The URC will hold a 10th anniversary stakes this weekend for unraced two year olds in New York to be contested at 8.5 furlongs on the dirt. It is an impressive achievement to last a decade doing anything, and the URC has risen through the ranks of SIM residencies and is now one of the premiere racing conglomerates in the SIM. Thirteen maidens will vie to both get their initial win and a stakes win (quite an exacta!) and, since there is no race record to study I will instead muse a bit about the pedigrees of the colts and fillies entering the starting gate.
Santa’s Snow - Keen Ice x Cat Thief x Unbridled’s Song (derekcarlson). Freshman sire Keen Ice has a shot to pick up his first stakes winner here. For a horse who took a while to get good on the track, Keen Ice has shown some surprising precocity in the SIM siring 44.4% winners thus far, an extremely good number for a stallion who did his best running longer. Santa’s Snow is the first runner from the stakes winning mare Stole Indy’s Song. She was a Christmas gift in the recent URC Secret Santa. Stole Indy’s Song was best at 8-8.5 so that, combined with Keen Ice who should be able to get milers and she has a chance (I mean every horse has a chance in this race since none of them has ever raced before so I’m not going to say that the next twelve times, every horse can win here).
Ryans Stormy - Oxbow x Cozzene x Storm Cat (alien). I get intrigued any time that I see the mighty Storm Cat in a pedigree. Maybe a bit forgotten, Oxbow, with only 53 breedings this year, has achieved a 49% win rate. Quietly a fantastic start to his 2018 crop. Ryan is the fifth runner of the mare Stormzene who was winless on the dirt in 3 starts. No stakes runners from her offspring as of yet, though Oxbow will be the best stallion she has been paired with.
Eskano Ridge - Eskendereya x Awesome Again x A.P. Indy (denovo). Eskendereya I forgot all about you! Sent to Japan, the scratched Derby favorite and son of Giant’s Causeway (plenty on him in a bit) is over 50% on winners this year. He is an inconsistent sire in the SIM. He was 47th in 2014, fell to 85th in 2015, rose back up to 65th in 2016 then fell off the map to 145th in 2017. He hasn’t had a stakes winner in his last two crops so Eskano can snap a long black type shut out here. Is Eskendereya getting worse mares now than he did in 2014? Eskano is from the mare Another Awesome who had 1 win in 28 starts. She was initially bred to Curlin without much success, Curlin Around was 4 for 42. Eskano might be the last chance for Another Awesome before she gets tagged with the dreaded “hidden” tag.
The Pornstar Way - Giant’s Causeway x Awesome Again x Mr. Prospector (pornstar). And here we have the first of four Giant’s Causeways! Don’t worry you can mock me as well since one of those four is mine. Now with 322 runners this year (and 315 last year) Giant’s Causeway has shattered the barrier of suspended disbelief and now exists in the SIM as some sort of space opera unicorn. From the mare I’m so Awesome, whose blue blood pedigree (AA x Mr. Prospector x Alydar) hasn’t translated into performance as of yet. She was 2-22 on the track and has two claimers from her three previous runners (paired with Violence and Into Mischief). Will Giant’s Causeway turn things around?
Lana’Thel - Giant’s Causeway x Cape Cross x Awesome Again (me). Kudos to Awesome Again who has shown up in the pedigree of three straight runners (more on him later). So look, I really didn’t want to breed a GC, but I have been having terrible luck with Cape Cross mares. I had two stakes winning Cape Crosses to breed, one a dirt runner, one a turf runner. After pouring over my own failures with Cape Cross I went to YOSS and deduced that the best two sires to use with him in the SIM are Dubawi and Giant’s Causeway. So I sent the turfy Cape Cross to Dubawi and got an 87 SP debut winner. Well I pretty much had to follow up and use GC with the dirt one then. I figured it would be good to use for this contest because if I got a colt, well cool should have a decent shot here and if I got a filly, well, whatever I still have a great pedigree GC filly to breed to right? And so Lana’Thel was born from the he-mare Molten Strike. He was a stakes winner who totaled 10 wins and $422K in earnings. He also is a second generation stakes winner being a son of my stakes winning mare Buffy the Chosen. My favorite thing in the SIM is to get a three generation stakes winner and Lana’Thel has that opportunity.
Deep Song - Mineshaft x Unbridled’s Song x Awesome Again(!) (robd). Deep Song is a scratch bred so there goes my mare breakdown. How to stretch this out….hmmm…can I use a few more word breaks…..He does break up the string of Giant’s Causeways (another coming up) but not the surprising string of Awesome Agains. Mineshaft remains popular in the SIM with over 100 runners. He has two stakes runners so his downgrade doesn’t seem to have effected the high end horses of his though his overall win rate has dropped to 39% in his 2018 crop. This is a good representation of Mineshaft in real life and I continue to say he is one of the most correctly rated stallions in the game. A boom or bust type and well worth using for a shot here.
