Champagne S. (gr. I)
(gr. I , 8f ,)
Giant's Causeway Freddie Frisson , by Dixieland Band
BJohn D. Gunther, KY.; ORobbins, III, Lansdon and Lunsford, Bruce; TFrank L. Brothers
Hennessy Meadow Flyer , by Meadowlake
BCHO, LLC, KY.; ODarley Stable; TPatrick L. Biancone
(DK B/ h,
Fusaichi Pegasus Marozia , by Storm Bird
BBarnett Enterprises, KY.; ORobert V. LaPenta; TNicholas P. Zito
The taste of grade I Champagne was sweet for owners Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins III, as undefeated First Samurai again struck the pose of a would-be champion. The 2-year-old colt’s powerful charge up the Belmont strip Oct. 8 gave the partners the winner’s share of the $500,000 purse—plenty to keep the finest vintages on ice in preparation for the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Oct. 29.
First Samurai’s lineage certainly suggests the likelihood of success: he carries the blood of Secretariat four generations back; his great grandsire, Storm Bird (and is inbred to his sire, Northern Dancer, 4x3), is the broodmare sire of 2004 Belmont (gr. I) winner Birdstone; he traces to Mr. Prospector through the sire of his second dam, Fappiano; and his sire is Giant’s Causeway, the European champion who ran second to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
First Samurai was bred in Kentucky by John Gunther. The story has it that Gunther, owner of Glenwood Farm near Versailles, Ky., wrestled with the idea of letting the colt go. He first tried to sell him privately as a weanling but a mix-up in the transaction kept the colt at home.
Gunther, looking past the first omen that perhaps he should keep him, consigned the colt to the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale. When the young colt failed to meet his reserve at a final bid of $380,000, Gunther was bemused, but again a bit relieved.
Finally, back at the barn, Lunsford approached Gunther and relieved all of his apprehension with a private purchase.
Interestingly, Gunther also co-bred one of First Samurai’s likely foes on Breeders’ Cup day, the Merv Griffin-owned Stevie Wonderboy. Gunther bred the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) winner in partnership with Tony Holmes and Walter Zent before his eventual sale.
First Samurai is out of the stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare Freddie Frisson. Now 12, Freddie Frisson won the 1998 Holiday Inaugural Stakes and the 1999 Queen Stakes for Gunther before joining his broodmare band.
Out of the unraced Fappiano mare Frisson, Freddie Frisson’s first foal, the 2000 Hennessy filly In the Ghetto, was a winner for Gunther as a 3-year-old in her first start.
Glenwood pulled Freddie Frisson’s Menifee yearling colt out of this year’s Keeneland September sale.
Freddie Frisson produced a Cherokee Run filly March 31 and was bred to Forestry and slipped. Plans call for another mating with Giant’s Causeway.
Leading second-crop sire Giant’s Causeway has sired nine stakes winners. He is represented by eight added-money winners in 2005, including Footstepsinthesand (Eng-I), Maids Causeway (Eng-I), Shamardal (Eng-I, Fr-I), Diamond Omi (gr. II), and Naissance Royale (gr. IIT). The 8-year-old son of Storm Cat stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. His 2005 fee was $200,000.—P.V.S.