08/03/2006 11:00PM

Stakes fillies give Awesome Again an encore

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Adam Coglianese / NYRA
Spun Sugar, by Awesome Again, captured the Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga last Sunday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - After the retirement to stud of Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, his sire, Awesome Again, had every reason to experience a relatively quiet period as a sire. Instead, the handsome bay son of Deputy Minister has carried on admirably, as demonstrated when his daughter Spun Sugar won the Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap at Saratoga.

In addition to this candidate for leadership of the fillies and mares division, Awesome Again also has the highly regarded stakes winners Dubai Escapade and Round Pond among his premium performers this year.

The Go for Wand was the second victory at the top level for Spun Sugar this season. She won the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April, and last year was victorious in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, as well as second in the Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 1 Mother Goose.

Spun Sugar was bred in Kentucky by Frank Stronach's Adena Springs, and she races for Stronach Stables. A winner in six of her 11 starts, Spun Sugar is one of five stakes winners for her sire this year, and the filly is the second foal and first stakes winner out of her dam, the Irish Open mare Irish Cherry.

Although broodmare sire Irish Open is not a household name, he was a thoroughly useful racehorse and sire. He won 17 of 39 starts with 15 more placings and was best known in the Midwest, although he ventured to New York, where he ran second in the True North and third in the Roseben Handicap.

On the racetrack, Irish Open was arguably the best son of his sire, Irish Tower, but at stud, there is no question of his ranking as his sire's best representative or of his usefulness. Although he is not in the first rank, Irish Open gets plenty of winners, as well as a reasonable number of stakes winners.

The dam of Spun Sugar is one of those. Irish Cherry was bred in Kentucky and won stakes in Canada before her induction into the Stronach breeding operation.

Adena Springs is a homebreeding and racing operation with a commercial twist. The operation stands stallions in Kentucky, Florida, and Canada and fills a significant portion of those stallions' books with home mares.

The distinctive part of Stronach's approach to the commercial market is that he offers relatively few of his homebreds as weanlings or yearlings. Adena Springs sells the majority of its young stock as 2-year-olds in training every March in Florida, as well as a significant number in utero through its broodmare consignments each fall.

That is the program that Adena followed with Irish Cherry. After mating the stakes-winning mare to Florida stallion Lucky Lionel, Stronach chose to send her to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again.

After that high-end mating, Irish Cherry went to Adena's popular midpriced stallion Wild Rush and was sold in foal to that horse as part of the Adena Springs broodmare consignment at Fasig-Tipton in 2002.

The mare brought $80,000 from Josham Farms, acting as agent for Dagmar and Yvonne Schwabe. The Schwabes live in Ontario and were familiar with the racing qualities of Irish Cherry.

After breeding three foals out of the mare, the Schwabes sold Irish Cherry to John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farms in a private transaction earlier this year. The mare's current 2-year-old, a full brother to Spun Sugar, sold to Shadwell for $375,000 at the Keeneland September sale last year.

Irish Cherry has a yearling colt by Sky Mesa, a Medaglia d'Oro filly of 2006, and is in foal to Storm Cat for 2007. The yearling colt is consigned to the Keeneland September sale next month.

"Irish Cherry will be sold in the November sale in foal to Storm Cat, carrying a colt," Sikura said.

As a result of the elite performances of her daughter Spun Sugar, Irish Cherry has become a broodmare of considerable importance and increasing value. Nor is she the first notable broodmare to come through the Adena Springs program and prosper after passing into other hands.

The Cozzene mare Cozzene's Angel sold out of the Adena Springs broodmare consignment while carrying Toccet, eventually a multiple Grade 1-winning son of Awesome Again.

The commercial component of Adena's breeding program is not decreasing after these high-profile successes. Instead, its involvement in sales will be increasing, according to Dan Hall, bloodstock adviser for Adena Springs.

"Basically our sales philosophy for the future is that all Adena Springs homebreds will be offered at the sales at some time in their lives," said Hall, "with the exception of a select few fillies that we need to retain for our broodmare band."