I’m Engaged is being bred in 2016 to The Factor (War Front x Greyciousness, by Miswaki; stands for $25,000 at Lane’s End).
The Factor was a brilliantly fast racehorse, and is the first top son of War Front. He broke his maiden at 6 furlongs as a 2-year-old in track record time of 1:06.98 at Santa Anita, before taking the San Vicente-G2 and the Rebel-G2 (the latter at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, over Caleb’s Posse and Archarcharch) on the Triple Crown trail in the spring of his 3-year-old year. Later that year, he shortened back up to take a pair of Grade 1 races at 7 furlongs, the Pat O’Brien (over older horses) and the Malibu. He returned at 4 to win the San Carlos-G2, and also finished 2nd in the Bing Crosby-G1 and Triple Bend-G1.
The Factor’s first foals will race in 2016. His first crop included 76 that changed hands at yearling sales in 2015, averaging $140,894 off of a $15,000 stud fee. These yearlings included six that sold at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale for an average of $386,667, with individuals bringing $750,000 and $600,000. Top Kentucky bloodstock agent Gabriel Duignan has described The Factor’s foals as “a uniform type-they’re very athletic, sharp, precocious-looking horses” – a description that also fits The Factor himself. His first two crops have been so popular at the sales that his stud fee was increased between his third and fourth seasons, which is almost unheard of. There is every reason to expect his first crop 2-year-olds to come out running in 2016, given that his sire War Front had a pair of Grade 1 winning juveniles this past season in Air Force Blue and Hit It A Bomb.
TrueNicks rates the match of The Factor and I’m Engaged as an “A.” Breeding The Factor’s sire War Front to Unbridled-line mares like I’m Engaged has already produced Group 3 winner War Dispatch and stakes winner Warning Flag (who also won a Group 1 in Hong Kong under the name Sweet Orange), as well as the promising Fire Away, who won 3 races for Shug McGaughey in 2015 and should step up to stakes company in 2016. The mating of I’m Engaged to The Factor creates inbreeding of 4x5x5 to Northern Dancer, 5×4 to Fappiano, 4×5 to Fappiano’s sire Mr. Prospector, and 5×5 to Buckpasser.
In addition to a successful nick between sire-lines, War Front and other Northern Dancer-line stallions have successfully crossed with the female family of I’m Engaged. This affinity was demonstrated most recently by Air Force Blue, the champion European juvenile of 2015, who is a son of War Front out of a mare named Chatham; both Chatham and I’m Engaged have Starlet Storm as their second dam (read more by Frank Mitchell about Air Force Blue, Chatham, and I’m Engaged’s female family here).
Another granddaughter of Starlet Storm named Wild Poppy (out of Eclipse Champion Flanders) was responsible for a $500,000 yearling son of War Front at the 2015 Keeneland September Sale who will be campaigned by the Coolmore group in 2016 and attempt to emulate the success of Air Force Blue. A medium-sized, feminine mare who has thrown good-sized foals, I’m Engaged should be a nice “like-to-like” physical match for The Factor.
Curlin’s Needle’s mate for 2016 is Girolamo (A.P. Indy x Get Lucky, Mr. Prospector; stands for $15,000 at Darley).
Girolamo is A.P. Indy’s most brilliant son, a title earned as that perennial leading sire’s only Grade 1 winner going 6 furlongs, having scored in the Vosburgh-G1 at Belmont as a 4-year-old. Earlier on Girolamo triumphed in the Jerome-G2 as a 3-year-old (when he ran a mile in 1:33.81), and broke his maiden at Saratoga in his debut at 2. He is also the spitting image of his sire physically.
Girolamo was a top five First Crop sire in 2015, when he was responsible for 19 juvenile winners, including Grade 1-placed stakes winner She’s All Ready plus additional stakes-placed winners Backwood Bay, Lucky Lurie and Pagan. Those winners were conceived in New York, as Girolamo stood his first two seasons at Sequel Stallions before transferring to Darley in Kentucky, where he has remained since.
Girolamo is out of Mr. Prospector’s “Blue Hen” daughter Get Lucky, who has also produced his full siblings Daydreaming (Grade 2 winner and dam of Grade 1 winner Imagining), Accelerator (Grade 3 winner and a useful sire), She’s a Winner (dam of Grade 1 winner Bluegrass Cat, a leading regional sire, and Grade 3 winner Brethren), and Supercharger (dam of Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Super Saver, a leading young sire in Kentucky).
