By Alan Porter
Since retiring to stud in 1999 at a fee of $10,000, Indian Charlie has made an inexorable rise to the upper reaches of the U.S. stallion population. Until recently, the milestones on this march to the top had been marked primarily by the achievements of his distaffers, among them two-time Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing, champion older mare Fleet Indian, and grade I winner Pampered Princess. (Part of Indian Charlie’s reputation was one of perception; through the end of 2010 the score among his U.S. graded winners was actually six to five in favor of the males.)
However, any lingering thoughts that Indian Charlie might be a “filly sire” should be firmly laid to rest by the events of the last few days. On January 15, 4-year-old male Indian Firewater became the lastest graded winner for his sire with a game tally in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II), while 3-year-old colt Anthony's Cross , took third in the Sham Stakes (gr. III). Two afternoons later, the 3-year-old colt Indian Winter–third in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) last term–returned to kick off the new year with a win in the San Pedro Stakes. Later that night, Indian Charlie’s brilliant son Uncle Mo was acknowledged as the year’s best juvenile colt with an Eclipse Award.
Indian Charlie’s career was cut short by injury after he finished third to stable-companion Real Quiet in the 1998 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), his sole defeat in a five-race career that was highlighted by a Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) victory. Although we never saw him in action past the spring of his 3-year-old career, it’s quite possible that Indian Charlie had significant improvement left in him: his sire, In Excess, was at his best at 4, when he was very near the top of his division, and it’s not unknown for his offspring to improve with age.
Indian Firewater would seem to be one that falls into that category. Forward enough to break his maiden on his second outing at 2, he ended his first season with a second in an Oak Tree allowance event, a fifth in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III), and a third in another allowance at Santa Anita. At 3, Indian Firewater proved to be extremely consistent, finishing second or third in seven of his eight starts, including a runner-up spot in the Turf Paradise Derby early in the year, but was unable to gain a win until mid-November when he took the 7½-furlong Nashville Stakes at Hollywood Park. The day after Christmas, he ended the year with a second to Sidney’s Candy in the off-turf Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. III). As a newly-turned 4-year-old in the San Fernando, Indian Firewater progressed again, producing a brave effort to put away favored Thiskyhasnolimit after fractions of :46.95 and 1:10.52, and then digging in to hold off stable companion Tweebster by a nose.
Indian Firewater’s dam, Touched, has had something of an up and down career. She was a $240,000 purchase by B. Wayne Hughes as a 2000 Keeneland November weanling, but after a career that saw her place once in two starts at 2, she was offered at the 2005 Keeneland January sale in foal to the inexpensive then-Maryland-based sire Parker's Storm Cat. There she fetched $27,000 to the bid of Indian Firewater’s breeders’ John and Martha Jane Mulholland. In 2005, she foaled a Parker’s Storm Cat colt. Called Henry’s Touch, the colt was sold for $5,000 as a yearling at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton October sale and was exported to Mexico, where he has won 12 times and was placed second in the Clasico Ciudad de Mexico. Touched was not reported as being bred back in 2005, but the following year the Mulhollands upgraded her considerably with the mating to Indian Charlie. While it might have looked like overbreeding at the time, the move paid short-term as well as long-term dividends, Indian Firewater fetching $400,000 at Keeneland’s 2008 September yearling sale. Subsequently, Touch missed to Smoke Glacken for a 2008 foal, but has a 2009 filly by Master Command (a $57,000 Keeneland September RNA), a 2010 colt by Harlan's Holiday, and was bred to El Corredor for 2011.
Touched is by the Deputy Minister horse Touch Gold, winner of the Belmont Stakes and Buick Haskell Invitational Handicap (both gr. I). Touch Gold made a bright start to his career with grade I winners Seek Gold, Composure, Midas Eyes, and Mass Media from his first two years at stud, but has not added another winner at that level from his next seven crops and Adena Springs now stands him at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in New York at an advertised fee of $10,000. Indian Firewater is his only graded winner as a broodmare sire, but it has to be remembered that his eldest daughters have just turned 11 years old.
Indian Firewater’s granddam, Bay Barrister, a daughter of Miswaki, won four times at 3 and 4, earning black type with a win in the 5½-furlong Venus Stakes at River Downs. She’s produced four winners from seven starters, but none that have earned black type. Out of the stakes-placed Pas Seul (by Northern Dancer) mare Pas Who, Bay Barrister is bred similarly to the Crafty Prospector duo Go to the Ink (winner of the Ready Jet Go Stakes at the Meadowlands and three times graded-placed) and Pas by Pas (winner of the Rough‘n Tumble and Morven Breeders’ Cup Stakes). The fourth dam, Peggy’s Fling, is dam of nine winners, including the Columbiana Handicap (gr. III) victress Four Flings and multiple stakes winner Bishop’s Fling (also dam of the Laurel Turf Cup Handicap (gr. III) winner Rugged Bugger). It’s some while since the family produced a top horse, but Peggy’s Fling’s granddam, Cerise Reine, won the Santa Margarita Handicap, Delaware Oaks, and Ashland Stakes, and ran second in the 1953 Kentucky Oaks.
Indian Firewater (TrueNicks A+) is an example of the strong affinity that Indian Charlie and In Excess have for mares descending in male line from Deputy Minister and his sire Vice Regent. In Excess and his sons already boast five stakes winners from only 31 starters out of mares from the Deputy Minister line, including Indian Firewater and the talented In Excess colt Notional. The broader cross of In Excess and his sons with mares from the Vice Regent male line has notched up seven stakes winners from 47 starters, among them millionaire Texcess.
Touched is a product of the ubiquitous Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector cross (her dam is a product of reversing that cross). We suspect that in this regard, it doesn’t hurt that Indian Charlie’s broodmare sire, Leo Castelli, is by a son of Northern Dancer out of a mare by Raise a Native, the sire of Mr. Prospector. There is little doubt that he loves the strain of Mr. Prospector, who appears somewhere in the pedigree of seven of his graded winners (and three of his grade I winners).