07/17/2017 11:26AM

Martini Glass completes story of globetrotting sire


Songbird’s challengers last Saturday in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap were unremarkable in ontrack accomplishment, but the runner-up effort by Martini Glass did produce a long-awaited payoff to a globetrotting story.

Martini Glass is a 4-year-old filly from the last crop of Kitalpha, a full brother to French classic winner and top sire Kingmambo whose journey took him from the U.S. to Europe, Africa, and back to his native country. Kitalpha had sired high-level runners in Zimbabwe and South Africa, but the Delaware Handicap was his first Grade 1 black type earned in the U.S.

Kitalpha, a son of Mr. Prospector, was a Kentucky-bred product of the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings Ltd., out of global champion Miesque, who became a pivot-point broodmare for the internationally renowned program over the past three decades.

He was exported to France as a yearling, but knee surgery kept him from racing. The horse sold at auction as a 4-year-old to an African syndicate and stood at Rumbavu Park Stud in Zimbabwe, where be became a force at stud. He was the country’s leading sire in 2008 and 2009, led by two-time Zimbabwean Horse of the Year Rebecca’s Fleet. He also sired a handful of group-stakes-caliber horses in South Africa.

Back in the U.S., Gerry and Dana Aschinger of Lexington, Ky.-based War Horse Place grew tired of buying shares in stallions and made it known in 2007 that they were in the market to buy a stallion of their own.

At the same time, Zimbabwe’s government began seizing control of the country’s horse farms, and the Aschingers were contacted on short notice, with Kitalpha’s local connections fearing what might happen to the horse if he stayed any longer.

The Aschingers bought Kitalpha off a handful of pictures, essentially sight unseen, and the horse was moved in the middle of the night to safer confines in South Africa, then to the island of Mauritius to quarantine for export. He made stops in the Netherlands and France on his journey west, with another layover in New York before arriving at War Horse Place about 120 days after his journey began.

Kitalpha debuted in the U.S. in 2008 and stood just five seasons at War Horse Place before he died in his paddock of cancer in 2012. He was 13.

Joining Martini Glass among his top runners are Grade 3 winner Unbelievable Dream and Grade 3-placed stakes winners Kharafa and Lots o’ Lex.