Sunday, September 13, 2009

My own budding barn of runners

It isn't often enough that I find my way up U.S. Highway 15 to Gordonsville, Va., where my horses reside. But Saturday provided the opportunity, so I made the trip and I have photos to prove it.

For those who don't know -- which is probably most folks who blunder by -- the budding Golden Gale Stables breeding and racing string consists of a pair of 2009 foals, their dams, and a bun in the oven by a stallion I relocated from New York for this season. The quintet reside at Hilltop Farm VA, just north of Gordonsville, in the able care of Sarah Warmack.

Head of the household, so to speak, is Silver Music (Silver Ghost-Music Bell, by Stop the Music), an 18-year-old who was foaled not all that far away from his current home, as one of the many great racehorses to emerge from Edward P. Evans' Spring Hill Farm near Casanova, Va.

Like most Evans-breds, Silver Music (pictured clowning for the camera this weekend) is the product of splendid pedigree, by a reputable sire and out of a dam whose own mother, Belladora (Stage Door Johnny-Prayer Bell, by Better Self) was not only a Grade 3 winner in her own right, but also a three-quarters sister to 1969 champion juvenile Silent Screen (Prince John). His fourth dam was Spinaway Stakes-winner Sunday Evening (Eight Thirty-Drowsy, by Royal Minstrel).

After starting his career in Kentucky and Florida, Silver Music went west for owner Lauren Cohen and won a pair of turf stakes under trainer Wally Dollase -- one sprinting in the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita and one at a mile and a sixteenth in the Bold Reason Handicap at Hollywood Park -- and narrowly missed a pair of Grade 3 wins on both surfaces in the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields and the Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood. Then he scored the win of his life in the Swaps S.-G2, covering 10 furlongs on the main track at Hollywood Park in 2:00.76 to defeat Dramatic Gold and Valiant Nature.

A fifth-place finish in the 1994 Pacific Classic-G1 (won by the spectacular Tinners Way) led to a layoff, and Silver Music was raced just once at age 4 before retirement. He finished his career with five wins (three stakes) from 19 starts and $351,905.

Mr. Evans had a good deal of success with this cross of Silver Ghost with Music Bell (who herself is alive and well in retirement at Spring Hill). Silver Music has a full brother who was a Grade 2 winner on turf, Musical Ghost ($252,024), who won the Red Smith Handicap going 11 panels at Aqueduct in 1998. Full brother Ghost Soldier earned $784,916 racing in Japan. And, their unraced full sister, Ghost Bell, is the dam of Philly Park stakes winner Monsoor (Mt. Livermore).

A half-sister of that quartet, Prospector's Song (Prospector's Music), won five stakes on her way to eight wins from 17 starts, earning $264,256, and is a minor blacktype-producer.

At stud in New York for his entire career, Silver Music is yet to sire a stakes winner. He does have three stakes-placers (reflecting his own versatility, one of them short on the dirt at 2 and two of them around two turns on grass at 3), and he's sired some competitive New York-breds from very slight opportunities, such as Time to Rap (7-for-17, $169,894), Stevie Stressor ($163,273, former record-holder at Belmont), Archers Gal ($111,930), Givensilver ($103,958) and Rock Queen ($92,970 in 13 starts, dam of two winners).

I'd hoped that he would attract a few outside mares in his first season in Virginia, but the economy, resulting discounts to pricier studs out of state, and some bad luck conspired to leave only me trying to breed mares to him this year. And since only one of mine foaled early enough to be bred back, that's how many 2010 foals Silver is expecting -- one.

That one, barring a lost pregnancy, will be a son or daughter born to Bushes Victory (Spartan Victory-Below Broad Street, by Kokand), who had her first foal this season. A modest winner at Finger Lakes, "Tory" is, however, the daughter of a stakes winner of $103,043 and a full sister to Broad Victory, Colonial turf-sprint stakes winner of $158,156 and dam of Radical Fringe (Van Nistelrooy), who won three of five as a 3-year-old and returned Saturday at Arlington after an 11-month layoff to finish second for a $35,000 tag to former stakes winner Stradivinsky -- three lengths clear of third place in a 5-furlong turf race run in a pretty brisk 56.27.

Tory's 2009 filly is Oracle at Delphi, mentioned and pictured on this blog prior. The chestnut filly (with three stockings to match her great-great-grandsire Secretariat) is by Mighty Forum (Presidium-Mighty Flash, by Rolfe), a multiple-G3-winner on turf whose sire was a blacktype half-brother to Group 1 winners Kris and Diesis, G2-winner Rudimentary and stakes winner Keen. Certainly the names in "Delphy's" pedigree won't inspire many American racing fans, but there are runners in the family, she seems to have been blessed with good balance and a "big engine," and if she can muster some of that turf ability displayed by her sire, her aunt and her cousin, she could be competitive at Colonial Downs. (Pictured: She also seems to have inherited or developed her dam's disdain for dogs.)

Delphy is co-bred and co-owned along with Sarah and Hilltop Farm.

And, pictured with her 2009 colt is Lady's Wager (Valid Wager-Lear's Lady, by Lear Fan), herself a winner of 10 races from 36 start (at eight different tracks all along the Eastern Seaboard) for $71,519.

