Reckless Abandon

Reckless Abandon

Trevor Jones

Exchange Rate Continues With Reckless Abandon

Reckless Abandon cemented his standing as Europe's top sprinting 2-year-old.

When Exchange Rate arrived at Three Chimneys Farm for the 2008 breeding season, the hope was that he would uphold his reputation as a sire of sharp 2-year-olds—a hope that certainly has not been in vain. His first Kentucky crop supplied four juvenile stakes scorers last year, headed by Exfactor, who took the Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III), and the Breeeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) runner-up Excaper.

This year has been even better for Exchange Rate’s 2-year-olds, as the Danzig son has widened his sphere of influence with a trio of juvenile stakes winners, including two in Europe: Gordol Du Mes, successful Oct. 7 in the Criterium Nazionale in Milan, and Reckless Abandon, who cemented his standing as Europe's top sprinting 2-year-old with a courageous victory Oct. 13 in the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I). Reckless Abandon's gritty performance means that he heads into winter quarters undefeated, previously having won a maiden at Doncaster, the five-furlong Norfolk Stakes (Eng-II)—despite hanging alarmingly in the final furlong—the 5 1/2-furlong Prix Robert Papin (Fr-II), and the six-furlong Darley Prix Morny (Fr-I).

Exchange Rate was a smart, but by no means dominant, 2-year-old performer. He ran three times at that age, winning a maiden special weight over five furlongs at Hollywood Park in good style on his debut, then taking second to Dixie Union in both the Best Pal Stakes and Hollywood Juvenile Championship (both gr. III). At 3, Exchange Rate initially was considered a classic contender. He did kick off the campaign with wins in a turf allowance race at Santa Anita Park and the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, but was then fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, in a particularly tough renewal of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II). Stretching out in distance, Exchange Rate was well-beaten behind Fusaichi Pegasus  in both the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) and Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

Following those two efforts, Exchange Rate was never again asked to run beyond a mile, and his only other outing at 3 saw him take a seven-furlong handicap on the dirt at Churchill Downs. The gray reappeared at 4 to win a 6 1/2-furlong turf allowance test at Santa Anita before finishing third in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) and fifth, although beaten only two lengths, in the Makers Mark Mile (gr. IIT), again both on the grass. For the final three starts of Exchange Rate's career it was back to the dirt, the switch seeing him take third in the Lane's End Churchill Downs handicap (gr. II), run off the board in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), and then end his career with a win in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), which he took in a sharp 1:21.24 while scoring by a head over Say Florida Sandy.

Retired to Padua Farm in Ocala at a fee of $7,500, Exchange Rate had plenty of credentials to suggest that he could be a major player in the region. In addition to his very solid race record he also owned a pedigree and physique that saw him realize $1.4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling sale. A son of a proven sire of sires in Danzig, Exchange Rate is out of the graded stakes-winning Seeking the Gold mare Sterling Pound. Second dam Spectacular Bev was also a stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed performer. Exchange Rate’s third dam Bev Bev was a stakes-placed daughter of Nijinsky II, out of Ralph C. Wilson's Maskette Handicap victress Native Partner, subsequently a major tap-root mare appearing as dam of champion Ajdal, group and grade one winners Formidable and Flying Partner, and classic-placed group winner Fabuleux Jane. Native Partner is also ancestress of Arazi, Horse of the Year in Europe and champion in the U.S. at 2, and other group or grade I scorers Noverre, Dance Partner, Dance in the Mood, Dance in the Dark, Eagle Café, and Swiss Ace.

Reckless Abandon also stems from a notable family on the distaff side of his pedigree, and one that will serve him well when it becomes time to advertise him as a stallion. His dam, the English-bred Sant Elena, was a winner at 2 and 3 in England and again at 4 in Canada, where she also finished second in the Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine. Sant Elana is a half sister to another British-bred who raced in the U.S. in Ticker Tape. A daughter of Royal Applause, Ticker Tape was a winner and stakes-placed at 2 in her home country, but really blossomed in the U.S., where she captured six stakes events, three graded, including the American Oaks Invitational and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (both gr. IT). Reckless Abandon's granddam, the Silver Hawk daughter Argent du Bois, also claimed a half sister that won at the highest level: Crowded House, who took the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) as a 2-year-old in England.

Weiner Wald, the dam of Argent du Bois and Crowded House, was by Woodman from the multiple graded stakes winner Chapel of Dreams. In turn, Chapel of Dreams was by Northern Dancer out of Terlingua, so similarly bred to both Storm Cat (by a son of Northern Dancer out of Terlingua) and Royal Academy (by a son of Northern Dancer out of Terlingua's dam Crimson Saint). Despite her illustrious pedigree, Chapel of Dreams never produced a stakes winner, but she is granddam of several black-type winners. The best are Postponed (by Summer Squall, a Storm Bird son bred on the same cross of male and female lines as Storm Cat), who took the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) and has subsequently been a successful sire in New Zealand, and the San Juan Capistrano Invitation Handicap (gr. IIT) and San Luis Rey (gr. II) hero Juniper Pass.

Reckless Abandon is the second foal and first winner for his dam, who was raced at 4 by Reckless Abandon's breeder, Car Colston Hall Stud. Since the mare was in North America at the completion of her racing career, it was decided to breed her to a U.S. stallion before returning her to Europe. Car Colston Hall's bloodstock consultant, Gary Hadden,  recommended Exchange Rate for some compelling pedigree reasons. At the most basic level, Danzig stallions were already showing considerable promise with mares by Sant Elena's sire, Efisio (there are now at least 13 stakes winners on the cross, eight group or graded, and three group I).

Rather more intriguingly—and quite deliberately—Reckless Abandon is inbred to Exchange Rate's fourth dam, the aforementioned Native Partner. At the time of the mating there was limited information on which to assess the duplication, although the Australian-bred group II winner Royal Drive had Exchange Rate's third dam Bev Bev and her brother Serheed 3x2 in his pedigree, and the Met Mile scorer Bribon was the result of a mating carefully designed to have a double of Native Partner through Ajdal and his close relative Danseur Fabuleux, who appear 3x3. Since then there have been at least four more stakes winners with Native Partner duplicated, including  European juvenile stakes winner Gordol Du Mes, who was deliberately inbred to Native Partner (this time with the closely-related Bev Bev and Danseur Fabuleux 4x3).

Native Partner’s pedigree shows similar duplication in her own female line. Third dam Flaming Swords is closely related to the Belmont Stakes victor American Flag, who appears in the pedigree of Native Partner's sire Raise a Native (both were by Man o' War, and American Flag's dam, Lady Comfey, is granddam of Flaming Swords).  Exchange Rate has an additional cross of the family, as his dam has raise a Native 3x4. Meanwhile, Sant Elena, the dam of Reckless Abandon, has not only Native Partner and a second cross of Raise a Native, but also Blue Swords (a brother to Native Partner's granddam Bluehaze), who appears in Sant Elena through Hail to Reason.

Suggested reading: Gary Hadden Discusses Mating of Reckless Abandon