Published in the March 15 issue of The Blood-Horse
The young stallion Sea of Secrets isn't a secret anymore in breeding circles. Not when one of his first-crop sons commanded a world-record price of $2.7 million March 4 at the Barretts sale of 2-year-olds in training. And not when another of his juvenile sons sold for $250,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale of 2-year-olds in training. "The phone started ringing off the hook after the first one," said Irving Cowan, who owns the 8-year-old son of Storm Cat with Irish-based Coolmore Stud. "We've been getting a lot more requests to breed to him." Sea of Secrets' success could hardly have been predicted on what he took to stud at John T.L. Jones Jr.'s Walmac International near Lexington. Sea of Secrets won only four of 10 races during four years of racing, but performed brilliantly on occasion for trainer Neil Drysdale. Sea of Secrets won his first three starts, including the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) as a 3-year-old in 1998, and beat subsequent champion sprinter Artax at Hollywood Park that fall in his second race back following a layoff. If there was something big to brag about in the way of Sea of Secrets, it was in his pedigree, especially the fact that he was by Storm Cat and his broodmare sire was Mr. Prospector. There also was the fact that three of his half-brothers--Dancing Jon, Fight for Love, and Love That Jazz--were graded stakes winners and his second dam, Hoso, won the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II). Sea of Secrets raced as a homebred for Cowan and his wife, Marge, before Coolmore came on board in the first part of 1998. "Demi O'Byrne (Coolmore associate) inspected him in California," Irving Cowan said. "He watched the horse work, and he had a team of vets inspect him. Coolmore bought half-interest, but we retained control when he was racing. Coolmore took charge when he entered stud." Sea of Secrets was pointed toward the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but his chance for greater glory ended when he ran poorly in two graded stakes. He underwent surgery after a scan revealed a cyst in his left hind leg in the pastern joint. He was sidelined until the fall. Sea of Secrets only raced twice over the next two years. He ran third behind Classic Cat and Budroyale in the 1999 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita, and was last in his final start. Coolmore, which stands several sons of Storm Cat at its U.S. satellite Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., worked out a deal with Jones to stand Sea of Secrets at Walmac for $7,500 live foal starting in 2000. "It would have been overkill to stand him at Ashford," said Cowan, who sends a couple of mares a year to Sea of Secrets. Kerry Cauthen of Walmac remembered that the Barretts sale topper, already named Swift Secret, was "always a nice looking foal; a flashy chestnut." Bred by Jones and one of 54 juveniles by Sea of Secrets, Swift Secret first went through the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale as part of the consignment of Four Star Sales, agent. Becky Thomas bought him for $30,000. "We thought he would bring $50,000 and had a price on him between $40,000 and $75,000," said Cauthen, who is partners with Jones and others in Four Star Sales. "The $30,000 was still good." Thomas, in the name of Sequel Bloodstock, agent, sold the colt to Charles Fipke at Barretts. Sequel also sold the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida colt. Bred by Thomas in partnership, he went to Paul R. Fout. The Northern Dancer presence through grandson Storm Cat, with that of Mr. Prospector, appears to excite some breeders. Swift Secret is inbred 3 x 4 to Mr. Prospector and 4 x 4 to Northern Dancer. The Fasig-Tipton Florida colt is inbred 3 x 3 to Mr. Prospector. Cauthen said it is too early to tell what type of mare best suits Sea of Secrets. "He seems to do well with solid mares with good bone, because he offers some type of refinement to those mares," he said. "He's a very correct horse. Not perfect, but one of the more correct of the Storm Cats." Cowan said Sea of Secrets stands this year for $5,000 and that the subject of standing him at Coolmore Australia has not yet been brought up. "We have to see how his runners come out racing," he said. Sea of Secrets, who stood the 2002 season for $6,500, is expected to cover some 100 mares. His dam, Love From Mom, is boarded at Warren Rosenthal's Patchen Wilkes Farm near Lexington and has been bred this year to Storm Cat's son Giant's Causeway.