by Alan Porter
Despite having run favored Dialed In to a head in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Shackleford was dismissed at odds of 23.1-1 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Clearly the bettors had concluded it was unlikely a front-running son ofForestrycould still be ahead at the end of a mile-and-a-quarter contest that appeared to be loaded with speed. In the event, they were proved right, but only just. Having been allowed to set surprisingly soft fractions, Shackleford surged clear in the stretch. After briefly appearing as if he might cause an upset, he was headed by eventual winner Animal Kingdom at the furlong marker, then faded to finish a gallant fourth.
For the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Shackleford was still relatively friendless before the race at odds of 12.6-1. His bid appeared doomed when he and the speedy Flashpoint zipped through an opening quarter in 22.69, but the pair then steadied the pace considerably. When Flashpoint compounded just after three-quarters of a mile, Shackleford was left clear, and after shrugging off some early challengers, he had just enough left to hold the hard-charging Animal Kingdom by ½-length.
Shackleford’s sire, Forestry, didn’t run in any of the Triple Crown races. Unraced at 2, he took a seven-furlong maiden at Santa Anita at the end of January on his second start at 3. Third in an allowance event—with that year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Charismatic, in second—he took the 6½-furlong San Pedro Stakes on his next outing. That commenced a string of five straight victories: allowance events over 6½ furlongs and a mile at Churchill Downs, an 8½ furlong handicap at the same venue, and the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, in which he accounted for Doneraile Court and Successful Appeal . Stretching out to nine furlongs for the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Forestry led most of the way but weakened late to take third behind Menifee and Cat Thief , beaten just a length. His final two starts came in sprints, the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I), which he captured by 1½ lengths, and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), in which he was a creditable fourth, beaten 3¾ lengths, after bobbling at the start.
Retired to Taylor Made Stallions, Forestry appeared to have all the credentials for a successful career as a stallion. One of the best-performed sons of Storm Cat, he was out of the grade I-winning Pleasant Colony mare Shared Interest (also the dam of 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) victress Cash Run), and his granddam was a multiple grade I producer out of a close relative to Mr. Prospector. In actuality, Forestry has had a rather strange career as a sire, at least commercially, having oscillated from red hot to ice cold and traversed most points in between. He kicked off with 12 stakes winners from 54 starters in his first crop. Forestry’s stud fee reached $125,000 in 2007, after a year in which his son Discreet Cat showed himself to be a genuine phenomenon, and another son, The Green Monkey, broke a world record for a Thoroughbred at auction, fetching $16 million at the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-old in training sale. Unfortunately, 2008 and the succeeding years did not prove particularly fruitful for Forestry’s offspring, and he dropped by stages to the $12,500 fee for which he was advertised in 2011. His crops sired at six figures have yet to turn into prolific sources of stakes winners, but in addition to the 2011 Preakness winner, this year they’ve also featured the 4-year-old filly Separate Forest, heroine of the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT).
A broad perspective shows that, while he may not be a sire superstar, Forestry is also a significantly better stallion than a typical $12,500 stud. In addition to Shackleford and Discreet Cat, he’s been represented by other grade I winners Forest Danger andDiplomat Lady, and grade II winners Etched, Smokey Glacken, Carolyn's Cat, and Teton Forest.
Shackleford’s dam, Oatsee, is the type of mare who seems to have the potential to be a game changer for any stallion, and she is remarkable in her ability to convey traits to her offspring that aren’t necessarily generally associated with their sire . A daughter of Unbridled, she was a useful runner, earning black type with a third in the distaff Supertrack Racing Series Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Her first foal was the Grand Slam filly Grand Portege, a three-time winner who earned just over $100,000. Bred to Royal Academy, predominantly a sire of turf runners, she produced Baghdaria, who captured the Indiana Breeders’ Cup Oaks, Silverbulletday Stakes, and Iowa Oaks (all gr. III), all on dirt. The following year, to the cover of champion sprinter Orientate , Oatsee producedLady Joanne, a three-time graded winner whose most prestigious victory came in the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I). Oatsee’s next three foals were Haysee, an unraced sister to Lady Joanne; Miss Sea Oats, a filly by Langfuhr who failed to win; and theAfleet Alex daughter Afleeting Lady, who has one second to show from six starts to date. After producing Shackleford, Oatsee was consigned to the 2008 Keeneland November sale in foal to A.P. Indy, and was sold for $1,550,000 to My MeadowView Farm. For them she produced an A.P. Indy colt that is now a 2-year-old. She has a Johannesburg yearling that is bred on similar lines to Shackleford, and after missing to Dixie Union for 2011, has been bred to Indian Charlie. Oatsee was the only stakes performer produced by her dam, With Every Wish, a black type-placed daughter ofLear Fan. With Every Wish is half-sister to the minor stakes winner Amos (by Cryptoclearance—like Oatsee’s sire, Unbridled, a son of Fappiano), and also to Christy Love(by Unbridled, so very closely related to Oatsee), who was unplaced in two starts but who has produced three stakes winners, headed by the 2003 Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) winner Atticus Kristy. Shackleford’s fourth dam, Taminette (by In Reality), is a sister to the 1980 English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) hero Known Fact, and a half sister to the top-class perfomer Tentam, and to Secrettame, a stakes winner who is best-known as the dam ofGone West. Bred to Fappiano, Taminette produced the three-time grade I-winning 2-year-old filly Tappiano and A. P Jet, a group stakes winner in Japan who subsequently stood as a stallion in New York.
One of the impediments to Forestry’s career was the almost universal perception that he would be a good cross for Mr. Prospector-line mares. After all, his sire, Storm Cat, had enjoyed considerable success with Mr. Prospector; Forestry’s grade I-winning half sister, Cash Run, was by Seeking the Gold, a son of Mr. Prospector; and Forestry’s third dam was a similarly-bred half sister to the dam of Mr. Prospector. In fact the cross turned out to be something of a dead-end. Lifetime, Forestry has sired 7.75% stakes winners to runners. From all Mr. Prospector-line mares, he sired 5.3% stakes winners, and his strike rate with Mr. Prospector-line mares other than Fappiano (the broodmare sire line of Shackleford) falls to just more than 3%. With the Fappiano line, the story has been rather different: five stakes winners from 48 starters (10.4%). Forestry has six stakes winners from 59 starters out of mares with Fappiano in the first four generations. Perhaps the preference for Fappiano is that Forestry’s second dam, Surgery, is by Dr. Fager out of Bold Sequence (a close relative to Mr. Prospector’s dam, Gold Digger), where Fappiano is by Mr. Prospector out of a Dr. Fager mare. Within Shackleford’s lineage is not only the double of Dr. Fager, but in the pedigree of his dam, Oatsee, a double of In Reality (out of champion My Dear Girl, a daughter of Dr. Fager’s sire, Rough ‘n Tumble).