03/12/2018 3:03PM

Sparkman: Fitting the mold

Debra A. Roma
Skyler's Scramjet, by Creative Cause, wins the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct.

Brereton and Libby Jones’s Airdrie Stud has never been in the market for the $10 million stallion coming off the racetrack. Airdrie has focused instead on horses just below that top tier, horses of proven top-class ability with perhaps a bit of a hole in their race records or pedigrees that meant they had to prove their worth to breeders before they could attract the best mares at high-dollar stud fees.

Airdrie established their considerable reputation as a maker of stallions with horses like El Prado, Harlan’s Holiday, and Indian Charlie, all of whom started their highly successful careers at Airdrie. The latest Airdrie candidate to exceed initial expectations is Creative Cause, sire of Skyler’s Scramjet, winner of the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct last Saturday.

Bred in Kentucky by James C. Weigel, Creative Cause was purchased for $135,000 by pinhooker Becky Thomas at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was withdrawn from both the Fasig-Tipton Florida and Keeneland April 2-year-old sales the following spring and sold privately to Heinz Steinman.

Trained by Mike Harrington, he won his first start in July at Hollywood Park over five furlongs and wheeled back three weeks later to outrun I’ll Have Another in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. The following month, Creative Cause became the meat in the sandwich between winner Drill and second finisher Majestic City in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity but was promoted to second when Majestic City was disqualified.

Creative Cause turned the tables on Drill in the Grade 1 Norfolk, racing closer to the pace and drawing off to win by 3 1/2 lengths. That made Creative Cause second favorite behind the Eastern colt Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, but the Kentucky-trained colt Hansen poached an easy lead and the late charges of Union Rags and Creative Cause fell a head and a length short, respectively.

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Third in his sophomore debut in the San Vicente, Creative Cause beat Bodemeister by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 2 San Felipe. In the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Creative Cause rallied from off the pace from a disadvantageous inside post and got his head in front midstretch, but I’ll Have Another finished just the better to win by a nose.

Creative Cause was clearly one of the best 3-year-olds of his year and started third favorite for the Kentucky Derby. He mustered a mild rally from midfield to finish fifth behind I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, beaten about three lengths, but he finished farther behind the same two rivals when third in the Preakness, beaten nine lengths.

That proved to be his final start, and he was retired that fall to Airdrie. By three-time leading sire Giant’s Causeway, his dam, Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer, was a high-class Grade 1-winning mare with a relatively modest pedigree filled with generations of California-breds. Despite her modest heritage, Dream of Summer has since produced Creative Cause’s Grade 2 winning full brother Destin, who finished second in the 2016 Belmont, and their stakes-placed full sister Vexatious.

Skyler’s Scramjet is the 10th stakes winner and fourth graded winner from the first two crops of Creative Cause, which number 170 foals. Pavel (out of Mons Venus, by Maria’s Mon), who won the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes last year and placed in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, is probably his most talented offspring so far, and My Boy Jack (Gold N Shaft, by Mineshaft) recently made a splash on the Triple Crown trail with a victory the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.

Skyler’s Scramjet is the eighth foal and third stakes winner out of the listed-winning Phone Trick mare Abundantly Blessed, who also ran second in the Grade 3 Chaposa Springs. Her first foal, Heaven on Hold, by Deputy Commander, won stakes in both Western Canada and Northern California, and her fourth, Arcadian, by Songandaprayer, won the Golden Circle Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Abundantly Blessed is the only stakes winner out of her dam, Virginia City, by Carson City, a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Ransomed Captive, by Mr. Leader, dam of two stakes winners from a relatively modest family.

Bred in Kentucky by Tommy Ligon, Skyler’s Scramjet sold for $25,000 to Rod McVey at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. He was resold for $70,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale to SBJ Stable Trust and races for SBJ Stable and Marcelo Micozzi and trainer Michelle Nevin. The Tom Fool was his third straight victory and fifth in 10 lifetime starts.