02/14/2014 1:45PM

Storm Cat: Leading broodmare sire

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Tony Leonard
The late Storm Cat spent his stud career at Overbrook Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Leading Kentucky broodmare sire by earnings

Storm Cat was born on Feb. 27, 1983, and died 30 years later on April 24, 2013. In between, due to the diligence and faith of owner-breeder W.T. Young and to his own extraordinary set of genes, he became the classic American success story.

A racehorse of exquisite talents who fell just short of championship status (to a long-forgotten horse named Tasso), this son of Storm Bird, out of Terlingua, by Secretariat, literally battled his way to superstardom as a sire. He began in 1988 with a $30,000 fee that some may have thought too high and was overlooked by mainstream breeders. He was supported through those early years by a lonely Mr. Young – who believed in him much like Ken and Sarah Ramsey would Kitten’s Joy two decades later.

His path eventually carried him to two leading-sire titles (1999 and 2000). More importantly, his genetic strength proved such that it remained undiluted through succeeding generations; first, his sons would establish themselves as sires of prodigious potency, then his grandsons. And his double-X chromosome offspring have done much the same.

Since his daughters first ripped back the curtains and stormed the stage back in the late 1990s – loudly and like true theatrical scene-chewers – they have produced 197 stakes winners and earners of more than $255 million ... and counting. In 2005, they blasted their paterfamilias into the top 10 North American broodmare sires, where he has remained every year since. By 2010 and 2011, he had scaled the ladder to third, and in 2012, he slid quite comfortably into the top spot – a feat he replicated last year with a spectacular set of data.

Prior to 2013, Storm Cat’s best in this category included U.S. champions Folklore and Speightstown and such Grade 1 winners as Bodemeister, Sky Mesa, Sidney’s Candy, Dialed In, Drill, and Nobiz Like Shobiz. Last year, his numbers were better than ever, eye-popping any way you looked at them, and the quality of his maternal grand-offspring was simply stunning.

The 2013 broodmare sire category – both in Kentucky and nationally – was a bang-up horse race, fiercely contested down to the very last day between the two grand patriarchs of the millennial era, Storm Cat and A.P. Indy. The former came out on top, edging his younger rival by a mere $244,123 in earnings. Each stallion’s producing daughters churned out earners of more than $15 million, a hefty $3 million-plus ahead of third-ranked Seeking the Gold.

Storm Cat proved a global influence throughout the season as a maternal grandsire, his runners capturing stakes in North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Brazil.

As might be expected, Storm Cat mares crossed well with the male lines of both Mr. Prospector and A.P. Indy. Eleven of his 30 stakes winners – 37 percent – hailed from the former mix, while another six (20 percent) resulted when his mares were put to A.P. Indy-line horses.

The Mr. Prospector group proved strongest in terms of quality. Undefeated 2-year-old champion male Shared Belief, multiple Grade 1 winner Close Hatches, Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet victress Streaming, and four-time Group 1-winning sprinter Lord Kanaloa emerged from this blend, as did Grade 2 American Turf Stakes hero Noble Tune and Grade 3 Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie.

When crossed with A.P. Indy (and his sons), Storm Cat mares produced late-season Grade 2 Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code and Grade 3 Florida Oaks winner Tapicat.

Another combo that worked was that of Deep Impact over Storm Cat. The Japanese-bred champion by Sunday Silence got Group 1 Japanese 1000 Guineas winner Ayusan and two other group stakes winners from daughters of Storm Cat.

The best “miscellaneous” cross of the year was that which resulted in Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Sahara Sky. Storm Cat’s graded stakes-winning Seeking the Sky produced the 2013 bicoastal graded stakes winner to the cover of champion Pleasant Tap, a male-line descendant of Ribot.

Though 30 years represent a long, full equine lifetime, much of this genetic tale remains to be told. The fact that Storm Cat still has approximately 145 living daughters under age 10 (from his 2005-09 foal crops) virtually ensures that he will remain a high-profile presence in this category for years to come.