Millionaire Mr Purple, who has suffered from fertility problems since he was retired to stud for the 1997 breeding season, was represented by his first stakes winner May 21 when Junior Deputy won the Prairie Mile Stakes at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.
Junior Deputy, from Mr Purple's initial crop, won the race for 3-year-olds by five convincing lengths for his third win in a row. He previously had broken his maiden at Hialeah in March going six furlongs and then won an initial allowance race at seven furlongs at Keeneland in April.
Mr Purple, bred and owned by Alex Campbell Jr., has only 34 registered foals from his first three crops. Originally retired to stud at Henryk de Kwiatkowski's Calumet Farm, the son of Deputy Minister, out of the Stop the Music mare Turk O Witz, failed to get several of his first book of mares in foal in 1997. The problem at the time was diagnosed as a lack of maturity in his sperm.
Mr Purple was sent to Pegasus Ranch near Petaluma, Calif. For the 1999 breeding season, then moved to Victory Rose Thoroughbreds near Vacaville, Calif. for the 2000 season. After much work and research, Mr Purple's fertility problems may be past him.
According to Victory Rose's Ellen Jackson, Mr Purple got 25 of 27 mares in foal in 2000 and will be bred to 30 mares in 2001. "I think we've got his fertility problems figured out," Jackson said. "But he'll never breed a large book.
"His sperm looks good, but they're not strong enough to penetrate the egg. We've found if we need to breed him very close to the mare's ovulation and give her a double cover about two hours apart."
Jackson noted since mares usually ovulate during the evening, Mr Purple is bred to his mares at 6 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.
"What a gentleman," Jackson said of Mr Purple's breeding shed demeanor. "He walks into the breeding shed like a gelding. We've got 10 stallions here and I've never had a stallion like him."
Mr Purple won six of 21 starts and $1,133,538. His biggest win came in the 1996 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).