the Our Emblem mare Beautiful Emblem, whom Householder claimed on Lord’s behalf for $12,500 in 2002 at Charles Town, Lord of Dance has earned $104,370.

Householder expects to give Lord of Dance the rest of this year off, but his 3-year-old campaign will be another story.