Thunder Moccasin didn’t command huge prices in the auction ring, but he always was physically impressive.
“Pretty is as pretty does; he’s a very good-looking, well-balanced horse and he’s also getting it done on the racetrack,” said Brian Graves, the director of public sales for Gainesway Farm in Kentucky, following the 3-year-old colt’s 6 3/4-length victory in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 11 at Gulfsteam Park.
Graves was looking for pinhooking prospects when he spotted Thunder Moccasin in the consignment of Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales at the 2009 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The son of the grade II-winning A.P. Indy stallion A. P. Warrior was a weanling at the time.
“Thunder Moccasin had good size and he was muscular,” Graves remembered. “He had a lot of pizzazz that horse did; he had a lot of attitude. He was kind of a fancy-looking, feel-good horse that was really on his toes. I also liked the Storm Cat mare on the bottom (of his pedigree) and the A.P. Indy line on the top.”
Thunder Moccasin is a member of his sire’s second crop, and when he was offered at public auction as a weanling, it was at a time when A. P. Warrior’s offspring weren’t at the height of their commercial appeal. Like many other stallions in the same situation, the memories of A.P. Warrior as a racehorse were beginning to fade, the excitement over his inaugural foals was waning, and he didn’t have any runners yet to renew the interest of buyers.
Graves bought Thunder Moccasin for the modest price of $35,000.
“It was a bubble year for the horse (A. P. Warrior), so he (Thunder Moccasin) wasn’t that expensive even though he was exceptional-looking,” Graves said. “I just don’t know that everybody wanted an A. P. Warrior at the time, especially weanling shoppers.”
Said Warrendale’s Taylor of Thunder Moccasin: “He was kind of flying under the radar because of where the stallion was in his career. But he was really good-looking and very correct. A.P. Warrior is such a beautiful stallion. I’ve always called him the poor man’s Bernardini (who also is a son of A.P. Indy). Thunder Moccasin looked a lot like his dad and he had a great walk.”
Gainesway Sales consigned Thunder Moccasin to the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale for a partnership that involved “myself and some of the guys at the farm,” Graves said. The colt brought $95,000 from former trainer Frankie Brothers, who acquired him for Starlight Partners. Thunder Gulch carried the colors of Starlight Racing in the Hutcheson.
“He (Thunder Moccasin) stayed the same from when he was a weanling,” Graves said. “He fit the July sale well because he was so good physically and we got him sold very well. Whenever you (nearly) triple your money on a horse, you’ve done well. He has a big cheering section at Gainesway. He’s kind of a home team horse and we’re happy that Starlight has done well with him.”
A Triple Crown nominee, Thunder Moccasin is scheduled to run next in the March 10 Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream, according to Starlight's Jack Wolf.
Stonewall Farm Stallions bred Thunder Moccasin in Kentucky. His dam, One Stormy Mama, won two of her 14 career races. His sire stands at Stonewall Farm Ocala in Florida.