03/01/2012 10:47AM

New York stallions: Overhaul of sires colony continues in 2012

Barbara D. Livingston
Here Comes Ben at McMahon Thoroughbreds of Saratoga with John McMahon. Here Comes Ben, a Grade 1 winner, is one of several quality first-season sires to join the New York colony.

As new money from the Aqueduct casino gets pumped into the New York-bred program, the state’s stallion colony continues to be significantly overhauled. Old standards such as Freud, Catienus, and Roaring Fever have been joined by proven Kentucky stallions such as Posse, Congaree, Touch Gold, and Bluegrass Cat. This year sees the addition of some quality first-season horses, such as Grade 1 winners Girolamo, Dublin, and Here Comes Ben.

A key event in the face-lift occurred in 2003, when Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and the division title as champion 3-year-old. His New York-bred status was a novelty, and headlines screamed that Kentucky was going to lose its dominance as a stallion hub if this sort of thing continued. Although Funny Cide was conceived in Kentucky, what mattered was that he was foaled into a lucrative statebred program that was trying to lure good stallions within its borders.

Belong To Me and City Zip both started out in New York, but their early successes bought them tickets to Kentucky, which was great for their careers, but not so great for New York breeders. In contrast, Ramsey Farm’s Catienus started out at the home farm in Kentucky but moved to New York for his fourth year, and his owners have shifted him back and forth between New York and Kentucky more than once. Catienus has sired Grade 1 winners Dawn of War and Precious Kitten and currently stands in New York at McMahon of Saratoga for $5,000. This gives Ramsey Farm a presence in New York, a pattern that other Kentucky-based stallion farms have also adopted.

In 2010, the Vinery in Kentucky moved Posse, the leading freshman sire of 2007 and sire of 2009 champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy, to Empire Stud in New York. This became a more long-term strategy when the next year, Empire Stud was renamed Vinery New York. For 2012, Vinery New York moved its operation, along with the name, to Sugar Maple Stud near Poughquag, N.Y.

Posse, by Silver Deputy, was the leading sire in New York in 2011, largely because of his son Caleb’s Posse’s win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Posse is one of three stallions in New York with a 2012 fee of $10,000, along with Freud and Touch Gold. Only two sires will stand for more in-state: Bluegrass Cat, who stands for $17,500, and Girolamo, who stands for $15,000.

Bluegrass Cat will have a new home this year at Vinery New York after standing five seasons at WinStar Farm in Kentucky. His move here for the 2012 season is a joint venture between Vinery and WinStar. Winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and another successful son of Storm Cat, his 2012 fee is the highest in the state, and his 3-year-old colt Sabercat is on the classic trail this spring. Bluegrass Cat is out of a mare by A.P. Indy, and New York breeders should note that he has worked very well with Mr. Prospector-line mares. His best runner, Kathmanblu, is from a mare by Devil’s Bag, so look for Halo as well.

Vinery New York also welcomes D’ Funnybone, who enters his first year at stud with a $3,500 fee. One of the best speed horses of his generation, D’ Funnybone won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Futurity Stakes at 2 and the Grade 2 Hutcheson, Swale, and Woody Stephens Stakes at 3. D’ Funnybone is by the Florida sire D’wildcat, a son of Forest Wildcat, and is out of a mare by Woodman. He ought to love A.P. Indy and other Seattle Slew strains and will probably appreciate the size coming from Unbridled’s Song and other Fappiano-line mares.

Another newcomer to Vinery New York for 2012 is Giant Surprise, a maiden special weight winner at Saratoga last summer. By Giant’s Causeway and out of a mare by A.P. Indy, Giant Surprise also should appreciate the same Fappiano and Mr. Prospector nicks as his sire.

The farm’s roster also includes the Grade 1 winner Frost Giant, a Giant’s Causeway horse whose first foals race this year.

Adena Springs is another Kentucky farm with a strong presence in New York, currently standing five stallions at McMahon of Saratoga: Alphabet Soup, Harlem Rocker, Silent Name (a Japanese-bred), Tiago, and Touch Gold. Alphabet Soup and Touch Gold are both proven sires, and Silent Name’s first foals have just turned 3-year-olds, although Harlem Rocker and Tiago are without foals of racing age.

