02/14/2014 1:45PM

Tale of the Cat: Leading sire by juvenile earnings

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Coolmore Stud
Tale of the Cat stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.

Leading Kentucky juvenile sire by earnings

Veteran stallion Tale of the Cat finished 2013 atop the Kentucky juvenile sire list by earnings as his 2-year-olds bankrolled $1,822,245. The 20-year-old regally bred son of Storm Cat bested juvenile earnings runner-up Street Cry – the sire of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day – by more than $78,000.

Tale of the Cat, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles for $25,000 this year, has settled into his senior years as a very consistent stallion. He, along with other contemporary sires such as Ashford’s Giant’s Causeway and Hill ‘n’ Dale’s Stormy Atlantic, have ensured that their own sire, who died last April, will extend his breed-shaping influence well into this century.

Tale of the Cat’s juvenile earnings title was derived largely from the performances of two standout fillies: champion She’s a Tiger and Grade 2 winner Stopchargingmaria. The latter won three of five starts in 2013 for earnings of $548,000 and took the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes and Grade 3 Tempted Stakes, both at Aqueduct, to close out her 2-year-old campaign. Stopchargingmaria is on a steady work tab for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher in Florida preparing for her 3-year-old debut.

She’s a Tiger rang up $725,650 from three wins in six starts as a juvenile, winning the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly. The bay filly captured the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and crossed the finish line first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita but was disqualified and placed second after drifting out late. She’s a Tiger has yet to start this year, but according to her connections, the filly has the May 2 Kentucky Oaks as a goal.

Tale of the Cat finished fourth on the Kentucky juvenile sire list by average earnings with a solid $50,618 from his 36 starters, 16 of them winners (Claiborne Farm stallion War Front led in that category with a $67,534 average). He also finished tied for ninth among Kentucky sires in progeny stakes wins with 20. His best runners older than age two last year include Grade 2 Woody Stephens winner Forty Tales, Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Memorial winner Tale of a Champion, Japanese group stakes winner A Shin Top, and New York-bred dual stakes winner Saratoga Snacks.

Tale of the Cat has been an integral part of Coolmore’s breeding program since retiring to Ashford in 1998. From a female family deep-rooted in storied Claiborne Farm bloodlines – his dam, Yarn, was a full sister to Grade 1 winner Preach, the dam of standout Claiborne sire Pulpit – Tale of the Cat developed into a good racehorse for trainer John Forbes and his Phantom House Farm partnership. He won the Grade 2 King’s Bishop Stakes as a 3-year-old and placed in three Grade 1 events at 3 and 4, including the Whitney Handicap.

Coolmore had bought into the horse before his racing career ended and settled him at Ashford in Versailles for the 1999 breeding season. Tale of the Cat also shuttled to Coolmore’s facilities in Australia for several years and soon became a versatile dual-hemisphere success story as his female family continued to grow in luster (his dam also produced multiple Group 1 winner Minardi, and her daughters Myth and Spunoutacontrol foaled champion Johannesburg and multiple Grade 2 winner Fed Biz, respectively).

By the middle of the last decade, Tale of the Cat had sired such accomplished runners as Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart and Grade 1 winner My Trusty Cat. His top runner was one of the best early-21st-century racehorses, in 2009-11, as turf star Gio Ponti gathered three Eclipse Awards while winning seven Grade 1 races and earning more than $5.3 million.

The success of Lion Heart, Gio Ponti, and Grade 1 winner Tale of Ekati helped make Tale of the Cat a steady presence among the top sires in North America by earnings. He finished 13th by earnings in North America in 2013, and She’s a Tiger and Stopchargingmaria have the potential to keep Tale of the Cat among the leaders even as his annual book begins to decrease due to his age.

Although Lion Heart now stands in Turkey, both Gio Ponti (at Castleton Lyons) and Tale of Ekati (Darby Dan Farm) have a chance to extend Tale of the Cat’s legacy as a sire of sires.