Friday, June 11, 2010

Good tidings from Gordonsville: It's a boy

I'm a little slow in passing out the cigars, but today's blog entry (the first in a few days, shamefully) brings good tidings from Gordonsville, Va.

The last foal sired by Silver Music, a Grade 2 winner who died on Derby Day, was born at 3:45 a.m. Saturday at Sarah Warmack's Hilltop Farm VA.

The strapping colt is a dark bay and sports a star, much like his dam, the modest winner Bushes Victory (Spartan Victory-Below Broad Street, by Kokand). He's already developed a reputation for being "such a flirt" around the women and girls who frequent the farm, standing to be loved-on and offering kisses back.

Which shows that at least he's no dummy.

I'd crossed my fingers for a filly (so I could add her to the broodmare band later, if she ran worth a darn), and also for a gray, like the sire. At least a gray would have been a fitting end for the big daddy. But that just wasn't to be.

Regardless of sex or color, the foal would be -- that is now, is -- inbred 3x4 to Mr. Prospector via Silver Music's sire, Silver Ghost, and the dam's dam-sire, Kokand. For proponents of the Dosage system, his Dosage Index is 1.80 and his Center of Distribution is 0.64, suggesting a runner who would want at least a little bit of ground. That would be consistent with his sire's performance, for while Silver Music broke maiden going 6 furlongs on dirt at age 2, his second juvenile win (in his ninth 2-year-old start) was a one-mile allowance on grass, and his signature win was in the 1994 Swaps S.-G2 going 10 panels on the main track at Hollywood Park.

However, one aspect of this mating that I liked is the female family's apparent penchant for speed. Though Bushes Victory only won a single race -- well, two, actually, and was taken down to second once, losing what would have been her maiden-breaking win at 3 -- she had some early turn of foot, and was usually on or near the lead in fractions as brisk as 22-flat for the opening quarter.

Her dam won the Alabama Oaks at a mile while there was still horse racing at Birmingham, and was 2-for-3 at route distances (with an allowance-placing on grass in her other try), but was primarily campaigned as a sprinter and hit the board three times in stakes races at 6 furlongs. "Tory's" full sister, Broad Victory, won the Somethingroyal Stakes at Colonial Downs (5.5f turf in 1:03 2/5) and was second beaten a half in the Phoenix Stakes at Meadowlands (5f turf in :56 3/5). And Broad Victory's first foal, a gelded son of Van Nistelrooy named Radical Fringe, nearly nicked the Arlington Park track records for 5 furlongs on both turf and dirt in his second and third lifetime starts at age 3, missing both marks by less than a fifth of a second.

I'm not a proponent of mating widely disparate types in hopes of achieving a "happy medium" -- that is, an extreme stayer with a sprinter, expecting to get a miler. I think you're just as likely to get a foal with the stayer's speed and the sprinter's stamina, which could be useless.

But in this case, I do hope that the dam's side's relative fleetness gives this Silver Music foal something I think many of the sire's get have lacked -- some early turn of foot. And Silver Music wasn't hopeless at short distances. As noted, he broke maiden at 6 furlongs (on the main track at Calder), and at 3, he collected his first stakes win going "about 6 1/2 furlongs") on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, in the Baldwin Stakes. He also won the Bold Reason Handicap at Hollywood Park going a mile and a sixteenth, displaying true versatility -- stakes wins from 6.5f to 10f at age 3, on dirt and on turf.

Silver has had a couple of solid sprinters among his progeny, including career leading-earner Time to Rap ($169,894), and with a progeny average winning distance of 7.13 furlongs (at this writing) it would be fair to say that his foals have probably won as often at 6 furlongs as they have at a mile, a mile-seventy or a mile and a sixteenth. But on pedigree, I think many of his horses would have done better with more distance; it's just that getting two-turn races in the lower claiming ranks is sometimes a difficult proposition.

So, there's some speed on the dam's side, and a lot of versatility on both sides of this new colt's family. His sire was pretty good at just about everything, with wins on dirt and turf, from 6 furlongs to 10. And his dam's family includes dirt, turf and synthetic winners, with closely related stakes winners at a mile on dirt and 5.5 furlongs on turf.

Simply put, since this colt has had close relatives who are achievers at a little bit of everything, I hope he can do at least a little bit of something.

More than just being a loverboy, anyway.


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