08/05/2004 11:00PM

Sky Classic a heavy turf influence


Much like jockey Todd Kabel's domination of the riding ranks at Woodbine, champion Sky Classic's offspring rule the Toronto track's E.P. Taylor turf course.

Indeed, the 114th Breeders' Stakes, the third jewel of Canada's Triple Crown and the only leg of the series on turf, features seven entrants in the 11-horse field related to Sky Classic, a 17-year-old stallion.

"It shouldn't be a surprise," said Jim Day, who trained Sky Classic and has a son of the sire, His Smoothness, in the Breeders'. "He's been a pretty successful sire, and generally they prefer the turf."

Based on earnings, Sky Classic is sixth on the list of North America's leading turf sires for 2004, and 49 percent of his offspring's earnings have come on the turf.

Another prominent sire is Smart Strike, who is fourth on the turf list even though he never raced on grass. Smart Strike, a grandson of No Class, is also the fourth-leading sire on the continent by overall progeny earnings.

Bred and raced by Sam-Son Farms, Sky Classic was a champion 2-year-old, older horse, and turf horse in Canada and the Eclipse Award-winning turf horse in 1992. Among his victories were the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational and Rothmans International.

Breeders' Stakes favorite Silver Ticket, owned by Sam-Son and ridden by Kabel, is a son of Silver Deputy from the unplaced Easy Goer mare Go First Class. Despite the weak racing records of his dam and second dam Classic Slew (unraced), the turf power in Silver Ticket's pedigree comes from his third dam, none other than No Class.

Fittingly, Sam-Son is expected to have three other participants in the Breeders'.

Rainbows for Luck, a fast-improving son of Epsom Derby winner Benny the Dip, is out of turf winner Rainbow's Classic, a daughter of Sky Classic's champion half-brother, Regal Classic.

Rainbows for Luck's "cousin," Hunt the Rainbow, by Jade Hunter, is also entered in the Breeders'. A maiden, Hunt the Rainbow is out of Rainbow's Classic's full sister Heaven to Earth, who was third in the 1987 Breeders'. Both Rainbow's Classic and Heaven to Earth are out of the champion mare Rainbow Connection.

The fourth member of the Sam-Son Breeders' team is Burst of Fire, a son of Smart Strike.

Smart Strike is also the sire of Strike Em Hard, owned by Dominion Bloodstock et. al. He will be making his turf debut in the Breeders'.

Witness This, owned by Gaillardia Racing LLC, is a Breeders' longshot but sports the Sky Classic breeding. A son of Gold Fever, Witness This is out of the unraced Sky Classic mare Swing, a half-sister to graded stakes-winning grass runner The Name's Jimmy.

His Smoothness, owned by Day's mother, Edna Arrow, has yet to place in three grass starts but has had excuses for each outing and appears to be improving at the right time. A chestnut full sister, First Quarter, is a stakes winner on the Woodbine turf.

Sky Classic has sired more than 35 stakes winners, including Thornfield, winner of the Canadian International and Canadian Horse of the Year, plus graded-stakes winners Stage Classic, Daylight Savings, Illiquidity, and this year's American turf star Nothing to Lose.

Sky Classic stands at Pin Oak Stud in Versailles, Ky., for a fee of $12,500. Smart Strike stands at Lane's End Farm in Versailles for a fee of $25,000.

There is just one offspring of Sky Classic in the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society selected yearling sale on Sept. 7, a colt out of stakes winner Genuine Emerald. Two yearlings by Smart Strike are cataloged.