Updated on 09/15/2011 2:10PM

Pulpit fulfills potential


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Essence of Dubai's victory in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet last weekend was the first stakes success for a progeny of freshman sire Pulpit.

A son of A.P. Indy, Pulpit was bred and raced by Claiborne, and he stands at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky. The handsome bay was one of the most popular sires in this freshman crop and was also the leading first-crop sire of yearlings by average last year.

Dell Hancock said, "It was great to see Pulpit get a graded stakes winner and have a Breeders' Cup starter in his first crop."

Winner of the Blue Grass and Fountain of Youth, Pulpit was one of the most talked-about horses among the 1997 crop of classic colts that included Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm and Belmont winner Touch Gold.

Pulpit led the Kentucky Derby field through the first mile before finishing a game fourth. Unfortunately, the colt came out of the classic with an injury that eventually sent him into retirement.

The foals he has sired at Claiborne have looked very promising to judges of prospective athletes, and those who were sold have brought some hefty sums.

The most expensive of these was Essence of Dubai, who brought $2.3 million from Godolphin at the Keeneland September sale last year.

Godolphin is the international racing operation of Sheikh Mohammed, whose primary goal is to win the Kentucky Derby, and for that purpose, Godolphin has acquired some of the best classic prospects in the world.

With regard to the classics, Hancock said, "That's what we're breeding these horses for, and nothing could please us more" than a victory in the Triple Crown races.

For his part, Essence of Dubai is a lovely animal, and he did not hide his light under a basket. Benny Bell Williams, whose family bred Essence of Dubai, said, "He stands over good ground. He's athletic and has scope. He was a special colt, and as evidenced by the price, a lot of people thought so. He thinks so, too."

From the colt's form to date, Hancock said, "He acts like the farther he goes, the better he'll be."

And if all goes well, Essence of Dubai will get to challenge Officer and others over an extended mile in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at the end of the month.

In 1987, the dam of Essence of Dubai, the Summing mare Epitome, took her chance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and emerged the winner over Jeanne Jones. That victory was a large factor in making Epitome the champion of her sex and age, but an injury incurred from running over a lost shoe on the racetrack almost ended her career early the next season and kept her from returning to her best form.

Bred and raced by members of the John A. Bell family, Epitome has proven herself as a broodmare with good-looking and athletic foals.

Williams said, "Epitome is a very attractive individual, with a nice head and neck. She's an average-sized mare, about 15.3, but not really big or rangy. She has a good eye with a lot of expression."

The mare has passed on her most appealing qualities to her offspring, and Williams noted that "she puts a real look to her foals. And there's a great similarity among them, especially the Pulpit [Essence of Dubai] and the Swain yearling colt," which sold Shadwell Estate Co. at the Keeneland September sale this year for $750,000.

"He is a really handy sort of colt with a lot of sense. He's by Swain, who is a very solid, well-made horse; so this was rather a type to type mating," Williams said.

As indicated by the results from the sales ring and the racetrack, "Epitome has had success with a variety of stallions," Williams said. The mare was bred to Mr. Prospector, Dayjur, Holy Bull, and Housebuster prior to Pulpit. Since then, she has the yearling colt by Swain, a colt of 2001 by Cherokee Run, and is back in foal to Old Trieste on a late cover. Due to the cover date this year, no breeding plans for 2002 have

been finalized.

Although Essence of Dubai is the most successful racer to date out of Epitome, the mare has produced two other stakes winners, including sprinter Danjur and Faltaat, who was a year-end highweight while racing in the United Arab Emirates.

Williams recalled, "Neil Drysdale said that Danjur was one of the fastest horses he's ever trained."

Of the mare's other foals, only one is a filly, the Mr. Prospector mare Jordanesque. "She was in training and showed she had some ability," Williams said, but an incident with a starting gate essentially ended her career, and the filly was retired to stud. Now 5, Jordanesque is in foal to Cherokee Run and will be in the November sale to dissolve a partnership.

Due to the sale of Jonabell Farm, Williams said, "Epitome is on

Elmwood Farm outside Versailles," where Benny and John Williams live. She said, "We also have some Harbor View mares, as well as some from Jonabell."

She added that Epitome and Harbor View's champion, Flawlessly, are now roommates.