At first glance the success of Imperialism, the son of a $4,500 mare, appears flukish, but after delving into the thought process that produced the two-time grade II winner, it replays a common refrain in breeding: stamina, plus speed, equals success.
Michael Sherman bred Imperialism in the name of his Farnsworth Farms. Farnsworth is near Morriston, Fla., but Imperialism was foaled in Kentucky. The operation has produced more than 200 stakes winners, including multiple grade I winner and champion Beautiful Pleasure.
This colt secured his spot on the Triple Crown trail with his neck victory over Lion Heart in the March 6 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), which came one month after his 1 1/4-length win in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II). The races are his only starts for his current connections, owner Steve Taub and trainer Kristin Mulhall.
Sherman bought the dam of Imperialism, Bodhavista (by Pass the Tab), in 1993 for $4,500. Brad Murray Thoroughbreds and Parris Hill Farm had consigned her to that year's Keeneland November mixed sale on behalf of her breeder, Fortune Marital Trust.
"I picked out his dam because there was some black-type in her first dam," said Sherman. "We liked the looks of her and the fact that she was gray, I thought she would be a good match for Robyn Dancer (who stands at Farnsworth) because he was gray. And the conformation would work."
Sherman said in most cases he buys a mare simply because he likes her, not with a particular stallion in mind, but Bodhavista, a maiden, did visit Robyn Dancer for her first mating. The result was White Beauty, winner of five stakes including the 1998 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland.
Sherman kept Bodhavista in Florida until White Beauty's initial stakes victory in 1998, but the next year he sent her to Kentucky, where he breeds just a small percentage of his 200 mares. That trip is typically reserved for stakes winners or, more commonly, stakes producers.
"I don't usually buy a stakes-winning horse, I usually buy stakes-producing mares, or when I make them a stakes producer, I send them up to Kentucky," he said.
In Kentucky, Bodhavista went to Formal Gold
in 1999 and to Langfuhr
, the sire of Imperialism, in 2000.
"I liked Langfuhr as a runner and I thought the cross in terms of pedigree would be good," said Sherman, who has sent other mares to the stallion. "This is a mare I thought justified paying the stud fee."
Langfuhr stood at Vinery Kentucky for $20,000 when Imperialism was conceived. The stallion is now based at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., and commands a $25,000 fee. He has sired 14 stakes winners to date, including Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando.
As a racehorse, campaigning for breeder Gus Schickedanz, Langfuhr performed best at seven furlongs. In nine starts at the distance he won seven--including the grade I Carter Handicap and Vosburgh Stakes--and was second twice. The son of Danzig
was named Canada's champion sprinter of 1996.
But back to Imperialism's development. Sherman said his main focus is selling 2-year-olds, whether at auction or privately. He did not enter Imperialism in a sale, but instead put him into training with Angel Salinas. In his four starts for Sherman, Imperialism never raced beyond seven furlongs, and every time he raced for a tag between $25,000 and $32,000. After the colt broke his maiden last July in a seven-furlong maiden claiming event, Richard Torrone called Sherman and later, purchased Imperialism privately.
"Most of the people in the industry know anything I race is for sale at any time," said Sherman. He said he doesn't remember the exact price Torrone paid for the colt, but it would have been less than $50,000.
With Torrone as the owner, the horse stayed with Salinas, but he began to stretch out. Last September he placed in his first stakes, Foolish Pleasure, which is just over a mile. After running fifth in the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) on Jan. 1, Torrone sold the colt privately to his current owner.
"As time went by it became evident that this was a horse that distance was not going to be a problem," said Sherman. "In fact, distance was going to be an asset to this horse. I think this horse is a natural distance horse and I think the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) distance will suit him to a T. Obviously I did not know that when he was winning at six furlongs, but my business is selling horses, so I'm happy for everyone and I'll be rooting as hard for him as if I owned him.
"If I had to point my finger at anything for the distance aspect of it, it would be his grandmother, Fia. When I bought the mare (Bodhavista) that was something that I liked because most of the stallions that I stand would be speed horses, so I usually look for stamina in the dam to go along with the speed that I have in my stallions."
