02/26/2018 11:43AM

Sparkman: Stormy Atlantic sweeps top two spots in Daytona

Benoit & Associates
Conquest Tsunami defeats Stormy Liberal in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita. Both are sons of Stormy Atlantic.

Except for the very top tier of stallions that produce classic winners and Grade 1-winning 2-year-olds, commercial breeders lose interest even in consistently successful sires as the horses age. Sales statistics show that young, unproven sires - most of whom ultimately will be nowhere near as productive as those solid, proven commodities - are far more popular with buyers than the consistent second-tier stallion. 

Though he has sired five Canadian champions and seven Grade 1 or Group 1 winners among his 109 stakes winners, Stormy Atlantic has never quite made it into that top echelon of stallions. But his quality was validated by the victory of his son Stormy Liberal (out of Vassar, by Royal Academy) in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and again last Saturday when his son Conquest Tsunami beat Stormy Liberal to the wire in Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Daytona Handicap.

Bred in Florida by the late Arthur Appleton, Stormy Atlantic was perhaps the most successful of many well-bred sons of two-time leading sire Storm Cat who were given expansive opportunities at stud despite less-than-stellar race records. Injured in his only start at 2, he did not return to the races until December of his 3-year-old year, when second in a muddy Aqueduct maiden for trainer Bob Camac.

Stormy Atlantic won three of his next four starts, all over Aqueduct’s winter surface, before venturing into stakes company, and after a fifth at Philadelphia Park, he won the listed Havre de Grace Stakes over 5 ½ furlongs at Monmouth and the six-furlong Damitrius Stakes at Delaware Park, both in front-running style. Stormy Atlantic won one more allowance race in his six more starts, but was never tried in a graded stakes or over a distance farther than six furlongs.

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Neither restriction was in keeping with his pedigree, since Storm Cat sired plenty of good horses that were best at over a mile and beyond. Stormy Atlantic’s dam, Hail Atlantis, by Seattle Slew, won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks over nine furlongs and hailed from one of the best families in the stud book. Hail Atlantis’s dam, Flippers, by Coastal, was a multiple stakes winner, and a half-sister to champion and top sire Apalachee, champion Belted Earl, and four other stakes winners out of Horse of the Year Moccasin, the best daughter of foundation mare Rough Shod II. Hail Atlantis’s progeny have bred on as well. She is the second dam of Grade 1 winner Bandini, by Fusaichi Pegasus; Grade 2 winners Atlando, by Hernando, and Incanto Dream, by Galileo; and four other stakes winners.

Retired to Appleton’s Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Stormy Atlantic was an immediate success, with five stakes winners in his first crop, headed by Grade 3 winners Gators N Bears (I’ll Be Along, by Notebook) and Atlantic Ocean (Super Chef, by Seattle Slew). That prompted his relocation to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Lexington, Ky., and he expanded on his early success with the better mares available in Kentucky.

Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds (out of Song of the Lark, by Seeking the Gold) also won a Grade 1 in the U.S., and perhaps Stormy Atlantic’s best son Get Stormy (Foolish Gal, by Kiri’s Clown) captured three Grade 1 mile events on turf. Stormy Atlantic was also successful in his one season shuttling to Argentina, siring Group 1 winner Victor Security (Victoria Reel, by Danehill Dancer).

Conquest Tsunami was bred in Ontario by Josham Farms Limited and Yvonne Schwabe Thoroughbreds. Purchased for $190,000 by Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell’s Conquest Stables at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, he won five of seven starts at 2, including the Victoria and Colin stakes at Woodbine and the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. He won only once more in eight starts at 3 and 4 before Gary Barber purchased him for $140,000 at the Conquest Stables dispersal at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Conquest Tsunami was winless in five starts last year, and the Daytona was his second consecutive victory this year.

Conquest Tsunami is the third foal and first stakes winner out of the El Corredor mare Classic Neel, who won the listed Weekend Madness Stakes at Saratoga and placed in two other stakes. Her second foal, Stormy Pacific, by Stormy Atlantic, is stakes-placed, but none of her subsequent foals have raced. She has a 2-year-old filly, Decor, by Declaration of War, and a yearling colt by Honor Code.

Classic Neel is half-sister to stakes winner Budge Man, by Fusaichi Pegasus, and stakes-placed Five Nickels, by Quiet American, out of Delaware Oaks winner Nickel Classic, by Regal Classic, from a family that has thrived mostly in Canada in recent decades.