The three-year-old crop of 2007 was one of the most contentious of recent years as Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun and Any Given Saturday fought it out for leadership of the division. Curlin would emerge with titles as Champion Three-Year-Old and Horse of the Year, and remained in training to successfully defend his crown the following year. The remaining trio, however, were all acquired in a Darley spending spree, and retired together, along with the already Darley-owned Discreet Cat.
As far as the three purchases were concerned, they all had clear credentials: Street Sense, a Champion Two-Year-Old and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner by the rapidly emerging Street Cry, from the family of Mr. Greeley and Danehill Dancer; Hard Spun, who with a grade one win over seven furlongs at three, as well as a second in the Kentucky Derby, might have been the most versatile of the three, and was by Danzig; and Any Given Saturday, who had 4½ lengths in hand of Hard Spun and Curlin in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), was by Distorted Humor out of an A.P. Indy mare.
Despite the apparent potential of that trio (and the varying degrees to which it has been fulfilled shows just how hard it is to predict stallion success), the leader of the second season sires this year, as he was in 2011, is Scat Daddy. A son of Johannesburg (so from the Hennessy branch of the Storm Cat line) from a Mr. Prospector mare, he was near the top of the group at two, when he won the Sandford Stakes (gr. II) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I), and in the spring at three, when he added the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), but suffered a career ending injury in the Kentucky Derby. So far he has had six first crop stakes winners, five graded, and was credited with his first grade one winner when Lady of Shamrock (dam by Blushing John, by Blushing Groom) took the American Oaks Stakes (gr. I). He had two other big money winners in the spring with the colts Daddy Long Legs (dam by Meadowlake), a group winner in England at two, and successful in the UAE Derby (gr. II) this term and Daddy Nose Best (out of a mare by Thunder Gulch, a good foil for Storm Cat) in the Sunland Derby (gr. III). He already has two-year-old stakes winner Amarish (from a daughter of Awesome Again) in his second crop.
The biggest question over Hard Spun – at least in our mind – is that he was out of a mare by Turkoman, himself a disappointing sire (like virtually all the sons of Alydar), and broodmare sire of Point Given, another who has failed to live up to the highest expectations. However, Turkoman certainly doesn’t seem to have been a negative impact for Hard Spun, who dispute the Leading Freshman Sire title to the final day of the season, and who is hot pursuit of Scat Daddy again this year. He’s already been represented by 12 first crop stakes winners, four graded, and on the most recent weekend, his daughters Questing (out of a Seeking the Gold mare) and Zo Impressive (from a daughter of Cozzene, and herself already successful in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I)) ran 1-2 in the CCA Oaks (gr. I). His other graded winners are Hierro (out of a mare by the Irish River/Riverman line horse, Navarone) who took the Derby Trial (gr. III) and Red Duke (from a daughter of Gone West), a group winner in England at two. With Danzig over Turkoman, he looks like a horse who should continue to do well with Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew, and he also has three stakes winners out of Storm Bird line mares.
For all of his sterling qualities, Smart Strike’s Champion Turf Horse English Channel, didn’t have the race-record or physique of a commercial sire, but he’s turned out to be one of the surprise packages of this group. With six 2012 stakes winning three-year-olds, he’s zoomed into third spot here. He seems to be following on from his sire in preferred strains, as he has the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) victor Blueskiesnrainbows from a mare by Deputy Minister, and record-breaking Queen’s Plate captor, Strait of Dover, from a daughter of Danzig. He also has a stakes winner out of a Seattle Slew mare, and his grade one placed Optimizer is out of a daughter of A.P. Indy.
In fourth is Street Sense, who has five stakes winners, and another seven stakes placed horses. His best are graded winning two-year-old Motor City (dam by Danzig Connection, by Danzig) and Castaway (dam by Storm Cat), successful in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III). The top four have achieved a degree of separation over fifth placed Discreet Cat, a son of Forestry, who almost certainly had the most raw talent of these. He would undoubtedly have been higher had not two of his brightest prospects, Out of Bounds (dam by Unbridled’s Song), winner of the Sham Stakes over Inner Circle, and Discreet Dancer (dam by Gone West) not been sidelined. He does have two other stakes winners, including Mamma Kimbo (from a daughter of Devil’s Bag), who took the Fantasy Stakes (gr. III), as well as Qismah (dam by Jade Robbery) who took a race that qualifies as a stakes for domestic purposes in Japan.
Lawyer Ron (by Langfuhr, from a very weak immediate female family, although it eventually goes back to Uvira II, ancestress of A.P. Indy et al) died after siring just two crop. He was a lot better than many might have anticipated, and has four stakes winners and eight stakes horses, including the grade one winning Drill (out of a Storm Cat mare, and one of four stakes horse for the sire out of mares from the Storm Cat line). By Pulpit from the family of Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells, the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) winner, Corinthian, would have been on many “most likely to succeed” lists. So far, he has a pair of stakes winners in Junebugred (dam by Dixieland Band), won took the Smarty Jones Stakes, and Hunt Crossing (dam by Silver Deputy), a stakes winner at two last year. Holy Bull’s son, Flashy Bull, started well last year with the Debutante Stakes (gr. II) winner, Flashy Lassie (dam by Lemon Drop Kid), and he’s had a pair of stakes winners this year year in Flashy Dresser and Balooga Bull (also a black-type winner at three).
A P. Indy son Master Command, another who died young, has a pair of minor stakes winners and since in ninth. The top ten are rounded out by After Market, a very good grass runner bred on the same Storm Cat/Rahy cross as Giant’s Causeway. He has three stakes winners, including the recent Virginia Oaks (gr. III) winner, Volcat (out of a mare by Southern Halo). Any Given Saturday is eleventh, but was somewhat unfortunate in that his daughter Princess Arabella (dam by Thunder Gulch), who looked potentially outstanding when winning the Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths, suffered a career ending injury.
Top regional sire is California’s Awesome Gambler (by Coronado’s Quest) who primarily owes his position to the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) heroine, Willa B Awesome (out of mare by Nineeleven, a son of Phone Trick). From the same sire line, Utopia (Japanese-raced son of Forty Niner, who also won the Westchester Handicap (gr. III) in the U.S.) leads the way in New York. He’s sire of stakes winner I’ll Stake U (dam by Lord Avie). In Florida, Saint Anddan, a rare sprinting son of A.P. Indy, has just overtaken his stud companion Teuflesberg. Saint Anddan has graded winner Another Romance (dam by Friendly Lover, from the Damascus line, but with inbreeding to the Seattle Slew/Secretariat combination), and Teuflesberg is sire of the very rapid Trinninberg (dam by the Crafty Prospector horse, Goldminers Gold).