05/09/2014 2:46PM

Sparkman: A.P. Indy pulls off a double double

Barbara D. Livingston
A.P. Indy's son Pulpit, who died in December 2012, is the sire of both Lucky Pulpit and Tapit, who were represented by Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable, respectively.

About the only significant accomplishment missing from both the racing and stud careers of A.P. Indy was a victory in the Kentucky Derby. Over the last two years, however, his sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons have filled that void quite nicely. 

The victory of A.P. Indy’s paternal great-grandson California Chrome in the 2014 Kentucky Derby was the second in a row for the male line of the 1992 Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year. In fact, it was the second consecutive year that his male-line descendants captured both the Derby and its companion feature restricted to fillies, the Kentucky Oaks.

Although A.P. Indy sired only two winners of Triple Crown races – Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness Stakes and Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont – if one widens the lens just a bit to include the three most prestigious races for 3-year-old fillies, the picture changes considerably. As shown in the accompanying box, A.P. Indy, his sons, and grandsons have sired 15 individual winners of either a Triple Crown race, the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, or Alabama Stakes.

A.P. Indy himself sired seven of those top-level winners (Bernardini, Rags to Riches, Jilbab, Music Note, Runup the Colors, Secret Status, Sweet Symphony), and Malibu Moon has sired three (Devil May Care, Funny Moon, Orb). Untapable’s victory in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks was the second for the offspring of A.P. Indy’s grandson Tapit in one of the six most important races for American 3-year-olds, following Careless Jewel’s runaway win in the 2009 Alabama Stakes. Last year’s Oaks winner, Princess of Sylmar, came from the first crop of A.P. Indy’s Grade 1-winning son Majestic Warrior. She would go on to romp in both the CCA Oaks and the Alabama, and won her 2014 stakes debut last month in similarly dominant fashion.

A.P. Indy led the North American general sire list in 2003 and 2006, and Untapable’s dominant win in the Kentucky Oaks widened Tapit’s lead on the 2014 North American sire list to more than $2 million. Bernardini ranks seventh on that list, and California Chrome’s victory pushed his sire, Lucky Pulpit, into ninth position on the list. Malibu Moon ranked fourth on the sire list in 2013, sixth in 2012, fifth in 2011, and third in 2010, while Tapit finished seventh last year, third in 2012, and third in 2011.

Those and other male-line descendants of A.P. Indy represent the only truly viable remaining branch of the male line of eight-time leading American sire Bold Ruler, who won the Preakness Stakes in 1957. California Chrome is the 16th individual American classic winner of 24 American Triple Crown races descending in male line from Bold Ruler, dating back to his grandson Dust Commander’s win in the 1970 Kentucky Derby.

Dust Commander, in turn, sired 1975 Preakness winner Master Derby, but his male line quickly died out. In the meantime, Bold Ruler’s best son, Secretariat, swept the Triple Crown in 1973 and sired 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner Risen Star, but Risen Star and other prominent sons of Secretariat failed to extend his male line at the classic level.

Bold Ruler’s 1966 champion older male, Bold Bidder, sired the 100th Kentucky Derby winner, Cannonade, in 1974 but Cannonade’s Belmont-winning son Caveat, good sire that he was, did not sire a classic winner. Likewise, Bold Bidder’s best son Spectacular Bid was a rather spectacular failure as a classic sire. Two other sons of Bold Ruler, two-time leading sire What a Pleasure and Irish Castle, sired Derby winners in the 1970s, but neither Foolish Pleasure nor Bold Forbes passed on the male line to a viable son.

In the long run, that left the survival of the Bold Ruler male line in the unlikely hands of his 1966 Santa Anita Derby winner, Boldnesian (out of Alanesian, by Polynesian). The Santa Anita Derby was Boldnesian’s fourth victory in the last of only five starts, and that unsoundness, coupled with the flood of better-credentialed sons of Bold Ruler then standing in Kentucky, meant that Boldnesian stood in Florida.

