Court Vision: further boost to sire's versatility
COURT VISION 5 h Gulch - Weekend Storm (Storm Bird)
DISQUALIFICATIONS at the top level are luckily a rare occurrence but when Take The Points crossed the line one-and-a-half lengths in front of Court Vision in Saturday's Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, there was always a chance that his final furlong veer off the rail, which caused the fifth-placed Yate's Black Cat to stumble, would not be seen in a kind light by the stewards.
They duly demoted him to fifth, thereby robbing Take The Points of a second Grade 1 following his score in last season's Secretariat Stakes. The colt's owner, Starlight Partners, and trainer Todd Pletcher, are consideringan appeal but regardless of whether they are successful, there should be more opportunities for the four-year-old to ensure the continued ascent of his young sire, Even The Score.
The son of Unbridled's Song started out in 2005 at Millennium Farms in Kentucky at a fee of $8,500 and after siring four stakes winners in his first crop of 77 foals, commands $15,000 in 2010.
For the time being though, Take The Points' loss is the gain of Court Vision, whose Grade 1 tally has grown to three as a result.
Since he won his maiden in October 2007, Court Vision has rarely been out of the headlines, whether it be as a legitimate Kentucky Derby candidate or leader among his peers on turf.
His maiden win on Polytrack at Keeneland was followed by a pair of stakes scores on dirt, including the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes which he achieved despite being blocked in the stretch.
During that winter, WinStar Farm sold a share in the horse toIEAH Stables and over the next four months, trainer Bill Mott let Court Vision loose on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Placings in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes offered hope of a decent showing at ChurchillDowns, but when he could only run 13th to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby, a switch to turf swiftly followed.
Court Vision rebounded to take the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap and Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, and then the 2009 Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on his first start for Richard Dutrow. The five-year-old has also been twice further placed at Grade 1 level including in last year's Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, when he was beaten by Kip Deville, ironically a son of Court Vision's brother Kipling.
When the time comes for Court Vision to go to stud, he should receive plenty of support, not only because he is a grandson of Weekend Surprise - dam of A P Indy and Summer Squall - but also because the stud career of Kipling hasexceeded the expectations of even the most vociferous of supporters.
Kipling, who like Court Vision is a rig, never won above allowance level in 28 starts but due to his illustrious breeding and $1.4 million price-tag as a Saratoga yearling, was afforded a chance at stud at Tooth-Acre Farms in Oklahoma.
His first crop, conceived at a fee of $1,500, numbered just 27 but they came to include Breeders' Cup Turf winner Kip Deville, whose emergence prompted Robert Clay's Three Chimneys Farm to take a share and switch him to Crestwood Farm in Kentucky for 2008. It was the first time ever that a stallion had moved from Oklahoma, where the annual foal crop numbers approximately 800, to Kentucky.
Gulch's record in siring high-class runners has been consistently strong throughout his stud career, which came to an end last season at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky due to declining fertility.
It would have been hard to know what to expect from a horse who won a Breeders' Cup Sprint a year after running third in the Belmont Stakes over 1m4f. But even though Gulch was evidently more effective over less than 1m, he was talented and versatile enough to run with credit wherever he was pitched; he was forward enough to win four stakes races at two including a pair of Grade 1s before training on to defeat Gone West in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial over 1m1f and Broad Brush in the 1m Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, a race which he won again as a four-year-old under top weight.
In all, the son of Mr Prospector won or was placed in 16 Grade 1 races ranging from 6f to 1m4f.
Gulch has been similarly diverse during his stud career, siring Grade 1 winners all over the world, including two-year-olds and older horses, on turf and dirt and over distances ranging from 6f to 1m4f.
Gulch's ability to sire high-class horses came to the fore when his second crop contained Grade 1-winning two-year-old Great Navigator and Super Derby winner Wallenda. A Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner in Thunder Gulch followed in his fourth, the same year that he shot to prominence in Europe as the sire of Sheikh Hamdan's 1,000 Guineas heroine Harayir.
Consequently, Shadwell went on to provide him with several of their best mares, most notably Height Of Fashion. The resulting progeny was multiple Group 1 winner Nayef, who is now a successful young sire.
Court Vision is another example of Gulch's affinity with Storm Bird, a cross which has produced four Graded stakes winners led by Thunder Gulch. More interestingly, three of those horses, including Court Vision, were produced out of a mare bred on the Storm Bird - Secretariat cross, itself famed for producing Storm Cat among others.
Gulch also sired Grade 2 winner Esteemed Friend out of a mare by Gay Mecene, who appears under Court Vision's fourth dam, Gay Missile.
No fewer than 40 stakes winners descend from Gay Missile, a Grade 3-winning half-sister to Raja Baba and Sauceboat who was a granddaughter of the Aga Khan's 1941 Irish Oaks winner Uvira.
