Key Contender, a New York grade I winner, has been pensioned from stallion duty at Highcliff Farm near Delanson, N.Y., according to farm manager and resident veterinarian C. Lynwood O’Cain and his wife, Suzie.
The 24-year-old son of Fit to Fight out of the Key to the Mint mare Key Witness will reside at Old Friends New York, Cabin Creek Farm – The Bobby Frankel Division near Greenfield Center, N.Y.
“Suzie and I were just thrilled that through the collaborative efforts from ourselves with the estate of Mr. Lizza and Flying Zee Stable we were able to make this move,” Dr. O’Cain said. “Key Contender has been such a wonderful stallion to care for during his time at Highcliff. We will visit him regularly, and I am happy to take care of his vet work during his lifetime.”
Key Contender initially raced for his breeder, Paul Mellon, in the name Rokeby Stables. Key Contender was purchased by Flying Zee Stable as part of the Mellon dispersal at Belmont Park in 1994.
Key Contender won the 1995 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) and placed in five stakes, all graded. He set two track records in New York.
At stud, Key Contender sired three stakes winners, including graded winner Weathered, and the earners of more than $8.2 million.
“Key Contender stood at Highcliff his entire career, 17 years, and never had a bad day,” Suzie O’Cain said. “He is such a pleasant stallion. JoAnn and Mark Pepper take wonderful care of the horses at Cabin Creek, and until you are in this type of situation you just don’t realize how important this facility is to the New York breeding program.”
“We are thrilled to have Key Contender,” JoAnn Pepper said. “I am madly in love with him already. I hope to have lots of visitors come see him during the Saratoga race meet.”