" He was a very straightforward stallion," Dermot Ryan, manager of Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., said of 14-year-old Hennessy. "They ran in the U.S. and they ran in Europe. That's just what good stallions do."
Hennessy, a grade I-winning son of Storm Cat, out of the Hawaii mare Island Kitty bred by Overbrook Farm, was built for speed—his half sister Pearl City won the seven-furlong Ballerina (gr. I)—and ran to it. A $500,000 sale yearling, Hennessy only raced at 2, winning three stakes. Two of those were at six furlongs and one was at seven, the grade I Hopeful. He did stretch out to 1 1/16 miles, albeit going one turn at Belmont Park, and took Unbridled's Song to a neck in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
As an early son of Storm Cat to stud (entered in 1997), Hennessy got off to a quick start, with champion Johannesburg in his second crop. Hennessy was also off to quick start as a sire of sires; he is already represented with several sons at stud who showed speed and versatility on the track.
"The results are there; they speak for themselves," Ryan said. "The only good thing to come out of this is we have Johannesburg for his legacy behind him."
Johannesburg, who stands at Ashford Stud, is out of the Ogygian mare Myth (family of sprint star Tale of the Cat and top 2-year-old filly Preach, dam of Pulpit). He was precocious as well. A winner of all seven of his starts at 2, Johannesburg was named champion juvenile male in North America, England, Ireland, and France.
His first foals to race are 3-year-olds and he already has 10 stakes winners. He was represented by a pair of runners in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Showing he is already well-rounded as a stallion, Johannesburg's top runners so far are Scat Daddy and Marcavelly. Scat Daddy, out of a Mr. Prospector mare (with his second dam from the Northern Dancer line), won the grade I Champagne last year and nine-furlong Florida Derby (gr. I) this year. Marcavelly (Majestic Light mare) is a stakes winner at 2 and 3 on the turf.
Johannesburg is also the sire of Teuflesburg (out of a Devil's Bag mare), winner of the seven-furlong Woody Stevens Stakes (gr. II) and one-mile Southwest Stakes.
In all, Hennessy has 57 stakes winners from 1,057 named foals. Twenty-one of those stakes winners won added-money races at 2.
Speed and precocity are there in the forms of Henny Hughes and Cactus Ridge.
Henny Hughes, as his sire, ran second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He also won the Vosburgh and King's Bishop (both gr. I) Stakes at 3. He is out of a Meadowlake mare.
Cactus Ridge, who stands at Walmac Farm near Lexington, was four-for-four as a 2-year-old, going out with a win in the one-turn mile Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. II).
With a stamina-laden female side, Hennessy's son Wiseman's Ferrywas able to stretch it out while hitting his best stride around two turns late in his 3-year-old year. Wiseman's Ferry won graded stakes twice, going 1 1/18 miles in summer 2002, taking the Lone Star and West Virginia Derbys (both gr. III). After standing his first two seasons at Empire Stud in New York, he now stands at Castleton Lyons near Lexington for an $8,500 fee.
"We campaigned him in ads as 'like father, like son,'" said Stuart Fitzgibbon, commercial manger for Castleton Lyons. "He was the spitting image of Hennessey. He has a similar physical profile, but he was able to stretch it out."
Wiseman's Ferry was still a quick 2-year-old, running second in the seven-furlong Anglesey Stakes (Ire-III) behind Johannesburg.
"In the short amount of time, Hennessy was a pretty successful sire of racehorses," Fitzgibbon said. "Hennessy has been a speed influence. Wiseman's Ferry's race record is a bit different in that he was able to get a further trip.
"He's got good, old-fashion American family and perhaps that gives him a little bit more stamina," he said.
Wiseman's Ferry's second dam, the Affirmed mare La Affirmed, is the dam of multiple graded stakes winner Caress and three other stakes winners. Third dam La Mesa, by Round Table, is the dam of champion Outstandingly.
Stamina runs deep in a pair of Hennessy full brothers, Orchard Park and Silver Tree, both homebreds campaigned by Peter Vegso. Silver Tree, a seven-time stakes winner on turf, has the Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT) and last weekend's Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) on his growing resume. He also won the Virginia Derby, as did Orchard Park. Both are out of the With Approval mare Blue Begum.