Each year, breeders map out their plan for which broodmare in their herd is to be covered by which stallion they have access to. Every mating carries with it the dreams of the breeder that the resulting foal will become a champion. The odds of such success are astronomical, but when the plan does come together, the rewards are truly epoch.
In 1988 William Farrish, the owner of Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, and William Kilroy decided to send their co-owned graded stakes winning daughter of Triple Crown winner Secretariat named Weekend Surprise to Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Seattle Slew was at that time in the middle of a very successful and influential career as a sire. The result of this mating would produce on March 31, 1989 a well built bay colt with a long blaze from the top of his forehead to flare around his left nostril, and a white sock on his right hind foot. This colt became the epitome of any breeder’s dreams.
The partners consigned the Weekend Surprise colt to the Keeneland July Select yearling sales the following year. His stunning good looks and his royal pedigree would make him the most desirable yearling in the sale. Added to the fact that Weekend Surprise was the dam of that year’s Preakness Stakes winner (Summer Squall), the bidding was brisk and the auctioneer’s hammer went down at the $2.9 million mark. The BBA Ireland bloodstock agency won the bidding contest on behalf of Japanese horse owner Tomonori Tsurumaki. The sale topping colt was named A.P. Indy, and sent to be conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.
Drysdale took his time with A.P. Indy, allowing him to grow into his solid frame and develop his muscle tone. A.P. Indy began his racing career with a fourth place finish at Del Mar. Discovered to have an undescended testicle, which was removed, he could now go on to train and race free from the pain. He could also still become a breeding stallion, which thankfully for the future of racing he would do so.
Pain free, A.P. Indy reeled off three successive wins as a two year old, taking the Hollywood Futurity in his last race that year. Pointed to the Kentucky Derby, A.P. Indy won the San Rafael Stakes and Santa Anita Derby to open his three year old campaign. However the fates would step in and A.P. Indy was scratched from the Derby due to a quarter crack in his left front hoof. The injury was not serious, but the timing dictated his withdrawal from the big race on the first Saturday in May.
Plan “B” now commenced with Drysdale getting his star ready for the Belmont Stakes, if all goes well with the acrylic treatment used to repair the cracked hoof injury. Three weeks after the Derby was the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont and A.P. Indy was deemed ready to resume his racing. He won the race, setting him up nicely for a start in the “Test of Champions”, the Belmont Stakes. His three quarter length win in the Belmont Stakes over My Memories and the Preakness winner Pine Bluff gave the royally bred A.P. Indy his classic victory to add to his resume.
A.P. Indy earned a rest and Drysdale prepared him for the upcoming fall championship series of races with the Breeder’s Cup Classic as the main target. His first start came at Woodbine in the Molson Export Million. This did not go well as he finished fifth to Canadian champion Benburb. His next start was better, but not with a winning result. In the Jockey Club Gold Cup he stumbled coming out of the gate, but found his footing to finish third behind Pleasant Tap and Strike The Gold. The poor start cost A.P. Indy a chance of victory. However his subsequent run in the race indicated that he still had the stuff to go to the Breeder’s Cup.
Gulfstream Park was the venue for the 1992 Breeder’s Cup. 45,415 patrons and millions of viewers on TV would witness A.P. Indy at his finest. The field was a strong one containing Pleasant Tap, Thunder Rumble, Defensive Play, Marquetry, Jolie’s Halo and European invader Jolypha. Thunder Rumble was sent out from the start and cut a very quick pace of 45 4/5 for the first half mile, to a 1:10 at the six furlong mark. He was constantly under pressure from Jolie’s Halo and Defensive Play. Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye kept A.P. Indy in a stalking position along the rail. A.P. Indy made his move off the inside mid-way through the far turn and then rolled on around the front runners to take command at the eighth pole. He powered down the home stretch to win the classic by three lengths over Pleasant Tap and Jolypha.
A.P. Indy was chosen as the Eclipse Award Horse of the Year, as well as the champion three year old colt for the 1992 season. The royally bred descendant of two Triple Crown winners achieved the expectations of his owners and breeders when he was sold as the highest priced yearling of his year. His owner however was in the midst of a major bankruptcy of his multi million dollar business. He forced to sell A.P. Indy. Farrish organised a syndicate to retire the champion and stand him at Lane’s End for the following breeding season.
