by Alan Porter
It doesn’t seem very long ago that pedigree enthusiasts were discussing the emergence of Storm Cat as a sire of sires. Now we’re on to Storm Cat: The Next Generation, with Storm Cat grandsons beginning to make their presence felt. Whether or not this franchise will be as successful as its Star Trek namesake has yet to be seen, but recent signs are promising. Storm Cat grandson Johannesburg (by Hennessy) ended last year as runner-up on the freshman sire table, and he now has 11 stakes winners, eight of them graded, in his first two crops. This year, Storm Cat grandson Harlan's Holiday (by Harlan) is second on the leading freshman table, and in the coming year we expect another grandson, Lion Heart, to make a strong run at the freshman crown.
That Harlan’s Holiday should get off to such a bright start with his juveniles is very encouraging. Harlan’s Holiday himself was a very smart 2-year-old, but was much better at 3 and in the early part of his 4-year-old career. Bred in Ohio, Harlan’s Holiday took advantage of that qualification as a juvenile to begin his career with a maiden win in the state-bred Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes and the Hoover Stakes. For his last three starts at 2, Harlan’s Holiday moved into open company, winning the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes, finishing second to Siphonic in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. II), and then capturing the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III).
At 3, Harlan’s Holiday began his campaign with closing seconds to Booklet in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I). Moving forward from those efforts, he next annexed the Florida Derby (gr. I) by 3 1/2 lengths and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) by 4 1/2 lengths from old rival Booklet.
In what appeared to be a wide open year, this was sufficient for Harlan’s Holiday to start as a lukewarm 6-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). However, he never really threatened, and after making a five-wide move finished seventh, 12 1/2 lengths behind War Emblem. He tried that rival again in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), this time going down by three lengths while finishing fourth. Switched from the barn of Kenny McPeek to that of Todd Pletcher, Harlan’s Holiday didn’t reappear until September, when he scored a comfortable victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III). Harlan’s Holiday finished his 3-year-old season with three grade I tries against his elders. Third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), he was a distant ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and ended the year with a fourth in the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I).
At 4, Harlan’s Holiday captured an allowance race at Gulfstream Park and the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at the same venue. In the Dubai World Cup (gr. I), he was no match for the five-length winner Moon Ballad, but in finishing second he did account for such smart performers as Nayef, Grandera, and State Shinto. Harlan’s Holiday never quite returned to his best after his trip to Dubai, and although he did take second in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), he was off the board in his other two starts. He retired to Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., after finishing eighth in the Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II).
With his first crop of 2-year-olds, Harlan’s Holiday has so far been represented by 24 winners (behind only Van Nistelrooy), five stakes winners (third to Posse and Van Nistelrooy), and nine stakes performers (more than any other North American first-crop sire in 2007). The star of the team to date is Into Mischief, winner of the Dec. 22 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park, but he’s also been represented by Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) winner Tasha’s Miracle; Bear Holiday, a multiple stakes winner in Canada; and the black type winners P. S. U. Grad, and Harlan’s Song.
An $80,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling and a $180,000 OBS March 2-year-old, Into Mischief is out of Leslie’s Lady. By the Clever Trick stallion Tricky Creek, Leslie’s Lady gained black type with a win in the listed Hoosier Debutante Stakes. This made her the only black-type winner produced by her dam, the Stop the Music mare Crystal Lady, herself a half-sister to two stakes winners, the best of which was the multiple graded placed Melanyhasthepapers.
Into Mischief’s fourth dam, Last Bird, produced a good horse in the shape of Roanoke, who won the Young America Stakes (gr. II) at 2, and the Californian Stakes (gr. I) at 4. (Roanoke was by Pleasant Colony, a son of His Majesty, who also appears as the broodmare sire of Tricky Creek, giving Into Mischief’s dam a somewhat similar background to Roanoke.) Last Bird is out of Patelin, a Cornish Prince daughter who owned intense linebreeding to Rock Sand and Fairy Gold, two of the grandparents of Man o’ War. Patelin was a top-class 2-year-old, winning the Selima, Schuylerville, and Alcibiades Stakes, and taking second in the Spinaway and Matron Stakes. Subsequently, she became a very important taproot mare, and she appears in the female line of grade I winners Pillaster, Reenact, Seattle Meteor, Pleasant Stage, Changeintheweather, and Colonial U.S.
The pedigree of Leslie’s Lady rather parallels that of Harlan, the sire of Harlan’s Holiday. Harlan is by a grandson of Northern Dancer out of a mare by Halo, a son of Hail to Reason. Leslie’s Lady is by a grandson of Icecapade, a three-quarter relative to Northern Dancer, out of a mare by Stop the Music, a son of Hail to Reason (and one with a very similar genetic background to Halo). The pedigree also has the frequently seen combination of the similarly-bred Storm Bird and Nijinsky II.
This pedigree reveals some early trends which seem to be paying dividends for Harlan’s Holiday. Nijinsky II also appears in the dams of Harlan’s Holiday’s stakes winners Bear Holiday and Harlan’s Song, and Stop the Music also appears as grandsire of the second dam of graded scorer Tasha’s Miracle. Harlan’s Holiday already has two stakes winners out of Majestic Prince line mares, one out of a mare by Eternal Prince, and one out of a mare by Maria’s Mon. Tasha’s Miracle is out of a mare by Relaunch whose sire, In Reality, has an intense background of Rock Sand and Fairy Gold, like Patelin, the ancestress of Into Mischief.