While times remained challenging for the Thoroughbred industry in 2011, Runnymede Farm is counting many blessings.
At the top of our list for the season is a filly named Sweet Cat, who became the second consecutive Runnymede-bred juvenile to place in the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, a remarkable accomplishment for a farm that maintains a broodmare band of less than 30.
We knew Sweet Cat, a daughter of Kitten’s Joy and our Carson City mare Claire’s Smile, was special—and so did five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who picked her out at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale for his own account at $95,000.
Carrying Pletcher’s silks, Sweet Cat won a maiden special weight race at Saratoga on September 1, giving jockey John Velazquez his 650th win at the track, second-highest in the historic racecourse’s history behind only Jerry Bailey.
Sweet Cat went on to finish second in the Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland and then a creditable third after being close to the pace the entire trip in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs. By then, Pletcher had sold the elegant bay to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, for whom she will continue to race while hopefully embellishing her resume.
Sweet Cat’s Breeders’ Cup effort followed a third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) by Runnymede-bred Rogue Romance, who is campaigned by farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay with trainer Kenny McPeek. Rogue Romance’s march to the 2011 classics was halted by a foot injury after he finished third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds, but we have great hopes the son of Smarty Jones will come back as a better-than-ever four-year-old this year.
We hold similar aspirations for Runnymede-bred Grade 1 winner Jaycito, who has been nominated to the $10-million Dubai World Cup (G1). Jaycito’s 2011 campaign also was hampered by nagging physical issues but he began 2012 with a series of bullet workouts for trainer Bob Baffert.
One of our most delightful experiences of 2011 was watching our three-year-old filly Bizzy Caroline develop into a talented and competitive stakes performer under the tutelage of McPeek. The daughter of Afleet Alex and our Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur won her first race in April at Keeneland as we were leaving Lexington to watch another Runnymede-bred, Laughing Lashes, compete in the English 1000 Guineas (G1).
Then in June, Bizzy Caroline trumped a nice field in the Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and earned a shot at Grade 1 company. Sent to Hollywood Park, where she was joined by a contingent representing the Clay family, Bizzy Caroline finished just a half-length behind dead-heat winners Nereid and Cambina in the American Oaks (G1).
After a wide trip in the Del Mar Oaks (G1), Bizzy Caroline returned to Kentucky and gave us two strong closing efforts to be second in both the Valley View Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill against top competition. When the season ended, she had earned $220,613 while running in the colors of Catesby Clay, who had that many more reasons to celebrate his 88th birthday.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Laughing Lashes—a Group 2 winner and Group 1-placed at two in 2010—battled to a third-place finish in the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) to gain a much valued classic credential for her young dam, our Unbridled’s Song mare Adventure. Then the imposing gray Mr. Greeley filly finished less than a length behind winner Blue Bunting when a game fourth at the demanding 1 ½ miles of the Irish Oaks (G1) even though jockey Fran Berry dropped his whipped during a crucial moment of the stretch battle.
Originally raced by a partnership formed by Ben McElroy, who bought Laughing Lashes from our 2009 Keeneland consignment for $100,000, and later by new owner Betty Moran, Laughing Lashes was trained by Jessica Harrington.
We had another good performer in Ireland in the form of juvenile filly Silver Sycamore, a daughter of Exchange Rate, who ran under a partnership between Catesby Clay and Chris Zinkhan, chief executive officer of The Forestland Group based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Also trained by Harrington, Silver Sycamore won a maiden race at Leopardstown in stylish fashion.
All our good news of 2011 did not come on the racetrack, however. We were very excited to raise and sell an outstanding colt by Big Brown out of our Coronado’s Quest mare Miss Forest City who became the highest-priced yearling for his dual classic-winning first-year sire when purchased by Amerman Racing for $310,000 at the Keeneland September sale.
Our photograph of the colt—who is a half brother to Silver Sycamore and from the prolific female family of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver, champion Rhythm, sire Mutakkdim and Grade 1 winners Bluegrass Cat and Frost Giant—was featured in the 2012 Three Chimneys Farm stallion brochure as a part of its promotion of Big Brown to breeders.
As with all the horses we raise, we hope this handsome colt, who is strong and correct with his sire’s willing nature and athletic physique, has a very bright future ahead of him.
Some of the many other promising yearlings we raised and sold include a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of our Kingmambo mare Alcina, who was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson for $400,000 at Keeneland. That handsome colt has been named Ruggiero, apparently after a knight in an Italian romantic epic, and we look forward to his adventures on the racetrack.
Another intriguing colt we raised, by Hat Trick out of our Street Cry mare Cotton Club Ballet, will be trained in France by Mikel Delzangles after being purchased by David Redvers Bloodstock for $140,000 at Keeneland. Hat Trick has made a smashing start to his stud career by siring 2011 leading European leading juvenile colt Dabirsim, and Delzangles has developed such luminaries as top European classic-winning miler Makfi and Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Dunaden.
Another promising yearling of 2011 is a filly by Proud Citizen out of our Olympio mare Romp and Stomp who was purchased for $100,000 at Keeneland by Barry Schwartz, co-founder and chairman of Calvin Klein Inc. The leggy chestnut filly is a half sister to Pinch Pie, who won the 2011 Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth before going on to finish third in the prestigious Alabama Stakes (G1) won by eventual champion filly Royal Delta at Saratoga.
In addition to racing and sales, we had a spectacular year on the farm due to the arrival of what we feel is our best crop of foals in history, and we will report more on them soon.
So, as 2012 unfolds, we have many memories from 2011 to cherish and much to look forward to, as we always do while winter frosts the fields. As we work with the newly turned yearlings and await the foals whose matings we planned with such care a year ago, hope is ever present that one will be the next champion to romp across the hills of Runnymede.