Monday, June 22, 2015

'An Undeniable Effort' in International Racehorse's Newest Issue

Please enjoy the newest issue of The International Racehorse Magazine. It includes my article, "An Undeniable Effort" which features Kentucky Derby and Belmont runner, Mubtaahij. You can find the article on Page 86. Many thanks to photographer Tom Ferry for the great images that accompany the feature!



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Royal Ascot 2015: Snow Sky Clear in the Hardwicke

Another Royal Ascot meet has drawn to a close.  Contenders new and old have captured triumph or have fallen to defeat.  Racing enthusiasts have discovered new young stars to follow from Royal Ascot’s juvenile contests and have savored the bold efforts from the sport’s veterans.  This year, racegoers witnessed Ryan Moore sweep nine wins – the most won by any jockey during the meet.  Fan favorite rider, Frankie Dettori, broke though the fifty win milestone. 

While Undrafted’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr-I) victory for America took center stage, the Hardwicke Stakes (Gr-II) should not be disregarded.  The field featured well-known names such as Red Cadeaux, Hillstar, Eagle Top, Postponed and defending champion Telescope.  However, it was the improving Snow Sky at 12-1 who would claim this contest.

Owned and bred by Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms, Snow Sky had won only once at two and twice at three.  During the 2014 season, he won a listed race and the Gordon Stakes (Gr-III).  Snow Sky also finished fourth in the King Edward VII Stakes (Gr-II) during last year’s Royal Ascot meeting, and later that season, he crossed the wire third in Kingston Hill’s St Leger Stakes (Gr-I). 

Prior to his Hardwicke win, Snow Sky had only started once in 2015.  The four year old was first to pass the final post in the Yorkshire Cup (Gr-II).  In this 1 ¾ mile event, he triumphed by ½ length over the respectable Brown Panther.

Though the forecast warned of rain, the concluding day of Royal Ascot was unaffected until the final race of the card, and the turf was rated as good to firm for the Hardwicke.  The Sir Michael Stoute trained Snow Sky ran an unconventional race.  Usually a come-from-behind horse, Snow Sky established the pace.  Despite this change in running style, the four-year-old was comfortable to lead the field through the 1 ½ mile journey under threatening skies.  With a light, elegant stride, the colt navigated the slopes and turns of Ascot Racecourse.

Coming out of the final turn, jockey Pat Smullen loosened the reins on Snow Sky, and his mount opened up on his rivals.  Under urging, he continued to draw away with a strong turn of foot in the final quarter mile.  Hitting the wire an authoritative 3 ¾ lengths ahead Eagle Top, he galloped out with verve.  His final time for the event was a good 2:31.51.

The Juddmonte racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, said, “I was chuffed to bits. He got into a great rhythm and then started to stretch them. The way he has won today I think it was a pretty exceptional performance.”

After enduring a tragic week, Stoute secured his first winner of the meet.  Three of his runners had been pulled up during the week, one ill-fated Stravagante suffering a fatal injury in the King Edward VII on Friday.  The trainer remarked, “Snow Sky is a very progressive horse and I was really impressed the way he settled it off the home turn. I thought he was going to be a Melbourne Cup horse so he's not entered in the King George, but we'll have to have a think now. He's won a few quid today.”

Piloting Snow Sky for the first time, Smullen commented, “The plan was to make it to the three pole and wind it up from there. I was worried he might get picked off by a horse with a turn of foot but I didn't realize I was on a horse that was so good himself.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Royal Ascot 2015: Ervedya Crowned in the Coronation


On the penultimate day of racing at Royal Ascot, the meet has not lost its opening spark and exhilaration. Among the most exciting victories was by His Highness the Aga Khan’s homebred Ervedya in the Coronation Stakes (Gr-I).

Likely one of the most talented three-year-old fillies this season, the Jean-Claude Rouget trainee has had a bright racing career. Ervedya suffered her only defeats in her last two starts at two. She was third in the Prix Morny (Gr-I), beaten only by a 1 ½ to The Wow Signal on very soft ground at Deauville. Then, the Siyouni daughter was second in the Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches (Gr-I). She fell 2 ½ lengths short to Found on good ground at Longchamp. It was her first start at a mile.

