Friday, October 2, 2009

Rent-a-Stud: Kalu

Bonnie Heath Farm is looking for a new, or at least temporary, residence for their homebred Grade 3-winning stallion Kalu, and they're apparently open to offers.

An 11-year-old son of Honor Grades out of the mare Barely Rarely (Rare Performer-Solac, by Gay Lussac), Kalu won three of 11 starts lifetime, including the Hawthorne Derby-G3, and the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland, both at a mile and an eighth on the lawn. That 3-year-old season was his only year that wasn't apparently troubled; Kalu was unplaced in one start at 2 and three starts at 4, was unraced at age 5, and missed the board in one start at age 6.

Retired to stud in 2005 and moved around a good bit since, including stints in New York and Louisiana before returning to Bonnie Heath in Florida (where he stood this year for $2,000), Kalu has seen relatively little action.

His first crop, 2-year-olds of 2008, constituted just three offspring. Two have raced, a filly named On Wings of Angels, a modest New York-bred winner, and NY-bred filly Wynot Siyue, unplaced from three starts. Kalu also has a placed 2-year-old of 2009, Kalus High Honor, bred in New York by Bonnie Heath. According to Jockey Club records online, Kalu has sired just 18 foals in four crops, 2006-09, including an 0-for-3 stint on impregnating mares in Louisiana in 2008. (His fertility figures were much better during three seasons in New York.)

Kalu comes from excellent female family, with his dam a half-sister of Double Trigger (14 wins including the Ascot Gold Cup-G1 in England, champion 3-year-old in Italy and champion stayer and older male in Europe) and Double Eclipse (Prix Vicomtesse Vigier-G2 in France, etc.), both by Ela-Mana-Mou. She was also the sibling of three other stakes-placers. And, Kalu's second dam was half-sister to Italian champion 2-year-old and 3-year-old and Horse of the Year Sirlad (Bold Lad) and to dual Italian Group 1 winner Sortingo (by Petingo, paternal grandsire of Ela-Mana-Mou).

Now, anyone with an inkling of pedigree knowledge knows what that means -- distance and turf, neither of which are marketable traits for a modestly priced sire on U.S. soil.

And, the more American-oriented side of Kalu's pedigree is through less-fashionable sources.

Honor Grades, a half-brother to A.P. Indy and Summer Squall, was a reasonably accomplished son of Danzig, both on the track (where he was three times G3-placed) and at stud (sire of $2.5 million-earner Magna Graduate and G1 millionaires Adoration and Honor Glide, among numerous blacktype foals). But he wasn't one of the Danzig line's biggest names.

And picking up a dose of Mr. Prospector on the dam's side makes plenty of sense when planning a mating to a Danzig/Northern Dancer-line sire. But getting it through Rare Performer isn't exactly the most commercial conduit.

Of course, when actually breeding racehorses, not sales babies, I'd be one of the first to say "market, be damned."

I've not seen him in the flesh, but from the photos and video, Kalu certainly looks the part. He comes from a family of runners and -- when "right" -- was a pretty good runner himself.

With his spotty record outside of that 3-year-old campaign, I would want to mate him to as much soundness as I could find in a broodmare. She should be a turf performer or from a decidedly grass-oriented family (preferably both), as well. And considering his tail-female line, I should think a return to some Old World family -- that is, not just turf, but European turf -- would suit him nicely.

I wouldn't expect to lease Kalu for duty in the States at any significant price and attract outside business, even in a second- or third-tier racing jurisdiction.

But if I were owner of a farm with a handful of mares, breeding to race in a state where a turf course is open somewhere year-round (like Texas, where Sam Houston runs its share on grass during winter, or right there in Florida where he's presently located), I'd be inclined to find out whether Bonnie Heath Farm might be content to let me feed Kalu for them over at my place during 2010.

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