Michael Burns

Society's Chairman Continues Beating the Odds

Ontario stallion has overcome obstacles on the track and at stud.

Society's Chairman 's entry into the Ontario stallion market for the 2012 breeding season could not have been worse. The graded stakes winner went to stud at Shannondoe Farm 45 days before the provincial government announced an end to the slots-at-racetrack program, which in turn put the Ontario breeding program into a perilous downward spiral seemingly overnight.

Society's Chairman managed to breed 23 mares in his first season, and the following year his book dropped to five. In 2014 he wasn't bred to a single mare and only bred to seven in 2015.

"Things continued to spiral down, and I didn't want to raise horses without knowing where I could go with them," said Arika Everatt-Meeuse, manager of her family's Shannondoe Farm, about the 2014 breeding season. "He is a nice horse and had earned his keep, so we concentrated on surviving. He was basically moth-balled."

Despite such a challenging environment the 14-year-old son of Not Impossible—Athena's Smile, by Olympio, has had his progeny perform unbelievably well.

All 13 of his starters to date are winners. Society's Chairman also has three black-type stakes winners, two of them graded, which gives him 14% stakes winners from foals of racing age. His progeny average $111,462 per starter.

Society's Chairman's first crop includes Caren, who was bred by the Everatts and who became his first graded stakes winner. Shannondoe Farm sold her for $45,000 as a yearling at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale to trainer Michael DePaulo, who trained the filly for owner Robert Marzilli. In 2016 she placed in the Selene Stakes (G3) and the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser before winning four consecutive stakes, which included the 2016 Ontario Colleen Stakes (G3). Caren, out of the Vilzak daughter Jo Zak, earned honors as Canada's 2016 Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly. Caren is still racing and has earned $821,790.

The sire got his second graded stakes winner June 4 at Woodbine Race Course where Code Warrior won the Hendrie Stakes (G3). John Sanguinetti bought the filly out of Lady Natalie (by Runaway Groom) for $18,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Texas 2-year-olds sale and added her to his J. C. Racing Stable. She was undefeated in three starts at 2 (winning two stakes), was grade 2-placed at 3, and got her graded stakes win in the Hendrie. J. C. Racing now campaigns Code Warrior with Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber. The filly has a 4-3-2 lifetime record from 12 starts and earnings of $208,024.

Society's Chairman's third black-type stakes winner is Sparkles' Girl, whom Spring Farm bred in Ontario. The filly out of Trusted (by Trust N Luck) won the 2015 Ontario Lassie Stakes and placed the same year in the Victorian Queen Stakes.

The Ontario breeding program has yet to  recover yet from the trauma spawned by the provincial government, but the environment has stabilized enough that Society's Chairman bred 89 mares in 2016.

"I tried going really aggressive with him last year," Everatt-Meeuse said. "He's answered all the questions; he can produce a precocious horse. Now we need the numbers because he's going to have a lull until we get these babies, and we don't want to get left."

Everatt-Meeuse is encouraged that a majority of the breeders who used Society's Chairman in 2016 are breed-to-race outfits. 

"We've been blessed by whose gotten his horses and gotten a lot of help from good trainers," she said. "The win by Code Warrior was huge, too, because it shows you can breed a good horse here and do well in open company, and she has the Ontario-sired races to look forward to. I do think we're finally on the right track."