California breeding sustained a big hit May 1 when Tribal Rule, the state's leading sire, died from an apparent heart attack while covering a mare at Ballena Vista Farm in Ramona, Calif.
The 18-year-old son of Storm Cat—Sown, by Grenfall, currently sits atop California's general sire list with 50 winners and six stakes winners and progeny earnings of more than $1.6 million. He was the state's leading sire last year by number of winners, with 107, and second by progeny earnings, with more than $4.8 million.
From nine crops of racing age, Tribal Rule is the sire of 271 winners, including 36 stakes victors topped by grade I winner Georgie Boy
, graded stakes winners Alphie's Bet
, Ciao Bella Luna
, Ethnic Dance
, and Tribal Spy
, as well as Mexican Loop
, a champion filly in Mexico. His 391 starters to date have amassed progeny earnings of $21,307,232.
"Itʼs a very sad day for the Thoroughbred industry and more regionally here in California as Tribal Rule has ranked at the top of the sire lists year after year and he will continue to be a force in California for many years to come," Ballena Vista Farm owner Donald Cohn said in a release. "My heart goes out to all that were around this magnificent horse. He was a popular sire and I wish to thank all the breeders whose continued support contributed to his success at stud. He will be buried here at Ballena Vista Farm."
Tribal Rule, who was bred and raced by Martin and Pam Wygod, won back-to-back sprint starts by a combined margin of 13 lengths at Del Mar
in 2001 and bankrolled $77,600. He made four starts overall in a career that was cut short by a sesamoid injury sustained in a race at Hollywood Park in July 2002.
Retired at age 6 to the Wygod's River Edge Farm for the 2003 season, Tribal Rule was California's leading freshman sire of 2006 and went on to become a four-time leading sire of 2-year-olds in California by money won. The accomplishment was equaled only by In Excess over a nine year-period.
Tribal Rule had stood at Ballena Vista since 2010.
Kentucky-bred Tribal Rule is a half brother to 1995 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) winner Key Phrase
, who is the dam of stakes winner and Louisiana-based sire Yankee Gentleman
. His dam, Sown, is a half sister to the Wygods' foundation stallion Pirate's Bounty