05/16/2014 6:33PM

Quality additions to Maryland stud roster

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Barbara D. Livingston
Freedom Child is among the new sires in Maryland for 2014.

Malibu Moon began his stud career at Country Life Farm near Bel Air, Md., in 2000. Fourteen years later, his son Freedom Child launches his own second career in Maryland, with Malibu Moon situated among the most respected stallions in the country.

Freedom Child, a Grade 2 winner, is part of an intriguing cast of stallions new to stud or new to the state in 2014, along with a Kentucky Derby winner and a champion at a new stallion facility and the sire of a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner at one of the state’s long-established hubs.

Freedom Child scored his signature win in last year’s Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, romping by 13 1/4 lengths on a sloppy track. The score attracted attention in a 3-year-old crop that also included Malibu Moon’s Kentucky Derby-winning son, Orb – who had defeated Freedom Child in a maiden race the previous autumn.

“It was 100 percent, we wanted a son of Malibu Moon,” said Mike Pons, who, along with brother Josh, oversees the family operation Country Life. “ ‘Moon’ started here, and he made a lot of money for Maryland breeders and for folks all over this region. We thought, ‘Hey, let’s go back to the well.’ And [Freedom Child] had his day when he was as good as any colt in America.”

Pons said Freedom Child, advertised at $3,500, currently has more than 80 mares in his book, and with the farm still working hard to add to that number, there’s an “outside chance” he will breed 100. The ridgling was campaigned by West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable, and B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm – the latter of which stands Malibu Moon in Kentucky and bred Freedom Child. All three partners have stayed in to support Freedom Child as a stallion. Spendthrift and Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs, which has several studs at the new Heritage Stallions, are among the major Kentucky outfits with a presence in the Maryland market this year.

“They help us launch these guys, and in return, they get the opportunity to launch a horse in a lot safer, smaller market than Lexington,” Pons said. “You don’t have to be Danzig or Secretariat Jr. up here.”

Heritage, near Chesapeake City, was co-founded by Louis Merryman and Dr. Brooke Bowman, both with extensive roots in the state’s breeding industry. Adena homebred Hunters Bay is the most expensive stallion on its first-year roster, with an advertised fee of $6,000. The son of Adena sire Ghostzapper, out of multiple Grade 2 winner Smok’n Frolic, was Canada’s champion older male of 2012.

“We’re really trying to keep on with the mares for him to get him a good start,” Bowman said of Hunters Bay. “You’ve got to get the foals on the ground.”

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo relocated from Adena’s Kentucky base to stand at Heritage, while multiple Grade 1 winner Showing Up and Group 3 winner Plan both moved to the Old Line State from Adena Ontario.

Giacomo won the 2005 Kentucky Derby and the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap the following season; he also placed in six other stakes, including a third in the Preakness. Since entering stud in 2007, the Holy Bull horse has sired 14 stakes winners, including Grade 2 winner Disposablepleasure.

Showing Up won his first three career starts, including the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes on dirt, before finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby, his only unplaced outing. The son of Strategic Mission spent the rest of his career on turf and was never worse than third, capturing a pair of Grade 1 events in the Secretariat Stakes and Hollywood Derby. He entered stud in 2009 and is represented by three stakes winners.

Plan’s first foals are juveniles this year. The son of Storm Cat is out of Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Spain, a multiple stakes producer who bankrolled more than $3.5 million.

“You won’t see a pedigree like that every day,” said Bowman, who noted that he bred his own mares to the stallion. “Just a monster pedigree.”

Heritage also is standing first-year sire Despite the Odds, a Grade 3-winning son of Speightstown.

Northview Stallion Station brings a pair to Maryland for 2014 in E Dubai, who relocates from the operation’s Pennsylvania branch, and first-year stallion Buffum. Multiple Grade 2 winner E Dubai currently leads the Maryland general sire list and is best known as the sire of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned.

Grade 3 winner Buffum was a seven-figure yearling campaigned by Godolphin. The 6-year-old son of Bernardini is from the family of champions Gold Beauty, Dayjur, and Sky Beauty and several additional Grade/Group 1 winners, including Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home.