Belmont Winner's Pedigree: Tribute to Sire Wild Again

Belmont Winner's Pedigree: Tribute to Sire Wild Again
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Wild Again romps in his paddock at Three Chimneys Farm.
Published in the June 15 issue of The Blood-Horse
Solid. Consistent. Hard-knocking. Those terms have been used time and time again by breeders and owners to describe Wild Again's runners. Now it's time to add classic-winning to the list.

Sarava, a son of Wild Again, captured the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/2 miles to end the Triple Crown bid of War Emblem. His time, 2:29.71, wasn't overpowering, but his stretch drive left no doubt who was boss in only his sixth start since arriving from Europe.

Wild Again, who became a bit of a hero after surviving repeated bumping in the final furlong to win the inaugural Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in 1984, has been siring quality runners since entering stud in 1986. He currently holds court at Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky.

"He gets (here we go again) consistent, hard-knocking runners," said Ed Anthony, Three Chimneys pedigree consultant. "He never has a bad year and gets enough runners and winners every year to pay the bills. He sometimes jumps up and gets a big one. Like this year."

Anthony wasn't referring to Sarava's Belmont victory, but to an earlier grade I win by Wild Again's son Milwaukee Brew. Five-year-old Milwaukee Brew became the latest of Wild Again's millionaires by winning the March 2 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles.

Score One for Icecapade

The Nearctic male line has been represented by several Belmont winners tracing through the stallion's mightiest son, Northern Dancer, but Sarava is the first tracing to Nearctic's son Icecapade. In fact, Sarava is the first to represent Icecapade, sire of Wild Again, in male line in the win column in any U.S. classic.

Northern Dancer and Icecapade not only were sired by Nearctic, but each was produced from a Native Dancer mare. Northern Dancer, foaled eight years before Icecapade, appears in Sarava's fourth generation as the great-grandsire of the Belmont winner's dam, Rhythm of Life (by Deputy Minister).

Bred and raced by Canadian horseman E.P. Taylor, Northern Dancer won the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but found the Belmont a little too far for his liking and finished third. That slight lack of stamina didn't stop Northern Dancer from authoring a sire line responsible for Belmont winners Danzig Connection and Bet Twice in the 1980s, plus Go and Go, Tabasco Cat, and Touch Gold (by Deputy Minister) in the '90s. (As an added attraction, Northern Dancer's grandson, High Chaparral, by Sadler's Wells, captured the 1 1/2-mile Vodafone Epsom Derby, Eng-I, the same day as the Belmont.)

Icecapade initially raced as a homebred for the Locust Hill Farm of Stuart S. Janney Jr. and his wife, Barbara. The couple campaigned him several seasons before selling him privately, reportedly for more than $450,000 to Mrs. D.A. McVarish.

A sprinter/miler, Icecapade set a track mark of 1:08 flat for six furlongs at Monmonth Park and won seven stakes, including the William du Pont Jr. (gr. II) and Nassau County (gr. III) Handicaps. His half-

sister, Ruffian, took sprinting and distance running to an extreme by winning her first 10 races before breaking down in a famous match race with Foolish Pleasure. The quality of the female family also was underlined by half-brother Buckfinder, a grade II winner.

Icecapade enjoyed a remarkable career at stud at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, the nursery owned first by John R. Gaines, then by Graham J. Beck of South Africa. He is represented by 73 stakes winners, including another established sire, Clever Trick.

In the News

Much of Wild Again's success as a stallion stems from the fact that he matches well with a variety of mares. His 73 stakes winners have come from mares with a host of different sires. (At one point, his first 61 stakes winners came from mares sired by 59 different stallions.) Nonetheless, Anthony feels that certain cases of inbreeding work especially well.

"The first inbreeding that works well with Wild Again involves Northern Dancer," Anthony wrote several years ago. "There is inbreeding to Nearctic and Native Dancer whenever Wild Again and Northern Dancer are crossed in pedigrees. It seems that concentrating this nick has a very positive effect for Wild Again."

In addition to Sarava, the Wild Again/ Northern Dancer inbreeding has resulted in such other runners as grade I winners Vicar and Wild Event, plus major Canadian winner Wild Zone, Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) victor Wild Syn, and other stakes winners Wildly Joyous and Wild Deputy.

Deeper in the Pedigree

Sarava boasts two Belmont winners in his fourth generation, and both of them, Native Dancer and Gallant Man, are two of the more celebrated winners. Both went on to become successful stallions.

Native Dancer, who started the 1953 Triple Crown with a head loss to Dark Star in the Kentucky Derby, took the Preakness over Jamie K., then beat that rival in a close finish in the Belmont. As the broodmare sire of Northern Dancer and sire of prominent stallion Raise a Native, he appears frequently in a number of Belmont pedigrees.

Gallant Man, who missed winning the 1957 Kentucky Derby because of a misjudged ride by Bill Shoemaker, had things his way the last part of the Belmont. Three furlongs from home, Shoemaker called over to Eddie Arcaro on Bold Ruler, "Hey, Eddie, look at the hold I've got on this horse." Sure enough, Shoemaker let him loose, and Gallant Man set an American record of 2:26 3/5 while winning by eight lengths.


Wild Ones

To this day, it is hard to say who was gutsier when looking back on the 1984 Breeders' Cup Classic--the owners or Wild Again himself. The three owners, William Allen, Terry Beall, and Ron Volkman, put up an unheard of $360,000 to supplement Wild Again to the race. Wild Again had shown promise by winning the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. I) in a fine 2:00 3/5 for 1 1/4 miles in September, and went into the Classic after a third-place finish on grass at Bay Meadows.

Fast forward to the race itself, and there's 31-1 Wild Again on the inside being pushed in deep stretch inadvertently by Slew o' Gold, who was being shoved by an unruly Gate Dancer on the opposite side. Under Pat Day, Wild Again got to the wire a head in front of Gate Dancer, who was disqualified and placed third behind Slew o' Gold. Wild Again, who raced in the name of Black Chip Stable, rewarded the partners with a net return of $990,000.

Wild Again gained a new following after that effort, and a half-interest in the colt's breeding rights was bought early in 1985 by Calumet Farm, then managed by J.T. Lundy. Trained by Vincent Timphony, Wild Again raced only four times that year and was retired in the fall because of a recurrence of soreness in a shoulder. He had won eight of 28 starts and earned $2,204,829.

Wild Again entered stud at Shadowlawn Farm near Midway, Ky., owned by Lundy's friend Harry Ranier, and his wife, Phyllis. Wild Again's first 2-year-olds earned $386,156 in 1989. The next year, with just two crops racing, his progeny earnings shot up to $2.5 million. They increased to $3.6 million in 1991, good enough for 14th on the general sire list. In 1993, Clay bought 50% interest in Wild Again, who had been moved from bankruptcy-plagued Calumet to Three Chimneys in 1991. In 1997, Wild Again reached the No. 2 spot on the general sires list, with $7.6 million. Wild Again currently is owned 50-50 by Clay and Allen and stands for $50,000.

"Every year he's always up there near the top of the sire list," Anthony said. "It's amazing, all that consistency and versatility."

Continued...

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