02/12/2015 2:54PM

Sparkman: A.P. Indy carrying on Bold Ruler line

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Barbara D. Livingston
Pensioned stallion A.P. Indy, who resides at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky., continues to represent Bold Ruler's line through his sons and grandsons.

In the 30 years from 1955 through 1984, either Nasrullah or one of his male-line descendants led the American general sire list 18 times. However, in the 30 years since Seattle Slew led the list for the only time in 1984, only two Nasrullah-line horses have led the same list.

Those two are the great A.P. Indy and his grandson, Tapit, who climbed to the top of the list in 2014. After a gap of 20 years dominated by Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, the male line of A.P. Indy has scored three championships in the past 12 years.

The emergence of A.P. Indy and his male-line descendants as a viable option to the dominant Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector male lines has been perhaps the most salient development on the American breeding scene over the past 15 years. A.P. Indy descends from Nasrullah through his best sire son, Bold Ruler, who led the American general sire list a modern record eight times in the 1960s and 1970s.

Bold Ruler sired two champion American sires, What a Pleasure (1975-76) and Raja Baba (1980), but neither passed on the vibrant male line of their sire and grandsire to a successor at or near the top level. Instead, the next link in the chain was Bold Ruler’s unsound 1966 Santa Anita Derby winner Boldnesian (out of Alanesian, by Polynesian).

That was Boldnesian’s fourth consecutive win from five starts but also proved to be his last due to a broken knee. Boldnesian stood in Florida, out of the Kentucky mainstream, siring 27 stakes winners from only 253 foals, but remarkably, he sired not one but two sons who passed on his male line to the contemporary Thoroughbred. Boldnesian’s son Bold Ruckus (Raise a Ruckus, by Raise a Native) was a three-time leading sire in Canada, and several of his sons, led by Bold Executive, have succeeded north of the border.

Boldnesian’s most brilliant son, Bold Reasoning (Reason to Earn, by Hail to Reason), won 8 of 12 starts, including the Jersey Derby, and sired only 64 foals in 2 1/2 seasons at stud, but 10 of them were stakes winners, headed by Seattle Slew. Like his sire, Bold Reasoning managed to pass on his male line to two different sons whose stirp leads to leading sires.

Bold Reasoning’s second-crop son Super Concorde (Prime Abord, by Primera) earned champion juvenile honors in France, but unlike Seattle Slew, he did not perform well at 3. Super Concorde’s best son, Big Shuffle, led the sire list in Germany multiple times and is the sire of another multiple leading German sire, Areion.

In 1984, Seattle Slew (My Charmer, by Poker) looked poised for multiple sire championships when he sired both the champion 3-year-old male (Swale) and champion older male (Slew o’ Gold), but despite siring many other top-class sons, only A.P. Indy (Weekend Surprise, by Secretariat) has really carried on the male line.

A.P. Indy is a near-perfect exemplar Thoroughbred of the modern commercial era, achieving every important milestone of the contemporary breed. Bred by William S. Farish and William S. Kilroy, A.P. Indy topped the 1990 Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings on a $2.9 million bid by agent Noel Callahan on behalf of Japanese businessman Tomonori Tsurumaki. Trained by Neil Drysdale, he won the last three of his four starts at 2, culminating with a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

Forced to miss the 1992 Kentucky Derby due to a bruised foot, he rebounded in time to win the Belmont, and after a summer break, he returned to add the Breeders’ Cup Classic that fall. That made A.P. Indy Horse of the Year, as well as champion 3-year-old male.

Retired to his birthplace at Lane’s End, A.P. Indy was an immediate success, with Grade 1 winners Tomisue’s Delight (Prospectors Delite, by Mr. Prospector), Runup the Colors (Up the Flagpole, by Hoist the Flag), and Royal Indy (On to Royalty, by On to Glory), and the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes winner Pulpit (Preach, by Mr. Prospector) in his first crop. He ascended to the top of the American sire list in 2003, when his son Mineshaft (Prospectors Delite, by Mr. Prospector) was Horse of the Year, and repeated in 2006, when his son Bernardini (Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American) was champion 3-year-old male.

That top-level success by his best sons obviously made them hot prospects as stallions for Central Kentucky stud masters. His first good son, Pulpit, returned to his birthplace, Claiborne Farm, in 1998, and forged a solid if not spectacular career as a sire before his early death in 2012. Pulpit has sired 77 stakes winners to date from 921 foals age 3 and up (8.4 percent), with sons and daughters still on the track, but oddly enough, he has been a better sire of sires than a sire of runners.

Pulpit’s Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes-winning son Sky Mesa (Caress, by Storm Cat) was the first to signal Pulpit’s prowess as a sire of sires, with the Grade 1 winners General Quarters (Ecology, by Unbridled’s Song) and Sky Diva (Swift Girl, by Unbridled) in his second crop. Sky Mesa still stands at Three Chimneys Farm, and his Blue Grass Stakes-winning son General Quarters holds court at Crestwood Farm.

In 2008 and 2009, the first runners by Pulpit’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Tapit (Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled) created a sensation, led by his champion 2-year-old filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Stardom Bound (My White Corvette, by Tarr Road), the Japanese Group 1 winner Testa Matta (Difficult, by Concern), the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes winner Careless Jewel (Sweet and Careless, by Hennessy), and the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes winner Laragh (Rose of Summer, by El Prado).

That explosion of top-class runners meant it was only a matter of time before Tapit forced his way to the top of the sire list, and he set a record for earnings by an American sire in 2014. Tapit, who stands at Gainesway, now is the most expensive stallion in the country at $300,000 per nomination, and his first son to go to stud, the Grade 2 winner Concord Point (Harve de Grace, by Boston Harbor), who stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, already has stakes winners in his first crop. Hill ‘n’ Dale also stands the Grade 2 winner Flashback (Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley), while the Grade 2 winner Trappe Shot (Shopping, by Private Account) is at Claiborne.

Mineshaft has forged a successful career at Lane’s End, where his Grade 1-winning son Discreetly Mine (Pretty Discreet, by Private Account) also stands, while Mineshaft’s Florida Derby winner, Dialed In (Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat), is at Darby Dan Farm.

A.P. Indy’s Preakness winner, Bernardini, who stands at Darley, made a sensational start at stud with four Grade 1 or Group 1 winners in his first crop, headed by the Grade 1 Travers winner Stay Thirsty (Marozia, by Storm Bird), who now stands at Ashford Stud, and To Honor And Serve (Pilfer, by Deputy Minister), who stands alongside Tapit at Gainesway. Bernardini’s Grade 2-winning son Wilburn (Moonlight Sonata, by Carson City) stands at Spendthrift Farm, and the Grade 3 winner Algorithms (Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) stands at Claiborne.

A.P. Indy’s non-stakes-winning son Malibu Moon (Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector) is the sire of the only Kentucky Derby winner to date from the A.P. Indy male line in Orb (Lady Liberty, by Unbridled), who stands at his birthplace, Claiborne Farm. Malibu Moon himself began his stud career in Maryland but now heads the stallion roster at Spendthrift.

Overall, at least 35 male-line descendants of A.P. Indy are scheduled to stand in Kentucky in 2015, with many more sure to come in the next few years. Even as good a racehorse as he was, as good as his pedigree was, as good an individual as A.P. Indy was, it was hardly predictable that he would lead a resurgence of the waning Bold Ruler branch of the Nasrullah male line.

In the end, the prime exemplar of the modern American commercial Thoroughbred added even that to his résumé.