The bay filly is unbeaten in her three starts as a three-year-old. She made her 2015 debut in April’s Prix Imprudence (Gr-III). Running on the straight at the seven furlong distance on very soft ground at Maisons-Laffitte, she was first of thirteen by 1 ¾ lengths as the favorite.

One month later, she stepped back up to one mile in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Gr-I) at Longchamp. On good-to-soft grass, Ervedya went off as the favorite of fourteen. She conquered the field by ¾ lengths.

Ervedya added the Coronation Stakes to her record at Royal Ascot on day four. Facing the likes of Lucida and favored Found, the French raider broke quickly but was promptly pulled to the back by regular jockey Christophe Soumillon. Ervedya fought her rider’s restraint as she ran third to last in the nine horse field. However, she settled into her position far off the pace.

Coming around the turn, Soumillon opted to guide her through the field rather than taking a wide route. Ervedya did not respond to his command immediately, but gradually worked her way through her opponents. She came to the lead and battled to overcome the vanguard horses at the wire. She won by a neck over Found, while Lucida crossed the wire third. Ervedya’s final time for the one mile contest was 1:38.46, which is fast by the standard.

Following the race, Christophe Soumillon stated, “I was lucky to find a gap in the middle. I knew she maybe didn't handle the [course] so I didn't want to make a run on the outside and I knew that Aidan O'Brien's filly would be on top of her form as she was last year in Longchamp.

“When I saw [Found] in a good position I knew it was better to stay behind her and I think it's maybe why I won. I think if I had come on the outside I don't know if she would have quickened the way she did and stayed on. We didn't know if she would handle the track here but she did. She shows she can go on any ground, at any trip, on a straight track or a bend. She's perfect.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Royal Ascot 2015: Curvy is in Vogue


During today’s racing at Royal Ascot, top jockey Ryan Moore equaled the record of most wins by a rider in one meeting.  Achieving eight victories, he equaled the wins of Pat Eddery and Lester Piggott.  Of Moore’s eight winners, notably six have run in the Coolmore Stud colors.  One of Moore’s mounts that contributed to the win on the meet’s third day was Curvy in the Ribblesdale Stakes (Gr-II). 

The daughter of Galileo was purchased for 775,000 guineas as a yearling at Tattersalls, but, as a juvenile, Curvy was well-beaten in all three of her starts.  However, this Coolmore filly is undefeated at three in her four career starts.   She won her 2015 debut by three lengths over ten furlongs on a yielding course at Navan.  Then one month later on May 17, she won a handicap over the same course and distance, except this time the grass was rated as good.  She won by a half-length over Dragon Fei as the favorite.  In her penultimate race, she faced males in the Group III Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh.  Racing again at ten furlongs, Curvy won by a neck over Giovanni Canaletto in the seven horse field.

The David Wachman trainee made her next start in Royal Ascot’s Ribblesdale Stakes.  She jumped up to the twelve furlong distance for her most difficult challenge yet.  With Ryan Moore aboard for the first time, Curvy broke from post position three and strode eagerly into third.  Moore pulled the rank filly slightly further back into fourth around the bend, where she settled into a comfortable stride between horses.   

Into the stretch, the pace quickened and Moore navigated the filly to the inside.  However, lacking room, Curvy shoved into Pamona on the outside and impeded her chances.  Once clear, Curvy offered her best effort and drew off alongside the favored Irish 1000 Guineas (Gr-I) victress, Pleascach.  Her final time for this event was 2:30.04, the second fastest in the last decade.

Moore stated after the win, “Curvy will have to take her chance in Group 1 company. She got the mile and a half well and we'll see what the race throws up.”

Her trainer remarked, “They went no gallop and it was a messy race. A stronger gallop would have suited us but she's done well to win it the way it was run. Ryan gave her a good ride so it's happy days.”  Wachman continued, “I enjoy it, the trick to this place is to not bring too many, pick the right ones and then hope they're good enough.”  He commented on the promising filly's future, “She could possibly go for the Irish Oaks but she got a free entry in the Irish Derby when she won the Gallinule and that was the plan, here then the Irish Derby, but we'll have to see what the colts are doing.”

