07/02/2007 12:00AM

Smart Strike having an exceptional year



Smart Strike is having a career year at stud and is currently only behind A.P. Indy on the general sire list. Smart Strike is getting high-class winners on all surfaces, and while his best runner to date, Curlin, has achieved success on dirt, the majority of Smart Strike's offspring have a decided preference for grass, including English Channel, Twilight Meteor, Soaring Free, Portcullis, and Sedgefield. On June 23, Pleasant Strike became Smart Strike's latest stakes winner on turf when he won the Arlington Classic. Pleasant Strike is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Colonella, a daughter of English champion Minstrella.


Blazing Fury was a major stakes winner on turf, winning the Saranac Handicap and finishing second in the Turf Classic Invitational and third in the Hollywood Turf Cup. He also finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf as a 3-year-old, ahead of such noted grass runners as Hap, Chorwon, and With Anticipation. On June 22, Blazing Dynamo, a 3-year-old full brother to Blazing Fury, won a 1 1/4-mile allowance on the turf by 3 3/4 lengths, paying $10.60. Blazing Dynamo and Blazing Fury are by Dynaformer and out of the Our Native mare Blazing Kadie, who was second in the Diana at age 4. Blazing Kadie is a full sister to Madam Sandie, the dam of grass stakes winner Gritty Sandie.

H Todd Pletcher has an army of 2-year-olds, and one of them, Big Wig, won a six-furlong maiden race on turf on June 24. Big Wig, by A.P. Indy and out of the Rahy mare Ruthian, is a three-quarter brother to Rutherienne, a multiple stakes winner on turf by Pulpit (a son of A.P. Indy). Rutherienne won the Boiling Springs Stakes on June 30.

H Millennium Wind, a half-brother to Horse of the Year and Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic as well as to stakes winner Tossofthecoin, won the Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Catalina Stakes and was second in the Hollywood Futurity. On June 24, Magical Mona, a 3-year-old filly by Millennium Wind, won a seven-furlong allowance by a neck. Magical Mona comes from an exceptional female family and will become a coveted broodmare upon her retirement even if she never wins a stakes. Her dam, the Gone West mare Francoa, is out of a Nureyev mare Frankova. While Francoa and Frankova did not become stakes winners, Frankova produced Scottago, who was fourth in the Hawthorne Derby. Her third dam, Secret Asset (Graustark), was out of 1971 2-year-old filly champion Numbered Account, and was a half-sister to Private Account, Dance Number, and Polish Numbers. Secret Asset was the dam of Assatis, a Group 1 winner in Italy and Group 2 winner in England, and Warrshan, a Group 3 winner in England who was the highest-priced yearling at the Keeneland July select sale, bringing $3.7 million.


Pitamakan won her 3-year-old debut on June 22 for Bill Mott and may be a filly to keep an eye on in turf races. By the late Danzig, whose offspring were equally successful on dirt and turf, Pitamakan is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Vantive, a half-sister to stakes winners Seattle Dawn, Island of Silver, and Truckee. Pitamakan's second dam, Embellished, was out of Courtly Dee, 1983 Broodmare of the Year. Embellished is a half-sister to eight stakes winners, including Aishah, Ali Oop, Althea, Aquilegia, Ketoh, Native Courier, Princess Oola, and Twining. Another son, Press Card, was stakes placed.

H Vindication was undefeated in four starts at age 2, the only year he raced, and was named 2-year-old champion. Vindication is one of this year's freshman sires and on June 23, his 2-year-old half-brother, Blackberry Road (Gone West), won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by a half-length, paying $8.60.

Colonial Downs

Of all the freshman sires this year, anticipation runs highest for Empire Maker. Bred for the classics, his babies are not expected to make much noise this year, but should be most effective as they mature into late-blossoming juveniles and at 3, at distances over one mile. That being said, Empire Maker had his first winner on June 18 when Miss Red Delicious won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race on dirt by 13 1/2 lengths, paying $8.20. She is out of the Clever Trick mare Miss Mary Apples, and her fourth dam, She Won't Tell, is a full sister to Affirmed.


Sound Barrier won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on the turf June 24, and both he and the runner-up, Chancellor, are 3-year-olds who have a bright future on grass. Sound Barrier is by longtime grass influence Lear Fan (Roberto), and his second dam is a half-sister to Silver Hawk. Chancellor, who just missed by a nose, is by Deputy Minister out of the Cozzene mare Cozzene's Angel, and is a three-quarter brother to Toccet.