The fact that Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables recently paid a princely sum for a 2-year-old colt by Smart Strike shouldn't be considered too surprising. After all she and her late husband, Jess Jackson, achieved phenomenal success last decade with a Smart Strike colt named Curlin .
Campaigned by Stonestreet in partnership, Curlin was Horse of the Year in 2007-08.
Through bloodstock agent John Moynihan, Stonestreet paid a sale-topping $1.8 million for the Smart Strike colt at this year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training from King's Equine, agent. The price was three times that of the next highest priced individual at the sale and well above the sale average of $156,572.
In addition to being by a top-of-the-line stallion, the sale topper boasts a hugely successful female family nurtured by the late Virginia owner/breeder Edward P. Evans. Breeder and/or owner of more than 100 stakes winners, Evans bred the colt's first four dams, three of which are stakes winners. All three were either graded or group winners.
Evans' first brush with the Smart Strike colt's female family began when he acquired the fifth dam, Flight Dancer. By Misty Flight, Flight Dancer is a granddaughter of champion and blue hen Gallorette, who gained a reputation as a highly durable runner while regularly competing against males. Champion older female in 1946, Gallorette won 21 of her 72 starts in five years of competition.
The sale topper is the first named foal out of the grade II-winning Pulpit mare Mini Sermon. A Todd Pletcher trainee, Mini Sermon proved a solid miler, winning the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) and the restricted Marking Time Stakes, both at a mile in New York, and the 1 1/16-mile Sweetest Chant Stakes at Arlington Park.
Mini Sermon is out of New York and Keeneland allowance winner Ministorm (by Storm Cat), a half sister to A Little Warm, whose two stakes wins include the 2010 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga. Ministorm's dam, Minidar (by Alydar), won three stakes including the Chicago Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III).
The sales topper's fourth dam, Minstrella, was a boon for Evans, first as a racemare and later as a broodmare. The daughter of The Minstrel was a group I winner in England and Ireland at 2 and an Irish champion. She won the Heinz 57 Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) and the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I) and the Tattersalls Cheveley Park Stakes (Eng-I).
In addition to Minidar, Minstrella produced grade II winner Colonial Minstrel, dam of two stakes winners: stakes winner Unrestrained; and Colonella, dam of grade III winner Pleasant Strike, by Smart Strike.
Evans died in December 2010, and Mini Sermon was sold as part of his estate dispersal at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $450,000 in foal to Candy Ride to WinStar Farm. Mini Sermon, who was consigned by William S. Farish's Lane's End, produced a colt from that mating.
Mini Sermon, who resides at WinStar near Versailles, Ky., did not produce a foal this year. She has been bred to farm stallion Distorted Humor .
The Smart Strike/Pulpit cross responsible for the OBS sale topper has been used sparingly. The cross is responsible for seven foals of racing age, of which five are starters and one is a winner.
Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector—Classy 'n Smart, by Smarten) stands for $85,000 at Lane's End near Versailles, Ky.