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Royal Ascot 2015: The Grey Gatsby Shines Across the Pond

The Grey Gatsby wins the 2014 Irish Champion Stakes - Photo courtesy Jason Doyle
 
 
 
What is an iron horse? Is there such a figure in existence today; a fighting spirit clothed in horse flesh? Such a horse would not need to win to prove that this valiant fire burns within. This warrior, faced with walls of challengers and imminent defeat, would show the willingness, capability, and heart to battle on and dare all odds. The iron horse is never weak – in victory and in defeat they show us their courage every time.

Though The Grey Gatsby was faced with defeat in Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Gr-I) at Royal Ascot, he showed the courage to overcome his circumstance and offer a valiant second place effort. He was defeated by less than a nose.

The Mastercraftsman son faced an intimidating field in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Gr-I). With Jamie Spencer on board, The Grey Gatsby would have to overcome the likes of Free Eagle, Western Hymn, Galileo Chop, and Ectcot. All contenders were primed for to take this prize, even the New Zealand-bred 20-1 shot Criterion and Japan’s Spielberg looked as if they could provide a challenge to the favorites. Unfortunately, America’s hero, California Chrome, was scratched due to a minor foot bruise sustained during training at Newmarket.

In the Prince of Wales’s, The Grey Gatsby broke on the rail and settled into fifth place between horses. He strode comfortably throughout the early stages of the race, and gradually moved away from the inside. However, around the final turn, he was in very tight corners between horses.
Into the stretch, jockey Jamie Spencer attempted to angle the four-year-old out for a final kick, but he could not find daylight. Under Spencer’s urging down the home straight, The Grey Gatsby responded boldly and fought Western Hymn to his outside for running room. In the final yards, the tenacious colt found an open path and shifted into high gear. The Grey Gatsby destroyed Free Eagle’s leading margin with a couple strides and reached his foe’s side. His final kick was too late – he was a short nose at the wire.

“Over the first two furlongs I thought they were going to go a gallop, but they sort of half pulled up.” The Grey Gatsby’s trainer, Kevin Ryan, said. “Jamie gave him a fantastic ride though. It was a fantastic race and he's back to his best.” He continued, “I knew we had him in great shape and I was confident he'd put up a good race. I'm not disappointed. People think I probably should be, but I'm not. I've got the horse back to his best and we look forward to more big races.”

A Great Record
 

 
The Grey Gatsby started seven times as a three-year-old, winning three times and placing second on two occasions. The Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes (Gr-III) was his first outing of 2014, and in this race, he was second beaten two lengths by Toormore. In all starts leading up to this race, he had been ridden by Graham Lee, but Jamie Spencer got the leg up in this outing. Less than two weeks after his tenth in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas, The Grey Gatsby won the 10 furlong Betfred Dante Stakes (Gr-II) by ¾ lengths with Ryan Moore aboard for the first time.
  
The Grey Gatsby first came to the world’s attention when winning the Prix du Jockey Club (Gr-I) by three lengths last spring. In the 11 furlong event, he was opposed by fifteen rivals and raced in midfield on the rail. Angling out into the stretch, he closed on the leaders with a ¼ mile to spare and led entering the final furlong. The Grey Gatsby drew away to win with a three length margin over Shamkiyr and a final time of 2:05.58.

Next time out, he was sixth-best in the Grand Prix de Paris (Gr-I) contested on very soft ground at Longchamp. Prior to that race, he had never been tested at the 12 furlong distance. However, The Grey Gatsby rebounded to offer a runner-up effort two lengths behind Australia in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Gr-I). 
 
In his following start, he turned the tables on Australia, winning by a neck in the Irish Champion Stakes (Gr-I). The seven horse field included a top class cast of horses such as Trading Leather, Mukhadram, and Al Kazeem. 
 
