ASH­FORD STUD SCORES A DOU­BLE TRIPLE

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Sha Tin - By Ni­cole Russo

In early Fe­bru­ary 2015, Amer­i­can Pharoah re­turned to the work tab in Cal­i­for­nia for the first time since be­ing scratched from the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile due to in­jury, with no guar­an­tee that he would main­tain his form off the lay­off. The young brood­mare Stage Magic wan­dered the fields at Glen­nwood Farm in Ken­tucky, car­ry­ing a Scat Daddy colt whom she would de­liver the fol­low­ing month. The Triple Crown tro­phy had still been gath­er­ing dust since Af­firmed out­du­eled Aly­dar in the 1978 Bel­mont Stakes.

Four years later, Cool­more’s Ash­ford Stud in Ver­sailles, Ky., will open its breed­ing shed for busi­ness with Triple Crown he­roes Amer­i­can Pharoah and Jus­tify re­sid­ing in its stal­lion barn. Amer­i­can Pharoah’s com­mer­cial-block­buster first crop will be pre­par­ing to race as ju­ve­niles. Mean­while Jus­tify, who won all six starts by a com­bined 23 3/4 lengths in a me­te­oric ca­reer span­ning 111 days, is the most an­tic­i­pated new stal­lion in Amer­ica for 2019.

Ash­ford, founded in the mid-1970’s and sold to the Cool­more group in 1984, be­comes the fourth farm to stand mul­ti­ple Amer­i­can Triple Crown win­ners. Clai­borne Farm stood Gal­lant Fox (1930) and his son Omaha (1935), and later in its rich his­tory stood Sec­re­tar­iat (1973). Calumet Farm home­breds Whirl­away (1941) and Ci­ta­tion (1948) re­turned home for their stud ca­reers. Spend­thrift Farm launched the ca­reers of Seat­tle Slew (1977) and Af­firmed (1978), both of whom later re­lo­cated.

“The sig­nif­i­cance of that is not some­thing that is lost on us,” said Ash­ford’s Adrian Wal­lace. “The in­di­vid­ual ca­reers of both of these horses is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to the Thor­ough­bred in­dus­try, so to have two Triple Crown win­ners stand­ing here at the same time only en­hances that re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Jus­tify be­comes the lat­est ma­jor chance for Cool­more to con­tinue to build the legacy of its late sire Scat Daddy, and it has con­tin­ued to make ma­jor in­vest­ments in his prog­eny. Se­cur­ing the colt’s stal­lion rights ear­lier this year rep­re­sented a ma­jor coup for the in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tion, which ne­go­ti­ated the op­por­tu­nity to stand him from an own­er­ship part­ner­ship that in­cluded an­other ma­jor stal­lion op­er­a­tion, WinS­tar Farm, which stands Pioneerof the Nile, sire of Amer­i­can Pharoah.

Jus­tify, whose re­tire­ment was an­nounced in July af­ter his re­cov­ery from fill­ing in an an­kle closed the win­dow of time to pre­pare him for a fi­nal start in the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic, was cam­paigned by WinS­tar, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing. Head of Plains and Starlight had pur­chased racing rights to the colt from SF Blood­stock, which main­tained breed­ing rights. It was widely known through­out the in­dus­try that a stud deal with Cool­more was in the works, and WinS­tar and Cool­more con­firmed that deal in Septem­ber.

“Af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion with all the partners, we’ve de­cided to ac­cept Cool­more’s of­fer to stand Jus­tify,” WinS­tar pres­i­dent, CEO, and racing man­ager El­liott Walden said a press re­lease at the time. “As you can imag­ine, this is a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment for all of us con­nected to this spe­cial horse who gave us the ul­ti­mate thrill of a life­time. We be­lieve strongly in Jus­tify as a stal­lion, and the own­er­ship group has re­tained breed­ing rights. We look for­ward to sup­port­ing him at Ash­ford Stud.”

Jus­tify thus be­comes the lat­est in his in­ter­na­tion­ally prom­i­nent male line, begin­ning with Ir­ish cham­pion Storm Bird, to call Ash­ford home. Storm Bird was pur­chased by Ash­ford founders Wil­liam Lock­ridge and Robert Hefner to stand in Ken­tucky, and Lock­ridge’s work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Wil­liam T. Young led to the mat­ing that pro­duced the stal­lion’s son Storm Cat, a phe­nom­e­nally in­flu­en­tial stal­lion at Over­brook Farm. Cool­more stood the Storm Cat son Hen­nessy and his ju­ve­nile cham­pion Jo­han­nes­burg, who sired Scat Daddy from his first crop.

