11/21/2014 2:38PM

Sparkman: Added sparkle for Lemon Drop Kid

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Sparkling Review, by Lemon Drop Kid, most recently won the Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Experienced breeders know that the best place to acquire broodmares and broodmare prospects is from other great breeders. Thus, when hotelier Edward A. Seltzer and John R. Gaines purchased the 19-year-old mare Dance Review, by Northern Dancer, for $110,000 from the dispersal of the late Thomas Mellon Evans’s Buckland Farm in 1997, they knew exactly what they were doing.

The purchase was somewhat risky because of the mare’s age and the fact that she was barren at the time, but Dance Review already had proven her value as a broodmare, and Seltzer and Gaines no doubt were hoping to get a high-quality filly out of the old mare. Seven years later, their wish was granted when Dance Review produced her 15th and final foal, Pleasant Review, by Pleasant Tap, the dam of recent Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes winner Sparkling Review, by Lemon Drop Kid.

Pleasant Review proved to be a pretty good racemare in the bargain for Seltzer, who had acquired sole ownership of Dance Review after Gaines’s death. She won 3 of 15 starts, earning $141,455, and placed in stakes in both the United States and Canada. That meant, however, that she was at best the fifth-most accomplished foal out of Dance Review, a broodmare with a better record than many who have been honored as Broodmare of the Year.

Evans had acquired Dance Review’s dam, Dumfries, by Reviewer, indirectly from another great breeder, the late Nelson Bunker Hunt, after Ron Worswick had bred Dumfries’s first foal, the moderate racemare but good broodmare Diamond Spring, by Vaguely Noble. Dumfries had not shown much ability on the racetrack, placing once in two starts, but she was a half-sister to outstanding miler and leading sire Lyphard, by Northern Dancer, and to Hunt’s brilliant Grade 1/Group 1-winning filly Nobiliary, by Vaguely Noble, out of the long-winded Ladies and New York Handicap winner Goofed, by Court Martial.

Dance Review was the first foal Dumfries produced for Evans – and although Dumfries never produced a stakes winner, two of her daughters distributed her best genes to the Thoroughbred gene pool. Diamond Spring produced stakes winner Droiture, by Far North, and is the third dam of Travers winner and classic sire Flower Alley, by Distorted Humor, and top Japanese runners Spielberg and Tosen Ra, both by Deep Impact. Dumfries Pleasure, by Pleasant Colony, produced multiple Grade 1 winner Urbane, by Citidancer, who is the dam of multiple Grade 2 winner Suave and stakes winner Worldly, both by A.P. Indy.

At the time of her purchase in 1997, Dance Review already had produced three stakes winners. Her second foal, No Review, by Nodouble, was a high-class racemare on grass, winning the Grade 1 Santa Barbara Handicap, Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap, and Grade 3 Del Mar Oaks. No Review is the dam of stakes winner Smashing Review, by Pleasant Tap, and jumps stakes winner The Bull Hayes, by Sadler’s Wells.

Despite her sire’s tendencies, Dance Review’s fourth foal, Dance Colony, by Pleasant Colony, was precocious and speedy enough to win the Grade 2 Adirondack and Astarita stakes at 2 and then trained on to win stakes at 3 and run second in the Grade 1 Gazelle. Dance Colony did not produce a stakes winner, but is the second dam of multiple Grade 2 winner Blueskiesnrainbows, by English Channel.

Dance Review’s fifth foal, Another Review, by Buckaroo, was probably her most talented, winning the Grade 1 Californian Stakes, Grade 2 San Bernardino and Mervyn LeRoy, and Grade 3 San Diego Handicap. Her ninth, Colonial Review, placed in six listed stakes.

Dance Review’s 11th foal, Rap and Dance, by Pleasant Tap, placed in a stakes and is the dam of stakes winner Rap Tale, by Tale of the Cat. Dance Review’s eighth foal, Promenade Colony, by Pleasant Colony, won only once in nine starts but produced Grade 2 winner Promenade Girl, by Carson City, dam in turn of 2014 Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes winner Cavorting, by Bernardini.

Sparkling Review is Pleasant Review’s first foal. Bred in Kentucky by Seltzer, she races for Seltzer and Beverly S. Anderson. Fifth in her first start, a muddy 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs this past June, she has since won four consecutive races, all on turf, including a 2 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland which preceded her score by the same margin in the Mrs. Revere.

