06/05/2017 12:56PM

Possible Triple Crown sweep for first-crop sires

Barbara D. Livingston
Patch (above), training at Belmont Park on Monday, is expected to represent Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes.

This spring has been a major one in making the careers of young stallions whose first foals are the 3-year-olds of 2017.

First, Always Dreaming, from the first crop of classic-placed Grade 1 winner Bodemeister, captured the Kentucky Derby. Two weeks later, Cloud Computing struck in the Preakness Stakes for Maclean’s Music, the brilliant winner of his only start.

Union Rags is among those with a chance to complete the hat trick this week in New York, as the Belmont Stakes winner is expected to be represented by a first-crop Belmont starter in the one-eyed Patch. The Calumet Farm colorbearer, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby, is looking to bounce back after finishing 14th in the Kentucky Derby.

The 2012 Belmont, in which Phyllis Wyeth’s homebred Union Rags edged up the inside to best Paynter, turned out to be the final start for the winner, who sustained a suspensory injury while training that summer. The son of Dixie Union entered stud the following season at Lane’s End Farm, which has placed a premium on winners of the last and longest American classic.

The farm’s roster was anchored for nearly two decades by 1992 Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, and it currently stands three Belmont winners in successful sire Lemon Drop Kid (1999); Union Rags, who was among last year’s leading freshman sires; and Tonalist (2014), whose first foals arrived this year.

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A.P. Indy, pensioned in 2011, was a prolific source of stamina throughout his career, with his sons and grandsons at stud following in that pattern. Two of his champion sons, Honor Code and Mineshaft, are also residents of the Lane’s End stallion complex. Mineshaft, the 2003 Horse of the Year, is the sire of Belmont Stakes contender J Boys Echo.

Another Lane’s End stallion, Grade 1 winner The Factor, will be represented by a first-crop starter in the Belmont, as his Illinois Derby winner, Multiplier, comes back after finishing sixth in the Preakness. Other stallions represented in the Belmont for the first time include 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (Darby Dan Farm) with Meantime, classic-placed Grade 1 winner Creative Cause (Airdrie Stud) with Twisted Tom, and 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar (Gainesway Farm) with Hollywood Handsome.

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