General George Handicap (gr. II) winner Bustin Stones.

General George Handicap (gr. II) winner Bustin Stones.

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Regional Sires Bustin' Out

City Zip is a prime example of a top stallion who started in a regional market.

by Alan Porter

While Florida is famed as the "Triple A" state for stallion prospects, other regions have had their moments, too. A very recent example is Kipling, who moved from Mighty Acres in Pryor, Okla., to his new home at Crestwood Farm in Lexington, following the successes of NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) victor Kip Deville, and four other stakes winners in his first two crops. Going back somewhat further — around a decade ago — Belong to Me graduated from New York’s Questroyal Stud to Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., after a bright start with his first juveniles. He’s gone on to be represented by 55 stakes winners around the world, 20 of them graded, and eight of them grade I. A few years later, Lane’s End dipped into New York again and came up with City Zip. The son of Carson City, then standing at Gus Schoenborn Jr.’s Contemporary Stallions, only had first yearlings on the ground in late 2004, but his allure had been significantly increased by the deeds of his half-brother Ghostzapper, who was then on his way to a title as Horse of the Year.

So far, it appears as if the gamble on an unproven horse is going to pay dividends. To date, from his first three crops, City Zip has sired nine stakes winners and a total of 21 stakes horses from his first 141 starters, and Feb. 18, Bustin Stones took the General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park, to follow Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) winner With a City, as his sire’s second graded stakes winner. The majority of City Zip’s other stakes winners have come in restricted New York-bred company, but it should be remembered that City Zip stood for only $7,500 while in N.Y. and generally covered mares commensurate with that stud fee.

Bustin Stones — who has yet to be headed — had to dig in to preserve his five-for-five record, and it’s likely a share of his determination comes from his sire, who was himself a very tough individual.

In action in April as a 2-year-old, City Zip was second in his debut then returned the following month to win over five furlongs at Churchill Downs. Second in the Kentucky Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) and third in the Flash Stakes, City Zip then hit a rich vein of form, taking the Tremont Stakes (gr. III), Sanford Stakes (gr. II), and Saratoga Special (gr. II). The Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) saw City Zip bid to become only the second horse since 1916 to complete a triple of Saratoga graded events — the Sanford, Saratoga, and Hopeful Stakes.

In a race run in a Saratoga thunderstorm, City Zip appeared distracted and it looked as if he was dropping from contention on the home turn. However, his competitive drive then kicked in and he rallied in time to force a dead heat with Yonaguska, the pair having a neck to spare over the eventual champion 2-year-old Macho Uno . Trying to stretch his speed to a mile for the Futurity Stakes (gr. I), City Zip got to the wire a nose in front of Burning Roma, but in the stretch drive he came out and impeded that rival and was subsequently demoted to second. A demanding season ended with off-the-board finishes in the Champagne Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, both grade I events over 8 1/2 furlongs.

Despite the suggestion that City Zip was at his best at sprint trips, another attempt to stretch him out was made at the start of his 3-year-old season. After a close second to old rival Yonaguska in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), he was tried in the 8 1/2-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes and nine-furlong Florida Derby (both gr. I), finishing third in the former and unplaced in the latter. After a fourth in the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III),City Zip regained his winning ways in the six-furlong Hirsch Jacobs Stakes. Over the same trip, he then added the Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) and Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II), in which he prevailed by a length over Speightstown , a horse who three years later would earn honors as champion sprinter. City Zip met another sprint champion-in-waiting in the shape of Squirtle Squirt in his next outing, the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I), and took third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. Following a win in the Bergen County Stakes, and a second — beaten a neck by Snow Ridge— in the Kentucky Cup Sprint Stakes (gr. II), City Zip switched to the turf for his last two starts. A typically game third to Forbidden Apple in the Kelso Handicap (gr. II), he duly took his place in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I), leading most of the way but fading from contention in the final furlong after setting fast early fractions.

I mentioned that during his time in New York, City Zip generally covered relatively inexpensive mares. Bustin Stones’ dam, Shesasurething, actually cost $50,000 when claimed by Bustin Stones’ owner/breeder Roddy Valente at Hollywood Park. The fly in the ointment was that the price far more accurately reflected Shesasurething’s value as a runner than as a broodmare prospect. Having won three of her six starts up to that point, she was beaten 21 lengths the day she was claimed and was never able to run again. On pedigree, the daughter of Prospectors Gamble would have been worth significantly less at the time. She was a half-sister to a stakes winner of 20 races, but that horse, Ryan’s Moment, had earned his black type with wins in two renewals of the he Minnesota Sprint Championship Stakes, a restricted stakes run at Canterbury Downs. The granddam, Nona’s Moment, had won once in six starts, and was out of the minor stakes winner No No Nona. In turn that daughter of Tom Tulle (by Tom Rolfe) was half-sister to Split the Tab, winner of the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs, and probably the best horse under the first four dams of this pedigree until the appearance of Bustin Stones.

City Zip’s sire, Carson City, is a son of Mr. Prospector, and that horse also appears as the great-grandsire of Bustin Stones’ dam, meaning that Bustin Stones is bred on the Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross. As a general rule the cross of a sire back over a mare from his own female line is one that underperforms (for example, there are only two other stakes winners bred on a Carson City/Mr. Prospector cross, neither graded or listed). However, rules are made to be broken, and when there is an exception to the male line/male line "rule" (more accurately, a general principle), there are usually other factors involved.

Here those factors are notable and extremely interesting. City Zip is a product of the Mr. Prospector/In Reality cross, with the In Reality strain coming through City Zip’s broodmare sire, Relaunch. Bustin Stones’ dam is by Prospectors Gamble, a son of Crafty Prospector. That horse was by Mr. Prospector out of Real Crafty Lady, a daughter of In Reality. Note that Real Crafty Lady’s dam is by Royal Note, who also appears as the broodmare sire of Relaunch’s dam, giving Real Crafty Lady and Relaunch similar backgrounds. In the case of Bustin Stones, these similarities are not coincidence, as they were carefully observed and noted before the mating was approved.