Though A to the Croft has been experiencing a case of "seconditis" lately in stakes company, trainer Kenny McPeek still believes the filly has enough talent to put it all together in the Oct. 27 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
A to the Croft broke her maiden at first asking at Churchill Downs July 8, but has since posted only runner-up finishes in the Aug. 15 Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) and the Sept. 2 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, plus the Oct. 5 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, where she finished a length behind Country Star.
McPeek was so impressed with A to the Croft's physical appearance as a yearling that he decided to purchase her for himself.
"She was what I called an 'OMG' horse because when you looked at her, you said, 'oh my god,' " McPeek said of the filly, who cost $55,000 at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale. Hunter Valley Farm, agent, was the consigner.
"She's gorgeous--just beautiful," McPeek said. "If you could mold one, that's her. She was a real standout. I bought her with my own money, not really having a client, and I offered her to (Michael Harrison), who I already had a horse or two for."
Raced in the name of Harrison and Joe Trunfio's Koolmen Racing Stable, A to the Croft has earned $210,018 in her four-start career. Harrison, an attorney from northern New Jersey, has been involved in horse racing for 14 years and currently has about 20 horses in training with McPeek and other trainers. He also keeps a few broodmares, weanlings, and yearlings at Julie Householder's Claybank Farm near Lexington.
"I wish I never sold (A to the Croft), but I sell them all--I can't keep any of them," McPeek said. "If I do, people question why I kept one and not another. She's been all class from the beginning."
Though breeder Jim Squires no longer owns A to the Croft or her dam, he still eagerly follows the filly's career.
"I choose all my matings based on the female bloodlines," Squires said of the cross with Menifee and Heart Warmer that produced the grade I-placed filly. "(Heart Warmer) is out of a Dixieland Band mare (Scorched), and she is a Devil's Bag mare. That was the first time I had gone to any Storm Cat offspring. I liked the fact Menifee was a closer. He was big and strong and had a lot of bone."
The first offspring from that cross was a filly named Foolish Endeavor, who had to be euthanized last year at 3 after being kicked by another horse while in training.
"We thought we had a Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) horse," Squires said. "I bred (Heart Warmer) back to Menifee on the basis of how much I liked Foolish Endeavor, and then she had an even better conformed, more beautiful baby (A to the Croft)."
Squires sold Heart Warmer while in foal to Tactical Cat to Donna Moore at the 2005 Keeneland November mixed sale.