Sebring takes the Golden Slipper.

Sebring takes the Golden Slipper.

Mark Gatt

Sebring is an Aussie Star in the Making

Sebring is being called one of the best Ausralian juveniles in many years.

by Avalyn Hunter

Whether Sebring (AUS) is a great racehorse or not has yet to be proved, but many Australian horsemen already feel that he is one of the best juveniles seen Down Under in many years. Unbeaten in four starts, all Sebring had to do to claim the AAMI Golden Slipper Stakes (Aus-I), Australia’s top prize for juveniles, was to: recover from a virus that set back his training, overcome his usual tardy start, and finish up strongly over wet going not really to his liking.

Sebring’s victory has capped off a good start to 2008 for his sire More Than Ready, who has also been represented by Australian group III winner Augusta Proud and North American stakes winners Ready for Fortune and Ruff and Ready this year. The son of the great Argentine sire Southern Halo has shuttled between Vinery’s Kentucky base and Australia throughout his career and has been carving out a respectable stud career in both hemispheres. Other than Sebring, his best progeny include the Australian group I winners Benicio, Perfectly Ready, and Carry On Cutie, and the North American grade II winners Ready’s Gal, Ready to Please, and Ready’s Image. Overall, from his first four crops of racing age (a total of 554 foals), More Than Ready has sired 314 winners (56.7%) and 43 stakes winners (7.8%) worldwide. Thanks in no small part to Sebring, More Than Ready currently stands third on the 2007/2008 Australian general sire list.

More Than Ready came to stud in 2001 with somewhat mixed credentials. On the one hand, he had been one of the best of his crop at both 2 and 3. A quick juvenile, he won four stakes from five to six furlongs, topped off by the Sanford Stakes (gr. II), and was third in the one-mile Futurity Stakes (gr. I). At 3, More Than Ready scored his biggest win in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) but proved he could stretch his speed to intermediate distances with good seconds in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), and Dwyer Stakes (gr. II).

The more uncertain part of his appearance as a young stallion was his pedigree. Although Southern Halo (Halo–Northern Sea, by Northern Dancer) led the Argentine general sire list no less than nine times, surpassing the previous record of seven Argentine sire titles held by the great stallion Congreve (ARG), he had a much more modest record while standing in North America in 1996-2002. More Than Ready was his only North American grade I winner, and was also his only grade/group I winner featuring a cross of Buckpasser through a daughter. Southern Halo had crossed very well with Buckpasser in South America, getting at least 15 group I winners from mares returning the great son of Tom Fool, but all of those group I winners were produced from mares carrying Buckpasser through one of his sons, a less common pedigree element in Kentucky than in Argentina.

More Than Ready was also the only stakes winner produced from Woodman’s Girl, a winning daughter of Woodman and the Naskra mare Becky Be Good. Although she was a half-sister to 1995 Del Mar Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) winner Bail Out Becky, she came from a branch of the great La Troienne family — that of Belle of Troy — that had not produced a stallion of any real standing since Cohoes, a speedy son of Mahmoud and Belle of Troy, whose 15 stakes winners from 231 foals had included the 1964 Belmont Stakes winner Quadrangle and the important producer Miss Swapsco.

Sebring is the only winner so far from two foals of racing age for his dam Purespeed (AUS), whose sire Flying Spur (AUS) (by Danehill) is currently standing fourth on the 2007/2008 Australian general sire list and fifth on the corresponding broodmare sire list. Himself a winner of the Golden Slipper in 1995 and a multiple group I winner at distances up to 1,600 meters (approximately one mile), Flying Spur has sired 65 stakes winners, 10 of those at group I level. He is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Rolls (a granddaughter of the great Canadian racer and producer Fanfreluche) and is, thus, closely related to another good Australian sire in Encosta de Lago (by Fairy King), whose dam Shoal Creek (AUS) is out of Rolls.

A half-sister to the Australian group II winner Surtee, Purespeed is out of Lady Moulin (AUS), an unraced daughter of 1977 Golden Slipper winner Luskin Star (AUS). The dam of Lady Moulin, Willowy (AUS) (by Better Boy (IRE)) was a group III winner in Australia and was also the dam of Giostra (AUS), winner of the 1983 Silver Slipper Stakes (Aus-II). The family has been in Australia since the importation of the St. Simon mare Elsie in the late 1800s.

Sebring’s pedigree demonstrates the nearly universal influence of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, for he is inbred 4 x 5 x 6 to the former and 4 x 4 to the latter. He has already proven himself possessed of speed, tenacity, and the ability to overcome adversity; if he can stretch that speed while training on at 3, he will be one to watch in Australian racing and perhaps on the international stage.