A.P. Indy returned to his birth place to begin his enormously successful career as a sire. There were initial doubts toward his ability to become a successful sire due to his having only one testicle. He dispelled that fear in quick order. The introductory fee of $50,000 for his first year at stud would turn out to be a bargain.
A.P. Indy has founded his own sire line, which is a fifth generation branch from the fabled Nasrullah line, through Bold Ruler, Boldnesian, Bold Reasoning, and Seattle Slew to A.P. Indy. He has sired one-thousand one-hundred and eighty-five foals, of which one-hundred and fifty-seven are stakes winners, for a 13.5% strike rate. His final crop of foals is four years old this year so this percentage could rise still.
From the first crop of foals sired by A.P. Indy would come grade two stakes winner Pulpit. Unraced as a two year old, Pulpit won the first three races of his career beginning in January of his three year old season, taking the Fountain of Youth Stakes in the third race of his winning streak. He was second to Captain Bodgit in the Florida Derby but then reclaimed his winning ways in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Pulpit finished fourth to Silver Charm in the Kentucky Derby on an injured left hind leg, an injury that would retire him from racing.
Pulpit began his all too short but successful stud career at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where he had been born. He has sired G1 stakes winners Mr. Speaker, Corinthian, Stroll, Power Broker, Sky Mesa, Pyro, Purge, Rutherienne, Ice Box and Tapit. As well as being a sire of top class runners, Pulpit has emerged as a bona fide conduit to further the tail male line of A.P. Indy.
He has become a leading sire of sires in the tradition of A.P. Indy with his sons such as Sky Mesa, Essence Of Dubai, Stroll, Lucky Pulpit, Sightseeing, and last year’s leading sire Tapit. The Triple Crown races of 2014 were all won by grandsons of Pulpit, California Chrome (Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes) by Lucky Pulpit and Tonalist (Belmont Stakes) by Tapit.
Pulpit died at the age of eighteen on December 6, 2012 at Claiborne. There are many sons and daughters of Pulpit still active on the track, his final crop of foals are two years old this year, so there could be more stakes winners to add to his total of seventy-seven credited to him at the end of 2014.
Mineshaft was from the 1999 crop sired by A. P. Indy, and like Pulpit, Mineshaft was unraced as a two year old. Mineshaft won three races at three, none of which were stakes races. As a four year old he would blossom to become the winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Pimlico Special, the Suburban Handicap and the Woodward Stakes en-route to an Eclipse Horse of the Year Award. All told he won seven of nine races that year with two second place finishes.
As a sire Mineshaft has fathered a strong branch of continuation to the male line siring G1 winners Discreetly Mine, Its Tricky, Dialed In and Bond Holder. Other top stakes winners sired by Mineshaft are Cool Coal Man, Casino Drive, Coal Play and Fortune Pearl among his thirty-six stakes winners to date in his career. Mineshaft stands at Lane’s End where his pensioned sire is enjoying retirement.
Champion three year old colt Bernardini by A.P. Indy has had good early success at stud. Another son to be unraced as a two year old, Bernardini won the Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup as well as the Jim Dandy and the Withers Stakes in his championship season. The Darley bred stallion has sired G1 winners Stay Thirsty, Boban, Alpha, To Honor And Serve, Ruud Awakening, Go Indy Go, Biondetti, and A Z Warrior so far in his career standing at Darley America in Kentucky and shuttling to Darley Australia for the southern hemisphere breeding season. He has sired thirty-nine stakes in total.
A.P. Indy’s son Malibu Moon did race as a two year old. He won his maiden race in impressive fashion and then suffered a career ending injury in his second start. He was retired to stand stud in Maryland for the low price of $3,000. After his second crop, which included champion two year old Declan’s Moon, and G1 winner Malibu Mint came to the races, Malibu Moon was moved to Castleton Lyons Farm in Kentucky. His string of good stakes winning two year olds continued and he was subsequently graduated in 2008 to Spendthrift Farm. His stud fee has also been on the rise and is currently at $95,000 (live foal).
