One year ago, owners Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider and trainer Al Stall, Jr., were in the limelight with Blame, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner who went on to be voted champion older male and was retired to stud.
The Blame team is back again this year, but with a horse in Cease that is under the radar screen and in the Marathon (gr. II), the World Championships race with the lowest purse.
A lightly raced 4-year-old son of War Chant --Limit, by Cox's Ridge, homebred Cease was unraced at 2 and began his career with a second over Polytrack at Keeneland in October. The gelding never made it back to the races until June of this year, with his connections pointing him toward the grass.
After a fourth in turf allowance company at Churchill Downs, Cease was a half-length winner on the grass next out, but was disqualified and placed third for interference in the stretch. Still a maiden, Cease found his niche when a grass race at Saratoga was moved to the main track due to course conditions and Cease romped home a 13 1/2 length winner.
Previous to the 1 3/4-mile Marathon, Cease was third, only a half-length behind winner Headache, in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. I).
Stall said Cease’s lack of experience is due to a shoulder injury he sustained as a young horse, but that he was given two lengthy layoffs to allow him to grow into his body.
Considering his pedigree, the owners and trainer figured that Cease would like the grass and/or synthetics. So they were pleasantly surprised for his affinity for dirt.
“When the race got taken off the turf in Saratoga, his numbers just skyrocketed, like he was a different horse,” Stall said. “He looks just like his female line, like all Cox’s Ridges, big and tall. He takes after his female side, which is why he is going long on dirt.
“He’s a big, long-striding galloping horse, and we think it’s a shot worth taking.”
Cease has won two of six starts, with a second, and two third-place finishes, and earnings of $129,820.