03/10/2006 12:00AM

Racing trumps breeding potential for Laity

Pat Lang Photography
Laity delivered a much improved effort in the Battaglia, his first start since he was gelded.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Last weekend's racing produced the kind of major-league results that have made Pulpit one of the most sought-after young stallions in America. Claiborne's bay son of A.P. Indy sired the winners of two important stakes, as well as the colt who came home first in the Fountain of Youth.

Wend won the Grade 3 Honey Fox Handicap at Gulfstream, Laity won the Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, and Corinthian finished first in the Fountain of Youth but was disqualified to third for interference in the stretch.

The successes for Pulpit were also successes for Claiborne Farm, which bred and raced Pulpit and stands him at stud. The farm owns and races both Wend and Laity, but the Battaglia winner will not be joining his sire at stud because he was gelded over the winter.

Experience played a major role in the decision to have Laity gelded. A half-dozen years ago, Claiborne had a horse in training named Conserve who had plenty of ability but had some problems focusing on the business of racing. Trained for Claiborne by Frank Brothers, Conserve became a much more straightforward racehorse after being gelded, won a pair of Grade 2 stakes, and earned $628,132.

Although Laity already had significant value as a stallion prospect, Claiborne is foremost in the business to breed racehorses, and after an impressive victory in the Cradle Stakes last fall, Laity had flopped in both subsequent starts: the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

After conferring with Brothers, Seth Hancock felt that Laity, like Conserve, wasn't fully committed to his racing but ought to improve significantly in focus and attitude after being gelded, and since Claiborne owned both the sire and the dam, it would be more beneficial for Laity to show how good he could become as a racehorse.

Laity's performance in the Battaglia was a marked improvement over his final pair of races at 2, and the change in status from colt to gelding apparently has helped him. He is the third stakes winner out of the stakes-winning Forty Niner mare Tour, also the dam of Trip and Joke. Laity has a 2-year-old full sister named Leave, and their dam is due to foal in April to Forestry.

At nearly the same time that Laity was standing in the winner's circle at Turfway, Wend was showing good form to win the Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park.

After a single start at 3, Wend became a stakes winner with 5 victories in 8 starts during her 4-year-old campaign in 2005. The handsome bay daughter of Pulpit took the lead, controlled the pace of the Honey Fox from the start, and made her 5-year-old debut in style.

She now has a half-dozen victories from 10 starts and earnings of $444,350. A powerful and talented racemare, Wend is the latest top-class runner from an outstanding family.

In fact, Wend represents the fourth generation in a succession of stakes winners bred by Claiborne from the important Colosseum family.

Colosseum's stakes-placed daughter Lea Lark (by Bull Lea) produced two stakes-winning daughters of Nasrullah, Lea Lane and Leallah, who was Daily Racing Form's champion 2-year-old filly of 1956. Their full sister Lea Moon was useful enough to run third in the 1958 Mother Goose and became an outstanding producer. She is the fifth dam of Wend.

Wend is the current pinnacle of this line of production and is the first stakes winner from her dam, Thread. A daughter of Topsider, Thread won the Palisades Stakes and Audubon Oaks and is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Hitch, by Cox's Ridge. Their dam is the Majestic Light mare Knot, who won the Debutante Stakes at 2, and is out of stakes winner Loop.

A daughter of Round Table, Loop is one of five stakes winners out of the stakes-placed Nasrullah mare Lea Moon.

In spite of the success that Thread has had in producing Wend, the mare's last two foals (both by Pulpit) unfortunately have died. She was bred back to the stallion on March 6.

Thread's most recent surviving foal is the 3-year-old Bobbin, who is a full sister to Wend. Claiborne sold Bobbin to Ray Bauch for $100,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale.

The most accomplished son of A.P. Indy as a stallion, Pulpit is the sire of 20 stakes winners and stands at Claiborne for a fee of $80,000 live foal. Pulpit has covered books of 109 mares in 2004 and 2005, and will have a book of about 100 mares in 2006. As expected for a stallion with the commercial demand of Pulpit, his yearling average in 2004 was $214,538. Last year, it was $230,000.