“The whole Storm Bird line has been in­stru­men­tal in Cool­more Amer­ica’s his­tory,” Wal­lace said. “It is a line that is noted for 2-year-old bril­liance, but also

for horses that train on to be top class at 3. Gi­ant’s Cause­way is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of this, un­beaten at 2 and a five-time Group 1 win­ner who went on to be a cham­pion sire three times. The whole line is syn­ony­mous with Ash­ford Stud and what we are try­ing to achieve, which is not only to get pre­co­cious 2-year-olds but for them to go on to be clas­sic horses.”

Scat Daddy, a Grade 1 win­ner at ages 2 and 3, died in De­cem­ber 2015 of a sus­pected car­diac event. The 11-year-old was on the rise at the time of his death, with a stud fee slated to climb from $35,000 in 2015 to $100,000 in 2016. Prov­ing how pre­scient that plan was, the stal­lion’s stock has only con­tin­ued its as­cent posthu­mously. Scat Daddy’s daugh­ter Lady Aure­lia was hon­ored as a Euro­pean cham­pion in 2016, as she won at the Royal As­cot meet­ing for the first of two con­sec­u­tive sea­sons. An­other well-trav­eled daugh­ter of the stal­lion, Chilean cham­pion Dacita, shipped to the United States and be­came a mul­ti­ple Grade 1 win­ner. The ver­sa­tile Dad­dys Lil Dar­ling fin­ished sec­ond in the 2017 Ken­tucky Oaks be­fore land­ing a Grade 1 on turf. Mean­while, Car­avag­gio be­came a mul­ti­ple Group 1 win­ner in Europe, and $3 mil­lion year­ling pur­chase Men­delssohn cap­tured the 2017 Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Turf and be­came a sea­soned group stakes per­former world­wide.

And then came Jus­tify, one of four starters in this year’s Ken­tucky Derby from Scat Daddy’s penul­ti­mate crop.

“If there was ever a crit­i­cism of Scat Daddy, it was that up un­til the last cou­ple of years peo­ple had con­sid­ered him pri­mar­ily a turf sire due to his suc­cess with No Nay Never, Lady Aure­lia, Car­avag­gio,” Wal­lace said. “But horses like Jus­tify and Men­delssohn have proven just how ver­sa­tile he was. We an­tic­i­pate Jus­tify to be as ver­sa­tile as his fa­ther and will sup­port him heav­ily with around 40 to 50 of our own mares. We view him as an ideal match for Galileo and Danzig-line mares.”

Rel­a­tively early in this phase of his ca­reer – his old­est sons are just 9 – Scat Daddy is

al­ready show­ing prom­ise as a sire of sires. From his hand­ful of stal­lions with their first ju­ve­niles this year, No Nay Never has emerged as a world­wide leader among fresh­man sires.

No Nay Never – who won the Group 1 Prix Morny in France and Group 2 Nor­folk at Royal As­cot dur­ing his own ju­ve­nile

cam­paign – is based at Cool­more Ire­land, and through Novem­ber had sired 29 win­ners. Those are led by Group 1 Mid­dle Park win­ner Ten Sov­er­eigns and Group 2 Rich­mond win­ner Land Force. He also is the sire of Mae Never No, a stakes win­ner in the United States; Ir­ish stakes win­ners All The King’s Men, No Needs Never, and Ser­valan; Group 1-placed The Ir­ish Rover; Group 2-placed Nev­er­land Rock; Group 3-placed We Go; and stakes-placed Art du Val, Chest­nut Honey, Cos­mic Law, and Nonna Grazia. No Nay Never has been re­warded for his fast start with a quadru­pled stud fee of 100,000 eu­ros (about $114,000 U.S.) for 2019.

Join­ing No Nay Never and Car­avag­gio – whose first foals ar­rive in 2019 – at Cool­more Ire­land next sea­son will be Group 1 win­ner Sioux Na­tion. Mean­while, the globe-trot­ting Men­delssohn also will stand at Ash­ford along­side Jus­tify. Men­delssohn, who won the 2018 UAE Derby by 18 1/2 lengths, is a half-brother to four-time Eclipse Award win­ner Be­holder. Even bet­ter for his stud prospects, he is a half-brother to Grade 1 win­ner and lead­ing sire Into Mis­chief.