In the Irish Champion Stakes, jockey Ryan Moore kept The Grey Gatsby in the rear of the field throughout the early fractions. Having conserved ground and energy, The Grey Gatsby burst forward one furlong from the wire and pursued Australia, who was well in the lead with a strong drive. In the 1 ¼ mile contest, the nearly white colt tackled the favorite in a matter of strides and got his neck in front passing the final post. On good to firm ground, he completed the race in 2:03.18.

The Irish Champion Stakes was The Grey Gatsby’s final start as a three-year-old. He made his 2015 debut in the Dubai World Cup undercard’s prestigious Dubai Turf (Gr-I). In the nine furlong contest, he was easily defeated by Solow, but gave a respectable effort. The Grey Gatsby returned to Europe in the Curragh’s Tattersalls Gold Cup (Gr-I) over 10 ½ furlongs, and finished a solid fourth as the favorite in the six horse field, beaten a meager two lengths by Al Kazeem.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Royal Ascot 2015: Solow Soars in the Queen Anne


Solow gallops to the post in the Prix d’Ispahan - All photos courtesy Laura Battles
 
Ascot Racecourse was built by the order of Queen Anne.  The British royal matron had discovered a plot of land when traveling by carriage and thought it would be perfect as a horse racing venue.  On August 11, 1711, Ascot had its first race.  Over three hundred years later, Royal Ascot inaugurates every new meet with the Queen Anne Stakes (Gr-I) on the straight mile.
 In this year’s Queen Anne Stakes, Solow added himself to its prestigious list of winners.  Leading up to Royal Ascot, Solow’s trainer, Freddie Head, felt “very confident” about the horse’s chances.  He stated, “He’s very well, as well as he was in Dubai, and things couldn’t have gone better.  It’s a tough race but I’m very confident. There’s no doubting he’s a very good horse. He’s not met many good horses so we’ll find out how good he is."

As the favorite in the Queen Anne, he broke awkwardly from the closest to the rail.  However, he quickly settled into his regular stalking position.  He strode comfortably in third, tucked behind the pacesetter, Toormore.  
As the pace quickened, he angled out, but was hesitant to pass Toormore.  When he overwhelmed that foe, he fought off the impressive late surge of the only filly in the field, Esoterique, who carried three pounds less.  Under urging, he triumphed by an assertive one length with a final time of 1:37.97 for the straight mile.

Following the Royal Ascot opener, jockey Maxime Guyon exclaimed, “This is the boss! It is amazing. I think he is the best I've ridden and when you can win at Ascot it is amazing.”

Freddie Head added, "It is beautiful. He is so easy to train, he's the number one. I thought in the race they were always going pretty slowly and I was a bit worried."


FLYING SOLOW
 
Solow victorious in the Prix d’Ispahan

A five year old, Solow made his 2015 debut in a conditions race on Chantilly’s PolyTrack course.  Competing at eight furlongs, the grey gelding was ridden by Wertheimer and Frere’s newly retained jockey, Maxime Guyon for the first time.  Olivier Peslier had piloted Solow in all but one start prior to this event.  He was the favorite of the six horse field, and, as predicted, won by four lengths over King Air.

Just twenty-five days later, Solow took a large step up in class to the Dubai Turf (Gr-I), formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free, on the Dubai World Cup undercard.  However, the five-year-old was prepared since he had already won multiple Group contests.  In the ten horse field, all broke alertly and Solow strode into sixth or seventh on the backstretch.  Just off the pace on the outside, Guyon put his mount under slight restraint.

Coming around the turn, Guyon tucked Solow behind horses to save ground. Edging the colt back to the outside approaching the home straight, he gave the Singspiel son encouragement to make a bid for the lead.  Solow effortlessly reached over Meydan’s grass.  Within a few grand leaps, the long-strided grey was taking thelead.  He slowed his pace to pair with his final foe, but he passed easily when Guyon went to the whip.  Solow took command to draw off to win with a 4 ¼ length margin over the highly regarded The Grey Gatsby.  His final time for the nine furlong contest on good ground was 1:47.79.

