Let the Triple Crown chase begin!
The newly created Gulfstream Park Derby introduced the first of this year's rising 3-year-old hopefuls on New Year's Day. The winner was Walter Stipa's Reveron, who prevailed in a stretch-long duel with Casual Trick to improve his record to three wins from five starts.
Bred by Cabotaba Partnership, Reveron is a son of Songandaprayer, who burst onto the Triple Crown scene of 2001 with a front-running victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I). It was his third win in four starts, but the colt failed to deliver on that promise and did not win again in four more tries, though he did finish second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III).
Sent to stud at Florida's Marablue Farm (he is now at Walmac Farm in Kentucky), Songandaprayer got off to the same sort of fast start. Fourth on the 2005 first-crop sire list, the young stallion got six stakes winners in his first crop of 55 foals, including four graded winners. Since then, he has had tougher sledding, with just 16 stakes winners (only one graded) from the 603 named foals in his next six crops. Reveron is the third stakes winner from Songandaprayer's 2009 crop of 69 foals, which also includes grade II-placed multiple stakes winner Say a Novena.
Produced from the Premiership mare Alizea (whose granddam, Attache Case, is also the granddam of the good Florida sire Montbrook), Songandaprayer was the first grade I winner sired by Taylor Made Stallions' premier stallion, Unbridled's Song. Winner of the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and 1996 Florida Derby (both gr. I), Unbridled's Song flattened out to an unplaced finish in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and failed to recapture his best form during the remainder of the year, though he did win the Olympic Handicap at Gulfstream the following year before retiring to stud.
As a stallion, Unbridled's Song has become the leading sire son of 1990 champion 3-year-old Unbridled, in turn the leading sire son of Mr. Prospector's son Fappiano. To date, Unbridled's Song has sired 1,244 named foals of racing age in 12 crops, not including 116 newly turned 2-year-olds of 2012. From his first dozen crops, the stallion has sired 637 winners (51%) and 92 stakes winners (7.4%), headed by 2008 champion juvenile male Midshipman . However, he has yet to sire the winner of a Triple Crown race, though his ill-fated daughter Eight Belles did finish second to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) before suffering a fatal breakdown during the gallop-out. Fappiano's sire line has accounted for nine male classic winners: Unbridled (1990 Kentucky Derby), Grindstone (1996 Kentucky Derby), Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, gr. I), Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont Stakes, gr. I), Red Bullet (2000 Preakness), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby), and Summer Bird (2009 Belmont).
Reveron is the fourth winner from four foals of racing age produced from the winner Carolina Sunrise, a daughter of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Awesome Again . Still young by broodmare sire standards, Awesome Again has only 18 stakes winners so far from 301 foals (born before 2010) produced by his daughters, headed by five-time Japanese stakes winner Miracle Legend. The cross of Awesome Again mares to Songandaprayer bears watching, however; of three foals produced from three different Awesome Again mares, three are winners and one a stakes winner.
A half sister to multiple stakes winner Stately Star (by Deputy Minister) and grade I-placed Stylish Talent (by Forty Niner), Carolina Sunrise is out of multiple grade III winner Stylish Star (by Our Native). Stylish Star, in turn, is out of the stakes-winning Ack Ack mare Northern Style, who was produced from the stakes-placed Nearctic mare Northern Heiress. The female line entered the United States through Northern Heiress's dam Yanina II (Inca Yata—Pechocha, by Pandu), an eight-time Argentine stakes winner who also produced 1988 Honey Bee Handicap (gr. III) winner Ice Tech (by Icecapade).
Reveron is inbred 4x4 to two-time leading sire Exclusive Native (sire of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed) and 5x5 to two-time leading sire Mr. Prospector, both sons of Raise a Native. Whether he is “the best 3-year-old in Florida right now” as asserted by trainer Agustin Bezara remains to be seen, but he certainly appears to have the needed tactical speed, grit, and stamina to be competitive in the Florida Triple Crown preps. Assuming he can conquer those hurdles and amass the graded stakes winnings he needs to make the Kentucky Derby field, the next question will be whether he can handle 10 furlongs, a distance generally not relished by the sons and grandsons of Unbridled's Song. But for now, Reveron looks like an improving colt with a promising future, and that is all anyone can ask at this stage of the game.