Fia (by One For All), never won a stakes race, or won beyond 8 1/2 furlongs. However, the mare placed in four graded stakes in 1977 and '78 at 8 1/2 furlongs or more on both dirt and turf. She was third in each of these races: the 8 1/2-furlong New York Handicap (gr. IIIT), the nine-furlong Diana Handicap (gr. IIT), the 10-furlong Nettie Stakes (gr. IIIT), and the 12-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), which was won that year by champion Our Mims.
Russell Fortune Jr. bred and raced Fia, who later produced stakes winners Paulrus (by Golden Act) and Grande Dame (by Zen). Paulrus, whose sole stakes victory came over jumps, also was a Triple Crown competitor. He finished third in the 1991 Tropical Park Derby (gr. III), which was run on the dirt, and prepped for the Kentucky Derby in in a 1 1/2-mile allowance race at Dueling Grounds. He finished first by six lengths, but was disqualified and placed second. Paulrus was seventh behind Strike the Gold in his Derby effort.
Sherman recently sold Bodhavista privately to ClassicStar and the mare, who is in foal again to Robyn Dancer, is now in Kentucky. Sherman still owns her 2-year-old, Vigorous Guy (by Vicar
), who will eventually go into training with Salinas. Sherman said the colt was too large and immature to sell at auction a 2-year-old, but that as is the case with all his horses, he is for sale.
Sire: LANGFUHR, b, 1992. Raced 3 yrs, 23 sts, 9 wins, $698,574. Champion sprinter in Can. Won Metropolitan H (gr. I), Vosburgh S (gr. I), Carter H (gr. I), Forego H (gr. II); 2nd Vigil H, Plate Trial S (R).Lifetime:
3 crops, 397 foals, 268 rnrs (68%), 164 wnrs (41%), 51 2yo wnrs (13%), 14 sw (4%), 1.98 AEI, 1.73 CI, 162 sale yrlgs, avg $35,359, 0.8 TNA.In 2004:
2 sw, 3 sale yrlgs, avg $32,733.1st dam:
Bodhavista, gr, 1990. Bred by Fortune Marital Trust (Ky.). Raced 1 yr, 4 sts, 0 wins, $0. Dam of 7 named foals, 6 rnrs, 4 wnrs, 2 sw. ($4,500, 1993 keenov).1995
: WHITE BEAUTY
, gr/ro f, by Robyn Dancer. Raced 4 yrs, 43 sts, 11 wins, $357,419. Won Bryan Station S (T), Valley View S (T), Estrapade S (T), Dade Turf Classic S (T), Lieutenant Governor S (T); 2nd Opa Locka S; 3rd Mrs. Revere S (gr. IIT), Bryan Station S (T). ($25,000 obsmar 2yo).1996
: F, by Robyn Dancer. Died 1996.1997
: Daryls Dancer, gr/ro f, by Robyn Dancer. Raced 4 yrs, 27 sts, 4 wins, $81,079.($52,000 obsfeb 2yo).1998
: Body Building, gr/ro c, by Jeblar. Raced 5 yrs, 39 sts, 6 wins, $45,430.1999
: Lovely Beauty, gr/ro f, by Robyn Dancer. Raced 2 yrs, 4 sts, 0 wins, $610.2000
: Formal Beauty, dkb/br f, by Formal Gold. Raced 1 yr, 3 sts, 0 wins, $400.2001
, gr/ro c, by Langfuhr.At 2:
2nd Mecke S (T); 3rd Foolish Pleasure S.At 3:
Won San Rafael S (gr. II), San Vicente S (gr. II).2002
: Vigorous Guy, ch c, by Vicar.Broodmare sire: PASS THE TAB
, gr, 1978. Sire of 53 dams of 204 foals, 156 rnrs (76%), 99 wnrs (49%), 33 2yo wnrs (16%), 1.31 AEI, 1.45 CI; 12 sw.2nd dam: Fia
, b, 1974. Bred by Russell Fortune Jr. (Ind.). Raced 3 yrs, 25 sts, 6 wins, $130,094. 3rd Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), Diana H (gr. IIT), Nettie S (gr. IIIT), New York H (gr. IIIT). Dam of PAULRUS
(c, Golden Act; $190,486, Won Miles Valentine Novice Hurdle S; 3rd Tropical Park Derby, gr. III), GRANDE DAME
(f, Zen; $81,460, Won Illinois Fillies Stallion S; producer), Largesse
(f, Cyane; $14,070, 3rd A.M. Fisher S; dam of MEGA FORTUNE
). Granddam of AMAZING LEADER