Giant King - Giant’s Causeway x Kingmambo x Gone West (puffqueen). A scratch bred with a double dose of Mr. P in the female family. I probably would have gone with Seattle Slew as the DDS here if going for a dirt horse or a son of ND as the DDS if going for a turf horse. Which means the double Mr. P will work and Giant King will run the best of the quartet of Giant’s Causeway’s in this race. A very expensive horse that you want to see debut well.
Christiansen - Awesome Again x Seattle Slew x Northern Dancer (alibilane). Speaking of expensive horses…Another blue blood scratch bred which certainly speaks to the competitive zeal of the URC members as everyone vies to take home this trophy. Is Awesome Again trying to steal this race from Giant’s Causeway? I think so! Already showing up in the female family of four runners this is the first of two Awesome Again sired runners. Almost half the entrants contain Awesome Again in one of the three primary pedigree slots. What do you think about that? We are all a bunch of copy cats I guess. (How did I end up with both of them in my horse! I’ll proceed to go jump in front of a train now). This is a classic American pedigree and should yield a fine runner with a high ceiling.
Cruisin Around - Awesome Again x Tapit x Storm Cat (phantom). If Christiansen is a classic pedigree in the way say Apocalypse Now is a classic movie than Cruisin Around is the epitome of the new classic American pedigree – think more Pulp Fiction or Almost Famous. Tapit and Storm Cat will be showing up in a ton of pedigrees the next twenty years and they merge together here. Cruisin is the first runner from the G1 winning mare Cruisey Cat who herself is out of the HoF (broodmare) mare Magpies Cat. Cruisey Cat was a dedicated sprinter, best at 6 furlongs, so Awesome Again will be asked increase the stamina of the bloodline here. A serious heavyweight breeding.
Frosty Charlie - Frosted x Miswaki x Indian Charlie (jms). Scratch bred Frosted son. When you look at the sires used in this race, and Mineshaft has the lowest win rate, you know it is a stacked event. Frosted is winning at a 48% clip this season producing a steady stream of promising runners. I like the inclusion of Indian Charlie here, it is something you don’t see a gazillion times and could prove to be successful.
Cause You Didn’t - Giant’s Causeway x Ghostzapper x Unbridled’s Song (gracie or music). Our last Giant’s Causeway in the event and the third colt. Yes, I may lose this weekend but I got the filly muahahaha. Silver linings playbook view anyway. Cause is out of the mare No You Didn’t who is only four years old so as you would suspect this was her first breeding. Those paying attention will also note that Ghostzapper is a son of Awesome Again. So I may go back and re-title this article the URC 10th Anniversary Birthday Stakes sponsored by Awesome Again. Interestingly No You Didn’t was a long router most comfortable in the 10-11 furlong range and she didn’t win on the dirt in seven tries despite having a predominate dirt pedigree (Seeking the Gold is her DDS). Horses like that really vex me.
Fionia Bad Ass - Pleasantly Perfect x Gone West x Broad Brush (kimsons). A scratch bred filly. So I have a great Pleasantly Perfect story. I saw him at Lane’s End the first year he was at stud. When stallions first go to stud they are still extremely spirited. Pleasantly Perfect was this giant muscular 10 furlong horse on the track and when you see him often on TV you kind of expect him to be all granite and war horse like. Instead he was as playful as a young cat. He would push his head over the paddock fence and twist it sideways snorting at me, then he would take off running at a full sprint like he was trying to get the lead going into the turn. It had rained the night before so his paddock was muddy and as he went to turn around and come back to me he wiped out and fell into the mud. He layed there for a few seconds then jumped up slightly embarrassed and tried to pretend that nothing had happened. It was like something you would see a toddler do. One of the best stallion interactions I ever had. Extra points for this filly if she is named after Shameless Fiona.
Hockey Zapper - Ghostzapper x Distorted Humor x Unbridled’s Song (pboy). One of the fun things about breeding a Ghostzapper is the chance to use zapper in the name and let’s face it, zapper is fun to use. My favorite show of 2018 was the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and I named a Ghostzapper Sabrina Spellzaper (had to cut off a P due to length). Hockey Zapper is out of the mare Hockey Humor. She too is a four year old bred for the first time. She had 1 win in 20 starts so it will be up to Ghostzapper to raise the ability of the bloodline. He is having a great 2018 with a 50% win rate and 5 stakes winners in his two year old class.
If you have stayed with me this long, and we are nearing 2000 words which is quite the time investment, then you might as well tune into the race and see who triumphs in this contest of maidens. I anticipate the time being brisk, it will likely take a 91 or so to win this race when you consider all the sire power in the gate. Good luck to all runners both on Saturday in their careers as 2019 unfolds before them. Maybe a star will be born Saturday. Thirteen trainers are certainly hoping it is there runner who will go into the New Year with a swagger, bragging rights and a dreams of more black type triumphs ahead.