Guyon remarked after thevictory, “He’s a very good horse and was very easy to ride. He won very easy tonight. It is my first Group 1 win in Dubai so I am very happy.”

Trainer Freddie Head commented, “He’s a great horse who is improving all the time,” said Head. “I knew he was very well. This was biggest test yet as he was running in his first Group 1 and he showed what a good horse he is.”  It was the French trainer’s first victory on the Dubai World Cup card.  He added, “He’s among the best I've ever trained for sure. It took a long time coming but now we have him 100%.”

Two months later, Solow returned to French racing in the Prix d’Ispahan on Longchamp’s good turf.  Running at 9 ½ furlongs, he was made the favorite in the betting over defending champion, Cirrus des Aigles.  Solow broke from the rail and settled into a relaxed, slow stride in third.  Throughout the early stages of the race, stages of the race, the four horse field created their own peleton.  

It was an uneventful contest.  The pace quickened as the horses neared the home straight, and Solow angled out as they entered the stretch.  Never whipped, he passed Cirrus des Aigles in second and then the leader.  Solow, under an easy hand ride, drew off with his natural stride.  His winning margin for this contest was 1 ½ lengths over Galileo Chop.  Solow’s most intimidating competition, Cirrus des Aigles, had finished last due to losing part of his shoe during the race.

Following the race, Head commented, “He's a very good horse and it's mad to have a horse who is so adaptable, who goes on any ground and who always runs his race. He's won making all and being held up.”  He continued, “He has such a long stride and he has the ability to maintain a gallop at 1,600 meters pace and then to accelerate."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Yeats the Great

As Royal Ascot quickly approaches, there is the excitement of seeing world-class Thoroughbreds clash.  Racing fans anticipate the week-long meet, with contenders novice and veteran ready to become a part of history.  One cannot help but to reflect upon Royal Ascot's past heroes.  One of the most memorable in recent years is four-time Ascot Gold Cup victor, Yeats.


This article was originally published on Bits N' Bunny, Friday, June 15, 2012
 
The quest for perfection is the most intimidating endeavor on this planet.  In this gallant attempt at racing immortality, a horse can set our hearts ablaze with hope, ardor, and the greatest of joy.  Many horses’ pursuits will eventually come to a poignant end, forever an unfortunate nose away from an unblemished record. 

There is no word in the dictionary more daunting than perfection.  Day after day, year after year, we optimistically send our horses on a mission to define this word – to retire to the pristine pastures of our breeding farms unbeaten.

The sport’s greatest athletes reached for a perfect record, but all retired in defeat.  Man O’ War was essentially peerless in his time, losing only one start due to an unfortunate trip.  Native Dancer retired with a record of twenty-two starts, and twenty-one wins.  His only loss came in the 1953 Kentucky Derby for similar reasons that the original Big Red lost the Sanford.  Nijinsky nearly achieved a flawless record during his two year career.  1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew maintained a perfect record through the Triple Crown, but faced several defeats later in his career.  Zenyatta, the queen of modern-day racing, nearly captured perfection when she lost the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic to Claiborne Farm’s Blame by a nose.

Yeats attained a certain level of perfection.  Named for the Irish artist, Jack Butler Yeats, he maintained a winning streak which no horse has rivaled and showed relentless consistency throughout his extensive campaign.  Although speed is the soup du jour of current-day racing, it is the marathoners such as Yeats that symbolize the Thoroughbred breed.  Yeats is a blast from the past; reminiscent of the sport’s first great athletes. 

Yeats’ aristocratic tale of glory began in the Irish countryside, poetically nicknamed the Emerald Isle for its lush landscape.  He is the son of noble heritage, being by the great stallion Sadler’s Wells, and out of the consistent producer, Lyndonville.  He is a result of the same sire/broodmare sire cross that gave us the late outstanding sire, Montjeu.    Foaled in April of 2001, Yeats was nurtured at David and Diane Nagle’s Barronstown Stud.  Yeats stood out as a dignified individual even as a youngster and David Nagle was hesitant to sell to Sue Magnier of the famed Coolmore Stud.  However, Diane Nagle wisely retained a piece of Yeats and was listed as his co-owner.

