Raven's Pass to Greet First U.S. Mares
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Breeders' Cup Classic winner Raven's Pass
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The first wave of up to 30 American mares booked to Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Raven's Pass is scheduled to reach Ireland on Dec. 20, with two other groups slated to begin quarantine soon prior to their trips.

Joe Osborne, managing director of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Kildangan Stud in County Kildare, said on Dec. 17 that the sheikh’s Darley organization has offered “a very attractive package” to encourage American breeders to patronize Raven’s Pass. The 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality   will stand his first season at Kildangan in 2009 for 40,000 euros (approximately $55,200 at current exchange rates).

“A lot of top American breeders are involved. We’re probably going to have about 25 to 30 mares from the United States,” Osborne said. “This will give Raven’s Pass a great chance to succeed in America and maybe it will give American breeders a reason to think about using other European stallions such as Cape Cross -- to think outside the box somewhat.”

Osborne declined to elaborate on the incentive package offered by Darley to American breeders or on identities of the American mares. However, he did say that Raven’s Pass will cover about 140 mares overall and that he has been in high demand.

“All of the top European breeders are using him as well. He’s oversubscribed and we’re sifting through well over 200 names right now,” he said.

Offering incentives to American breeders on a European-based stallion is not new for Darley. Sheikh Mohammed enticed a similar number of American-based mares to the late Dubai Millennium when the son of Seeking the Gold stood his first and only season at Dalham Hall Stud in 2001 prior to his death from grass sickness. Darley paid for the mares to be sent to England and boarded so they could be bred to Dubai Millennium, with most of those breedings done under foal sharing arrangements.

Bred by Robert and Janice McNair’s Stonerside Stable in Kentucky, Raven’s Pass began his career with three consecutive wins as a juvenile in England and he ended it with three consecutive stakes triumphs topped by the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park Oct. 25. While defeating Henrythenavigator by 1 3/4 lengths in a field that also included 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin, Raven’s Pass set a Santa Anita (Pro-Ride) track record of 1:59.27 for the 1 1/4 miles.

Raven’s Pass,  who is out of the graded stakes-winning Lord At War mare Ascutney, won six of 12 career starts and placed five times while earning $3,658,556. Sheikh Mohammed acquired a half interest in the colt last year and bought the remaining interest this year while also buying the Stonerside property in Kentucky and most of that operation’s horses.

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