If he were in anyone else’s barn but Todd Pletcher’s, Stay Thirsty would be regarded as a top prospect for the American classics. As it is, he has lived in the shadow of his brilliant stablemate, 2010 champion juvenile male Uncle Mo , who is also owned by Mike Repole. But on March 5, Stay Thirsty stepped out of the shadows to take the spotlight for a day, capturing the Gothan Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) in his season opener.
Whether Stay Thirsty will develop far enough and fast enough to mount a serious challenge for leadership of the division is still to be seen, but the pedigree credentials are certainly there. Bred by John D. Gunther and John Darren Gunther, he is the fifth stakes winner and fifth graded stakes winner for Bernardini . The Darley stallion had a good weekend; in addition to Stay Thirsty’s win, Bernardini’s daughter A Z Warrior ran third in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), while his well-bred sons Break Up the Game and Wilburn collected their maiden victories.
While Bernardini did quite well as a freshman sire of 2010, he is expected to fare even better among second-crop sires as his progeny mature and get more distance under their hoofs. Stay Thirsty is one of two sons who would make almost anyone’s list of the top 20 prospects for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I); the other, multiple grade II winner To Honor and Serve , finished third in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) February 26 in his first start of 2011.
Stay Thirsty’s female line traces back to royal roots indeed as his eighth dam, Masda, was a stakes-winning full sister to the legendary Man o’ War. A good but not exceptional broodmare, she produced three modest stakes winners, the most important of which was Incandescent. A daughter of 1929 leading sire Chicle, Incandescent produced the stakes winners Flash Burn (by Brazado) and Fuego (by Bim Bam), both better known for durability than raw talent, and Igual, the dam of 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault (by Bold Venture).
A daughter of the great Equipoise, Igual was a lucky mare to ever get to the paddocks, much less produce a champion. A sickly foal, she was slated for humane destruction when the King Ranch’s veterinarian, J. K. Northway, discovered an abscess under her stifle. She recovered after the abscess was lanced and drained but was never trained for racing, going directly to the King Ranch’s broodmare band as a 2-year-old.
Igual produced nine full siblings to Assault (as well as three foals by other sires), and two were also stakes winners: 1954 Gazelle and Betsey Ross Stakes winner On Your Own and Postillion, a durable sort who won two stakes races in Canada as a 6-year-old. Sin Igual, another of the siblings, won only one of 11 starts but had some importance as a broodmare, as her daughter Mono (by Better Self) produced the useful racer and sire Rare Performer and his full sister Mine Only, dam of graded stakes winners Academy Award, Good Mood, and Statuette and granddam of Well Chosen (1998 Ashland Stakes (gr. I)) and In Contention (1996 Cherry Hill Mile Stakes (gr. III)).
Equal Venture, another of Assault’s full sisters, never raced but produced the talented stayer Prove Out (by Graustark), best remembered for his conquest of Secretariat in the 1973 Woodward Stakes (gr. I). She also produced 1968 Test Stakes winner Heartland (by Bold Ruler), dam of grade III winner Distant Land (by Graustark), and two-time stakes winner Saidam (by Never Say Die); Country Dream (by Ribot), dam of English group III winner Midyan (by Miswaki); and unraced Fairness (by 1958 Belmont Stakes winner Cavan), dam of 1983 Irish champion miler Solford (by Nijinsky II) and 1975 Vosburgh Handicap (gr. II) winner No Bias (by Jacinto).
Equal Change, daughter of Fairness and 1969 Horse of the Year Arts and Letters, was second in the 1975 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I). She continued the family line through 1988 Carousel Handicap (gr. III) winner Spur Wing (by Storm Bird), granddam of group stakes winners Highest and Nayyir, and through stakes winner Make Change (by Roberto).
Although Make Change never won a graded race, she placed in no fewer than eight grade I events before retiring to the paddocks, where she produced French listed stakes winner Time Changes (by Danzig). More importantly, her winning daughter Marozia (by Storm Bird) has now produced three stakes winners: 2005 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) winner and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Andromeda’s Hero (by Fusaichi Pegasus), grade I-placed and Whirling Ash Stakes victor Superfly (by Fusaichi Pegasus), and Stay Thirsty.
As can be seen from the above, Stay Thirsty’s family has consistently produced quality runners and, occasionally, a racehorse of the highest class. He will have to do quite a bit of developing to reach that level, of course, but while the competition may trip him up on the first Saturday in May, his pedigree certainly won’t.