The Florida breeding scene has suffered the loss of several major stallion operations in 2007. Among them is Cloverleaf Farms II, which announced its relocation to Kentucky in June of this year – though not without leaving traces behind. Among those traces is its homebred colt Check It Twice, who landed his first stakes win in the What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder Dec. 1.
Check It Twice is by Repent, who – fortunately for Florida breeders – is staying in state, having transferred from Cloverleaf to Vinery Stud near Summerfield. Currently 12th on the freshman sire list, Repent has so far sired two stakes winners, two stakes-placed runners, and 16 winners overall from his first crop of 82 foals. (Repent’s first stakes winner, Atoned, won the Continental Mile Stakes at Monmouth for Dogwood Stable and later ran a troubled second to Court Vision in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II).
A multiple graded stakes winner at both 2 and 3, Repent is from a minor branch of the Northern Dancer male line, that of Sovereign Dancer. Sovereign Dancer raced 14 times with two wins and five additional places, but failed to win a stakes contest, though he did run second in the 1979 Grand Prix de Vichy (Fr-III). He was a beautifully-bred horse, however, as his dam Bold Princess was a full sister to two-time leading U.S. sire What a Pleasure and was one of nine stakes winners produced by the remarkable matron Grey Flight.
That pedigree was enough to earn Sovereign Dancer a chance at stud. He made the most of his opportunities, getting 56 stakes winners from 592 foals. His progeny included four first-rate sons: 1990 U.S. champion turf male Itsallgreektome (a gelding); multiple group I winner Priolo; 1984 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Gate Dancer; and 1996 Preakness winner Louis Quatorze.
Louis Quatorze began his stud career at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., moving to Maryland’s Murmur Farm following the 2003 breeding season. He has been inconsistent but has gotten some very nice runners including the multiple grade I winning filly Bushfire; Mr. Carrea, an Argentine-bred who captured the 2003 Grande Premio Presidente da Republica (Brz-I); and, of course, Repent.
Guessing the type of mare that might suit Repent best has been something of a challenge for North American breeders thanks to the stallion’s dam, the Argentine-bred Baby Grace. Stakes-placed in the United States, Baby Grace has a typical Argentine pedigree loaded with names not familiar to most American horsemen. It is not without quality, however. She is a full sister to Cacao (ARG), winner of the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-I), and a half-sister to Sierva (ARG) (by Sheet Anchor), winner of the Premio Francisco J. Beazley (Arg-II) and a stakes winner in North America. As a broodmare, Baby Grace has certainly proven the worth of her bloodlines, for aside from Repent, she is the dam of multiple Canadian champion King Ruckus (by Bold Ruckus) and of stakes winner Johansson (by Seattle Dancer).
Baby Grace is by Cipayo, a group I winner and a four-time leading Argentine sire whose line is represented in the United States by his brilliantly fast grandson Seattle Fitz (ARG) (by Fitzcarraldo (ARG)), now standing at Buck Pond Farm near Versailles. Cipayo is by Lacydon, a son of the 1949 Ascot Gold Cup winner Alycidon (GB). The best English stayer of his time, Alycidon led the English general sire list in 1955 and founded stamina-oriented male lines in Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina. His line is being kept alive by Fitzcarraldo, a very good stallion in his native Argentina who has a number of young group I-winning sons now at stud.
Baby Grace was produced from the Kazan (FR) mare Kathy, whose female line arrived in Argentina in the 1940s through the French-bred Vipsania, a daughter of 1935 Ascot Gold Cup winner Tiberius (GB). This family has produced some very good horses from time to time, not least two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, who is a great-great-grandson of Repent’s fifth dam, Agrippine (ARG).
Check It Twice is descended from a still more distinguished female line, that of Calumet Farm’s Real Delight. Champion 3-year-old filly and co-champion handicap female in the U.S. in 1952, Real Delight is the ancestress of numerous good horses, among them 1980 Preakness winner Codex, Japanese group I winner Stinger, and multiple grade III winner Raise a Cup, sire of 1981 U.S. champion juvenile filly Before Dawn.
The best branch of Real Delight’s family descends through her stakes-winning daughter Plum Cake (by Ponder), whose best-known foal is 1977 Broodmare of the Year Sweet Tooth. (Sweet Tooth produced three grade I stakes victors including multiple grade I winner Alydar, the U.S. leading sire of 1990, and 1977 champion 3-year-old filly Our Mims.) Another daughter of Plum Cake, the Bold Ruler mare Yule Log, produced only one stakes winner, but that stakes winner was 1982 U.S. champion 3-year-old filly Christmas Past, a daughter of *Grey Dawn II.
Christmas Past had a disappointing broodmare career, failing to produce any black-type runners among her 10 named foals. Part of the problem may have lain with mate selection. The female family of Real Delight has consistently produced its best runners to sires leaning towards brilliance rather than stamina, so Christmas Past may well not have been suited by mates such as Damascus, Majestic Light, Private Account, and Polish Navy.
Christmas List, a good allowance filly and the best of Christmas Past’s runners, was sired by Claiborne Farm stallion Out of Place, a son of Cox’s Ridge whose biggest win came in the 1991 Clark Handicap (gr. III). The aptly named Check It Twice is Christmas List’s fifth named foal and first stakes winner. Given the generally stout character of this female line, Check It Twice should appreciate the longer distances ahead and may be one to watch on the Triple Crown trail if he improves with increasing maturity.