Hopeful S. (gr. I)
(gr. I , 7f ,)
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
Too Much Bling
Rubiano Rose Colored Lady , by Formal Dinner
BDestiny Farm LLC, OH.; OStonerside Stable and Blazing Meadows Farm LLC; TBob Baffert
The Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 27 at Saratoga boasted a pair of unbeaten colts in 3-5 favorite Henny Hughes and 2-1 second choice First Samurai, and it was the latter who prevailed by 41/4 lengths.
First Samurai was viewed as something special while growing up at breeder John Gunther’s Glennwood Farm near Versailles, Ky., and was nearly sold privately as a weanling. But there was a mix-up on the transaction, and he stayed home.
“Mr. Gunther thought it was a sign that maybe he should keep him,” said Glennwood general manager Leslie K. Miller.
Gunther, however, ended up consigning First Samurai to the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale in the name of Glennwood Farm, agent. Still entranced by First Samurai, Gunther nearly scratched the son of Giant’s Causeway from the sale, but let him go through anyway. First Samurai failed to reach his reserve and was bought back for $380,000.
“Mr. Gunther felt both relief and disappointment at the same time,” Miller said. “Relief in that he got to keep him, and disappointment in that the public didn’t share his enthusiasm in the colt.”
One man who shared a similar enthusiasm for First Samurai was Bruce Lunsford, who didn’t get a chance to bid on First Samurai and went down to the barn after the sale to ask Gunther about buying the colt. Gunther, with a gut feeling that maybe he should keep First Samurai, instead sold him privately to Lunsford.
Gunther got to find out just how good First Samurai was this summer in a roundabout way. Gunther called Pat Day’s agent about having Day ride his graded stakes winner Molto Vita in the July 10 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. II) at Calder Race Course. The agent replied that Day was staying at Churchill Downs to ride a maiden colt. It turned out to be First Samurai, and Gunther knew once again that maybe he should have kept him.
Gunther, a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has consigned First Samurai’s half-brother by Menifee to the Keeneland September yearling sale. First Samurai’s dam, Freddie Frisson, a stakes winner for Gunther, is the dam of a 2005 Cherokee Run filly and is not in foal for 2006.
“Freddie Frisson underwent some health issues in the spring,” said Miller, who added there are plans to send the mare to Giant’s Causeway next year.
Lunsford races First Samurai with Lansdon Robbins III. It was Lunsford’s filly Madcap Escapade who won the Princess Rooney, with Molto Vita running fourth. Madcap Escapade suffered an injury in that race and was retired.
Robbins raced 2005 grade I winner Offlee Wild as a member of AZ Azalea Stables. Offlee Wild was retired after suffering an injury in the Aug. 21 Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II). He will enter stud at Darley at Jonabell near Lexington (see Stud News).
Giant’s Causeway has sired eight stakes winners. His seven stakes winners of 2005 include European group I winners Footstepsinthesand, Maids Causeway, and Shamardal, plus Naissance Royale (gr. IIT). Giant’s Causeway stands at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. His 2005 fee was $200,000.—D.S.