09/22/2006 12:00AM

Perseverance defines Wanderin Boy's story


Wanderin Boy reached a peak when he won the Brooklyn Handicap on Sept. 16. A 5-year-old by Seeking the Gold, he has overcome several obstacles in his path to grab a Grade 2 victory at Belmont Park and fortify his prospects as a future stallion.

As a very young foal, Wanderin Boy was injured while out in a paddock, and vets believed he would never even race. To disprove their doubts, Wanderin Boy has trod a difficult path that has made his story and even his name more fascinating.

Owner-breeder Arthur Hancock said he named Wanderin Boy as a foal "because he was by Seeking the Gold out of the mare Vid Kid, and the colt's hard start in life reminded me of an old Bluegrass song by Flatt and Scruggs called 'Out in the Cold World' that goes like this: 'Bring back to me my wanderin' boy. For there's no other who's bound to give me joy.' "

A handsome, very well-bred foal, Wanderin Boy had bright prospects for about 30 days. Then he fractured a sesamoid in his left ankle. Hancock and his Stone Farm crew built a mobile pen out of cattle panels to keep the mare and foal in and move them around for six weeks "so that they could have clover and sunshine," Hancock said.

The injury healed well, but a fracture to a sesamoid severely limits a horse's prospects as a sales yearling. As a result, Hancock was in a "deep, dark hole" after paying $350,000 for Vid Kid, the dam of Wanderin Boy, and $150,000 for a season to Seeking the Gold.

With no hope of selling Wanderin Boy for a significant sum at the sales, Hancock had to give Wanderin Boy every chance by putting him in training and letting him show his natural talent.

Once in training, Wanderin Boy did show ability. Then he had a condylar fracture of a cannon bone and had to be laid up. After coming back from that, Wanderin Boy bucked shins. After recovering from that episode and going back into training with Nick Zito, Wanderin Boy really began to show his natural athleticism and won three of his first four starts, including the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap.

Not long afterward, Wanderin Boy had a fracture to the cannon bone of his other foreleg and once again was laid up.

Amazingly, after treatment, however, he showed no appreciable sign of a fracture six weeks following the injury, and Hancock recalled that his veterinarian, Dr. Robert Hunt, said he'd never seen a horse heal this well.

"He said, 'This horse is doing so well he's like an alien,' " said Hancock.

Since returning to racing early this year, Wanderin Boy has won four of his eight starts, with two seconds and a third. His earnings total $498,259, an impressive sum for a horse who wasn't expected to be able to race. Now he's a Grade 2 stakes winner.

Whether helped by an unearthly ability to heal or just his natural athleticism, Wanderin Boy has become another star among the illustrious offspring of Seeking the Gold and Vid Kid.

Wanderin Boy is the fourth stakes horse out of Vid Kid, who is a Pleasant Colony mare. Vid Kid's first foal was the multiple Grade 3 stakes winner Early Warning (by Summer Squall). She also has two stakes-placed offspring, Classical West (Gone West) and Vivid Sunset (Mt. Livermore), who was Grade 2 stakes-placed.

Despite all his troubles, Wanderin Boy is Vid Kid's best racehorse. Unfortunately, Vid Kid was barren in 2003 and 2004 to the Forty Niner stallion Coronado's Quest, and her foal of 2005 died. Vid Kid foaled a Menifee colt on April 26.

Wanderin Boy is one of 76 stakes winners by Seeking the Gold, whose other major winners this year include Belmont Stakes winner Jazil and Wood Memorial winner Bob and John.

Among the other top horses sired by Seeking the Gold are U.S. champions Flanders and Heavenly Prize; European champion Dubai Millennium; Japanese champion Seeking the Pearl; Canadian champion Catch the Ring; Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home; Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cash Run; and Florida Derby winner Cape Town.

Seeking the Gold's sons at stud include the good sires Petionville and Mutakddim, as well as the promising young sire Quest, a winner of the Clark Handicap who stands at Stone Farm.

Seeking the Gold is a 21-year-old son of Mr. Prospector. He stood the 2006 season for a stud fee of $125,000 at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky.