Assistant Scott Blasi leads Astrology onto a van to begin his journey to Pimlico for the Preakness.

Assistant Scott Blasi leads Astrology onto a van to begin his journey to Pimlico for the Preakness.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Astrology: High Hopes for Preakness

The grade III winner will try to add a classic victory to his record.

When Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings purchased Quiet Eclipse for $1.6 million at the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, “we thought we were buying a really good-looking mare that had a great chance to have a good-looking horse,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan.

Several months later, Quiet Eclipse produced a colt that, from the day he was born, was “gorgeous,” according to Moynihan, who is a key Stonestreet advisor. Named Astrology , the handsome bay became a grade III winner and will try to add a classic victory to his record when he runs in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico in Maryland.

Genetically, everything seems to be in Astrology’s favor. Like champion and 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini , Astrology is by A.P. Indy and out of a Real Quiet mare.

That cross in the colt she was carrying was a factor in the decision to purchase Quiet Eclipse. In addition, “I had seen her previous foals and they all were really nice-looking,” Moynihan said.

Stonestreet, owned by Barbara Banke, the widow of the late Jess Jackson (who died earlier this year), races Astrology in partnership with George Bolton. Last year, the colt captured the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) by 2 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs. He also finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill and third in the Garden State Stakes at Monmouth Park.

“We always had high expectations for him,” Moynihan said. “The only bad race he had last year was (in the Garden State) at Monmouth (where he was beaten by 4 ¼ lengths). We probably ran him too quick off of his maiden win and he went from Saratoga, where it was 50 degrees, to Monmouth, where it was 90 degrees. He turned in a bit of a dull effort that day.”

Astrology didn’t begin competing this year until March because “we sent him to California and he got sick on the way out, so we lost time with him,” Moynihan said. The colt made his 2011 debut in New Mexico’s Sunland Derby (gr. III), where he finished second. He then was the runner-up in the April 23 Jerome Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct.

Had not fate intervened, Astrology would have been running for other owners. Stonestreet, as agent, offered the colt in the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.

“We thought he was one of our two best yearlings,” Moynihan said.

But the market slumped significantly at the auction that year in the wake of financial crises here and abroad. The gross revenue plunged 41.5% from 2008 while the average price fell 33.2%. Buyers were cautious about purchasing even the most promising young horses.

“It was one of the situations where we loved the horse,” Moynihan said. “We put a number on him and he didn’t bring it, so we were happy to bring him home. It was kind of a shocker to us that he didn’t sell, but September was a disaster that year for everybody selling horses. He also was (offered) really early in the sale; he was hip No. 4.

“George knew how much we liked the horse,” Moynihan continued. “He had heard me talking about him. He said he would be happy to buy a part of him when he didn’t sell.”

Stonestreet sent Astrology to Florida to be broken and trained by pinhooker Jerry Bailey, who quickly identified the colt as a top prospect based on his progress.

“Jerry thought he was one of the two or three best ones that we had and he was right about that,” Moynihan said. “He (Astrology) never, ever went through a bad phase. Every step he took was always a positive one.”

Astrology has earned $358,893 in his seven career races. He is a half brother to three added-money winners, including Lunarpal (by Successful Appeal), who captured the Bashford Manor (gr. III), Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III), and Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes in 2004 at Churchill.