|BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC POWERED BY DODGE|
Won at 3BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC POWERED BY DODGE
(gr. I , 10f , defeating Hard Spun, Awesome Gem, Street Sense, Tiago, Any Given Saturday, Lawyer Ron, Diamond Stripes, George Washington (IRE) ).
It was the biggest day in the 24 years of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a sire, and it was Lane’s End Farm stallion Smart Strike who was the big star. The son of Mr. Prospector not only was represented by two winners, Curlin and English Channel, but the pair captured the two richest Breeders’ Cup events on the Oct. 27 card at Monmouth Park. Curlin, a 3-year-old, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), and 5-year-old English Channel took the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Perhaps even more important was that the Breeders’ Cup triumphs by Curlin and English Channel decided several championships. Curlin, who races for Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stables, George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stables, should prove an overwhelming choice for Horse of the Year and best 3-year-old male. James Scatuorchio’s English Channel figures to be an easy choice for champion turf male.
Smart Strike also emphatically settled the question of who would be the year’s leading sire. With progeny earnings now an unprecedented $13.7 million and with his closest rival, fellow Lane’s End stallion A.P. Indy, nearly $5 million behind, it’s a done deal. Smart Strike is about $3 million ahead of the former North American record set by Elusive Quality in 2004, and he still has plenty of time to add to his winnings.
Smart Strike, who was a successful racehorse prior to his stallion days, scored his two biggest wins at Monmouth. Campaigned as a homebred by Ernie Samuel’s Sam-Son Farms, the Canadian-bred Smart Strike captured the 1996 Philip H. Iselin (gr. I) and Salvator Mile (gr. III) Handicaps at the New Jersey track. He became a hot item after winning the Iselin and entered stud the following year at Lane’s End.
Although Smart Strike started out impressively at stud—siring 10 stakes winners from his first crop—he failed to generate much excitement among breeders even though he sired a good share of stakes winners and was a major player when it came to progeny earnings. In 2004, his runners earned nearly $7.5 million.
Smart Strike got his share of champions, but most of them, five of seven, were Canadians. They include Soaring Free, who earned three Sovereign Awards, including Horse of the Year.
It was in recent years that breeders finally awakened to Smart Strike super success rate. Smart Strike’s stud fee, which ranged from $20,000 to $35,000 his first nine years, made a nice leap to $50,000 in 2006, then to $75,000 in 2007. His fee was raised to $150,000 for the 2008 season. The announcement came right after Smart Strike experienced a huge day Sept. 30 at Belmont Park. Curlin, who beat Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in May, won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) that afternoon over leading older male Lawyer Ron. On the same card, English Channel captured the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT), and another son of Smart Strike, Fabulous Strike, won the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I).
Curlin’s breeder, Issam Fares, is no stranger to Breeders’ Cup success. In the name of Fares Farm, he is the breeder of Da Hoss, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) in 1996 and ‘98. As an owner, Fares won the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Miss Alleged, who was voted an Eclipse Award as top female turf runner. Miss Alleged remains one of two distaffers to win the Turf, the other being Pebbles in 1985.
Like many of Smart Strike’s stakes winners, Curlin possesses the popular Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer pedigree cross. Northern Dancer appears as the grandsire of Curlin’s broodmare sire, Deputy Minister.
A son of Vice Regent, Deputy Minister was so good as a 2-year-old that he was voted Canadian Horse of the Year and was honored with Sovereign and Eclipse awards as champion 2-year-old male. Following his racing days, he became one of the many Northern Dancer descendants to develop into a successful stallion. He twice was North America’s leading sire by progeny earnings (1997-98). Ironically, Deputy Minister also is the broodmare sire of the filly Rags to Riches, who narrowly beat Curlin in this year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
What might strike many as peculiar is that a colt as good as Curlin is the sole stakes winner descending from his second dam. And the second dam, Barbarika, happens to be a grade II winner.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. Herman Kossow and raced by Fares, Barbarika was winless in France, but won two graded stakes in the U.S. As a 5-year-old in 1990, she captured the Johnnie Walker Black Classic Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park and the Turfway Park Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III).
As a broodmare, Barbarika certainly had a chance to come up with a stakes winner. She produced foals by such top stallions as Storm Cat and Miswaki, but not even one placed in a stakes.
Curlin’s dam, Sherriff’s Deputy, didn’t even race. She suffered a slab fracture and became a broodmare as a 3-year-old for Fares.
Curlin, who is the fifth foal from Sherriff’s Deputy, was bought by trainer Kenny McPeek for $57,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling from Eaton Sales, agent. The price was well below the average of $108,420.
Sherriff’s Deputy produced a Saint Liam filly this year. She was bred to Smart Strike, but failed to conceive. By David Schmitz
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