Classic Spotlight: Don't Get Mad

In 2004, Stephen Got Even created a sensation when 17 of his 2-year-olds in training averaged a healthy $358,529, led by a $3.1 million colt out of Blacktie Bid. That colt, Dubai Dreamer, finished second in his only start to date. Another colt, out of Class On Class, was not quite so pricey, selling for $350,000, but so far he is two for two, and his connections can hardly be blamed if they are starting to have Derby dreams. His name is Don't Get Mad.

Bred in Kentucky by Milton and Beth Hendry, Don't Get Mad nonetheless has substantial ties to Florida. His dam, grade III-placed Class On Class, is a product of the breeding program of the late Fred Hooper, her pedigree tracing back twice over to Hooper's foundation sire Olympia. Bred by Hooper's longtime trainer Ivan Parke, Olympia was one of the best colts of the crop of 1946 and proved a fine sire. He was the leading American broodmare sire of 1974, and among his maternal grandsons was 1961 Derby runner-up and Preakness third Crozier (out of the Hooper-bred Miss Olympia), Hooper's next important homebred sire.

Crozier's daughter Queen Pat did not earn black-type, but she was a full sister to the hardy gelding Selecting, a stakes winner at ages three, four, five, and seven. Bred to Hooper's multiple grade I winner Copelan (himself a son of Hooper's good handicapper and stallion Tri Jet out of Hooper's three-time champion Susan's Girl, whose granddam Heavenly Sun is by Olympia), she produced multiple grade III winner Classic Value, the dam of Class On Class. Prior to Classic Value, Queen Pat had produced stakes winners Pat's Joy (by Daryl's Joy) and Shuttle Jet (by Tri Jet) for Hooper, and Shuttle Jet's full sister Jetapat produced another good one for Hooper in multiple grade III winner Roman Envoy.

Class On Class' sire Jolie's Halo represents another grand Florida tradition, that of Arthur I. Appleton and his Bridlewood Farm. Winner of the 1991 Donn (gr. I) and Gulfstream Park (gr. I) Handicaps, Jolie's Halo was sired by Halo out of Jolie Jolie, a Sir Ivor mare that Appleton had purchased for $70,000 at the 1986 Keeneland January sale. Jolie Jolie proved a good bargain for Appleton. Not only did she produce Jolie's Halo, but the foal she was carrying at the time of her purchase turned out to be multiple stakes producer Northern Jolie. In addition, Jolie Jolie's Pleasant Colony filly Pleasant Jolie won two stakes and became the granddam of Appleton-bred multiple grade I winner Southern Image, who is expected to return to racing in 2005.

As a son of A.P. Indy out of a mare by Cox's Ridge, there was reason to expect that Stephen Got Even would be rather slow to come to hand but would like some distance when he did. And so it was: Stephen Got Even ran only once at two but won the Stakes (gr. II) at three and the Donn Handicap (gr. I) against a strong field at four, both at nine furlongs. Unfortunately, the Donn was Stephen Got Even's last race, so his ability to handle a longer distance was never tested.

Don't Get Mad will need to inherit stamina through Stephen Got Even to be sure of getting the Derby trip, as the distaff side of his pedigree suggests that eight or nine furlongs may be more to his liking than 10. Class On Class scored both her grade III placings over sprint distances, and her dam, Classic Value, was also a sprinter/miler. Jolie's Halo could get 10 furlongs with the right trip but was more dangerous at nine, and Copelan never won beyond 1 1/16 miles. Nonetheless, Don't Get Mad is showing signs he may be a worthy legacy to the breeding programs of two of Florida's grand old men.

For an extensive look at Avalyn Hunter's pedigree analysis, be sure to read her best-selling book, American Classic Pedigrees.