|After nearly forty years, racing�s triple crown has a new king. American Pharoah, owned and bred by Zayat Stables and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, dominated the G1 Belmont Stakes Presented by Draftkings on June 6th at Belmont Park completing the third leg of the Triple Crown Series, the first horse to successfully sweep the classics since Affirmed in 1978, and the 12th ever to do so.
The Kentucky bred American Pharoah has a strong Louisiana connection. He is out of the Yankee Gentleman sire Littleprincessemma. Yankee Gentleman stands at Le Mesa Stallions in Carencro, Louisiana.
|By Joe Nevills
Much ado has been made about the homegrown success of dual classic winner American Pharoah, who is a product of Zayat Stables, which bred and raced his sire (Pioneerof the Nile) and raced and owned his dam (Littleprincessemma).
One piece of the puzzle that often goes overlooked resides at Le Mesa Stallions in Carencro, La.
Stakes winner Yankee Gentleman is the sire of Littleprincessemma, who was purchased by Ahmed Zayat for $250,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. After two unplaced starts, Littleprincessemma began her broodmare career, with her second foal being American Pharoah.
Yankee Gentleman was still a resident of Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., when Littleprincessemma was conceived, and he was relocated to Louisiana for the 2010 breeding season. The 16-year-old son of Storm Cat stands at Le Mesa Stallions for an advertised fee of $3,500.
Brett Brinkman, owner of Le Mesa Stallions, said he would be among those watching on June 6 when American Pharoah attempts to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
�It�s always a bonus when this kind of stuff happens, that�s for sure,� said Brinkman, who most likely will be at a track in Louisiana that day watching one of his runners. �Most of [Yankee Gentleman�s] fillies have a ton of heart and plenty of speed. Looking back on the lineage, they probably crossed this mare correctly, giving her some classic distance. You breed speed on speed and hope they can go far enough, and I think that�s the case here. I think they have a horse that can go far enough, so we�ll see.�
Brinkman said the success of American Pharoah hasn�t done much to drive interest in Yankee Gentleman in terms of booking mares this year, but it has led to some inquiries regarding his foals.
�Coming to the end of the season like this, I can�t say it�s had a big effect on him this year,� he said. �I�ve gotten a couple of calls on some of the fillies that we have racing, but nothing from the standpoint of booking mares at this stage.�
Brinkman said the stallion�s recent uptick in performance at local auctions did help draw mares for the 2015 breeding season. He had a colt top the 2014 Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana yearling sale at $100,000.
Yankee Gentleman has sired nine crops of racing age, with 250 winners and combined progeny earnings of more than $18.3 million. His runners are led by Grade 1 winner E Z�s Gentleman, Grade 2 winners Ive Struck a Nerve and Washington Bridge, Grade 3 winner Yankee Fourtune, and 2010 Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Tidal Pool.
Since moving to Louisiana, Yankee Gentleman has been represented by stakes winners Lady Grantham and Union Builder.
As a racehorse, Yankee Gentleman won 4 of 10 starts, earning $202,547 for owners Pam and Martin Wygod while trained by John Shirreffs. He is out of the Grade 1-winning Flying Paster mare Key Phrase, who is the grandam of graded stakes winners Half Ours and Khancord Kid. Key Phrase is a half-sister to Common Hope, who is the dam of champion Shared Belief and Grade 3 winner Little Miss Holly.
He excelled at the sprint distances, winning the six-furlong Pirate�s Bounty Handicap at Del Mar in 2003, and also won races at 6 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs, and 1 1/16 miles.
�He�s a very rapid, very speed-oriented horse, real Storm Cat-ish when you look at him,� Brinkman said. �He�s just kind of what his race record reflects. He�s got a ton of speed, but he�ll get you a foal with a lot more leg than what he is, and a lot more body, length-wise and size-wise. Depending on how you cross him and what you breed him back to, he�ll get you a big, solid foal if you cross him the right direction.�
Being a broodmare sire is still a fairly new for Yankee Gentleman, who has had 48 daughters produce a total of 93 foals. Among that group, 37 broodmares have produced 66 registered foals of racing age. Littleprincessemma is one of his four stakes producers.
Littleprincessemma�s first foal was two-time winner Xixixi, by Maimonides. She produced a full sister to American Pharoah in 2014, then was bred back to Pioneerof the Nile and sold to Summer Wind Farm for $2.1 million at last year�s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale. The mare delivered a colt named Irish Pharaoh on Feb. 13.
Yankee Gentleman�s daughter Harmony Creator, out of the Bertrando mare Lacquaria, is the dam of Architecture, a Dixie Chatter filly who is a three-time stakes winner at Hastings Racecourse.
Another daughter, Songs Say So Much, out of the Hay Halo mare Parting, is the dam of New Mexico stakes winner Humarumba, by Diabolical.