THE PROUD GALLOPER*:

He became a four length winner at first asking in his lone start as a juvenile and went unvanquished at three.  Yeats won a Group II and Group III event during his three year old career and was established as the favorite for the Epsom Derby.  Unfortunately, he suffered an injury three days prior to this English classic and was consequently withdrawn.  In the latter of his two starts as a three year old, he defeated two others in the Ballysax Stakes by ten lengths. 

Yeats was said to have some issues arise in the spring of his four year old season, but raced five times throughout the year.  Cairdeas served Yeats his first loss in the Mooresbridge Stakes, which was his first start at four.  He then went on to win his first Group I event in Epsom’s Coronation Cup.  In a solid pacemaking effort, Yeats accomplished a series of firsts, becoming the first Irish-based horse to win the race since 1973 Coronation Cup victor Roberto.  Yeats also handed Aidan O’Brien his first of five Coronation Cup triumphs.

Jack Butler Yeats’ brother and famed poet, William Butler Yeats, once wrote a poem titled: “Men Improve with the Years”.   Most people declare unbeaten favorites for the Epsom Derby are at their best as three year olds.  However, it is unanimously agreed across the globe that Yeats aged like fine wine, reaching his full potential as an older horse.

In June of his five year old season, Yeats made his debut at Royal Ascot in the Gold Cup.  He settled into fourth place for the early portions of the race, but began to quicken under Kieren Fallon three furlongs out from the wire.  He attained the lead with a quarter mile left to run and drew away to win by a decisive four lengths.  Yeats once again showed his unbelievable stamina over the 2 ½ mile distance with a time of 4:20.45 – which was 0.55 seconds faster than the course record.  This effort was proceeded by a course record-setting triumph of the two mile Goodwood Cup.  Yeats won by five lengths in commanding fashion, becoming the first in eleven years to win not only the Ascot Gold Cup, but also the Goodwood Cup.

His connections made the astute decision to continue racing the accomplished Yeats at the ripe age of six. In return, he bestowed Aidan O’Brien with his first Irish St. Leger victory and joined the small group of elite athletes that have two Ascot Gold Cups to their credit.

In 2008, Yeats picked up his racing career for Coolmore and Ballydoyle.  He carried on the legacy of his incredible sire, Sadler’s Wells, who was retired from stud duties that year.  Yeats won the Ascot Gold Cup in a five length procession against Geordieland, who he had defeated by the same margin in the Goodwood Cup as a five year old.  “I don’t know what we could have done to beat him – except maybe tying his legs together.” Stated Shane Kelly, the rider of Geordieland, who had finished 1 ½ lengths behind the dominant Yeats in the previous renewal of the Gold Cup.

Described to be a “happy horse” by O’Brien, Yeats stood on the threshold of impossibility at the start of his eight year old campaign.  Only he and the remarkable French stayer, Sagaro, had captured three Gold Cup triumphs in the race’s 205 year history, while none had four wins on their résumé.  Yeats possessed downright greatness, and if there was ever a horse that could take the race for four consecutive years, it would be him.

No doubt Vincent O’Brien, the winner of 25 races at Royal Ascot, was on the minds of many as Yeats approached the gates at Ascot as the last to load for the Gold Cup.  Just over two weeks prior to the 2009 Ascot Gold Cup, the horse racing world was devastated by the death of Vincent O’Brien, who built Ballydoyle and was influential in the creation of Coolmore Stud.  A man of legendary brilliance, Vincent O’Brien passed at the age of 92 years and will always be considered one of the best – if not the best – trainer in the history of the sport.  His extreme success was rooted in his love for the horses and his constant goal to improve upon their care and well-being.  His career cannot be justly summarized in a simple paragraph or even a few pages, but it must be mentioned that Vincent O’Brien’s impact on racing will forever be felt through the way he revolutionized the sport and through the presence of Coolmore. 

