02/28/2014 4:57PM

New York leading sires: Bluegrass Cat

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Barbara D. Livingston
Bluegrass Cat is New Year's leading general sire.

Bluegrass Cat enters his third season as a New York sire touting first-place trophies in three different earnings categories for 2013: general, juvenile, and synthetic.

The 11-year-old son of Storm Cat had 120 winners from 224 starters last year, and they cumulatively bankrolled just under $5.5 million, placing him more than $240,000 ahead of Empire State mainstay Freud on the general earnings list. He also finished ahead of Freud on the juvenile list, with 19 2-year-old winners of 2013 and earnings of more than $712,000, and easily outpaced Posse on the synthetic list, with 23 winners and earnings of more than $880,000. Bluegrass Cat finished second to Freud in turf earnings.

Bluegrass Cat is one of several young sires who embody the renaissance in the state’s bloodstock sector over the past several years. The horse has the sort of “A-plus” pedigree that would seemingly guarantee him a spot on a Central Kentucky stallion roster, and indeed, he began his career at owner-breeder WinStar Farm’s expansive facility in Versailles for the 2007 breeding season.

In 2010, he finished as the second-leading freshman stallion in North America and reached the same mark as a second-crop sire in 2011. WinStar partnered with Tim Simon’s Vinery New York operation to stand Bluegrass Cat at Sugar Maple Farm for 2012, and the stallion was among those transferred to Lere Visagie’s Rockridge Stud for the current season, where he stands for $7,500.

Bluegrass Cat’s top earner among nine stakes winners last year was Percussion, who bankrolled $294,800 as a 5-year-old, followed by Laurie’s Rocket, who earned just over $250,000 in 2013 for owner Willis Horton of Will Take Charge fame. Virginia-bred Go Blue Or Go Home took the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine and won a listed stakes at Presque Isle Downs while earning more than $229,000.

Through Tuesday, Bluegrass Cat once again was atop the New York general sire earnings list with more than $500,000. Percussion has twice placed in stakes at Aqueduct this winter, and the stallion is represented by the promising 3-year-old Rprettyboyfloyd, third in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 16.

Bluegrass Cat was one of the more consistent runners of his generation, racing for Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar during 2005-06 and earning more than $1.7 million. He showed precocity by winning his maiden by 6 1/2 lengths in his second career start, then tallied three consecutive stakes wins at ages 2 and 3 to place himself squarely in the Kentucky Derby conversation.

A second in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and a fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes sent him to Louisville as a 30-1 longshot, but Bluegrass Cat validated his potential with a clear runner-up finish behind the brilliant Barbaro. He would race three more times, finishing second in the Belmont and Travers stakes and picking up his Grade 1 win in the Haskell Invitational before retiring to WinStar with a pastern injury.

Bluegrass Cat, whose first New York-bred crop will race next year, could eventually fashion a career similar to Freud and leave an indelible mark on the state’s breeding community. In terms of pedigree, he is likely to never go out of style as a son of the late, great Storm Cat and from a female family that includes A.P. Indy and Mr. Prospector blood and branches out to include such relatives as Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Vosburgh Stakes winner Girolamo, both young sires.