Gift Box represents the third generation of his sire-line to stand at the famed Lane’s End Farm, as he’ll share a breeding shed with his sire, Twirling Candy, and grandsire, Candy Ride — and we think there is every reason to believe he could enjoy just as much success as his forebears. He enters stud in 2021 after becoming a Grade 1 winner at the American classic distance of a mile-and-a-quarter in the historic Santa Anita Handicap, and he should be an excellent first mate for the well-bred young broodmare Luna.
Gift Box had a huge reputation throughout his racing career, which included being a Grade 2-placed 2YO, a TDN Rising Star at 3, and winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap as an older horse. A $135,000 weanling selection by the astute judge David Ingordo, Gift Box began his racing career for owner Will Farish and trainer Chad Brown, for whom he broke his maiden second time out at 2, then finished 3rd in the G2 Remsen. He earned TDN Rising Star status in his 3YO debut, and also finished 2nd in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga that season.
Transferred privately to Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, Gift Box closed out his 5YO year with a victory over Battle of Midway in the G2 San Antonio, then out-dueled McKinzie to take the G1 Santa Anita Handicap in his next start. He was subsequently 2nd in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and closed out his career with a second win in the G2 San Antonio.
Gift Box’s sire, Twirling Candy, is one of the more promising young stallions in the game right now, with yearling sales in 2019 as high as $950,000, and several making their way into some of the biggest barns in the country (for example, “the Avengers” group will have at least 4 of his 2YOs heading to Bob Baffert in 2021). And grandsire Candy Ride has been one of the elite stallions in the country for some time now.
A hallmark of this sire-line has been versatility, and that is something that Luna showed plenty of as well, being a winner on dirt and turf from 2-6YO. She broke her maiden as a juvenile at the Fair Grounds for owner/breeder Stone Farm and trainer Mike Stidham in maiden special weight company, and went on to win 4 more races, placing another 8 times and earning a total of $88,779, with her wins coming from a mile to 1-1/16 miles.
Luna is one of three winners so far out of her dam, Ruthville, who is a stakes winner by dual classic winner Afleet Alex. Ruthville is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Rutherienne, Grade 3 winner Ruthenia, plus stakes-placed winners Gemologister and Big Wig. Ruthenia is also the dam of a pair of stakes winners in Pubilius Syrus and Our Bay B Ruth, while another half to Ruthville, Holly’s Kid, is the dam of Scandinavian champion Lady of Course[IRE] and stakes winner Force[IRE].
Rutherienne, Ruthenia and Holly’s Kid are all sired by Pulpit, who is a son of A.P. Indy out of a Mr. Prospector mare, just like Luna’s grandsire Malibu Moon, and given that both of Ruthenia’s stakes-winning offspring are sired by Candy Ride, we are very excited to pair Luna with Gift Box and mimic that cross a bit — especially since Rutherienne’s best offspring so far, on earnings and speed figures, is also sired by Candy Ride. Luna’s yearling half-brother is sired by Twirling Candy, too.
Twirling Candy has sired Grade 1 winner Collusion Illusion from an A.P. Indy-line mare, and Candy Ride has gotten Eclipse Champion Game Winner, Grade 1 winners Mastery and Ollie’s Candy, and 11 more stakes winners on this cross — so we like this pairing for that reason, too.
Finally, the physical matchup is a really great bit of like-to-like, as well — both Luna and Gift Box are good-sized, strong-bodied horses with plenty of length to them, and we cannot wait to see what they produce together in 2022!
Gift Box wins the G1 Santa Anita Handicap over McKinzie
Gift Box wins his second straight G2 San Antonio
Our Bay B Ruth, by Candy Ride out of a half to Luna’s dam, wins the Tropical Park Oaks
Pubilius Syrus, by Candy Ride out of a half to Luna’s dam, wins the Eddie Logan