12/08/2017 1:50PM

Old Forester closing on third straight year as Canada's top sire

Michael Burns
Pink Lloyd's undefeated record this year is boosting Old Forester to the top of the progeny earnings standings.

Pink Lloyd’s undefeated campaign of 2017 will have a looming presence over Canada’s Horse of the Year race, but it also will be the likely deciding factor in Old Forester’s bid to again top the country’s sire list by progeny earnings.

Old Forester, a 16-year-old Forestry horse, leads second-place Silent Name by a margin of $589,927 with about three weeks left in the year. If Old Forester keeps his lead, it will be his fifth reign at the top of the standings, and his third in a row.

Old Forester stands at T.C. Westmeath Stud Farm in Mulmur, Ontario, and is advertised for 2018 at a fee of $4,000 Canadian.

“He’s been a very successful sire for us, and he certainly keeps us on the map,” said T.C. Westmeath’s John Carey. “We’ve had him for 11 years, and he’s been great for us. We always were knocking on the door with fairly decent stallions, but we never got to the top until he came.”

The ascent of Old Forester to the top of Canada’s stallion ranks was quick. His first crop of 2-year-olds hit the track in 2010, and he was the country’s top sire the following year, surpassing longtime Canadian cornerstone Bold Executive with just two crops.

Breeders caught on quickly after his freshman season, with his number of mares bred jumping from 40 in 2010 to 113 in 2011. He has covered fewer than 50 mares in a season just once since then.

Old Forester has sired eight crops of racing age, with 213 winners and progeny earnings in excess of $21.5 million.

What makes the stallion’s performance especially noteworthy is that he planted his flag firmly at the top of Canada’s sire ranks without a graded stakes winner until this year, and he is still seeking his first Canadian classic or Sovereign Award winner.

Pink Lloyd got his sire over the graded stakes hump this year, winning the Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes and Grade 3 Vigil Stakes at Woodbine. The 5-year-old gelding was unbeaten in eight starts this season, all in stakes company from six to seven furlongs at the Ontario track.

If he does not earn Canadian Horse of the Year honors for his 2017 campaign, Pink Lloyd will at least be a front-runner for champion older male and male sprinter, which would give Old Forester his first Sovereign Award winner.

“If you see Old Forester, you’ll see Old Forester in the babies, especially the hind end,” Carey said. “He has the same hind on the babies as he has himself – powerful, which dominates speed, of course. We do notice that a lot of his progeny can go two turns, from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and an eighth, but the best distance for the progeny is around seven furlongs.”

On his own accord, Old Forester won 6 of 22 starts for earnings of $451,080. Racing for owner Live Oak Plantation and trainer Bill Mott, Old Forester won the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes at The Meadowlands, as well as the non-graded Canadian Turf Handicap and Santa Claus Stakes.

Old Forester did his best work on the turf, and his runners have thrived over Woodbine’s all-weather main track, but Carey did not consider those two facts to be especially linked, as popular logic might suggest. Instead, he said Old Forester’s competitiveness was what translated to his foals on the racetrack.

“It is a high possibility that he could get labeled, but if you changed Woodbine into a dirt track, I think Old Forester’s progeny would love it,” Carey said. “We watch the offspring breeze on the training track, which is a dirt surface, and sometimes it’s deeper than you’d like it, and those horses work in 22, 46, they’re fantastic workouts.

“To me, it doesn’t matter what surface you have,” he continued. “If you put a bunch of them on the grass, it’s the same story. They’re going to give you as true a run on the grass as they would on the dirt. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Old Foresters on the grass, you’d see a good result.”

Old Forester, a Kentucky-bred, is not the only member of his family to see high-level success in Canada. Out of the stakes-winning Irish River mare Halo River, Old Forester is a half-brother to 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse.

“It used to be, ‘I have a filly, she’s a half to Old Forester.’ Now with Old Forester, they say, ‘He’s a half to the good filly Catch a Glimpse,’ ” Carey said. “It’s great for Old Forester.”