Pleasant Review’s second foal, She’soverthemoon, by Malibu Moon, sold for $60,000 to Tommy Town Thoroughbreds as a weanling at the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Her third foal, Giant Review, by Giant’s Causeway, was listed as sold for $45,000 to Seltzer’s daughter Krista Seltzer at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, and her fourth, a weanling colt by the late Street Cry, sold to the same buyer for $30,000 at the recent Keeneland November sale. Pleasant Review was bred to Medaglia d’Oro this year.

Beat goes on for Lemon Drop Kid

Sparkling Review’s sire, Lemon Drop Kid, has quietly become one of the steadiest and most efficient sires of stakes winners without the hype or headlines of more popular and expensive stallions. Just a few minutes before Sparkling Review’s victory in the Mrs. Revere and five hours north at Hawthorne, Alette (out of Amourette, by El Gran Senor) became Lemon Drop Kid’s 81st stakes winner from 873 foals age 3 and up, a 9.3 percent stakes winners to foals ratio that should put many a more expensive stallion to shame.

By Kingmambo out of Charming Lassie, by Seattle Slew, Lemon Drop Kid was bred at Lane’s End by William S. Farish and the late W.S. Kilroy. He was purchased for $200,000 by Jeanne Vance, then the wife of Fasig-Tipton’s raspy-voiced auctioneer Laddie Dance, at the 1997 Keeneland September yearling sale. Trained by Flint “Scotty” Schulhofer, Lemon Drop Kid managed the increasingly rare feat of winning Grade 1 races at ages 2, 3, and 4.

Winner of his second start in a six-furlong maiden race at Saratoga, Lemon Drop Kid captured the one-mile Grade 1 Futurity Stakes in his fourth start but ran second in the Grade 1 Champagne and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. An obvious classic candidate, he won an allowance at Gulfstream in his first start at 3, but then finished fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes before rallying mildly from far back to finish ninth in the Kentucky Derby behind Charismatic.

Third in a muddy Peter Pan, Lemon Drop Kid next scored a huge upset in the Belmont Stakes, rallying from off the pace under Jose Santos to outduel Vision and Verse by a head as Charismatic’s Triple Crown bid ended with a leg injury. Given a break after the classic, he ran second in the Jim Dandy but won the Travers before finishing his second season with unplaced efforts in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Lemon Drop Kid finally earned the championship he had been chasing during his 4-year-old season in 2000, capturing 5 of 9 starts, including consecutive wins in the Grade 2 Brooklyn, Grade 2 Suburban, Grade 1 Whitney, and Grade 1 Woodward.

Retired to stand stud at his birthplace, Lane’s End, in 2001, Lemon Drop Kid has been an extremely consistent sire of group and graded stakes winners, but has never quite gotten the “big horse” that would make him a household name. His first Grade 1 winner, Citronnade (out of Primarily, by Lord At War), was a high-class turf filly, winning 9 of 14 starts including the Grade 1 Gamely. His most productive son, Richard’s Kid (Tough Broad, by Broad Brush), was a prolific winner on synthetic, capturing consecutive editions of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic plus the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes, and earning more than $2.4 million in a long and honorable career.

Lemon Drop Kid’s progeny have been versatile, with Somali Lemonade (Chic Corine, by Nureyev) winning the Grade 1 Diana on turf and Lemons Forever (Critikola, by Tough Critic) the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on dirt. Overall, Lemon Drop Kid has sired six Grade 1 winners and 34 graded/group winners.

I happened to visit Lemon Drop Kid at Lane’s End during the Kentucky November sales, and the old boy is aging well. A medium-sized, lengthy, very solidly made, correct horse with good bone, he is an outstanding specimen in an understated way. A solid bay with no markings, he is the antithesis of flashy.

Lemon Drop Kid has crossed well with a wide variety of broodmare sires, and several of his best runners have shown inbreeding to Buckpasser, the sire of his second dam, Lassie Dear, and to Nureyev, the sire of Kingmambo’s great dam, Miesque. Since Lemon Drop Kid’s dam, Charming Lassie, by Seattle Slew, is closely related to the champion racehorse and great sire A.P. Indy (by Seattle Slew out of Charming Lassie’s half-sister Weekend Surprise, by Secretariat), Lemon Drop Kid is likely to be a useful conduit for inbreeding to Lassie Dear in the future. In fact, one minor stakes winner, I Stand Alone, by A.P. Indy’s son Dance With Ravens out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, has already been bred on that pattern.

Lemon Drop Kid will be 19 years old when the calendar flips to 2015 in a few weeks, but Sparkling Review will hardly be his last graded stakes winner. Lemon Drop Kid may never be the brightest star in the stallion firmament, but he has earned a place of consistent honor.