As we laid out a year ago when planning her first mating, we believe that Littlemissperfect should have her greatest success as a broodmare crossing with Storm Cat’s descendants, and for 2019 she will visit Mor Spirit, a brilliant first-year representative of that sire-line, in a Housatonic Recommended Mating.
An $85,000 yearling-turned $650,000 2-year-old in-training purchase, Mor Spirit broke his maiden in his second start at 2 for Bob Baffert. He then shipped to Kentucky where he ran 2nd in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes prior to returning to California to triumph in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in his juvenile finale, moving to the head of Bob Baffert’s list of Triple Crown hopefuls. Mor Spirit debuted as a sophomore with a win in the Grade 3 Bob Lewis, then finished 2nd in both the Grade 2 San Felipe and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby before a midpack finish in Nyquist’s Kentucky Derby. After the Derby, Mor Spirit was put away until the Grade 1 Malibu after Christmas (in which he finished 4th behind Mind Your Biscuits and Sharp Azteca at 7 furlongs), and he then stretched back out to be 2nd to Hoppertunity in the Grade 2 San Antonio in his first start as a 4-year-old.
At this point Baffert sent Mor Spirit out of town, and he ripped off three impressive victories in a row: the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn carrying top weight, the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile at Lone Star by 5, and then his signature victory in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont where he came home 6 lengths to the good of Sharp Azteca in 1:33.71, earning a negative 7 Thorograph figure and a 117 Beyer – which was the best Beyer of 2017 at distances up to a mile, and behind only Arrogate at any distance.
Mor Spirit retired to Spendthrift Farm this fall after running once more in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; a 2018 campaign did not come to fruition. He was 1st or 2nd in 11 of 14 starts, for $1.6 million in earnings.
A gorgeous, tall, strong-bodied horse with great balance and bone, Mor Spirit is the best son of the Giant’s Causeway stallion Eskendereya (with whom he shared his head-down running style), who was arguably the best offspring of his own sire on the track. Although Eskendereya was exported to Japan after just a two of his crops had reached the races, he was widely considered trainer Todd Pletcher’s best shot to win his first Kentucky Derby following powerhouse victories in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial, and did get several decent horses as a stallion after retiring with an initial fee of $30,000. And Eskendereya’s pedigree is such that it would be no surprise for him to prove he was given up on too soon and ended up having left a successful sire son. Mor Spirit’s female family, meanwhile, is more speed-oriented — his first two dams being precocious, stakes-winning speedsters by Dixie Union and Allen’s Prospect, respectively (and the cross of Giant’s Causeway with Dixie Union’s sire Dixieland Band has already resulted in the successful sire First Samurai). This blend of 2-year-old precocity, classic maturity and speed was demonstrated perfectly by Mor Spirit’s own racing career and is what makes him such an exciting stallion prospect.
It’s also what makes him a perfect match for the later-maturing and versatile Littlemissperfect, whose dam, Admirer, is a Phipps-bred full-sister to Procession, she in turn the dam of Grade 3 winner Proceed Bee by Storm Cat’s son Bernstein. Nor is Proceed Bee is the only stakes winner from Littlemissperfect’s female family sired by a Storm Cat-line horse, as her relatives also include Grade 3 victor With Distinction (sired by Storm Cat himself), while black-type winners Grand Prix and Knit One Purr Too are both sired by Storm Cat’s son Tale of the Cat.
As Littlemissperfect herself is sired by the Street Cry stallion Street Hero, this mating also creates some similarities to the pedigree of Group 1 winner (and now leading sire) Shamardal – the first high-class runner by Giant’s Causeway, who is out of a full-sister to Street Cry. The cross of Giant’s Causeway and his sons with Street Cry-line mares has produced 2017 multiple Grade 2 winner Sharp Samurai, among others.
Physically the pair are an excellent match as well — both being strong-bodied horses with plenty of leg and length. And although some Giant’s Causeway offspring have handled turf as well as dirt, Eskendereya and Mor Spirit were both exclusively dirt horses (even if Eskendereya has sired a couple of turf Graded winners), and we would expect that the result of the Mor Spirit/Littlemissperfect mating would be a dirt performer best at distances around a mile.
Mor Spirit wins the G1 Met Mile, earning a 117 Beyer Speed Figure
Mor Spirit wins the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity
Mor Spirit wins the G3 Robert B. Lewis
Mor Spirit breezes prior to selling for $650,000 as a 2YO in-training
Mor Spirit’s sire, Eskendereya, wins the G1 Wood Memorial