Malibu Moon has sired Orb (Kentucky Derby, Florida Derby), Life At Ten (Beldame Stakes, Ogden Phipps Handicap), Devil May Care (Mother Goose Stakes, CCA Oaks), Malibu Mint (Princess Rooney Handicap), Ask The Moon (Personal Ensign and Ruffian Invitationals), Malibu Prayer (Ruffian Invitational), Funny Moon (CCA Oaks), and Prospective (Grey Stakes, Victoria Park Stakes, Tampa Bay Derby). These are just some of the eighty-three stakes winners Malibu Moon has sired from his first eleven crops of foals. He has been in the top ten on the North American sire list five times, his best placing being third in 2010.
Hopeful Stakes winner Majestic Warrior is an up and coming son of A.P. Indy currently standing stud at Ashford Stud, a division of the giant Coolmore breeding conglomerate in Versailles Kentucky. He is the sire of multi G1 stakes winner Princess Of Sylmar (CCA Oaks, Alabama Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, Beldame Invitational), Best Warrior, Declan’s Warrior, and Shanon Nicole. Majestic Warrior has sired eleven stakes winners in both hemispheres as he shuttles between the Kentucky and Australian Coolmore breeding centres.
Other sons by A.P. Indy to sire G1 stakes winners are Jump Start, Flatter, Stephen Got Even, and Aptitude. Stephen Got Even (Donn Handicap), Aptitude (Jockey Club Gold Cup, Hollywood Gold Cup), Marchfield (Breeder’s Stakes, Nijinsky Stakes, Sky Classic Stakes), Eye Of The Leopard (Queen’s Plate), Take Charge Indy (Florida Derby) and Honor Code (Remsen Stakes, Gulfstream Handicap) are all major stakes winning sons sired by A.P. Indy.
The daughters of A.P. Indy are not to be forgotten, led by Eclipse Champion three year old filly Rags To Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in one-hundred and two years. She did the deed to the boys in 2007, and would add the Las Virgenes Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks to her win total during her championship year.
Tempera won the 2001 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies on her way to being named as the champion filly of her age. Tragically she would die from colitis X the following February. Love And Pride (Personal Ensign Stakes, Zenyatta Stakes), Dreaming Of Julia (Frizette Stakes, Gulfstream Oaks), Runup The Colors (Alabama Stakes), Catch The Thrill (Princess Elizabeth Stakes), Music Note (Beldame Stakes), and Serenading (Canadian champion older mare) are a few of the best racing daughters of A.P. Indy.
A.P. Indy was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in 2000. He had a record of eight wins, with one third place finish, from eleven starts. At full growth, A.P. Indy is 16.0 hands of exquisite conformation, a bright and expressive eye, and a swagger befitting of a king. He was retired from breeding in 2011 due to his declining fertility. He is an honoured and coddled pensioner at Lane’s End Farm, with his own life sized statue on the grounds. He receives many guests and admirers who want to see royalty up close and personal.
Neil Drysdale refers to A.P. Indy as “a complete Thoroughbred, an amazing racehorse and an amazing stallion”. He ran with his head down and stretched out when he was at full stride. He had tactical speed and a very strong closing kick with very good stamina. His intelligence, solid athletic body, and stout heart saw him through many wins and overcome obstacles along the way. That he became a leading sire and the ancestor of so many champions, and likely champions to come, puts a cherry on the cake to his accomplishments.
A.P. Indy has always been a leader. Leading yearling sales purchase, leading race horse on the track, leading sire in North America. He is a leader in siring top class sires and is emerging as a top broodmare sire, a list he may well become a year-end leader at some point before all is said and done.
Rarely does a horse born with a “silver bit” in his mouth become a champion on the track and then become a champion sire in the breeding game. A.P. Indy would turn his “silver bit” into a “gold bit” and establish one the current top tail male lines in the world today. Born a prince, to become a king, and rule with brilliance.
(Photo courtesy of Lane’s End Farm)