Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

( 8.32f ,)

CORINTHIAN (CH h, 126 lb) $540,000
Pulpit —Multiply , by Easy Goer
B—Hargus Sexton, KY.; O—Centennial Farms; T—James A. Jerkens

Gottcha Gold (B h, 126 lb) $200,000
Coronado's Quest —Gottcha Last , by Pleasant Tap
B—Centaur Farms, Inc., FL.; O—Centaur Farms, Inc. (Heath); T—Edward Plesa, Jr.

Discreet Cat (B h, 126 lb) $100,000
Forestry —Pretty Discreet , by Private Account
B—E. Paul Robsham, KY.; O—Godolphin Racing LLC; T—Saeed bin Suroor

Margins: 6½, 8¼, head. Others: Wanderin Boy 126($51,000) , Lewis Michael 126($25,000) , Xchanger 122 , Park Avenue Ball 126 , High Finance 126 . Winning Jockey, Kent J. Desormeaux.

Corinthian has always seemed to be the horse that had it all—looks, a star-studded pedigree, and talent. With the aid of newfound mental maturity, he fused all those elements into an impressive victory in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, marking himself as one of the best members of the historic Rough Shod II family since the racing days of Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells.

The colt’s handsome physique reflects the breeding approach of Ben Walden Jr., whose Gracefield Equine nursery bred Corinthian in partnership with Hargus Sexton. “My late father (Ben Walden Sr.) always said the physicality of matings was more important than nicks,” said Walden. “Multiply (Corinthian’s dam) was a great influence for size and bone, while Pulpit is a very well-balanced, medium-sized horse who suited her well.”

As Walden is also the co-breeder of 1999 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Artax, it’s hard to argue with his philosophy. But there is no question that Corinthian has the pedigree as well as the physique of a racehorse. His sire, two-time grade II winner Pulpit, is arguably Claiborne Farm’s premier stallion at this time, given that Seeking the Gold is in the twilight of his career. Pulpit, the son of A.P. Indy and the 1991 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) winner Preach (by Mr. Prospector), has 32 stakes winners to his credit and, at age 13, should be going strong for some time yet.

Like his sire, Pulpit is an outcross for Northern Dancer and has generally done well with mares featuring the Dancer in their pedigrees. He also seems to do well with returns of Raise a Native and Round Table.

Multiply (who, like Pulpit, was bred by Claiborne—in her case, in partnership with The Gamely Corporation) supplied two of Pulpit’s favored strains. A daughter of 1988 North American champion juvenile male Easy Goer (by Alydar, by Raise a Native), she had previously produced 1999 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) winner Desert Hero. Multiply was produced from the stakes-placed Spectacular Bid mare Add, whose dam Number is a grade II-winning daughter of Northern Dancer’s great son Nijinsky II.

Number is out of Special (Forli—Thong, by Nantallah) and, thus, is closely related to the excellent sires Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer—Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason—Special) and Nureyev (Northern Dancer—Special). This family, which entered the United States through Thong’s dam Rough Shod II, has served Claiborne and other breeders well since the 1950s and includes champions Moccasin, Apalachee, Ridan, and Gamely.

Corinthian has already generated a handsome return on his $385,000 price as a 2004 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling for owner Centennial Farms. Thanks to his victories in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) and the Breeders’ Cup, as well as his strong pedigree, he now has to be considered one of the hotter stallion prospects going into the 2008 breeding season. He will stand for $40,000 at Gainesway Farm.

For Walden and Sexton, Corinthian’s victory is a touch bittersweet. While they still have the colt’s 2-year-old full sister, Be Fruitful, who broke her maiden by seven lengths at Belmont Park Oct. 19, they no longer have Multiply, who died of laminitis earlier this year. Multiply’s last foal, a 2006 filly by Silver Deputy, was sold to Stonestreet Stables for $530,000 at this year’s Keeneland September yearling sale. By Avalyn Hunter