02/20/2009 12:00AM

Old Fashioned latest in strong line


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Old Fashioned has placed himself as high among the year's classic prospects as his experience allows. Unbeaten in four starts, including the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Monday, the gray colt was the lowest-priced individual prospect in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closed Feb. 15.

The winner of last year's Remsen Stakes before his winter layoff, Old Fashioned returned to the winner's circle in the Southwest with every indication that he is a prospect for the classics who has much improvement ahead.

In the Southwest, Old Fashioned won by 3 1/4 lengths from Silver City, and both are sons of Unbridled's Song. Standing at Taylor Made Farm for $125,000 live foal, Unbridled's Song has sired 75 stakes winners and is on target for a career-topping year.

In addition to the first two finishers in the Southwest, the gray son of Unbridled also has such elite prospects as Dunkirk, the highest-priced American yearling of 2007 ($3.7 million) who won an important allowance this week at Gulfstream, and last year's champion juvenile colt, Midshipman, who was shipped to Dubai after his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last October.

The goal for all these colts is classic success, and that is not surprising since the Unbridled branch of Mr. Prospector is the most classic line of this important sire family descending from Raise a Native and his sire Native Dancer.

And Unbridled's Song also trod the classic trail.

Thirteen years ago, Unbridled's Song began his second season of racing as one of the best classic prospects, and he too had won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. During the spring of his 3-year-old season, Unbridled's Song progressed well through the first part of the year, winning the Florida Derby and the Wood Memorial while overcoming niggling problems with his feet that required special shoes and restricted training.

On Derby Day at Churchill Downs, however, Unbridled's Song was not able to do himself justice, running fifth behind winner Grindstone, who, like Unbridled's Song, was a colt from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled.

Grindstone also beat Unbridled's Song in the race to sire their first classic winner (Belmont winner Birdstone), but overall, Unbridled's Song has been the more successful stallion and more preferred in the commercial market.

Evidence of that is the demand for the stallion's premium colts at the yearling auctions. Among those offered in 2007, both Dunkirk and Old Fashioned were high-profile lots that drew strong bidding.

Bred in Kentucky by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez, Old Fashioned sold to owner Rick Porter for $800,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. Old Fashioned is the second foal out of the Meadowlake mare Collect Call, who won the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes and British Columbia Oaks. She also ran third in the Kentucky Oaks, Vanity, and Milady, all Grade 1 races.

The breeders had purchased Collect Call when she was a 2-year-old for $250,000 at the 2000 Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's September mixed sale from the estate of Marshall Naify.

"She was our first purchase," Lorraine Rodriguez said, although they had been in the horse business previously.

After becoming a graded stakes winner for the Rodriguez stable, the young mare was bred to Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. Collect Call's first foal was the Fusaichi Pegasus filly Kauai Calls, who brought $2 million at the Fasig-Tipton sale of selected yearlings at Saratoga in 2005 and won 2 of her 4 starts, earning $58,200.

"We had never sold a horse at sale until [Collect Call's] yearling filly, and we put Old Fashioned in the sale, and he brought a very handsome price," Rodriguez said.

Since producing Old Fashioned, the mare has a yearling colt by Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and a colt of 2009 by Empire Maker.

Collect Call is boarded at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., Rod Rodriguez said. The Taylor Made advisers also offer suggestions about matings for Collect Call.

"We always consider proven stallions and also the choice of new stars," Rodriguez said. "That was the case with Fusaichi Pegasus, who was a new and successful young stallion.

"We chose Empire Maker because he was a top performer, a young stallion, and it's a tough choice with all the nice stallions out there."

But with the ascent of Old Fashioned to graded stakes winner last year, Rodriguez chose to send Collect Call to the 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year.

"We are going to use Curlin this year with Collect Call," he said. "She was bred on Feb. 16 for the first time, and everything went well."

Rodriguez and his wife own a farm in California called Cottonwood Creek, and they typically have about 15 horses on the racetrack.

Cottonwood Creek Racing, the stable name for the Rodriguez operation, will have a new potential star this year because they still own the Ghostzapper half-brother to Old Fashioned.

"We had him in the [Keeneland September] sale, but we didn't receive the bid we wanted," Rodriguez said of the $635,000 buyback. "If they bring an acceptable price, we sell, and if not, we are happy to race them.

"We are going to race the Ghostzapper and will ship him to our trainer, Chris Paasch, and will begin racing in Southern California."

Considering the luck the Rodriguez stable has found, that could turn out to be old-fashioned fun.