In Thoroughbred racing one person’s bad luck can be good luck to another.
So it is with Stone Hope, the dam of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contender Street Life. The daughter of Grindstone had been given several chances by Phoebe Mueller’s Mueller Thoroughbred Stable to be a productive mare but obstacles kept getting in the way.
"We knew she had the capability of being a good producer, but we also had some bad luck with her," said Jody Huckaby, owner of Elm Tree Farm where Mueller keeps her horses. For example, Stone Hope foaled a beautiful filly by Malibu Moon in 2010. While running in a paddock as a weanling, the filly fractured a sesamoid in a freak accident. She was operated on and the injury healed but she bore the scars from the operation. When offered at auction as a yearling, apparently buyers didn’t believe she was 100% and Elm Tree bought her back for $35,000.
On the heels of bringing the Malibu Moon filly back home, Mueller was in the midst of reducing her stock, according to her son and racing/breeding manager Mark Basinger.
"We liked Stone Hope, and the mare’s foals were all well put together," Basinger said. "I wasn’t crazy about selling her, in fact, she was the last one we decided to cut but I just had to down-size."
Basinger entered Stone Hope in this year’s Keeneland January mixed sale where she sold for $25,000 to Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, under the name of Angelos’ Marathon Farm. At the time she sold, Street Life had made his first career start at 3 in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park and finished eighth. The mare’s first foal, a filly by War Chant named Hope Chant, was a minor winner of $35,356.
"I liked the mare when she walked out of her stall; I liked her presence," said Dennis Crabbs, the farm manager at Marathon Farm in Maryland. "She was also in the price range I had in mind."
Two months later, Street Life became a stakes winner in the March 17 Broad Brush at Aqueduct. He is coming into the Belmont Stakes off a third-place finish in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) behind Mark Valeski and Right to Vote. Chad Brown trains the colt who is owned in partnership by Hidden Brook Farm and Bob and Janice McNair’s Magnolia Racing Stable.
Mueller and Basinger had originally purchased Stone Hope along with some other mares to breed to their stallion prospect Rush Bay, a grade II winner who finished fourth in the 2006 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT). The horse had some temporary fertility problems when he first retired to stud so Huckaby recommended breeding the mare to Street Sense . Stone Hope is a medium-sized mare, and Huckaby thought Darley’s son of Street Cry was a strong, "raw-boned looking" stallion that could add leg to her progeny.
"(Street Life) was a very attractive weanling," Huckaby said. "I can’t tell you we thought he’d be a superstar, but he was very correct and had a nice walk. It doesn’t surprise me he’s become a good racehorse."
If Street Life performs well in the Belmont, his dam could once again be available.
"Mr. Angelos is not only thinking like I think, but I am a big believer in striking when the iron is hot," Crabbs said. "She may go right back into a sale." The mare had a Sky Mesa filly this year and has been bred back to Smarty Jones .