Being at the right place at the right time seemed to be a habit with Stonerside, which enjoyed extraordinary success after Bob and Janice McNair founded the breeding and racing operation in 1994.
One of those twists of fortune put Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing on a solid track toward this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) with a homebred named Enticed, a son of Darley's sire Medaglia d'Oro out of the multiple grade 1 winner It's Tricky. Enticed is ranked second on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 63 points, through March 13.
Stonerside's connection to Enticed began in 2000 when farm manager Bobby Spalding got a heads up from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott about a promising Devil His Due colt named This Fleet Is Due. Spalding did some research and discovered the colt's dam, a winning daughter of Afleet named Northern Fleet, entered in the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in foal to Judge T C. This Fleet Is Due was the mare's first foal and had not won a race in three tries at 2, though he placed second in all three races.
"I did some snooping around and found this mare late in the sale, and we bought her for $92,000," remembered. "We were at the right place at the right time."
The McNairs also bought This Fleet Is Due privately and saw him finish second in the Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes at Monmouth Park and fourth in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1). He never became a black-type winner, but that didn't matter because his dam was the real find.
The first foal the McNairs bred out of Northern Fleet was a tough-minded and nervous daughter of Tale of the Cat named Catboat. In the capable hands of trainer Bernie Flint, Catboat won the grade 3 Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks and placed in five other black-type stakes. She won or placed 14 times out of 22 starts and earned $221,659.
As a broodmare, the second foal produced by Catboat was a high-energy, grade 1 bombshell by Mineshaft named It's Tricky.
In 2008, the year It's Tricky was born, the McNairs sold their 2,000-acre farm that borders Stoner Creek near Paris, Ky., and all their breeding and racing stock to Sheikh Mohammed. Bob McNair also owns the NFL Houston Texans, which he said at the time of the sale left him without adequate time to devote to his racing and breeding operation.
It's Tricky, racing in Godolphin blue, won three stakes at 3, which included barn burners in the TVG Acorn Stakes and TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (both G1). She missed capturing New York's Triple Tiara when Royal Delta got the best of her in the TVG Alabama Stakes (G1). She finished second again to Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (G1). At 4, she stayed true to form and won three consecutive graded stakes in her first starts of 2012, which included the grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap. It's Tricky's racing career got derailed by a condylar fracture that forced her retirement in the fall. She retired with $1,666,500 in earnings.
The first two foals produced by It's Tricky are by Medaglia d'Oro, but Enticed is first one able to show the potential of this mating in competition. It's Tricky's first foal, a filly named Too Complicated, had a physical issue that prevented her from going into training, according to Dan Pride, Godolphin America's chief operating officer. Too Complicated is being bred to WinStar Farm's Speightstown this year.
"One thing I do look for in the young horses is class and how they handle themselves," Spalding said. "You put them in different situations and see if they get shook up or do they handle it well. There are a lot of stories out there about It's Tricky and how tough she could be at the racetrack, but she was very straightforward on the farm. Enticed was very much that way."
It's Tricky also passed along to Enticed her balance, her bone, and her athleticism.
"If you stood Enticed and her side-by-side they would have very similar profiles, except he's taller. He's a big horse, but you get that with Medaglia d'Oro. Some are 16.3," Spaudling said.
Enticed is also the beneficiary of an almost mythical environment: Stonerside's Barn 3.
"Barn 3 is where we put the better mares and foals," said Spalding, who managed the Stonerside property for the McNairs and later Darley for 22 years. "Both Enticed and It's Tricky were raised in that barn. It is also same place and the same fields where Frosted was raised and Congaree , Raven's Pass, Bob and John...a lot of good horses. I could keep going."
It's Tricky had only one other foal before she tragically died from the complications of laminitis in 2017, according to Spalding. She has a still unnamed 2-year-old filly by Ghostzapper who is in training with Eddie Woods near Ocala, Fla.
"She may be better than anything (It's Tricky) has had yet," said Spalding. "She is a gorgeous filly that I always quite liked."
Enticed could provide further solace by earning for Godolphin its first trophy in an American classic.
"Medaglia d'Oro is in the later years of his stallion career, and the one thing that you could say has been missing has been a depth of 3-year-old colts on the Derby trail," Pride said. "Now with Bolt d'Oro (another son of Medaglia d'Oro) leading the standings along with Enticed it is really exciting that he has a great opportunity to potentially add the title 'Derby-winning sire' to his résumé."