McMahon of Saratoga also stands the first-year stallion Here Comes Ben, a classy son of the Irish-bred Street Cry who won the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga as a 4-year-old. His fee is $7,500. Here Comes Ben has all sorts of potential with the New York broodmare band as a really viable cross for mares by Storm Cat sons Freud, Catienus, and Roaring Fever. He is inbred to Mr. Prospector and Halo, so give him all the Northern Dancer blood you can find.

Last year, Darley retired Justenuffhumor at Vinery New York, and this son of Distorted Humor stands at McMahon of Saratoga for $5,000 in 2012. This year, Darley sent Girolamo to Sequel Stallions New York, near Hudson, for a fee of $15,000. Winner of the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at 3 and the Grade 1 Vosburgh Handicap at 4, Girolamo is by A.P. Indy and out of Get Lucky, making him a full brother to the dams of Super Saver and Bluegrass Cat. Girolamo is another young stallion who should welcome mares carrying Storm Cat, Deputy Minister, and other Northern Dancer lines especially.

Sequel Stallions New York is also home to Freud, a perennial leading sire in New York. A full brother to Giant’s Causeway, Freud entered stud in New York in 2002 and has worked his own sort of magic over the years. He has 28 stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Giant Ryan and Franny Freud, and has earned his $10,000 stud fee almost exclusively with New York-breds.

Congaree, a former Adena Springs resident by Arazi, now stands at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y., for $7,500. Owned by Janice and Robert McNair, Congaree is a thriving enterprise, currently represented by Grade 1 winner Killer Graces and Grade 2 winner Jeranimo.

Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky has expanded its “Share the Upside” program to include Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes winner Dublin, who stands at Keane Stud near Amenia, N.Y., for $7,500. By Afleet Alex out of a Grade 1 racemare by Storm Bird, Dublin should appreciate returns of Roberto and other Hail to Reason lines, particularly Saint Ballado, who worked well with his sire and grandsire Northern Afleet. Storm Cat could also work, doubling up on Storm Bird, which has been effective. Damascus also looks likely.

Bank Heist retires to Kaz Hill Farm. By Maria’s Mon and a half-brother to the champion sprinter Midnight Lute, Bank Heist stands for $2,500. Crosses of Real Quiet and other Fappiano lines would repeat the cross that created Midnight Lute, and don’t forget Maria’s Mon’s good nick with Seattle Slew.

Make Reservations brings an exciting bloodline to New York for 2012, entering stud at Tomorrow Bloodstock for $2,500. By Tapit out of a mare by Unbridled, Make Reservations is inbred 3x2 to the great sire Unbridled. Try him with Tapit’s terrific nick with Storm Cat line mares, also with Vice Regent, Wild Again, and Fappiano’s good cross with In Reality.

Grade 2-placed Pick Six is a son of Dynaformer entering stud at Runway Farms for $2,000. His dam is the Grade 1 winner Oh What a Windfall by Seeking the Gold. He should love Northern Dancer, especially Nureyev. His sire, Dynaformer, also had a particular nick with the New York-based sire Dr. Blum.

New York's new studs

Bank Heist 2007 Maria's Mon-Candytuft by Dehere Kaz Hill $2,500 6 1/2f 6 1/2f n/a 94
Bluegrass Cat* 2003 Storm Cat-She's a Winner by A.P. Indy Vinery New York (Sugar Maple) 17,500 7f 1 1/8m 96 106
D' Funnybone 2007 D'Wildcat-Elbow by D'Accord Vinery New York (Sugar Maple) 3,500 4 1/2f 7f 93 102
Dublin 2007 Afleet Alex-Classy Mirage by Storm Bird Keane Stud 7,500 6f 7f 90 97
Giant Surprise 2009 Giant's Causeway-Twisted Sis by A.P. Indy Vinery New York (Sugar Maple) 3,500 6f 6f 90 90
Girolamo 2006 A.P. Indy-Get Lucky by Mr. Prospector Sequel Stallions New York 15,000 6f 1m 86 110
Here Comes Ben 2006 Street Cry (IRE)-Chasetherangingwind by Dayjur McMahon of Saratoga 7,500 7f 1 1/16m 87 104
Make Reservations 2007 Tapit-Formal Reception by Unbridled Tomorrow Bloodstock private 68 68
Pick Six 2004 Dynaformer-Oh What a Windfall by Seeking the Gold Runway Farms 2,000 7f 1 1/8m n/a 100

*Relocating from WinStar Farm, Ky.