Eddie Martin describes his quest to develop Spanish Steps into a successful stallion as "my own personal Mount Everest." Monday, Martin took a major step toward the summit when his Martin Stables South sold a strapping son of Spanish Steps out of the Ogygian mare Poqito Polly for $200,000 during the select session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s August yearling auction. The price was the session's second-highest, trailing only the $210,000 brought by a Cape Canaveral colt.
A 6-year-old unraced son of Unbridled, Spanish Steps also was Monday's leading first-crop sire and second-leading sire, with his seven offspring sold bringing an average of $80,000.
Since Spanish Steps entered stud in 2005 at Martin's farm near Reddick, Fla., with a $5,000 fee, Martin has bred 40 of his own mares each year to the stallion. Many of the mares were purchased because Martin thought they fit Spanish Steps based on their pedigrees and conformation.
"It's been very exciting," Martin said. "My expectations as far as his babies are concerned have been right on. I couldn't be any happier."
Spanish Steps brught $280,000 from the late Florida pinhooker Robert Scanlon, agent, at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale. Martin purchased the horse privately after he suffered an injury and failed to race.
"He had an undescended testicle, and he would carry himself wide in the rear as a result of it because it wasn't taken out," Martin said. "He ended up with an avulsion fracture in his right hind leg where the suspensory (ligament) pulls away from the bone and a piece of the bone comes with it. After he covered 101 mares his first season, it (the testicle) descended."
Martin chose to emphasize pedigree over race record in choosing a stallion prospect, and Spanish Steps' bloodlines were impressive. The horse is a full brother to $1,311,800-earner Unbridled's Song, winner of the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the 1996 Florida Derby (gr. I) and Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I).
"Florida gets two types of horses," Martin said. "Either you get a lot of pedigree with no race record or you get a lot race record with no pedigree. Name me two of Northern Dancer's best sons as stallions -- Danzig, who raced three times, and Fairy King, who raced once. Between the two of them, they won only three races, but they were royally bred and were supported with great mares. That's also what I'm trying to achieve with Spanish Steps. Part of my business plan with him is to stick as good a mares as possible under him."
And so far, the plan appears to be working.
"This is something that I've always wanted to do in this business," Martin said. "It's such a long process, and this (the $200,000 Spanish Steps colt), is the culmination of everything."