The Danzig line in the U.S. has experienced something of a resurgence during the past few years.
Following on the heels of a 3-year-old championship for Danzig’s grandson Big Brown has come the rapid rise of War Front to be one of the hottest young sires around; a bright beginning by the spectacular Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner Bellamy Road ; a highly-promising start by 2012 second-season horse Hard Spun ; not to mention some good work by Exchange Rate, who had four stakes-winning juveniles from his first Kentucky crop last year; and, Florida-based Pomeroy, whose first crop included the very smart 2011 sophomores Pomeroys Pistol and Flashpoint.
Another name that we would have added to the list had he not been euthanized due to complications follow a colic surgery, after standing just two seasons, is that of Lawyer Ron. His first crop are 3-year-olds of 2012, and from his first 43 starters through Feb. 21, he has sired freshman grade I scorer Drill (who also took the grade II San Vicente Stakes in mid-February), and stakes winners With Council, Talk to My Lawyer, and Adirondack King, who also placed in a division of the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) on President’s Day.
Lawyer Ron’s credentials as a runner certainly qualified him as a bright sire prospect, although his pedigree didn’t convey the same obvious potential. He was by Danzig’s son Langfuhr , a champion sprinter in Canada and a successful sire of runners—his résumé boasts seven millionaires—but not a sought-after sire of sires, and Lawyer Ron’s female line had not produced a graded stakes winner in four generations. (One has to go back to his seventh dam, Uvira II—ancestress of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall and Raja Baba, to name just a few—before coming to a branch of the family from which descends a notable sire.)
Bred by the late James T. Hines, Lawyer Ron rose to national prominence with a string of victories in the winter and spring of 2005-2006. A pair of thirds and an unplaced run in his first three starts—all of which came on turf—saw him dropped into a $50,000 claiming event on the all-weather at Turfway Park. Beaten a neck there, Lawyer Ron returned to finish fifth in a maiden special weight at the same track. Given his chance on natural dirt for the first time, Lawyer Ron recorded his first victory with a 3 1⁄4-length tally in a maiden special weight at Keeneland (the Lexington track switched to Polytrack in 2006). Back on the grass, he ran third in an allowance event and fourth in the Grand Canyon Handicap.
Returned to the dirt, Lawyer Ron rebounded to begin his win streak with a score in a Louisiana Downs allowance, which he took by 10 3⁄4 lengths, before ending a busy juvenile season with an 8½-length triumph in the Peninsula Gaming’s Diamond Jo Stakes. The following year the sequence continued in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III), which he captured by 8 ¼ lengths, the Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes (gr. III) and Arkansas Derby (gr. II). Following the Arkansas Derby, Stonewall Farms Racing Div 1, an affiliate of Stonewall Farms Stallions, purchased an interest in Lawyer Ron from the Estate of James T. Hines (Hines having been found dead in his indoor swimming pool just five days prior to the Southwest Stakes).
The deal was announced a few days before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), a race in which Lawyer Ron finished a distant 12th. He excited the race with a chip in a right hind ankle, and wasn’t seen in public again until he reappeared to captured the St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park on Aug. 26. A second to Strong Contender in the Super Derby (gr. II) followed, and shortly afterward he transferred from the barn of Bob Holthus to that of Todd Pletcher. Lawyer Ron made just one start for his new conditioner as a 3-year-old, finishing unplaced behind Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) after pulling hard in the early stages.
Through the winter, Pletcher worked on getting the headstrong Lawyer Ron to relax a little more, and the efforts appeared to have paid dividends when Lawyer Ron kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with wins in an optional claiming/allowance event at Gulfstream Park, and the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II).
However, Lawyer Ron’s next two efforts were disappointing, as he finished third to Corinthian and Political Force in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), and was then beaten a neck by Gotcha Gold in the Salvator Mile Handicap (gr. III) at odds of 1-10. Saratoga in summer saw a very different Lawyer Ron. In the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) he relaxed behind the early pace, then rocketed clear to score by 4 3⁄4 lengths while setting a track record for nine furlongs. Back over the same course and distance for the Woodward Handicap (gr. I), he devastated a very strong field (including Corinthian, Sun King, Political Force, Brass Hat, Wanderin Boy and Magna Graduate ), taking over before the three-quarters, and drawing off for an 8 1⁄4-length victory. Tackling 10 furlongs, a distance probably beyond his best, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), Lawyer Ron delivered another excellent effort, going down by a neck to the 3-year-old star, Curlin , after a fierce battle. Lawyer Ron’s final start came in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), where he failed to handle the atrociously sloppy conditions that prevailed at Monmouth Park that day, fading from contention after the opening quarter.