Furthermore, Get Lucky herself is a full-sister to longtime leading Maryland stallion Not For Love. Their dam, Dance Number, is a half-sister to leading sire Private Account and to top Maryland stallion Polish Numbers (read more from Esther Marr on this female family).
Among the other top stallions by A.P. Indy out of Mr. Prospector mares are Pulpit, Malibu Moon, Flatter, Mineshaft and Congrats. The mating of Curlin’s Needle with Girolamo earns a TrueNicks “A” based on the cross of A.P. Indy and his sons with Smart Strike-line mares, which has accounted for Grade 1 winner First Dude and a half-dozen other stakes winners. The foal from this mating will be inbred 3×4 to Mr. Prospector, and 4x5x5 to Northern Dancer.
In addition, Curlin’s Needle is a close relative to champion and classic winner Eye of the Sphynx (a half-sister to Curlin’s Needle’s dam, by Curlin’s sire Smart Strike), who has produced a trio of stakes winners by Girolamo’s sire A.P. Indy. Among these three are the champion and classic winner Eye of the Leopard and multiple Graded Stakes winner Deceptive Vision (read more from Avalyn Hunter on this female family here).
We purchased Curlin’s Needle with the specific intention of breeding her to an A.P. Indy-line stallion in order to duplicate this cross, and the speed of Girolamo makes him a perfect representative of that line to match with the mare.
Atlantic Rainbow’s mate for 2016 is Graydar (Unbridled’s Song x Sweetest Smile, by Dehere; stands for $15,000 at Taylor Made).
Graydar is a big, brilliant doppelgänger of Unbridled’s Song, and looks set to assume his sire’s mantle at the same farm where Unbridled’s Song stood his illustrious stud career. Graydar earned a 100 Beyer in his 8-1/2 length debut victory, scored a wire-to-wire victory by 3 lengths in the Donn-G1 in only his fourth career start (over Grade 1 winners Take Charge Indy, Flat Out, Pool Play and Ultimate Eagle, earning a 109 Beyer), and went on to win both the Kelso-G2 and the New Orleans-G2 handicaps under top weight. He completed his career with 5 wins in 6 starts.
Graydar himself was a $260,000 2-year-old in-training purchase, and his first crop of foals also looked the part: he had 16 weanlings sell at auction in 2015 for an average of $93,813, including individuals for $190,000, $185,000 (x2), etc. Graydar’s first book of mares was so strong that he was the only stallion in Kentucky with a fee under $25,000 to rank in the top five by CI and CPI.
Unbridled’s Song’s other sons as stallions include the 2013 leading freshman sire Dunkirk and the 2013 leading juvenile sire Rockport Harbor, plus Grade 1 winner First Defence, the sire of Eclipse Champion Close Hatches, and Eclipse Champion Will Take Charge, who had the highest stud fee of any incoming stallion in 2015 (read more on Unbridled’s Song and his sire sons from Ray Paulick here). Graydar is bred on the same cross as Will Take Charge, both being out of daughters of Dehere.
The mating of Atlantic Rainbow with Graydar earns only a “C” from TrueNicks, but is good for an “A+” eNicks rating based on the cross of Unbridled’s Song and his sons with Storm Cat-line mares, which has produced Eclipse Champion Close Hatches and other Grade 1 winners Buddha and Magnificent Song.
This mating will create 5×5 inbreeding to Secretariat, as well as 5×4 to top Canadian sire Vice Regent via his Horse of the Year son Deputy Minister and his Broodmare of the Year daughter No Class. Inbreeding to Deputy Minster has been extremely successful recently, so inbreeding to his sire could also prove intriguing (read more from Anne Peters here).
