Fort Marcy H. (gr. III)
(gr. IIIT , 8.5f ,)
Hennessy Blue Begum , by With Approval
BVegso Racing Stable, FL.; OPeter Vegso; TWilliam I. Mott
Operation Red Dawn
(DK B/ g,
Miswaki Afaladja (IRE) , by Darshaan (GB)
BDion A. Recachina, KY.; ODion A. Recachina; TChristophe Clement
Smart Strike One Over Prime , by With Approval
BKinghaven Farms Limited, ON.; OPeachtree Stable; TTodd A. Pletcher
Peter VegsoÕs 8-year-old homebred Silver Tree hasnÕt let his age get the best of him. The favored son of Hennessy most recently displayed his still-spry nature with a 11Ú2Ðlength score in the April 27 Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct.
ÒHe acts fresher than the 2-year-olds in the barn,Ó said Leana Willaford, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott. ÒWe know him really well; weÕve had him since he was a 2-year-old himself. WeÕll see how he comes out of this race and take it from there.Ó
Silver Tree finished the race in 1:42.07 and posted his eighth stakes victory, five of which are graded, from 38 starts.
ÒHeÕs a nice, healthy horse and he knows his way around the racetrack,Ó said winning jockey Edgar Prado. ÒWherever he is, when you call for his run, he gives it to you.Ó
The Fort Marcy marked the first black-type victory of 2008 for Silver Tree, who captured the 2004 Bernard Baruch and 2007 Fourstardave Handicaps (both gr. IIT) at Saratoga; the 2005 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course; and last yearÕs Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park.
Silver Tree is the third stakes winner of 2008 for Vegso, who also campaigned two of this yearÕs Sunshine Millions victors: Go Between, who took the Classic at Santa Anita Park, and War Monger, who scored in the Turf at Gulfstream Park.
A resident of south Florida, Vegso founded the publishing company Health Communications that created the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Silver Tree is out of the winning, stakes-placed With Approval mare Blue Begum, who Vegso bought for $200,000 at the 1998 Keeneland November mixed sale.
Consigned by Glencrest Farm, agent, she was carrying Silver TreeÕs grade III-winning full brother Orchard Park. The now 9-year-old horse scored his big wins in the 2002 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream and the Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs (both gr. IIIT). Orchard Park, who retired with earnings of $669,722, now stands at VegsoÕs 140-acre farm near Ocala, Fla. Vegso breeds the stallion exclusively to a few of his 30 mares.
Hailing from the female family of 1992 and Õ93 BreedersÕ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Lure (by Danzig), Blue Begum is the dam of two other winners: a 7-year-old Silver Deputy horse named Silver Blue and a 6-year-old War Chant gelding named Honoring Blue. Blue Begum died in 2002 as the result of colic.
Hennessy is the sire of 64 stakes winners, including other 2008 added-money winners Golden Dawn (gr. II) and Sebastian County. Hennessy died of a heart attack last year at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky.ÑE.M.