Despite ending his career with two defeats, his two spectacular Saratoga efforts were sufficient to see Lawyer Ron earn the Eclipse Award as champion older horse.
Drill’s dam, Cat Dancer, was purchased by Stonewall Farm at the 2006 Keeneland January Sales, when Stonewall and a related entity, Atoka, were the top buyers, acquiring nine fillies and mares for a total of $2,689,000 with Cat Dancer being the most expensive at $885,000. The objective at the time was to boost books of the farm’s showcase stallions, Medaglia d'Oro (then in his second season), and champion turf horse Leroidesanimaux, who was a first year sire that term. Cat Dancer did begin her career with two visits to Medaglia d’Oro. The first resulted in the colt, D’oro Dancer, a minor winner at 3, and the second in a filly, who at $1,500,000 was the highest-priced yearling of her sex at the 2009 Saratoga Yearling Sales, but has yet to start. Drill, her third foal, sold for $300,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September, and Cat Dancer’s 2010 foal, a brother to Drill, has made two trips through the ring, fetching $60,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and $210,000 as a September Yearling. Cat Dancer herself realized just $120,000 when offered in foal to Strong Contender at the 2010 Keeneland November Sales, but was resold for $1,400,000 at the last Fasig-Tipton November Sale, in foal to Tiznow .
A daughter of Storm Cat, Cat Dancer, had modest credentials as a runner, scoring her sole victory in an 8 ½-furlong maiden event at Monmouth Park as a 3-year-old. However, she was a sister to a far more talented performer in the shape of Magic Storm, who took the Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. II), as well as finishing third in both the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) and Adirondack Stakes (gr. II).
Drill’s second dam, Foppy Dancer, a 2-year-old winner by Fappiano, was out of Water Dance, winner of the Twilight Tear Stakes, and also graded placed. Water Dance never produced a black-type winner, but there was certainly nothing to cavil about as far as her pedigree was concerned. A daughter of Nijinsky II—the most recent winner of the English Triple Crown—she was half sister to Little Current, a Sea Bird II son who earned honors as champion 3-year-old after capturing both the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Another half sister to Water Dance, Prayers’n Promises was one of the best 2-year-old fillies of her crop, winning the Matron Stakes (gr. I) and Spinaway Stakes (gr. I). Subsequently, Prayers’n Promises produced the group winner Nabeel Dancer, and stakes winner Anjiz, and she’s also granddam of graded scorer Buffalo Berry, and third dam of graded winner Chattahoochee War.
Drill’s fourth dam, Luiana, is a half sister to the Darby Dan siblings Chateaugay, hero of the 1963 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Primonetta, the champion older mare of 1962, and subsequently a Broodmare of the Year in 1978. Luiana is also dam of the Roberto mare, Darbyvail. She was a minor winner, but attained significance through her daughter Turkish Tryst, a stakes winning and graded stakes placed performer who subsequently produced Hard Spun (by Danzig, the grandsire of Drill). The family arrived in the U.S. with the 1912 mare Tuscan Red (also granddam of champion 3-year-old filly War Plumage) in the period immediately following WWI, and traces to Ornament, a sister to the undefeated English Triple Crown winner Ormonde.
Despite the fact that his sire was extremely effective over nine furlongs, and the classic connections in his dam, Drill seems better at shorter distances. The San Vicente was his first win, and only his second placing in five starts since his victory in Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) back in September. Four of those outings having come at 8 ½ furlongs. Drill is the second stakes winner sired by a son of Langfuhr out of a mare by Storm Cat. The broader Danzig/Storm Cat cross has produced at least 15 other group or graded winners, including group or grade one winners Mujahid (by Danzig out of a Storm Cat mare), Planteur, Miss Beatrix, Velocitea, Irish Lights. and Absolutely. We can note too, that Lawyer Ron represents the cross of a Northern Dancer line stallion over a mare from the Sir Gaylord line, and that Storm Cat is a Northern Dancer grandson who is out of a mare by Sir Gaylord’s half-brother, Secretariat.