01/19/2018 10:36AM

Midwest stallions: Illinois freshman Ghaaleb starts strong

Barbara D. Livingston
Young Illinois stallion Ghaaleb sired four winners from as many first-crop starters in 2017.

Cherokee Rap, who was Illinois’s leading freshman sire and juvenile sire in 2010, died in 2012 at the young age of 11, dealing a major loss to William Stiritz’s Wildwood Farms. But the Bellevue operation has carried on. Not only is Cherokee Rap still posthumously a perennial leading sire in the Land of Lincoln, but Wildwood has two active stallions among the state’s top 10 sires of 2017, including young gun Ghaaleb.

Ghaaleb, the only freshman sire in Illinois for 2017, came out firing, with four winners from as many starters. His bankroll of $142,837 not only made him the state’s overall leading juvenile sire, he checked in seventh among all active sires. Wildwood stablemate Well Positioned was fifth on the general sires list and second on the juvenile sires list.

Ghaaleb’s first crop was led by Ghaaleb’s Winner, a homebred for Stiritz who put together a record of 5-2-0-3 in 2017. The gelding finished third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, two lengths behind Barry Lee, who was subsequently graded stakes placed in New York. Ghaaleb’s Winner also finished third in both the Sun Power Stakes and Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity at Hawthorne.

Caleb’s Heir, another son of Ghaaleb, was second in the Sun Power, while Isabellacannetella was third in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante.

Ghaaleb, a son of Unbridled’s Song, won 2 of 4 career starts, all for Shadwell Stables, which had purchased him for $650,000 as a yearling. Stiritz later acquired the stallion prospect for $42,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, and stands him at Wildwood for a private fee. Out of the Storm Cat mare Queen’s Lady, Ghaaleb is a half-brother to Grade 3-placed Iqbaal, sire of quick-starting 2-year-olds including stakes-placed Big City Dreamin.

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Following the late Cherokee Rap – whose runners banked $957,296 in 2017 – came Road Ruler, who continued as the leading active sire in Illinois, with runners earning $676,945. The Unbridled’s Song horse, who stands at JB Stables in Burnt Prairie, has led the state’s active general sires list since 2013.

Road Ruler was represented by 21 winners in 2017, led by Flashdance Road, who won 3 of 11 outings for earnings of $69,541. The gelding earned his sire’s top Beyer Speed Figure of the season when he posted an 82 winning a five-furlong claiming race in August on the Arlington turf. Armando’s Star, a full brother to Flashdance Road, nearly matched that figure two months later, with an 81 Beyer winning a six-furlong optional-claiming event on Hawthorne’s main track. The two geldings accounted for four of their sire’s top seven Beyers in 2017.

Road Ruler, who won 4 of 15 career starts over three seasons, was bred in Kentucky by Taylor Made Farm – which stood his late sire – and Brian Kahn. Out of the stakes-placed Strawberry Road mare Stephanie’s Road, he is a half-brother to stakes winner Drill Hall. His career progeny earnings stand at more than $3.4 million, led by four stakes-placed runners.

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