02/27/2017 9:33AM

Sparkman: Girvin gives Tale of Ekati a boost with Risen Star win

Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography
Girvin, by Tale of Ekati, wins the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Although Storm Cat was a successful sire of sires, plentiful conduits to the future of his male line beyond his best son Giant’s Causeway are not currently obvious. His great-grandson Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg, by Hennessy, by Storm Cat) was a highly successful sire but died young, almost as soon as his opportunities improved due to his early success. Storm Cat’s leading Argentine sire Bernstein has Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie, and Harlan’s grandson Into Mischief will have a chance to extend the male line, but the Forest Wildcat, Forestry, Pure Prize, and Stormy Atlantic branches appear doomed to extinction within the next decade, at least in America.

Tale of the Cat was arguably Storm Cat’s second best sire son, and Tale of the Cat’s best son Gio Ponti sired 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong in his first crop, but his multiple Grade 1-winning son Tale of Ekati has received relatively little patronage beyond his breeder, Charles Fipke, so it was encouraging to see Tale of Ekati’s son Girvin score an upset victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes last Saturday.

Girvin is the 10th stakes winner from the first three crops of Tale of Ekati, crops that have averaged less than 60 foals apiece, a pittance in today’s commercial environment. Bred and raced by Fipke and named for one of his diamond mines in Canada, Tale of Ekati proved himself one of the best of his age at 2 and 3. Winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at 2, he finished fourth behind champion War Pass in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He got his revenge on War Pass in the Wood Memorial the following spring, rallying past the champion juvenile to win by a half-length.

Tale of Ekati had no chance against Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby, finishing fourth, beaten 11 lengths, and his next three races were forgettable before he bounced back to his best to win the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap. The Derby, Belmont, and Travers were all probably too far for Tale of Ekati, and he closed his 3-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, albeit by the disqualification of Harlem Rocker, whom he had beaten comfortably in the Jerome.

Tale of Ekati raced three more times at 4 to no effect and, though he was a high-level winner at both 2 and 3, his race record was notably inconsistent. His pedigree, though, is impeccable, since his dam, Silence Beauty, by Sunday Silence, is a half-sister to champion Sky Beauty, by Blushing Groom, and a daughter of Grade 1 Alabama Stakes winner Maplejinsky, by Nijinsky II, who is half-sister to champion Dayjur, by Danzig, out of champion Gold Beauty, by Mr. Prospector. His immediate family also includes Grade 1 winners Point of Entry, Pine Island, Pleasant Home, and Violence.

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Tale of Ekati sired two good fillies, Verve’s Tale (out of Verve, by Unbridled) and Ekati’s Phaeton (Seventh Veil, by Capote), in his first two crops, but his best colt to date, Verve’s Tale’s full brother Tale of Verve, never won a stakes despite finishing a closing second in the 2015 Preakness.

Bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte, Girvin is the second foal and second stakes winner out of the unraced Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon. Her first, Cocked and Loaded, by Colonel John, was a fast 2-year-old in 2015, winning the Grade 3 Iroquois and Tremont Stakes, but Girvin is obviously a later-developing type.

Sold for $130,000 to Grand Oaks at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale, he was twice entered in juvenile sales last year but withdrawn. The Risen Star was the second victory in three starts for Girvin, who races for Brad Grady and trainer Joe Sharp.

He comes from a family that appears to be on the upswing. His second dam, stakes winner Catch My Fancy, by Yes It’s True, did not produce a stakes winner, but is inbred 3x2 to her second dam, Monique Rene, by Prince of Ascot, dam of hard-hitting Grade 3 winner Prince of the Mt., by Mt. Livermore, and second dam of Grade 1 winners Yes It’s True, Catch My Fancy’s sire, and Silver Max.

There is not much else of interest along the female line for several generations, but as often happens, the close inbreeding in Girvin’s second dam appears to have worked its magic in Catch the Moon. She has since produced a yearling colt by Shanghai Bobby and was covered by Curlin last year.