12/06/2013 1:53PM

Sparkman: Can Honor Code fill the hole?

Barbara D. Livingston
Honor Code, winner of the Grade 2 Remsen, represents the best chance for A.P. Indy to get a Kentucky Derby winner from his final foal crop.

The only hole in the résumé of Racing Hall of Fame member and leading sire A.P. Indy is a win in the Kentucky Derby, both as a racehorse and a sire. After the courageous victory of his son Honor Code in the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 30, is it too much to hope that a horse from A.P. Indy’s final crop of only 36 foals might finally earn the roses that have eluded him throughout his long and incredibly productive life?

A.P. Indy’s career matched the ideal of the commercial era of Thoroughbred breeding from his birth. Bred by William S. Farish and his longtime partner, William S. Kilroy, A.P. Indy was by Triple Crown winner and leading sire Seattle Slew and out of Weekend Surprise, a Grade 3-winning daughter of Secretariat who had already produced classic winner Summer Squall. A.P. Indy made headlines upon his first appearance at auction, topping the 1990 Keeneland July sale of select yearlings on a $2.9 million bid by agent Noel Callaghan on behalf of Japanese sportsman Tomonori Tsurumaki.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, A.P. Indy lived up to his pedigree and his price tag on the racetrack almost from the beginning, winning the last three of his four starts at 2, culminating with a neck victory over Dance Floor in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity. He earned favoritism for the 1992 Kentucky Derby by winning the San Rafael Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, but he bruised a foot in training during Derby Week and had to be withdrawn on the morning of the race.

A.P. Indy recovered in time to win the Grade 2 Peter Pan and the classic Belmont Stakes, but his chance at the Kentucky Derby was gone. The beautiful dark bay or brown colt clinched Horse of the Year honors later that year with a solid victory over eventual champion older male Pleasant Tap in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and retired to his birthplace, Lane’s End, with a record of eight wins in 11 starts and earnings of $2,979,815.

Top-priced yearling – check; champion racehorse – check.

A.P. Indy also was a huge success right from the start as a stallion, but the closest any of his progeny has come to winning the Kentucky Derby was in 2000, when Aptitude (out of Dokki, by Northern Dancer) followed Fusaichi Pegasus through the backstretch and final turn but never could catch him. A.P. Indy’s champion son Bernardini (Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American) was not quite ready for the Derby in 2006 but won the Preakness two weeks later when Derby winner Barbaro broke down shortly after the start.

A.P. Indy also sired a Belmont winner the following year, when his champion daughter Rags to Riches (Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister) edged Preakness winner and eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in a thrilling finish. Overall, A.P. Indy had sired 154 stakes winners through December 1 from 1,224 foals (12.6 percent), an extraordinarily high rate in the big-book era of today.

He led the American sire list in 2003 and 2006, and his list of leading runners includes Horse of the Year Mineshaft; Canadian champions Marchfield, Eye of the Leopard, Serenading, and Catch the Thrill; and champion 2-year-old filly Tempera.

In his later years, A.P. Indy also has become much sought after as a sire of sires, almost single-handedly reviving the male line of eight-time leading sire Bold Ruler. His sons Pulpit, Malibu Moon, Bernardini, Mineshaft, Old Trieste, Congrats, Indygo Shiner, Majestic Warrior, Flatter, and Camden Park all have earned at least a measure of renown as sires somewhere around the globe. In addition, A.P. Indy is the grandsire of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, by Malibu Moon.

Leading sire – check; sire of sires – check.

Lastly, A.P. Indy has been among the country’s best broodmare sires for several years, and his daughter Supercharger has given him his closest genetic connection to the Kentucky Derby, producing 2010 Derby winner Super Saver, by Maria’s Mon. Through Monday, A.P. Indy’s daughters have produced 104 stakes winners, including champions Royal Delta and Wait a While.

Is Honor Code good enough to finally give A.P. Indy his Derby winner? He will not fail for want of pedigree.

Honor Code’s dam, Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat, is a stakes-winning mare with a fabulous pedigree, and she already has produced Grade 2 American Turf Stakes and Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes winner Noble Tune, by Unbridled’s Song.

Serena’s Cat was bred by John G. Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms and Sikura’s father-in-law, Edward McGhee, who purchased her multiple stakes-winning dam, Serena’s Tune, privately midway through her racing career from James and Alice Sapara’s Winsong Farms. Agent James Delahooke had paid $1 million for Serena’s Tune as agent for Winsong at the 1999 Keeneland July yearling sale.

By the great sire Mr. Prospector, Serena’s Tune was the first foal out of the great racemare and broodmare Serena’s Song, by Rahy. Purchased by Robert and Beverly Lewis for $150,000 as a yearling, Serena’s Song was as tough as she was brilliant, winning 18 of 38 starts and earning champion 3-year-old filly honors in 1995.

She was just as good as a broodmare, producing four stakes winners in addition to Serena’s Tune: Grade 1 winner Sophisticat, by Storm Cat; Grade 2 winners Grand Reward, by Storm Cat, and Harlington, by Unbridled; and Grade 3 winner Schramsberg, by Storm Cat.

Serena’s Tune’s son Vocalised, by Vindication, won the Group 3 Tetrarch and Greenham Stakes in Ireland and England.

Pedigrees simply do not get much better than that. A.P. Indy has also been successful previously with Storm Cat mares, siring multiple Grade 1 winner Love and Pride, who sold for $4.9 million at the recent Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale, along with Grade 2 winner and good sire Jump Start.

Honor Code is in fact bred very similarly to Jump Start, whose second dam also is by Mr. Prospector, while Love and Pride’s second dam is by Mr. Prospector’s grandson Quiet American. As has been well noted in other contexts, A.P. Indy has been extraordinarily successful with daughters of Mr. Prospector, a cross that is responsible for Mineshaft, Tempera, Pulpit, Girolamo, Tomisue’s Delight, and Congrats, among others.

Honor Code’s pedigree yields a substantial inbreeding coefficient of 3.27 percent, primarily through a 3x4 duplication of Secretariat, since both A.P. Indy and Storm Cat are out of Secretariat mares.

As A.P. Indy’s connections learned to their sorrow, it is a long way from December to May. Perhaps Honor Code will be luckier than his sire.