08/21/2017 10:41AM

Sparkman: Tricky Escape scores for Hat Trick

Taylor Ejdys/Equi-Photo
Tricky Escape, by Hat Trick, wins the Grade 3 Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The export of 1989 Horse of the Year and dual classic winner Sunday Silence to Japan turned out to be a huge blow to the American breeding industry and the most important importation in the history of Japanese racing. Kentucky breeders made it clear that they preferred Sunday Silence’s great rival Easy Goer, who turned out to be just a fair sire, while Sunday Silence led the Japanese sire list 13 times and his best son Deep Impact has topped that same list four out of the last five years.

Since Sunday Silence established himself as a stallion of global significance, international breeders have been trying to tap into that mother lode, sending mares to both Sunday Silence and Deep Impact as well as trying to acquire sons to stand at stud. On balance, the most successful son of Sunday Silence to stand outside of Japan has been Hat Trick, sire of Saturday’s Grade 3 Violet Stakes winner Tricky Escape.

Bred in Japan by Oiwake Stud, Hat Trick was one of 25 champions sired by Sunday Silence, earning Japanese champion miler honors through his victories in the 2005 Group 1 Mile Championship at Kyoto Race Course and the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin. In a four-year racing career, Hat Trick won 8 of 21 starts, earning $3,122,708, but all eight of those victories came in his first 13 starts at 3 and 3. He raced eight more times at 5 and 6 without earning a place, clearly past his best.

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He was imported to Walmac Farm in 2008 and was later transferred to Gainesway in 2012 after his first-crop son Dabirsim (out of Rumored, by Royal Academy) won all five of his starts in France in 2011, including the Group 1 Prix Morny and Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere. That made Dabirsim Europe’s champion 2-year-old, but he raced only twice at 3, breaking down in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) after running second in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau in his 3-year-old debut.

Hat Trick’s first crop also included Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap winner King David (Storm West, by Gone West), Grade 2 winner Bright Thought (Smart Thought, by Smart Strike), Grade 3 winner Howe Great (Ginger Sea, by Western Winter, a son of Gone West), plus stakes winners Fire Tricks (Thunder Trick, by Favorite Trick), Tricky Hat (Tonichi, by Point Given), outstanding results from a crop of only 71 Northern Hemisphere foals.

His first Gainesway crop, though, includes Grade 3 winner Dressed in Hermes (Elusive Fashion, by Elusive Quality) and three other stakes winners in addition to Tricky Escape. Bred in Kentucky by Walmac’s then owners Robert B. Trussell and John T.L. Jones Jr., Tricky Escape is the sixth foal produced by the tough stakes winner Island Escape, by Petionville. Island Escape won 4 of 25 starts, including the West Virginia Senate President Stakes, earning $325,010. She also has produced Grade 3-placed Felifran, by Discreet Cat.

Island Escape’s dam, Royal Deception, by Sovereign Dancer, produced a couple of stakes-placed full siblings to her. Royal Deception is half-sister to Grade 1 winner All Fired Up, by Timeless Moment, and stakes winners Assombrie, by Timeless Moment, and Angel Light, by Majestic Light. Another half-sister Cox’s Angel, by Cox’s Ridge, is responsible for the best recent branch of the family through her stakes-winning daughter Horns Gray, by Pass the Tab, dam of Grade 1 winner Awesome Humor, by Distorted Humor, granddam of Grade 1 winner Emcee, by Unbridled’s Song, and third dam of Grade 1 winner Constitution, by Tapit.

Hat Trick also has done well on annual shuttle trips to Argentina, siring Group 1 winners Giant Killing (Giant Blondway, by Giant’s Causeway), Zapata (Zeta, by You and I), and Hat Pentanol (Stormy Pursuer, by Bernstein). His overall strike rate of 29 stakes winners from 597 foals age 3 and up accounts for only 4.9 percent of his foals, but he can be somewhat forgiven for that low percentage because of the relatively low quality of the mares he has covered.

More significantly, his first good son Dabirsim has made a very good start with his first foals this year in Europe. His undefeated daughter Different League won the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, and three other offspring have placed in listed stakes.

A medium-sized black horse typical of his sire and a very fluid mover, Hat Trick is out of the high-class Lost Code mare Tricky Code from the excellent American family of Friar’s Carse. If Dabirsim follows through on his early promise, he may turn out to be the vehicle for spreading the Sunday Silence male line globally.