Court Vision's branch of the family has flourished in recent years, primarily due to Lassie Dear, whose descendants include Duke Of Marmalade and Lemon Drop Kid. Her Grade 1-placed daughter, Weekend Surprise, who was inbred 2x4 to Secretariat's dam Somethingroyal, has been equally influential, breeding US Horse of the Year and champion sire A P Indy as well as the Preakness Stakes winner Summer Squall.
The latter overcame limited opportunities to become a high-class sire as did his Danzig Grade 3-placed half-brother Honor Grades.
Weekend Storm never reached the track but that hasn't stopped her from playing a vital part in adding further lustre to the family. Court Vision is the best of six stakes runners out of the mare, a tally which could improve when his yearling brother goes into training next year. Sadly however, the youngster is her final foal as she died following foaling last year.
Bred by W. S. Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership in Kentucky.
$180,000 Keeneland September yearling by Whitehorse Stables, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2yo by Las Olas Racing.
COURT VISION b c 27-03-2005
Bred by Peter M. Brant in Kentucky. Won 13 (5f-1m1f) of 32 races, viz. 5 (inc. Hopeful S. - G1), Futurity S. - G1, Saratoga Special S. - G2, Tremont S - G3) out of 7 at 2 years, 3 (Wood Memorial - G1, Metropolitan H'cap - G1, Bay Shore S - G2) out of 3 at 3 years and 5 (inc. Breeders' Cup Sprint - G1, Metropolitan H'cap - G1, Carter H'cap - G1 and Potero Grande H'cap - G3). Also 2nd Norfolk S- G1, Woodward S - G1, Whitney H'cap - G1, Californian S - G1, Whitney H'cap - G1 and Vosburgh S - G1 and 3rd Belmont S - G1, Oaklawn H'cap - G1 and Philip H. Iselin H'cap - G1. Champion US sprinter at 4.
16.0h, strong, compact, good-looking individual. Top-class, precocious and tough dirt runner, also highly adaptable as effective at G1-level from 6f to 1m4f.
Well-bred. By a very fast dirt runner, later an exceptional sire, and sireof sires in US and Europe. Half-brother to a minor winner, out of a 27-time winner including three Grade 1 races.
Retired following 2009 season after 21 seasons at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky, latterly at a fee of $20,000. Sire of 19 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Thunder Gulch (Kentucky Derby - G1, Belmont S - G1), Nayef (Juddmonte Int'l - Gr1, Prince of Wales' S - Gr1, Champion S - Gr1, Dubai Sheema Classic - Gr1), Harayir (1,000 Guineas - Gr1), Eagle Café (Japan Cup Dirt - Gr1, NHK Mile - Gr1), The Cliff's Edge (Blue Grass S - G1), Wallenda (Super Derby - G1), Great Navigator (Hopeful S - G1), Torrential (Prix Jean Prat - Gr1) etc.
DAM: Weekend Storm
Bred by W. S. Farish and W. S. Kilroy in Kentucky. Unraced.
Very well-bred. By a champion two-year-old and later leading sire, also a leading broodmare sire. Sister to Preakness S - G1 and Hopeful S - G1 winner Summer Squall, also a high-class sire. Half-sister to eight winners including US Horse of the Year and champion sire A P Indy (by Seattle Slew), G3 winner Welcome Surprise (by Seeking The Gold), Listed winner and sire Eavesdropper (by Kingmambo), G3-placed and high-class sire Honor Grades (by Danzig), G1-placed Weekend In Seattle (by Seattle Slew; also dam of G1-placed Mambo In Seattle). Daughter of G1-placed Weekend Surprise, US broodmare ofthe year in 1992.
Immediate family of Group/Grade 1 winners Duke Of Marmalade, Gay Gallanta, Gay Mecene, Lemon Drop Kid, Sauce Boat and Wolfhound.
To stud at 4 years and dam of: Kipling (96 c Gulch; winner and sire); Garcia Marquez (97 g Gulch; stakes winner in Hong Kong); Sandy's Weekend (98 f Kingmambo; unraced); Tagano Indy (99 c Gulch; multiple winner in Japan); Wise Weekend (00f Smart Strike; unraced, died at 2); Storm Strip (01 f Comic Strip; winner); City Weekend (02 c Carson City; stakes-placed winner); Lord Snowdon (03 g Seeking The Gold; G1-placed stakes winner); Smart Surprise (04 f Smart Strike; G3 winner); Court Vision (05 c Gulch; G1 winner); Weekend Strike (06 f Smart Strike; stakes-placed winner); Hailstone (07 c City Zip; unraced). She died after foaling a colt by Gulch in 2009.
A tough and consistent performer at the top level on grass. Has a female family out of the top drawer, which should see him become a popular asset to the stallion ranks