A few strides out of the gate in the Withers Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 7, the one certainty appeared to be that Far From Over would not be the winner. His connections were probably more concerned about whether he was going to return uninjured than where he was going to finish.
Virtually on his knees as he exited the gate, Far From Over was 7 3/4 lengths back after the opening quarter, and after a half he had dropped farther behind Classy Class and El Kabeir as they battled on the lead. A patient ride from Manuel Franco, coupled with Far From Over’s class and determination, began to pay dividends, and the ridgling closed to such effect he had a neck in front at the mile, a margin he widened to 1 1/2 lengths over El Kabeir at the wire.
Far From Over reminds us not to dismiss a horse’s chances in the first few strides, and he also serves as a caution that one shouldn’t be too hasty to judge a young stallion. He is the first stakes winner by Blame, who retired to stud in 2011 at a fee of $35,000, the co-highest of that year’s group. The current season finds Blame standing for $20,000, undoubtedly the result of a first season that saw him finish 12th on the first-crop sire list, getting eight winners from 28 runners (76 named foals).
Of course, a look at Blame’s race record and pedigree makes it very clear he could not have been expected to make a tremendous impact with his juveniles. Blame started just twice at 2, winning a maiden special weight at Keeneland in mid-October. Sidelined early in his 3-year-old season, he returned in the summer to take a Churchill Downs allowance race and the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga before finishing second to a loose-on-the-lead Regal Ransom in the Super Derby (gr. II). Blame closed the year in a manner that suggested he had become a force to reckon with, topping older horses in the Fayette Stakes (gr. II) and Clark Handicap (gr. II). The following season Blame earned champion older male honors, having won four of his five starts—his sole loss coming with a second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (gr. I)—including a heart-stopping victory over Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Blame’s racing career had some parallels with that of his sire, Arch, who won his only start at 2, and did his best work later in his 3-year-old career, taking the grade I Super Derby and Fayette Stakes (gr. II) before injury forced his retirement. Similarly, Blame’s dam, Liable, was unraced at 2, won six times at 3 and 4, earning black type with a second in the A.P. Indy Stakes at Keeneland and a third in the Wild Flower Stakes at Lone Star.
It’s interesting to note Far From Over stems from a female line (usually identified with his seventh dam, Betty Derr) that is also responsible for last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner and Horse of the Year California Chrome (eighth dam Betty Derr), and another of last year’s 3-year-old stars, Bayern (sixth dam Betty Derr). The family has also supplied the 1929 Kentucky Derby victor Clyde Van Dusen, a half brother to Betty Derr, while Betty Derr appears as the granddam of Iron Liege, who defeated a field that included Gallant Man, Bold Ruler, and Round Table in the 1957 Derby. Betty Derr is also the third dam of Swaps, who upset Nashua in the 1955 Kentucky Derby.
Far From Over stems from one of the most prolific branches of the Betty Derr family, that of his fourth dam, the 1983 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Courtly Dee. Through her, Far From Over’s female line has a more recent Kentucky Derby link, as his third dam, Aishah, is a sister to Althea, a champion 2-year-old filly who defeated colts in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) before finishing unplaced as favorite (as an entry with Life’s Magic) in the Derby itself.
Aishah wasn’t on a par with Althea—who has her own part to play in Far From Over’s story—but did win the Rare Perfume Stakes (gr. II). She produced three stakes winners, including Far From Over’s granddam, the grade I-winning Storm Cat mare, Aldiza.
Far From Over is a product of the Arch/A.P. Indy cross (TrueNicks rated A) that has produced two other stakes winners, as well as Blame’s grade II-placed performer No Fault of Mine. More interesting, however, is the pedigrees 4x3 inbreeding to the siblings, Althea and Aishah via the close relatives Aurora (by a son of Northern Dancer), dam of Arch, and Aldiza (by a grandson of Northern Dancer), the granddam of Far From Over.