By Anne Peters
The TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) promised to be exciting, featuring the New York-bred Samraat and highly regarded Social Inclusion, but an upstart colt named Wicked Strong ran by both of them to take the historic event. Wicked Strong can claim a pedigree with speed, class, and stamina on both sides, making his future prospects intriguing.
Wicked Strong is by Hard Spun out of Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic. Bred in Kentucky by William F. Lynn, he was a $375,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase out of the fourth session of the sale and is now owned by Centennial Farms and trained by Jimmy Jerkens. Having broken his maiden in his second start at 2 in October at Belmont Park, he was third in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), just a half length behind Honor Code and Cairo Prince . He failed to show much in his 2014 debut when ninth behind Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) but then ran fourth in a Feb. 22 allowance/optional claiming race won by future Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Constitution. Victory in the Wood makes Wicked Strong a solid classic candidate.
A stakes winner at 2, Wicked Strong’s sire Hard Spun was a gutsy front-runner, and his speed carried him to a second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) behind Street Sense , and third in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) behind Curlin and Street Sense, but he was not a true stayer. His wins in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) and nine-furlong Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) were truer to his scope although he went to stud off a game second to Curlin in the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Popular and respected, the tall, handsome Hard Spun stood initially for $50,000 in 2008 at Darley in Kentucky. His first crop of 2-year-olds showed a lot of their sire’s precocious speed and put him second behind Scat Daddy as the leading freshman sire of 2011. The next year his daughter Questing was named champion 3-year-old filly, with another grade I-winning filly, Zo Impressive, in the same crop. Wicked Strong, from his third crop, is the 28th stakes winner by Hard Spun, who is standing the 2014 season at Darley Japan.
Hard Spun was from the penultimate crop by Danzig, and is one of his many top sire sons, a lengthy list that includes Danehill, Green Desert, Anabaa, National Assembly, and most recently, War Front .
Hard Spun’s dam is the stakes winner Turkish Tryst, a turf stayer by Alydar’s son Turkoman. This makes him bred on a similar Danzig/Alydar cross as the Hall of Fame turf star Lure, and British classic winners George Washington and Astronomer Royal. Turkish Tryst was bred at Darby Dan Farm and is a conduit for its most classic lines. Her dam, Darbyvail, was by Roberto out of Luiana, by My Babu, and was a half sister to the dual classic winner Little Current. Luiana was a half sister to classic winner Chateaugay and his sister, champion Primonetta.
Wicked Strong’s broodmare sire is another dual classic winner and a son of classic winner Summer Squall, A.P. Indy’s half brother by Storm Bird. Charismatic’s dam was the good producer Bali Babe, by Drone, a top broodmare sire. Drone’s half sister Lady Capulet was the dam of El Prado. Bali Babe’s dam, Polynesian Charm, was a half sister to Shakney, the second dam of two-time leading sire Deputy Minister. With all this sire power, it’s surprising Charismatic wasn’t a better stallion.
Classic Approval, Wicked Strong’s second dam, produced three stakes winners including Gulch Approval (gr. IIIT). She was by Canadian Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner With Approval, one of several classicists sired by Caro. With Approval’s dam was the good Buckpasser mare Passing Mood, who also foaled Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Touch Gold.
The third dam, Classic Value, was a stakes winner out of Queen Pat by Crozier. Bred by Fred Hooper from several generations of his breeding program, she was by Copelan, a classy son of Tri Jet out of the great racemare Susan’s Girl. Queen Pat also produced stakes winners Pat’s Joy and Shuttle Jet, and was a full sister to the tough stakes winner Selecting.
Wicked Strong’s pedigree is similar to that of Hard Spun’s champion filly Questing, a top 10-furlong runner. She was out of a mare by Seeking the Gold, with a potent cross of Buckpasser, and her second dam was by Summer Squall’s sire Storm Bird. Zo Impressive’s dam also has crosses of Caro and Buckpasser, like With Approval.
Wicked Strong is the best colt by Hard Spun so far, and if he has the stamina that his sire lacked, things could get very interesting.