06/11/2007 11:00PM

Proud Citizen out of gate fast as sire

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LAS VEGAS - Proud Citizen impressed from the start. He won his career debut, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at age 2, by 9 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park. Nagging injuries prevented him from doing more as a juvenile, but he returned in late spring of his 3-year-old season to win the Lexington Stakes, which set him up for a huge effort to finish second behind War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. He followed that with a third in the Preakness Stakes.

Because of his high speed and the combination of brilliance and exceptional quality of his pedigree, I tabbed Proud Citizen to be the sleeper of this year's group of freshmen sires. With the spotlight on five glamour first-crop sires - Aldebaran, Empire Maker, Mineshaft, Sky Mesa, and Vindication - Proud Citizen was somewhat under the radar, and I expected his precocious offspring to win at double-digit prices.

While it is very early in the season, Proud Citizen is already making a statement with his babies.

On May 5, Motovato, a 2-year-old colt by Proud Citizen, was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in his career debut and won the 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Delaware Park by nine lengths - reminiscent of his sire's maiden debut. And on Mayo27 at Churchill Downs, Dreabons Legacy, a juvenile filly by Proud Citizen also making her debut, won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race by three-quarters of a length at 14-1 after battling from the start with fractions of 22.30 seconds and 44.76. Her final time of 50.84 was just off the track record of 50.73 set by He's Got Grit on June 26, 2005.

Motovato is out of the Slew City Slew mare Buffalo Bird Woman, and his second dam, Famous Colony, was second in the 1986 Astoria Stakes. His third dam, Famous Partner, won the 1979 Astoria, and this female line has produced many stakes winners and stakes-placed runners. Dreabons Legacy is out of the Highland Park mare Kelly Amber and is a half-sister to Japanese Group 3 winner Grab Your Heart. Her second dam, Pamela Kay, was third in the 1985 Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Lassie behind Family Style.

Instill, the first offspring by Proud Citizen to race, finished second in his career debut at Hawthorne Park on April 23. Instill is out of the Sports View mare Eboney Oynx, who descends from a noteworthy female family. Instill's third dam, Accommodate (Honest Pleasure), is a half-sister to 1975 3-year-old champion Wajima (Bold Ruler) and also to multiple stakes winner and successful stallion Naskra (Nasram).

Proud Citizen could really be the next breakout stallion by Gone West, a sire of sires whose other successful sons at stud include Mr. Greeley, Elusive Quality, Grand Slam, Came Home, and Double Honor. Most noteworthy is his female family, which sets him apart from all other stallions.

His female family has produced three giants of the breeding industry - Northern Dancer, Danehill, and Machiavellian - and what seems a never-ending number of stakes winners. When Proud Citizen is bred to mares who have any of these three stallions in their pedigree, the result could be magic, because it creates female family inbreeding (FFI) to Natalma, one of the most influential broodmares of the last century.

Other freshmen sires making an impact

There are a number of 2007 freshmen sires who are making noise with their juveniles, most notably Posse, Trust N Luck, Zavata, Premeditation, Authenticate, Full Mandate, Cactus Ridge, Aldebaran, Sky Mesa, Najran, and Early Flyer. Another first-crop sire whom I predict big things from - Wiseman's Ferry - also had an impressive first-out winner when Fort Drum, out of the Gulch mare Elmira Gulch, won a five-furlong maiden race for New York-breds on June 1.

Posse (Silver Deputy), who had seven career victories including five stakes, established a five-furlong track record of 57.35 seconds at Fair Grounds. He had two winners May 26 at Churchill Downs, when Posse Valley and Kodiak Kowboy won the two maiden races on the card. The next day, Posse had his third winner when My Little Cokie, a filly out of the Gilded Time mare Gilded Thunderbird, won a 4o1/2-furlong maiden race at Golden Gate Fields.

On June 1, Lambada, a 2-year-old colt by Posse, romped to a 5 1/2-length victory in a maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs after finishing second May 17. And on June 2, Possetothemax, a colt out of the Twining mare Storm Witch, won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Arlington after finishing third in his career debut at Keeneland on April 20.

Trust N Luck (Montbrook) won the Fountain of Youth Stakes, was second in the Florida Derby to Empire Maker, and was a multiple stakes winner at 2. His offspring are showing the same brilliance, led by recent Cinderella Stakes winner Wonderful Luck.

Cactus Ridge (Hennessy) and Najran (Runaway Groom), who were blessed with blazing speed, were expected to sire runners who would be win-early types. Cactus Ridge was undefeated in four starts at 2, the only year he raced, and three of those victories were in stakes. Najran equaled the world record for one mile on dirt (1:32.24) when he won the Westchester Handicap and also ran six furlongs in 1:08.32 in winning the Phoenix Breeders' Cup. Najran's first winner, Sky Cape, paid $145.60 and was the reason for an $850,456 pick six carryover May 20 at Hollywood Park.

Aldebaran and Sky Mesa also have had their first winners, but there is much more to come from these highly regarded young stallions. Expect to see many of their babies debut at Del Mar and Saratoga.

While there is much anticipation for the first crop of runners from Empire Maker, Mineshaft, and Vindication, offspring of these three stallions should be heard from as they mature later in the year and when the distances begin to stretch out from five furlongs to seven furlongs and beyond.