09/04/2017 6:52PM

Unwanted at auction, Lady Ivanka makes them pay

Barbara D. Livingston
Lady Ivanka (left), who twice was passed over at public auction, wins the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga.

For a state that produces only around 500 Thoroughbred foals per year, Oklahoma has produced its fair share of top racehorses. Racing Hall of Famer Lady’s Secret, who was Horse of the Year and champion older mare in 1986, earned $3,021,325, but is not the leading money-earning Oklahoma-bred. That honor belongs to Kip Deville, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile and three other Grade 1 races, who earned $3,103,197.

Lady Ivanka, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 2, may never reach those heights of fame and fortune, but with a Grade 1 victory already on her resume, she will have a plaque reserved for her in the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Remington Park.

Bred in Oklahoma by Scott Pierce, Lady Ivanka passed through the auction ring at Keeneland both as a weanling and a yearling without finding a public buyer at modest reserves. Despite matching the fastest quarter-mile breeze show time of the sale of  21 2/5 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, Lady Ivanka still failed to find a buyer in the ring, but was purchased privately after the sale by agent Kim Valerio on behalf of Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, Michael Imperio, and Susan Montanye for $80,000.

One reason for buyers’ lack of confidence in this filly with obvious speed was her pedigree. Her dam, Lady Leftennant, by Officer, had placed once in four starts and sold to Pierce at the 2013 Heritage Sale for a derisory $1,000. At that point she had two non-winning foals of racing age, but her next three foals were winners in modest company. Lady Ivanka is her first foal bred by Pierce, and she has since produced a 2017 colt by Tapiture.

Although Lady Leftennant showed little ability, she was half-sister to four stakes winners, though none of graded stakes quality. The best, Jet West, by Western Fame, earned $554,345, winning two restricted stakes and placing in the Grade 1 Golden Shaheen.

Lady Leftennant’s dam, Jetinwith Kennedy, by Kennedy Road, was also a stakes winner on the California circuit and out of a half-sister to the speedy sprinter Rise High, by Viking Spirit. But to find anything approaching the quality of a modern-day Grade 1 winner, one has to search all the way back to Lady Ivanka’s ninth dam, Starflight, by Sunstar, dam of Insco, by Sir Gallahad III, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Lawrin and champions Unerring and Inscoelda.

Lady Ivanka’s sire, Tiz Wonderful, on the other hand, was obviously a high-class racehorse, but he was not a sound one. By Horse of the Year and dual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, Tiz Wonderful won all three of his starts at 2 in 2006, including a 6 3/4-length romp in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes and a half-length victory over subsequent Grade 1 winner Any Given Saturday in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Tiz Wonderful missed the 2007 classics because of a tendon injury, and raced only twice at 3, running sixth in the Jim Dandy and then breaking down badly in his right hind leg when second in the More Than Ready Stakes. 

Tiz Wonderful was not sound enough to stand at stud in 2008, and covered his first mares in 2009 at Spendthrift Farm. His first crop included Grade 2 winners S’maverlous (out of A.P. Petal, by A.P. Indy) and Scherzinger (Dancinandsingin, by A.P. Indy). Tiz Wonderful followed up with Spinaway, Grade 2 Demoiselle, and Grade 2 Gazelle winner Condo Commando (Yearly Report, by General Meeting), and has now sired 30 stakes winners from 518 foals age 3 and up, including 11 graded stakes winners.

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That is a darn good record for a stallion whose stud fee never rose above $10,000. Despite that success, Tiz Wonderful never caught on commercially, and when the Korean Racing Authority made Spendthrift an offer too good to turn down in 2014, he was off to South Korea.

A big, quite heavy horse who is more refined than his angular sire, Tiz Wonderful’s progeny average only seven starts per foal, well below the breed average. Despite that, he averaged 102 foals per crop during his six seasons at stud in America.

To date, though, he is probably the most successful son of Tiznow at stud, who along with Dream Ahead in Europe represents the last hope for the survival of the Man o’ War male line. Tiz Wonderful’s Grade 2-winning son In Trouble (Ballpark Butterfly, by Grand Slam) stands at stud in Kentucky, but at a nominal fee of $1,000, his chances of being the American conduit for the Man o’ War line are virtually nil.