Dunkirk, who ran second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has been retired from racing for stallion duty at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. Ashford, a satellite of John Magnier and partners’ Coolmore Stud in Ireland, will stand the 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song for $10,000.
Dunkirk was North America’s highest-priced yearling of 2007. Coolmore associate Demi O’Byrne purchased the Unbridled grandson for $3.7 million at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale from Lane’s End, agent. Dunkirk raced for Magnier's wife, Susan, in partnership with Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
It didn’t take long for Dunkirk to impress his trainer, Todd Pletcher, who said that the colt “got my attention literally his first breeze at Palm Meadows (in Florida). He showed a tremendous amount of talent, not the time, but the manner and fashion in which he was breezing.”
Unraced at 2, Dunkirk won his first two starts at Gulfstream Park as a 3-year-old, scoring by 5 3/4 lengths and by 4 3/4 lengths. He then was tested in the BlackBerry Presents the 58th running of the Florida Derby (gr. I), and passed the test with flying colors when finishing second to Quality Road, who won in track-record time.
“Dunkirk’s performance under the circumstances was sensational, as he had everything against him, dropping back to sixth, eight lengths off the lead…,” wrote Steve Haskin on bloodhorse.com. “ But regardless of whether he won or not, the move he made on the far turn, and his overall performance, stamped him as something special.”
After an unplaced effort in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Dunkirk provided another solid demonstration of his ability in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Fighting back gamely after making the running for more than a mile, he finished second to Summer Bird, with Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finishing third. His performance looked all the more admirable when he was found to have suffered a condylar fracture to his left hind cannon bone during the race.
There were hopes that Dunkirk would make a full recovery after surgery, but it was decided that it was wiser to retire him to Ashford. Dunkirk retired with two wins and two seconds from five starts and earnings of $393,200.
“It’s a pity Dunkirk had to retire, as we all expected he would have a huge year on the track in 2010,” said Ashford manager Dermot Ryan. “On the other hand, it’s great to be able to stand a horse like him, with his combination of great ability, fantastic looks, and a top-notch pedigree.”
Bred by Lane’s End owner William S. Farish in partnership with James Elkins and W.T. Webber Jr., Dunkirk is out of the multiple grade I stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Secret Status, who is a full sister to graded winner Alumni Hall.