12/18/2017 10:44AM

Sparkman: Shakhimat's Tropical Turf win gives sire Lonhro needed boost

Lauren King
Shakhimat, a son of Lonhro, wins the Tropical Turf at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Although Australia and New Zealand have hardly been fertile ground for producing American stallion prospects, the record of sires imported from the Antipodes is surprisingly good. As far back as 1894, New Zealand-bred Sir Modred, who stood at James Ben Ali Haggin’s Rancho del Paso in California, led the American sire list. In the 1970s, Noholme II, a champion in Australia and full brother to the legendary Todman, was highly successful despite beginning his stud career in Arkansas, siring champions Nodouble, Carnauba, and Shecky Greene.

As recently as the 1990s, Australian-bred international star Strawberry Road sired champions Ajina and Escena and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Fraise among his six Grade 1 winners.

Thus it has been somewhat disappointing that Darley’s bold initiative to bring Australian champion and leading sire Lonhro to the U.S. has not been rewarded with similar success.

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The best horse produced in his three seasons in Kentucky has been Grade 2 San Marcos winner Isotherm (out of Game for More, by More Than Ready), and he has a horse of similar class in Shakhimat, winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Tropical Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Bred and raced in Australia by Woodlands Stud, Lonhro was from the first crop of the great New Zealand-bred Australian champion Octagonal, by Zabeel. A smallish but powerfully made, lengthy black horse, he won only 2 of 5 starts at 2, but developed quickly into the best horse in Australia at 3, winning all seven of his starts, including the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas. Lonhro won 17 of 23 starts at 4 and 5, earning Horse of the Year and champion miler honors at 5 and retiring with earnings of over $3.6 million.

Retired to his birthplace, Woodlands Stud, he was an immediate success, siring Group 1 winner Beaded (out of Subtle, by Night Shift), Group 1 winner Denman (Peach, by Vain), and the brilliant champion Pierro (Miss Right Note, by Daylami). He led the Australian sire list in 2011. He was imported to Darley at Jonabell with considerable attendant publicity that fall, and he was reasonably well received by Kentucky breeders, producing 88 live foals in his first American crop in 2013.

Isotherm, Shakhimat, and Holding Gold (In the Gold, by Golden Missile), winner of the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes, are the best of that first crop. Shakhimat was bred in Canada by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs and sold for $60,000 to Dan Gale, William K. Werner, and trainer Roger Attfield at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. He was one of the best 2-year-olds in Canada in 2015, winning the Coronation Futurity by almost 10 lengths. He won the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland in his first start at 3 last year, but did not win again in three starts that year. The Tropical Turf was his second win in nine outings this year.

Shakhimat is the second foal out of Reggae Rose, by Touch Gold, a Woodbine allowance winner. She won 3 of 9 starts and $142,097. Adena Springs sold Reggae Rose for $40,000 to Ken and Sarah Ramsey at the 2013 Keeneland November sale, and she has since produced the winning Silent Name filly Silent Sofia, the unraced 2-year-old filly Avery A., by Kitten’s Joy, a yearling filly by Kitten’s Joy, and a weanling colt by Wee Miss Artie. She was bred back to Wee Miss Artie in 2017.

Reggae Rose is half-sister to Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap winner Celtic New Year, the best horse sired by Adena Springs’s imported Epsom Derby winner North Light. Their dam, Reggae Queen, by Dynaformer, is half-sister to Adena Springs’s 2000 champion grass female and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Perfect Sting, who is by Red Ransom out of the stakes-winning Valid Appeal mare Valid Victress. The family traces to the top broodmare No Strings, by Occupation, dam of champion 2-year-old Nail, by Nirgal, and the top-class miler Globemaster, by Heliopolis.

Lonhro represented an opportunity to repatriate the male line of the great Sir Ivor, spearhead of the American invasion of Europe in the 1960s, which is otherwise extinct in America. Sir Ivor’s non-stakes-winning son Sir Tristram became one of the greatest sires in the history of New Zealand and Australia, leading the Australian sire list five times. His male line lives on in the Antipodes through his great son Zabeel, leading sire six times in New Zealand and twice in Australia.

Zabeel sired nine champions in addition to Lonhro’s sire Octagonal, and his male line thrives Down Under through his champion sire son Savabeel, Greys Inn in South Africa, and through Lonhro’s champion son Pierro, who is leading first-season sire in Australia.