Fourteen years into his stud career, City Zip has defied logic.
At the age of 18, when a stallion's impact on the commercial marketplace and influence on his runners are thought to be set in stone, the chestnut son of Carson City has taken most everything the breeding industry believed about his capabilities, thrown them to the wind, and crafted a new narrative for himself.
His path is one that has always tracked along below the radar, respected for its workmanlike results. It is reputation that is now having to be reexamined after three straight seasons of some elite-level outcomes.
The 33rd edition of the Breeders' Cup Nov. 4-5 at Santa Anita Park continued a remarkable career resurgence for City Zip. When his daughter Finest City pulled off the upset in the Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), she became the fourth Breeders' Cup winner sired by the Lane's End stallion in the last three years.
The first breakout occurred two years ago when eventual divisional champions Work All Week and Dayatthespa scored in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), respectively, to become the first Breeders' Cup victors for their sire. It was no one-off career day, as his daughter Catch a Glimpse proved with her triumph in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) en route to being named Canadian Horse of the Year.
With Finest City keeping City Zip's Breeders' Cup streak on point, the stallion once thought to be primarily a useful presence is now at his peak, as evidence by his $50,000 advertised fee—second highest on the Lane's End roster.
"He's really done well all along, but he's really become quite the Breeders' Cup sire," said Bill Farish of Lane's End. "It is gratifying to see. He's a sire that when he went to stud, most people (and) conventional wisdom said he'd get dirt sprinters, and now he's getting turf, two-turn horses—which is very interesting. And he's turning into a heck of a broodmare sire as well. It's great to see."
A precocious, multiple graded stakes winner on the track —including a victory in the 2000 Hopeful Stakes (gr. I)—City Zip began his second career in blue-collar fashion when he entered stud at Contemporary Stallions in Coxsackie, N.Y. for the 2002 season. When the half brother to champion Ghostzapper shifted to Lane's End in 2005, he was well received, but still pigeonholed as a sprint sire.
The hard-knocking ability that allowed City Zip to make 11 starts as a 2-year-old has come through in such offspring as his grade I winning son Palace . His ability to inject speed has been most notably showcased, however, in a parade of top turf runners that have become his new hallmark.
In addition to Dayatthespa and Catch a Glimpse, City Zip has also sired grade I winner Personal Diary, along with multiple graded stakes winners City to City, Workin for Hops, Get Serious, Unzip Me, and Alert Bay.
"He's developed into a much different type of stallion," Farish said. "I think what works so well is he is a speed influence on some of the female lines he is bred to. It's fun when even in the latter parts of their careers, they still fire they way he is doing."