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Everything old

12/19/2013

The other day I ran into my neighbor as we were both leaving our houses. He has a few racehorses, so we always chat about the racing scene. We hadn't seen each other in a bit, so his first question was “Did you hit it big at Breeders' Cup?”

We discussed my betting triumphs -- although in the interest of honesty, my biggest one was courtesy of listening to a friend -- and then I asked about his. He smiled and said, “Well, I made a killing on that Asi Siempre colt. I loved his mother too much not to bet him. She was just such a quality mare.”

He was talking about Outstrip. Although the colt was bred in Great Britain, Asi Siempre did all of her running in North America. Her biggest victory came at Keeneland in the Spinster Stakes, and the Grade 1 winner retired with earnings just shy of $1 million.

Asi Siempre last stepped foot on the track in 2007. This November, her son Outstrip made a late charge down the center of the Santa Anita turf course to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf by a half-length.

Because racing traces from generation to generation, it is only natural that people hope their favorite horses can go on to be successful on the breeding end.


Our conversation made me smile. My neighbor is a gambler and an owner, and yet, he clearly had a soft spot for Asi Siempre. That is one of the unique aspects of horse racing. Most people end up having a favorite racehorse or two, and if they are patient, a few years down the road they get to see their favorites' children run. Soon, several generations have gone by.

Another colt making headlines as the racing year winds down is the lightly raced Zaikov. The 3-year-old runner won his first race this March by an eye-popping 14 ¼ lengths but didn't run again until Dec. 13.

“We had a shin issue that he ended up getting quite a bit of time off for,” trainer Todd Pletcher said before Zaikov's second start. “They did a really good job at the farm with him, and he’s come back and he’s training well.”

Pletcher was telling the truth -- Zaikov won again. Hopefully he will be an interesting horse to watch in the older horse division in 2014. Given his first start, people would have paid attention to him anyway, but his pedigree has also added extra interest.

Zaikov's mother is a mare named Wait a While, who was named the champion 3-year-old filly in 2006. She retired in 2008 with earnings of more than $2.1 million.

Because racing traces from generation to generation, it is only natural that people hope their favorite horses can go on to be successful on the breeding end.

A colt named Honor Code is getting extra attention because of this. His sire is A.P. Indy, who has done everything right throughout his entire career. Almost.

A poster child for success, A.P. Indy was the highest priced yearling of the year when he sold for $2.9 million in 1990. Two years later, he was named Horse of the Year after winning the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic. He then went on to be the leading sire in North America -- twice.

In 2011, A.P. Indy was pensioned after failing to get any mares in foal, and today he is happily living the life of Riley at Lane's End Farm. He is still in the same stall that has been his for two decades, and he has more than earned his retirement.

The one “hole” in his resume, if you can call it that, is the fact none of his offspring have been able to win the Kentucky Derby, America's premier race. His final crop of 36 foals was conceived in 2010 and born in 2011. This means his last chance to sire a Derby winner will come in 2014.

Honor Code is one of those final foals.

The handsome colt finished second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. Should he continue to progress and make it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May, I promise more than one pedigree buff will be paying attention.

The power of how pedigree can influence expectations will probably be addressed more than ever next year because of two very special mares. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, who were both named Horse of the Year during their careers, are now broodmares. They each had their first foal in 2012, meaning those foals will be eligible for racing in 2014.

Both mares brought a lot of new fans to the sport, so it seems logical those fans will want to see how their foals do as racehorses. Rachel Alexandra's colt has been named Jess's Dream, while Zenyatta's colt has been named Cozmic One.

There is no guarantee either colt will race as a 2-year-old, but they could, and that is enough to get the dreamers dreaming. Hopefully both will find success, but it is a lot to ask of either horse.

Although good race mares can be good broodmares, it is far from a given. Furthermore, even if a mare does find success in both realms, there is no guarantee it will happen with her first foal. Still, both colts will be shouldering expectations more hefty than most horses will carry in their entire career.

Another horse that will be fun to watch in 2014 is based in Europe, but his mother became exceedingly popular in the U.S. Ouija Board, who was a globetrotter during her career, won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf twice. She is also a good example of having patience when following a mare's offspring.

Ouija Board's first several foals were better than most in the sense they have all found the winner's circle, but none of them had their mother's talent. Her juvenile of this year, Australia, seems like he might though.

After completely missing the break in his debut, Australia still managed to get up for second. He then won his next two starts, including the Group 3 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.

The chestnut was purchased as a yearling by Coolmore, which historically has been a big supporter of the Breeders' Cup, so who knows? Maybe he will make his way stateside next fall. If that does happen, I am sure a bet or two will be placed on him simply because of Ouija Board. Just like my neighbor bet on Outstrip because of Asi Siempre.

After all, the generational nature of horse racing means the more things change, the more they stay the same. Everything old eventually becomes new again. You just have to stick around for a few years to see it happen.

Amanda Duckworth is a freelance journalist who lives in Lexington, Ky. Among her other duties, she is an editor for Gallop Magazine. Write to her at amanda.duckworth@ymail.com.