“All of our team loved Men­delssohn from the first time we saw him as a year­ling, and he has de­vel­oped into a mag­nif­i­cent­look­ing horse,” Ash­ford man­ager Der­mot Ryan said upon the colt’s re­tire­ment. “Be­ing by our own Scat Daddy and a half­brother to Into Mis­chief and Be­holder, you couldn’t ask for a bet­ter pedi­gree . . . We have al­ready had a huge num­ber of en­quiries about him, and I have no doubt that he will prove ex­tremely pop­u­lar.”

Jus­tify and Men­delssohn be­come the most ac­com­plished sons of Scat Daddy to stand in Ken­tucky, where only Chilean Group 3 win­ner Tu Bru­tus rep­re­sented the stal­lion in 2018, stand­ing at Crest­wood Farm. Scat Daddy was a pop­u­lar shut­tle sire in Chile, with cham­pi­ons in­clud­ing two Horse of the Year hon­orees, and his in­flu­ence there con­tin­ues to be ap­par­ent in the ranks of in­com­ing stal­lions. Scat Daddy’s son Daddy Long Legs launched his ca­reer there, with a Group 1 win­ner in his first crop, and has now been pur­chased by the part­ner­ship of Taylor Made Farm, Phoenix Thor­ough­breds, and KatieRich Farms to stand in Ken­tucky for 2019, mak­ing it four sons of Scat Daddy at stud in Ken­tucky, and 11 over­all in the United States.

Un­like Amer­i­can Pharoah, who com­petes against sire Pioneerof the Nile and his grand­sire, Gainesway’s Em­pire Maker, at six-fig­ure price points in the mar­ket, Jus­tify has sup­ply-and-de­mand eco­nomics in his fa­vor as he de­buts for an ad­ver­tised fee of $150,000 in 2019. As an ad­di­tional ben­e­fit to the young stal­lions, Amer­i­can Pharoah and now Jus­tify have ar­rived in a blood­stock mar­ket that, while still some­what po­lar­ized, has re­cov­ered and sta­bi­lized fol­low­ing the re­ces­sion of a decade ago, as ev­i­denced by long-term in­vest­ments made at the re­cent Novem­ber breed­ing stock sales in Ken­tucky.

While stud fees are again soar­ing, fees for first-year stal­lions have re­mained mod­er­ate, as the mar­ket trended to­ward proven stock. The Triple Crown he­roes have proven the ex­cep­tion, as the only two to de­but for six-fig­ure fees in the last decade. Amer­i­can Pharoah, who won the 2015 Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic af­ter tak­ing the Triple Crown, en­tered stud for an ad­ver­tised fee of $200,000 in 2016, which made him the most ex­pen­sive in­com­ing stal­lion in North Amer­ica since cham­pion Ghostzap­per com­manded the same fee in 2006, prior to the re­ces­sion. Amer­i­can Pharoah’s stud fee also tied him for the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive stal­lion on the con­ti­nent over­all, be­hind only peren­nial lead­ing sire Tapit at $300,000. Pioneerof the Nile stood for $125,000 in 2016, and Em­pire Maker stood for $100,000 that sea­son. It was later re­vealed that some breed­ers were send­ing ap­proved mares to Amer­i­can Pharoah on a two-for-one deal as Cool­more sought to as­sem­ble a qual­ity book, not an un­com­mon prac­tice to sup­port a young stal­lion in a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. Amer­i­can Pharoah’s fee was listed as pri­vate for both 2017 and 2018. Off a sea­son in which his first year­lings av­er­aged $453,273 world­wide, he will stand for $110,000 in 2019.

Jus­tify’s fee, of course, makes him the most ex­pen­sive in­com­ing stal­lion in North Amer­ica for 2019 – and why not? Not only is he the only mul­ti­ple Grade 1-win­ning son from the hand­ful of representatives for his de­ceased sire on the con­ti­nent, his unique and me­te­oric ca­reer made racing his­tory.

“The year we bought Men­delssohn, [blood­stock agent] Paul Shana­han com­mented that we had no idea how valu­able Scat Daddy was go­ing to be for us,” Wal­lace said. “Those words have never been truer.”

BAR­BARA D. LIV­INGSTON

Jus­tify (above) joins fel­low Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah at Ash­ford Stud, which be­comes the fourth farm to stand mul­ti­ple Triple Crown win­ners.

BAR­BARA D. LIV­INGSTON

Jus­tify is pa­raded in front of the fans at Churchill Downs days af­ter be­com­ing the 13th Triple Crown win­ner.

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