Her dam was an allowance winner on turf and one of 10 winners out of Idiomatic (Verbatim-Swiss Forest, by Dotted Swiss), who also produced Acqueduct stakes-winner Bold Mate (Nasty and Bold) and 11-race winner Naskramatic (Naskra). Idiomatic was a half-sister to G2-winner Replant (No Robbery). Through fourth dam Forest Song (Mr. Music-Sylvanaise, by Meridien) this is one of the most productive tail-female lines of Bruce Lowe's Family 19, boasting several dozen stakes winners including: Grade 1 winners Slewpy (Young America S., Meadowlands Cup), Croeso (Florida Derby), 15-win filly Top Corsage (Spinster S.) and Appealing Zophie (also a Spinster winner); Grade 2 winners Replant, Super May (Mervyn Leroy H., $826,500) and Diamond on the Run (Davona Dale S.); and four-times G3 winner and sire Ide, among other graded and listed stakes winners.

Lady so far has produced a modest winner at Charles Town in her eldest foal, 4-year-old West Appeal (Way West), who runs for her former owners Dale and Patricia Shockey. Lady's second foal, a 2-year-old filly, Lady's Bopette (Bop), is close to her gate card for the Shockeys, as well. With turf runners for their sires and a second dam who was a turf winner, by a Grade 1 turf horse, I'd like to see both of those runners get a chance on the grass either at Mountaineer or perhaps shipping into Virginia next summer to run at Colonial.

Lady's Wager's 2009 colt is by Laurel Park stakes winner Inner Harbour (Capote-Blue Sky Princess, by Conquistador Cielo), and like his dam is chestnut in color, hence his name, "All In On Red." Apparently a barn favorite, he alternates between sleeping like a log and bouncing around the farm like Tigger. A smart and inquisitive foal, one of the teenage girls who frequents Sarah's place said she caught "Red" trying to sneak into the tack room the other day, and if she hadn't called him back, they'd probably have "found him in there later, napping on the couch."

Yes, I'm excited to be starting out in the race game, even if very much on the ground floor. So if this information wasn't enough for you, e-mail me and I'll ramble on all day about my horses ... or your horses, or anybody's horses.

Good night, good luck and good health to all with equine interests -- particularly my own.


  1. Mighty Forum !
    Now there's a blast from the past.

    Have you met her part owner at the time?
    Her name was Valerie and went by the AOL handle Mighty4um on AOL about a decade ago.

    She was full of exuberance about Mighty and his then promising stud career. Hope she still is. :-)

  2. I've "met" Valerie only via e-mail.

    Poor guy was in Virginia at the beginning of the end, so to speak, for in-state stallions there. Business was fast declining. And he didn't have a pedigree that screamed "breed to me!" ... Primarily, that is, he wasn't a son of Mr. Prospector or Northern Dancer.

    Man, he was a looker, though, even at 16 or so years old when I saw him at Sarah's place in Gordonsville, which was his second home in Virginia. He's moved to the other coast now, I believe.

    Given a few mares of turf pedigree with a little more proven race ability of their own, he might've done a little better. My numbers might be a fraction out of date, but from of a tiny group of foals, 13 have raced, and eight of those have won (61.5 percent), albeit not at any significant level. The Colonial season is short and they just aren't suited to running 4 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Charles Town, which seems to be the course of second resort for minor VA owners/breeders during the bulk of the calendar year.

    The only CT race I ever liked a Mighty Forum runner in was the rare 9-furlong allowance that his son, Mighty Unbrakeable, won on Jan. 7, 2007. Mighty himself raced as a miler, but his foals seemed to want as much ground as you could give them, and so Mighty Unbrakeable was getting just about all he could ask for from CT stewards that night.

    He paid $126.20 to win and the exacta over a 5/1 or 6/1 second-placer paid $28,551.

    And no, I had decided not to drive 50 miles to Alberta, Va., to bet him.

  3. So that's where Silver Music is! I have a three-year-old gray gelding by him, who I purchased for $1,000 at Saratoga as a yearling. The horse, Talking Blues, was promptly sent to Ocala, where he grew up from a midget into what looks like a real race horse. He finished second in his last two races at Belmont, and we're expecting that maiden win any day now.
    I think Silver Music's biggest hangup was that the farm where he stood in New York was a terrible place to raise horses. Not enough minerals in the grass and water, winters way too long, etc. My trainer, Bill Turner, has some luck with some of those horses, but I know he wishes that the stallion could have been relocated. Now that it's happened, and that we have Virginia connections of various kinds, wshould definitely get in touch.

  4. Absolutely, Steve, I follow Talking Blues with my Equibase Virtual Stable. I have to think that maiden-breaker is coming up soon for him, too.

    Central Virginia is certainly good country for raising horses. Absolutely beautiful country to visit, too. (Most of rural Virginia is gorgeous, from its mountains in the west all the way to the Tidewater region and the coast.)

    My horse-biz e-mail address is linked to my profile, and from there I can give you another that I use specifically for information about Silver Music.


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