Among four horses purchased by prominent agent Steve Young during the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training in Timonium, Md., was a striking chestnut colt from the first crop of multiple grade 1 winner Shackleford .
Consigned as Hip 444 by de Meric Sales, the colt had impressed Young in his pre-sale under tack workout and the agent purchased him for $190,000 on behalf of Sumaya U.S. Stable, which put him in training with Todd Pletcher.
That purchase proved most fortuitous March 18 when Malagacy took a major step on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) after turning back a group of more accomplished sophomores with a victory in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
Undefeated in three career starts, Malagacy has more than made back his purchase price with $586,800 in earnings. The Rebel victory in the colt’s first graded stakes attempt, earned him 50 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, placing him fourth in the standings.
Bred in Kentucky by John Trumbulovic, Malagacy had previously gone through a sales ring twice before his entry into the Midlantic sale. He was initially bought by Stoney Lane Farm for $45,000 when consigned as a weanling by Paramount Sales to the Keeneland November breeding stock sale and was acquired by de Meric for $130,000 from the Stuart Morris offerings at the 2015 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.'s August yearling sale.
"Based on him training well on the racetrack, we went and looked at him at the barn," Young recalled of seeing the colt at the Fasig-Tipton sale. "He was a big strong horse. He worked in :10 2/5, :22, and galloped out well around the turn at Timonium and it was a good breeze at that time. From a quality and pace standpoint, he (Malagacy) was a very good horse."
Although Young was an admirer of Shackleford, the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner who earned more than $3 million before being retired to stud at Darby Dan Farm near Lexington, his primary interest in Malagacy at the sale was the colt’s pre-sale under tack workout.
"I have a lot of respect for Shackleford," Young said. "I thought he was a street fighter kind of horse. He danced most every dance. He basically took his races to his opposition as a two-turn pace horse, which I like. I definitely thought Shackleford was capable of throwing a horse like this and he did. But my main reason to look at the colt was based on his own merits."
Adding to Malagacy’s potential to Young was his female family, as the colt is out of the unraced Dehere mare Classiest Gem. The colt’s second dam, the Pleasant Colony mare Classiest Carat, produced Canadian champion Impossible Time.
"I have a great respect for Dehere mares," Young said of Malagacy’s dam. "Equally, if not more importantly, is that the second dam is by Pleasant Colony, which is a distance influence that is hard to come by any more in America."
Young said he is hopeful Malagacy has the breeding and ability to successfully negotiate the Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance.
"He is undefeated and he has already won at a 1 1/16 miles," the agent said. "If you watched him gallop out (after the Rebel), he never let those horses go by him. With the Pleasant Colony influence and his tractability, we’re definitely hopeful he will get the mile-and-a-quarter. There is no evidence at this time that he can’t."