3rd at 3AVENTURA S.
( 8f , to High Fly, Drum Major, defeating Ginger's Fella, D'court's Speed, Rey de Cafe, Cherokee Chase, Hal's Image, Magoo's Magic, Deputy Indy, Vinotech, Wahran ).
Live Oak Plantation’s undefeated High Fly placed himself early and squarely on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail when he draw away by nine widening lengths with Gulfstream’s $125,000 Aventura Stakes Jan. 8. The 3-year-old son of Atticus was victorious in two contests at Calder Race Course in the fall of his 2-year-old season, including a record-setting 91/4-length maiden win in October at six furlongs.
“We’re all thrilled,” said Live Oak’s general manager Eric Hammelback, whose operation races Slew’s Final Answer, winner of the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs the same day. “This farm is riding high.”
Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud, located near Ocala, Fla., bred High Fly in Kentucky out of the graded stakes-placed Slewpy mare Verbasle. A Kentucky-bred foal of 1988, Verbasle raced on both turf and dirt for her breeder, Charles T. Wilson Jr., to earnings of $250,801 and placings in four stakes, including a second-place effort in the 1990 Matron Stakes (gr. I) at two.
High Fly is the third stakes winner produced from Verbasle, who began her broodmare career for Wilson in 1994 with the winning What a Day, by Housebuster. Her first two stakes winners, Smokey Mirage and Estimraar (in Dubai), were both a result of matings with Darley stallion Holy Bull.
Wilson’s estate consigned Verbasle to the 1996 Keeneland November mixed sale while she was carrying Estimraar. Consigned by Jonabell Farm as agent, Three Chimneys Farm, agent, purchased the mare for $235,000.
Three Chimneys Sales, as agent, consigned her to the 2001 Keeneland November mixed sale while she was in foal with High Fly. She was purchased by Live Oak Stud for $200,000.
“In all honesty High Fly was one of the yearlings we graded the highest as an athlete,” said Hammelback. “He was an outstanding individual with an excellent heart scan, but we did have questions on paper about the Atticus pedigree. He’s just kind of cooled off over the last few years at stud.
“High Fly is a classy horse, physically correct, and very mature for an early 3-year-old,” said Hammelback. “He doesn’t show that frightened state you generally see in a young colt—he’s calm, cool, and collected and he showed that even with all that was going on at Gulfstream with the construction.
“I liken him to the basketball player, LeBron James, he’s still a high school kid in reality, but he doesn’t show it.”
Hammelback said the correctness comes from the female family.
“His mare is nice, also quite correct,” he said, “but he’s a little lengthier and a little more scopier than she is. He exhibits the depth of heart that I look for as one of the main characteristics in a yearling.”
Hammelback said a farm managers meeting, to include Weber, was to convene the week of Jan. 10 to map out a race itinerary leading up to the signature Churchill Downs event. Hammelback said the most likely route would entail another trip postward at Gulfstream in the Florida Derby (gr. I) as the main prep.
Verbasle, who was barren last year after a cover by the Irish-bred Street Cry, is expecting a Seeking the Gold foal in mid-February.
High Fly is the fourth stakes winner for Atticus. The son of Nureyev stood his first seven seasons at Robert Clay’s Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., and currently stands at Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, Calif., for a 2005 fee of $4,000.—P.S.
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