In addition to a productive cross of sire-lines, Atlantic Rainbow’s female family has already achieved stakes success with stallions from the sire-line of Unbridled’s Song. More specifically, Atlantic Rainbow’s dam Rainbow’s Classic is closely related to classic winner Hangin On a Star (Rainbow’s Classic being by Regal Classic and out of a half-sister to Hangin On a Star, who shares her sire Vice Regent with Regal Classic), and Hangin On a Star produced champion 2-year-old Comet Shine by Fappiano, the sire of Unbridled. Hangin On a Star is also the dam of Star of Glory, a winner by Unbridled, and of Sanibel Star, a 2-year-old winner by Unbridled’s Song (interestingly, Sanibel Star is the dam of 2-year-old stakes winner Star Contender, by Storm Cat’s grandson Henny Hughes).
Physically this mating should be a good one as well, with the imposing Graydar adding some size and scope to Atlantic Rainbow’s foal.
Hula Skirt’s mate for 2016 is First Samurai (Giant’s Causeway x Freddie Frisson, by Dixieland Band; stands for $15,000 at Claiborne).
First Samurai was a brilliant 2-year-old when he won his first four starts, including the Grade 1 Hopeful and Champagne (both over Henny Hughes). He lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 and the Eclipse Award to Stevie Wonderboy, then returned in the spring of his 3-year-old season to finish 2nd in both the Hutcheson-G2 and Fountain of Youth-G2 (though he was awarded the latter on Corinthian’s disqualification). Fifth in the Blue Grass-G1 in what would’ve been his final Kentucky Derby prep, First Samurai thereafter retired to stud at Claiborne Farm where he stood for an initial fee of $40,000.
Although First Samurai himself was a top class 2-year-old, his offspring tend to need a bit more time to develop (the top juvenile filly Executiveprivilege, from his third crop, being a notable exception). This resulted in a bit of a slow start to his stud career, although he rebounded nicely when his runners reached full maturity and he now counts a Grade 1 winner from each of his first three crops (Justin Philip, Lea and Executiveprivilege, respectively). In total, he has sired 22 stakes winners so far, good for 7% from named foals (read more from Anne Peters on First Samurai’s stud record here ).
After a few small crops, First Samurai will have 88 2-year-olds running in 2016, a similar number in 2017, and he bred 99 mares in 2015. First Samurai was the first top American son of his sire Giant’s Causeway, himself the best runner and sire by Storm Cat. Giant’s Causeway was a European Horse of the Year who earned the nickname “the Iron Horse” upon reeling off five consecutive Group 1 victories over the summer of his sophomore season. He has been a three-time leading sire in North America (2009, 2010 and 2012), and twice the leading juvenile sire.
TrueNicks rates the mating of Hula Skirt with First Samurai an “A” based on the cross of First Samurai with Northern Dancer-line mares. The best runner bred on this cross is Grade 1 winner Lea, who set a track record in the Donn-G1, placed in the Dubai World Cup-G1 and Breeders‘ Cup Dirt Mile-G1, and was top class on both dirt and turf. Although not part of the TrueNicks rating, 2015 Grade 1-winning 2-year-old Mor Spirit is by another son of Giant’s Causeway (Eskendereya) out of a Dixie Union mare like Hula Skirt.
Mating Hula Skirt with First Samurai will result in 5x4x4x5 inbreeding to Northern Dancer, 5x5x3 to Mr. Prospector, and 3×3 to Dixieland Band. First Samurai has thrived when bred to mares with additional crosses of Northern Dancer, with Grade 1 winners Lea, Executiveprivilege and Alajmal all featuring additional inbreeding to Northern Dancer, as do Grade 2 winner Last Gunfighter and Grade 3 winner Swift Warrior (read more on the success of multiple inbreeding to Northern Dancer here).
Interestingly, Last Gunfighter is inbred 3×3 to Storm Cat, a Northern Dancer grandson, making the 3×3 inbreeding to Dixieland Band present in this cross noteworthy. First Samurai and Giant’s Causeway have also done well when mated to mares with Mr. Prospector blood, and Hula Skirt brings two crosses of that former Claiborne luminary.
In addition to the successful cross of sire-lines, Hula Skirt’s dam Grass Skirt, by Mr. Prospector, is a sister to Lerici (by Mr. Prospector’s son Woodman) who has produced unbeaten 2015 and 2016 stakes winner Lira, by Giant’s Causeway, so the female family has had success with this sire-line also.
Both First Samurai and Hula Skirt are big, strong horses with plenty of length, so they should also be a nice “like-to-like” physical match.