Welcome to the Top, Indian Charlie

By Alan Porter

Until 2010, Indian Charlie’s rise to the upper reaches of the commercial sire ranks was marked by the quality of his fillies. His runners were headed by champion 2-year-old filly and champion sprinter Indian Blessing; champion older mare Fleet Indian; and the grade I-winning Pampered Princess. That perspective changed with the arrival of Uncle Mo , brilliant winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes (both gr. I), and an apparent certainty to give his sire his fourth progeny Eclipse Award.

Until the appearance of Uncle Mo, Indian Charlie’s top males were the brothers My Pal Charlie and Bwana Charlie (both out of the Halo mare Shahalo). My Pal Charlie, the younger by four years, captured the 2008 Super Derby (gr. II). Bwana Charlie was an $18,500 RNA at the Keeneland November sale as a weanling, and was $14,000 yearling purchased at Keeneland September the following year. He failed to win in five starts at 2, although he was in the frame in all five outings, scoring two seconds and three thirds. At 3, Bwana Charlie proved to be a progressive individual, taking in succession a Fair Grounds maiden, an allowance race at the same venue, and the Lafayette Stakes (gr. III), which he captured by 3¼ lengths. Third in the Derby Trial (gr. III), Bwana Charlie then ran second in the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (beaten a head), and third in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. III), before defeating the talented speedsters Pomeroy and Weigelia in the six-furlong Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II). That duo took their revenge in the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I), over a furlong further, finishing first and second with Bwana Charlie back in fourth. Runner-up in the Alysheba Breeders’ Cup Stakes, Bwana Charlie concluded his 3-year-old campaign with an excellent late-running fourth to Speightstown, Kela, and My Cousin Matt in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). At that stage, he looked likely to be a major force in the sprint ranks the following year, but his four 4-year-old outings saw him finish out of contention each time.

Bwana Charlie, the first graded stakes-winning colt by Indian Charlie, now has another first to his name, as he is the first son of his sire to be represented by a stakes winner, a graded stakes winner, and a grade I winner. The identity of that horse is Comma to the Top, who may well have earned a position as the nation’s number two juvenile colt, second only to his male-line relative Uncle Mo—quite literally Comma to the Top’s “uncle”—with his daylight victory over the accomplished J P’s Gusto in the Cashcall Futurity (gr. I). A $5,000 OBS October weanling and a $22,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchase, Comma to the Top has had a rather unusual campaign for a top-class juvenile, as the Cashcall Futurity was his 10th outing of the year. He seems to have thrived on the work, however, and has won his most recent five starts, the Cashcall Futurity triumph preceded by wins in Real Quiet Stakes and Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT). Comma to the Top is the first stakes winner from the first two crops by his sire, who has 85 foals of racing age, 49 starters (58%) and 29 winners (34%), those also including 2010 Debutante Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Tristanme.

Comma to the Top is the second starter and first winner for his dam, the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm, a half sister to the Santana Mile Handicap winner Yes He’s A Pistol. The granddam, Maggies Pistol, is by Big Pistol (by Romeo, a son of T.V. Lark, and not a name frequently seen in major stakes winners). Maggies Pistol was one of the better runners by her sire, winning the Virginia Handicap (gr. III). She is out of a half sister to a smart juvenile in Good Potential (by Relaunch), who won the Sorority Stakes (gr. III) and was several times graded-placed, including third in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I). The fourth dam, Order in Court (by Native Dancer son Banderilla), won 13 of 59 starts, including the Strike the Anvil Visitation Stakes. Going back a little further, we find that this is actually a relatively unrecognized branch of the La Troienne line, and Order in Court’s granddam, Comic Relief, is a close relative to Buckpasser (by that horse’s sire, Tom Fool, out of His Duchess, a daughter of Businesslike and half sister to Buckpasser’s dam Busanda).

Comma to the Top is TrueNicks-rated B on the basis of the Indian Charlie/Storm Bird cross. Indian Charlie brings in Leo Castelli, who is by Sovereign Dancer, a Northern Dancer/Bold Ruler cross like Storm Bird’s top son Storm Cat. Bwana Charlie’s second dam is by Dance in Time, like Storm Bird a son of Northern Dancer, and his dam is by Chop Chop, sire of the second dam of Storm Bird.