Excerpted from TDN
By Chris McGrath
After our exhaustive survey of Bluegrass stallions, good manners demand at least a browse through the alternatives available elsewhere in North America. But this must be a very different exercise, and a pretty unsatisfactory one too. The Kentucky market is entirely coherent, with hundreds of stallions clustered within a few miles of each other at fees to suit all budgets. Regional stallions, in contrast, serve regional mares. If you’re in Ohio, you’re not going to van a mare down to Too Much Bling (Rubiano). If you’re in Texas, equally, you don’t need telling that you can’t have too much of that guy.
Each regional market is organic, and value must be judged accordingly. Is your state program sustained by slots, for instance? Are you splitting a fee between 10 buddies from the bowling alley at a couple of hundred bucks apiece? Or are you trying to beat the Bluegrass at its own game–to breed another Chrome in California; or launch another Malibu Moon in Maryland, another Mr. Prospector in Florida?
So this is just a cursory cross-section picked from some (but by no means all) of the principal regions. They’re at various stages of their careers, at different fee tiers, and have only one thing in common: the potential–in a single, highly subjective opinion–to punch above their fees.
COUNTRY DAY (Speightstown–Hidden Assets, by Mt. Livermore), Peach Lane Farms, $2,500
Having been reduced to just four mares in his sixth season, last year Country Day was moved from Kentucky to make a fresh start in the Pelican State. How apt, then, that at Fair Grounds on New Year’s Day, his daughter Break Even launched her flamboyant spree of six straight wins, highlighted on Oaks day at Churchill by the GII Eight Belles S.
It had been on the equivalent card the previous year that a member of Country Day’s debut crop, Will Call, had become his first graded stakes winner. He went on to run fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint–the race in which Country Day himself had enjoyed his finest hour, when second in the 2011 running. Only a few days ago, moreover, Will Call’s sister, Play On, landed her third black-type success; and their sire’s overall record now stands at 59 winners from 78 starters.
You have to look past Country Day’s relatively modest track career to account for a runner as freakish as Break Even, albeit his versatility in terms of surface was replicated when she switched to turf to run away with a Saratoga stake last summer. You very seldom see a horse clock such wild fractions with such a contained, relaxed air. The most striking thing about Country Day’s pedigree is that the bottom line so closely mirrors that of Giant’s Causeway; and, farther back, it traces to the Calumet foundation mare Blue Delight, through one of her three GI Kentucky Oaks winners. His dam, meanwhile, was a graded stakes winner who has produced four stakes scorers besides Country Day.
So it all makes sense, quite apart from the emergence of Munnings and others to advertise Speightstown as a sire of sires. Country Day, remember, produced Break Even from the most unpromising material: under the first two dams, there is otherwise a solitary black-type third at Canterbury Downs. And nor has he been a one-trick pony.
Country Day was welcomed to his new home only by a couple of dozen mares, but that surely has to change. It’s not hard, after all, to break even at this kind of money–and you might yet get a Break Even of your own.