By Alan Porter
The A.P. Indy line has long been a premier source of classic-distance dirt performance, so it was no surprise to see an A.P. Indy-line horse capture the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II), the richest race run in the U.S. in the last weekend of March (VIDEO).
What was more of a surprise is that the sire of the winner of that contest was not one A.P. Indy’s major Kentucky-based sons, such as Pulpit, Malibu Moon , or Mineshaft , but the northeastern-based Jump Start . A look at Jump Start’s credentials, however, reveals him to be amply qualified to sire top-class runners.
Bred by Overbrook Farm, Jump Start is out of the graded stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Steady Cat, and his second dam, Hopespringsforever, is a sister to Miswaki, who was a group I-winning 2-year-old in Europe and a stakes-winning sprinter in the U.S. before becoming an influential international sire. Despite his classic background and substantial build—he is now advertised as standing 16.2—Jump Start’s trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, had him in action relatively early in his 2-year-old season. His debut came in a 5½-furlong maiden at Churchill Downs in June, where he emerged on top of a duel for the lead to score by 2¼ lengths. Jump Start’s second start came in the Saratoga Special (gr. II), where he was again close to the pace throughout before scoring gamely over good juvenile Heavyweight Champ. In the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Jump Start came up against two of the fastest juveniles of the crop, Came Home and Mayakovsky, and could do no better than fifth, beaten more than 10 lengths. However, he rebounded from that effort to take second in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) to Officer. Jump Start’s only other outing came in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), where he was vanned off after suffering a career-ending injury.
Retired to Overbrook, Jump Start covered his first mares as a 4-year-old. His first crop of 81 foals yielded no fewer than seven stakes winners, headed by graded winners Sir Whimsey, Jump On In, Bold Start, and Assessment, and the stakes-winning and multiple grade I-placed Copper State. Another seven stakes winners emerged from Jump Start’s second crop, among them the millionaire Rail Trip and Icabad Crane, a stakes winner at 3, 5, and 6 who also took third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Jump Start was represented by a further five stakes winners from his third crop, foals of 2006. It was the bright start made by Jump Start’s first crop that saw his fee jump to $20,000 for the 2007 breeding season—he was introduced at $7,500—and the Louisana Derby winner Pants On Fire and stakes-placed Spring Jump, Jump Jump, and Prayer for Relief are all members of the resulting 2008 crop. With Overbrook ceasing operations, Jump Start moved to Ghost Ridge Farms in Pennsylvania for 2010. Again standing at $10,000 he was warmly received by breeders in the northeast, covering 115 mares—believed to be a record for the state—and he’s on target for a similar number in 2011.
Incidentally, the March 26 weekend was a banner one for Ghost Ridge Farms sires as another resident, E Dubai , was represented by Skysurfers, winner of the Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-II) at the Dubai World Cup meet.
Pants On Fire began his career with a second in a five-furlong maiden at Philadelphia Park last September, then ran fourth behind the subsequent Louisiana Derby third, Mucho Macho Man , in a maiden at Monmouth. He got off the mark on his third outing, making all to score over a mile in the slop at Delaware Park, then ended the year with a neck second in an Aqueduct allowance event. He kicked off his 2011 campaign with a third in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct, then missed by just a head to Wilkinson in the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) after try to make all. Taken back off the pace in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), Pants On Fire could do no better than sixth, 7¼ lengths behind Mucho Macho Man. Only a second string for the team of trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall in the Louisiana Derby, Pants On Fire pressed the early pace before taking over in the stretch. After turning back the challenge of Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire continued in determined fashion to hold the late run of Nehro by a neck.
Pants On Fire will head straight to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) without another outing, and he is one whose pedigree suggests that he has a good chance of getting the trip. Although Jump Start—who was grade I-placed over 8½ furlongs at 2 – never had the opportunity to demonstrate his staying potential at 3, he appears to be a reasonable influence for stamina: Rail Trip (out of a mare by the speedy Carson City), was a grade I winner at 10 furlongs, Sir Whimsey won at grade II level over 8½ furlongs, and Assessment had stakes success at nine furlongs.
Pants On Fire’s broodmare sire, Cape Town—another Overbrook runner—scored his most important win in the nine-furlong Florida Derby (gr. I). He is now standing in South America, but while in Kentucky he did sire champion 3-year-old filly Bird Town, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at nine furlongs.
Pants On Fire’s dam, Cabo De Noche, was a minor winner at 4. Pants On Fire is her second foal, the first being the 2009 2-year-old winner Louderthanthunder. Cabo De Noche is a half sister to Key Hunter (by Jade Hunter, a son of Cape Town’s grandsire, Mr. Prospector), who won the Russian Tango Handicap at Gulfstream Park, but more significantly took second in the CCA Oaks (gr. I). She subsequently produced the Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) victor Liquor Cabinet (by Hennessy, a son of Jump Start’s broodmare sire, Storm Cat). Cabo De Noche is also half sister to another Mr. Prospector-line stakes winner in the Proud Citizen colt Hatfield, successful in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and graded-placed at Aqueduct.
The second dam of Pants On Fire, Key Flight, is a winning daughter of champion older horse Bates Motel (by English Derby winner Sir Ivor), a multiple grade I winner at up to 10 furlongs, and out of the Key to the Mint mare Key to Flight. Key to Flight never produced a black type winner, but she is very well bred, as she’s half sister to Irish champion 2-year-old filly Minstrella and multiple graded stakes winner Misty Gallore. Her dam, English stakes-placed Flight Dancer, is also ancestress of Horse of the Year Saint Liam and several generations of graded scorers. A half sister to the outstanding South American stallion Dancing Moss, Flight Dancer is out of the sublimely-bred Courbette, an Irish stakes winner who was a daughter of Native Dancer and the great racemare, Gallorette. If Pants On Fire were to be successful at Churchill Downs it wouldn’t be the first Derby winner for the family, as Gallorette’s dam, Gallete, was by Sir Gallahad II out of Flambette, where the 1935 Triple Crown hero, Omaha, was by a son of Sir Gallahad III out of a daughter of Flambette.
Pants On Fire (rated A+ by TrueNicks) is the result of a version of the A.P. Indy/Seeking the Gold cross that has produced 16 stakes winners, including grade I scorer Majestic Warrior. The mating gives 3x4 inbreeding to Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (grandsire of Jump Start and broodmare sire of Cape Town). There is also a 4x4 double of Mr. Prospector, who is not only from the same family as Seattle Slew, but out of a mare by Triple Crown near-miss Nashua, who in turn is out of a daughter of Johnstown, a Kentucky Derby winner whose dam, La France, is a sister to Jump Start’s tail-female ancestress, Gallete.