05/15/2014 3:17PM

Midlantic stallions: Any Given Saturday in midst of best season

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Any Given Saturday is in the midst of his best season at stud, as the 10-year-old son of Distorted Humor leads the Pennsylvania general sire list with nearly $2.15 million in progeny earnings through May 4. That number also places the Pin Oak Lane Farm stallion among the top 15 general sires in North America. Momentum was unfortunately stalled in early May when Any Given Saturday’s breakthrough star Hoppertunity was declared from the Kentucky Derby due to injury.

Hoppertunity was removed from the Derby field the day after he was made the 6-1 second choice on the morning line behind eventual race winner California Chrome. Hoppertunity, purchased as a 2012 Keeneland September yearling for $300,000 by trainer Bob Baffert for ownership associates Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, won the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and finished a good second to California Chrome in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. As a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Executiveprivilege, and sporting champion Davona Dale as his third dam, Hoppertunity had his share of followers as a main threat to California Chrome. He will now be pointed to a fall comeback once he recovers from surgery to repair a bone spur in his ankle, according to Baffert.

Hoppertunity is Any Given Saturday’s all-time leading earner, with $610,720. Any Given Saturday was transferred to William Solomon’s Pin Oak Lane in New Freedom for the 2014 breeding season after standing at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., following his retirement in late 2007. Pin Oak lost promising sire Rockport Harbor in August 2013 due to laminitis, making Any Given Saturday’s introduction to Pennsylvania breeders this year even more important. Rockport Harbor, the sire of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and Canadian champion juvenile filly Ria Antonia, had made the same voyage from Darley’s Kentucky farm to Pin Oak and was positioned to become a major sire for the region. He ranks second on the 2014 Pennsylvania general sire list behind Any Given Saturday.

Hey Leroy, a 4-year-old gelding, is the other graded stakes winner for Any Given Saturday through the first five months of 2014. Switched to turf last fall by trainer Manny Azpurua, Hey Leroy won the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes in late March and an optional claimer on May 3 on turf at Gulfstream.

Overall, Any Given Saturday’s progeny have earned more than $12.6 million, with his fifth crop of racing age debuting this spring. His best runner prior to this year was the speedy filly Princess Arabella, who retired undefeated after making three starts in 2011-12, all for John Fort’s Peachtree Stable and Baffert. Princess Arabella took the 2012 Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths to become a leading Kentucky Oaks contender but was retired due to a ligament injury. She foaled a Tapit filly last month.

Any Given Saturday flashed major talent on the racetrack during 2006-07, managing to stand out amidst arguably the most accomplished group of 3-year-olds so far this century. Bred by WinStar Farm’s Racehorse Management division, and campaigned by WinStar with partners, Any Given Saturday won his first two starts at 2 and then finished a close second behind Tiz Wonderful in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He then resurfaced to take the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his first start at 3 before falling a nose short to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby. Any Given Saturday finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby but rebounded to win the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes, and then achieved a signature victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. In that 1 1/8-mile race, he defeated Hard Spun by 4 1/2 lengths, with eventual Horse of the Year Curlin third, and earned a 113 Beyer Speed Figure.

After rolling to another dominant win in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap, Any Given Saturday concluded his racing career with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was retired to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley after winning 6 of 11 starts and earning $1,083,533. Sporting a good mix of Mr. Prospector and A.P. Indy blood (the latter courtesy of his dam, Weekend in Indy), Any Given Saturday was an attractive stallion prospect from the outset. It took a while, but with the emergence of Hoppertunity and others, Any Given Saturday has started to match potential with performance.