Proudly carrying the torch for Coolmore and Ballydoyle, Yeats stood squarely in the gates, prepared to stand alone in the record books as the only four-time victor of the Ascot Gold Cup. His arresting build advocated for his natural ability and top conditioning, but as he waited for the break, the race was left in the hands of fate and jockey Johnny Murtagh.  

He got away from the start cleanly and settled into second easily on the grandstand side.  The field was closely-knit into the first turn, where Yeats would contest for third behind an ambitious pacemaker and a Godolphin rival.  As the field progressed, Yeats and Murtagh maintained fourth place only two paths wide. 

Murtagh directed Yeats three paths from the rail as the pace began to quicken.  Yeats effortlessly took third place and came onto the leaders with a dominant rush.  Around the final turn, Yeats overtook the leader so quickly that it should be considered theft.  Though Patkai distantly trailed in a formidable effort, Yeats drew away from his opponents with unimaginable command.   Yeats was indisputably the champion of the day, cruising under the wire with perfection in hand.

THE MAKING OF A CHAMPION:

Yeats introduced me to European racing in the 2009 Gold Cup.  The Royal Ascot meeting, plastered in English tradition, served as the ideal backdrop for Yeats’ beauty.  Perhaps the painter for whom Yeats was named would have been inspired by this fabulous spectacle.

Through the television, I could tell Yeats was an extraordinary specimen.  He has been gifted with elite physicality not only externally, but also internally.  Yeats possesses overall sound conformation with a strong shoulder at the ideal angle for a distance horse.  Additionally, his assets include powerful hindquarters to propel him down the track.  His cannon bones and joints exhibit vital durability and his pasterns are at a textbook length and angle, allowing for sufficient shock absorption.

Yeats ranks as one of my favorite young sires due to not just his talent and external build, but also his internal efficiency that played a massive role in his success on the racetrack.  The respiratory and circulatory systems are essential to any horse’s success, as they are entwined with the horse’s overall proficiency.

Many have claimed their top racehorse has a great heart, meaning their horse has determination and other similar traits that make an exceptional athlete.  However, this takes on a literal meaning with Yeats.  Aidan O’Brien couldn’t have explained Yeats’ tremendous heart better when he stated, “We have never had a horse with as big a pair of lungs, as big a heart.  These are physical things, and not things you believe in.”  O’Brien, who regularly measures his horses’ heart rates, also said, “With most horses when you get up to a mile and a half, they are coming to an end, but this fellow is just getting up to 180 beats (per minute), which is unbelievable.”   The fact that his heart rate is at a comfortable 180 bpm when most horses’ heart rates hover around 230 bpm is utterly fascinating and undoubtedly contributes to why he can quicken so remarkably in the homestretch.  Quite obviously, his lung capacity is equally tremendous because horses must inspire about 10,000 liters of air while running the Gold Cup.  To put this enormous number into perspective, it takes humans an entire day to consume this amount of air.  Harkening back to his external conformation, Yeats has a sizeable head with nostrils capable of sufficient dilation, making it easier for him to inspire a greater volume of air.

Yeats garners an abundant worth as a stallion active in the breeding shed.  Speed attracts all the attention in this current day and age.  Any gifted horse must possess a great deal of speed to prosper.  However, it is equally important for the breed to preserve stamina.  Centuries ago in the “Stone Age” of the Thoroughbred, breeders imported the Middle Eastern foundation sires to breed to their mares with the hopes that the result would be a horse with staying power.

In this time when beauty is a massive selling point at auctions, it is vital for breeders and buyers to consider internal conformation in addition to the horse’s external appearance.  It is essential for breeders to preserve the internal soundness of the Thoroughbred rather than simply breeding for what is currently fashionable on the market.

Having timeless qualities able to outlast any trend, Yeats is the ‘little black dress’ of Thoroughbred breeding.  Yeats’ stamina, class, and internal build make him a shining opportunity for breeders.  He has the potential to stand amongst the top sires on a global stage due to his solid foundation and proven ability.  Yeats is easily the horse that most-fittingly defines “The Iron Horse”.  He embodies all that owners and breeders strive for in their racehorses: durability, consistency, beauty, and of course, the God-given gift of sheer ability.