02/12/2008 12:00AM

Two sons of Gone West should excel


LAS VEGAS - The extra-large group of "S" freshman sires concludes this week, and two young stallions from this set should have an immediate impact: Strong Hope and Speightstown.

I have tabbed Strong Hope to be among the leading first-crop sires by year's end. By the stakes-winning miler Grand Slam, he won the Jim Dandy and Dwyer stakes. In addition to being by a sire line renowned for speed (Gone West-Mr. Prospector-Raise a Native), he hails from a female family that has had great recent success, producing the last two Belmont Stakes winners, champion Rags to Riches and Jazil, along with Australian leading stallion Redoute's Choice and Peeping Fawn, last year's European 3-year-old filly champion. Significantly, Strong Hope is a product of female family inbreeding (FFI) through the influential broodmare Sex Appeal, the dam of El Gran Senor, Try My Best, Compliance, and Solar, the second dam of Strong Hope.

Speightstown, also by Gone West, should have precocious juveniles. A champion sprinter and winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Speightstown was ultra-consistent, winning 10 of 16 starts with 2 seconds and 2 thirds.

Soto (Dehere-Subtle Fragrance, by Crafty Prospector). Soto won his first five starts at 2 and 3 and only lost one race. His stunning victory in the West Virginia Derby over a stubborn Dynever was one of the best 3-year-old races of 2003. In a crop that included Empire Maker, Funny Cide, Ten Most Wanted, and Peace Rules, the lightly raced Soto was somewhat under the radar. By 2-year-old champion Dehere, Soto won his three starts at 2, including the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and you can be sure that his babies will have speed.

Spanish Steps (Unbridled-Trolley Song, by Caro). The unraced Spanish Steps is a full brother to Unbridled's Song, so his 2-year-olds should have speed and also be very effective on grass. His yearlings sold well last year, and he is another Florida-based stallion whose babies should get off to a fast start.

Speightstown (Gone West-Silken Cat, by Storm Cat). A $2 million yearling, great things were expected of Speightstown, but it took a long time before he fulfilled that promise. He finally put it all together at age 6 when he won 5 of 6 starts, including the BC Sprint, cementing the 2004 sprint championship. He's from a top-class Meadow Stud female family that produced major stakes winners Bold Experience, Upper Case, and Crusader Sword. His first foals brought high prices, and he is on the short list to be among this year's leading freshman sires because his juveniles should have great speed.

Stanislavsky (Dehere-Spinet, by Nureyev). Inbred to Northern Dancer, Stanislavsky should have had a career on turf but he raced on dirt, where he finished third in the Withers and Bay Shore stakes. In addition, his fourth dam, Glad Rags, was a champion at 2 in Ireland. Based in New York, his offspring should win on dirt but be especially effective on turf and synthetic surfaces.

State City (Carson City-Wajna, by Nureyev). His late sire was the best pure sprinter by Mr. Prospector, whose runners were also blessed with high speed. State City finished third in the UAE 2000 Guineas at 3, and won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at 4. He was champion older male in the United Arab Emirates and also was third behind Aldebaran and Peeping Tom in the Tom Fool Handicap. His runners should make excellent 2-year-olds but should have distance limitations.

Strategic Partner (Kris S.-Very Special Lite, by Majestic Light). As expected from a son of a powerful grass sire line out of a mare by a superior turf stakes winner, Strategic Partner was best on turf. His only stakes victory came in the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes, but he placed in seven other grass stakes at age 2, 3, and 5. His runners will not be very successful until they get on grass and will be best at routes at 3 and 4 on turf and synthetic tracks. Sadly, the 10-year-old stallion was euthanized after breaking a leg in a paddock accident on Feb. 4.

Stroll (Pulpit-Maid for Walking, by Prince Sabo). With tons of grass influences up and down his pedigree (Pulpit, Prince Sabo, Young Generation, Sharpen Up), it was no surprise that Stroll was best on turf, and while his runners may win on dirt, they should be especially proficient on turf and synthetic surfaces.

Strong Hope (Grand Slam-Shining Through, by Deputy Minister). Strong Hope should be among this year's best freshman sires because of the speed and versatility of this sire line. While Strong Hope was unraced at 2, his babies should come out running strongly and be as dangerous on turf as they will be on dirt and wet tracks. His offspring should have speed and get middle distances at 3, but primarily be top-class milers.

Suances (Most Welcome-Prayer Wheel, by High Line). Bred in Britain, Suances raced in Spain and France at 2 and 3 and was champion 3-year-old colt in France. He was then imported to the United States, where he won the San Francisco BC Mile and Dallas Turf Cup Handicap. He also ran third in the Wickerr Handicap. His sire, Most Welcome, is a grandson of Northern Dancer and was a champion older male in France. With an obvious all-turf pedigree and based in California, his offspring should be best on grass but may benefit from California's synthetic surfaces.