He was only a modest success, no matter how you look at it. Although he sired a highly respectable percentage of stakes winners – 10.7 percent from foals – only seven of his 25 stakes winners won graded stakes, although two others won stakes that were later graded before the pattern race system took effect.

Best of those 25, and by a considerable margin, was Bold Reasoning (Reason to Earn, by Hail to Reason), winner of eight of his 12 starts, including the 1971 Jersey Derby, and beaten a nose in the 1972 Metropolitan Handicap. Boldnesian also sired stakes winner Bold Ruckus (Raise a Ruckus, by Raise a Native), a three-time leading sire in Canada who still has sons and grandsons at stud north of the border.

Bold Reasoning stood fewer than 2 1/2 seasons at Claiborne Farm before his untimely death due to an accident in the breeding shed, and sired only 64 foals. Those 64, however, included one of the greatest racehorses in American history, 1977 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Seattle Slew (My Charmer, by Poker), and 1977 French champion 2-year-old Super Concorde (Prime Abord, by Primera). Super Concorde sired Irish champion and six-time leading German sire Big Shuffle (Raise Your Skirts, by Elevation), sire in turn of two-time leading German sire Areion (Aerleona, by Caerleon).

Seattle Slew, of course, led the American sire list in 1984, the year his ill-fated son Swale (Tuerta, by Forli) won the Derby and Belmont. Swale died suddenly only eight days after his Belmont victory. Swale and A.P. Indy were Seattle Slew’s only classic winners, and his other high-class sons, despite sometimes considerable success, failed to sire a classic winner or establish a viable branch of Seattle Slew’s male line. 

Malibu Moon (Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector), a non-stakes winner who raced only twice and began his stud career in Maryland, has become A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud in terms of siring classic runners, but his 2013 Derby winner, Orb, who retired to Claiborne Farm this year, is Malibu Moon’s first significant son at stud. A.P. Indy’s first top-class son Pulpit (Preach, by Mr. Prospector), who finished fourth in the 1997 Derby, has been a successful sire without ever reaching the heights of fashionability, and before his death in 2012 established himself as an important sire of sires through the success of Tapit, Sky Mesa, and now, Lucky Pulpit.

As detailed in the April 13 edition of DRF Breeding, Lucky Pulpit (Lucky Soph, by Cozzene) won only one minor stakes but finished second in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes and third in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes. California Chrome is his fourth stakes winner from 99 foals age 3 and up and his only graded winner, although his son Rousing Sermon finished second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.

For all its success in the American classics, the A.P. Indy male line has been an almost completely American phenomenon. That point was driven home by the results last weekend of the first two classics of the European season, which went to male-line descendants of two other American stalwarts, Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer, who have managed to spread their genes abroad much more readily to date than has A.P. Indy.

The Group 1 2000 Guineas on May 3 went to Night of Thunder, by Dubawi, the best son of the short-lived Dubai Millennium, who was, in turn, the best son of Mr. Prospector’s 1988 Grade 1 Super Derby winner, Seeking the Gold (Con Game, by Buckpasser). Night of Thunder’s late run while veering diagonally across the wide Rowley Mile course at Newmarket upset the two favorites, Kingman and Australia, both male-line descendants of Northern Dancer. Night of Thunder is Dubawi’s second 2000 Guineas winner following 2010 winner Makfi.

Winner himself of the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas in 2005, Dubawi has also sired 2012 Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso and 2013 European highweight Al Kazeem, who was placed back in training last week, among his 76 stakes winners from only 723 foals age 3 and up (10.5 percent).

In the Group 1 1000 Guineas on May 4, Miss France, by Dansili, held on to win from Lightning Thunder, a male-line descendant of Mr. Prospector, with Ihtimal, by Shamardal (Northern Dancer male line) third. Dansili was leading sire in France in 2006, and is the fourth consecutive leading international sire along his male line. His sire, Danehill, led the Australian list eight times and the English list twice. Danehill’s sire, Danzig, led the American sire list from 1991-93, and Danzig’s sire, Northern Dancer, topped the English sire list in 1970, 1977, 1983, and 1984, and the American list in 1971.