03/13/2013 3:19PM

Louisiana: Salute the Sarge, leading freshman sire


Salute the Sarge got off to a fast start last year when his Kentucky-sired first crop produced 13 winners and a $490,733 progeny bankroll, enough to put him on top of Louisiana’s freshman sire ranks.

He got a big boost from stakes winner Fishin Frank, who contributed $113,760 to the total. Fishin Frank, out of the Blushing John mare Easytoblush, won Evangeline’s D. S. Shine Young Memorial Futurity and also finished second in the John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes. And he’s getting some national attention this year, too, thanks to his talented 3-year-old son Salutos Amigos, whom Salute the Sarge’s owner, Mike Moreno, campaigns in partnership. Salutos Amigos broke his maiden at Santa Anita in February by 3 3/4 lengths and was part of a strong early pace in last week’s San Felipe Stakes before tiring in the stretch to finish fifth.

[MORE: See a list of Louisiana’s leading sires from 2012]

Salute the Sarge, an 8-year-old Forest Wildcat horse, stood his first two seasons at Walmac Farm, as did Louisiana’s leading general sire, Songandaprayer. He moved to Louisiana for the 2011 season and now stands for Walmac at Jay Adcock’s Red River Farms, which also has the state’s second-ranked freshman sire, Private Vow. Salute the Sarge has a $2,500 fee this year.

Bred by Gulf Coast Farms, Salute the Sarge set a Hollywood track record when he won his five-furlong debut in :58.29. He jumped right into graded company and won immediately, taking the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes in his next two starts. After seconds in the Del Mar Futurity and the Norfolk, both Grade 1s, he was ninth in War Pass’s 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. At three, he won the San Miguel Stakes. Both his race record and his pedigree—which combines the speed of Forest Wildcat with the toughness of Silver Ghost on the female side—appealed to Walmac, said the farm’s managing partner, Johnny T. L. Jones III.

“Forest Wildcat has been percolating along, getting several sons that appear to be pretty good stallions, and he’s always gotten a very typey sort of horse,” said Jones. “He’s had a lot of great sprinters: D’wildcat, Wildcat Heir, I can go down the list. Salute the Sarge was a typical Forest Wildcat in that he was a very typey horse, but he stood over a bit more ground, and he was able to win really good races at more than six furlongs. He could carry his speed two turns.

“And Silver Ghost got a lot of pretty tough racehorses that were not just sprinters,” Jones added, referring to Salute the Sarge’s broodmare sire. Salute the Sarge’s dam, Dixie Ghost, was multiple graded stakes-placed and made 25 starts, and also produced Grade 3 winner Chelokee and Grade 2-placed Mymich. “Silver Ghost had a lot of things in his pedigree that said he wasn’t just going to throw a bunch of sprinters.”

Another plus: Salute the Sarge’s owner, Moreno, had invested in a lot of broodmares.

“When we bought half of the horse from him, we knew that he was going to support him, which made it very appealing,” said Jones. “When we moved him, we’d already gotten two good books. They weren’t big books, but there were some very good mares bred to the horse, so the ones he has out there have more of a license to be good than a typical 40-foal crop by a $5,000 horse.”

Salute the Sarge also is getting some chances in the Southern Hemisphere. Walmac’s Brazilian partner, homebreeder Jorge Cima, has stood Salute the Sarge for several breeding seasons. Salute the Sarge had his first Southern Hemisphere winner in Montevideo, Uruguay, last month when Grand Salute won his debut at Maroñas, Jones said.