Monday, October 24, 2016

Looking at Regally-Bred Keep Up

A regally-bred son of Unbridled’s Song, Keep Up’s career almost ended before it began when he broke his knee as a yearling. Three screws and seven months of stall rest later, he was cleared to enter training and the rest is history.

"When we brought him up that day, we had to wait three weeks because of all the inflammation just to x-ray him," said Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm, where the colt was raised. "Then when we x-rayed him and saw the severity of the fracture at that stage you’re just trying to save his life. That’s all you’re doing. I think the vet said he had 10 percent chance to make it, really and then the racing was just a far reaching dream that we had. But he continued to take every step and then we early trained him and he did that then we gave him time to mature and he would just continue going. Then it was like 'he’s done this and he’s done that, what the hell' and you keep on going down the road and see what happens."

Keep Up made his debut at Keeneland in October of his 3-year-old year for owner Mill Ridge Farm, finishing third and kicking off an 18 race career. Breaking his maiden in his third start by 3 ¼ lengths, the colt won or hit the board in his first six starts, including a win at Arlington Park in his return after a 15 month break.

Later that year he won his first stakes in the Grade 3 River City Handicap, beating a field that included a Canadian classic winner, a Grade 1 winner, three Grade 2 winners and four Grade 3 winners from a field of 12.


“We thought a lot of him. So every step, every hurdle, we went from hoping to thinking that he was a proper horse,” said Bell. “Once he got into Alex Clarkson’s hands, they were just totally in love with the horse and they gave him every chance and you would get those nice phone calls that said ‘this horse is promising.’ Then they gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his talents because they gave him the time.”

Winning the River City as a 5-year-old, Keep Up returned the following year to add seven more starts to his record at six. In June of that year, he earned another stakes win when winning the Swoon’s Song Stakes by three-quarter lengths over graded stakes winner Corporate Jungle at Arlington Park. Three starts later he was back in the winner’s circle, this time at Keeneland in an allowance. In typical Keeneland fashion the allowance played more like a stakes race with Grade 2 winner Utley, multiple graded stakes winners Rahystrada and Air Support, Grade 1-placed Tahoe Lake and Grade 3-placed Macho Bull all finishing behind Keep Up.

Another win In the River City wasn’t in the cards for Keep Up that year with the horse finishing off the board in the race before retiring to Mill Ridge Farm, where he stands for a fee of $5,000 for one breeding or $4,000 for Share the Upside.

Keep Up
“Our love of the horse, he’d been through so much [encouraged us to stand him]. Obviously from our foundation mare Keeper Hill who’d given us so much and this horse, he wasn’t supposed to be here and he jumps every hurdle he could jump to get where he was so it was like ‘Crazier things have happened and if the public’s willing to give him a chance, we’re certainly willing to give him a chance’ and that’s how we did it,” Bell said.

Bred by the partnership of Dr. John Chandler, Jamm LTD, Shug McGaughey and Mill Ridge Farm, Keep Up is out of Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Spinster winner Keeper Hill.

Keep Up was Keeper Hill’s best runner but the mare also has two other winners and comes from a nice family. Perhaps the most interesting part of Keep Up’s pedigree is his inbreeding to bluehen mare Killaloe. Keep Up’s fourth dam, Killaloe is the dam of influential sire Fappiano who was the sire of Unbridled. Unbridled sired horses like Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone in addition to Keep Up’s sire Unbridled’s Song, giving Keep Up a 4 x 4 cross to Killaloe in addition to a 4 x 5 cross to Northern Dancer through his damsire Deputy Minister and his second dam’s grandsire Lyphard.
Keeper Hill
Bell credits the Fappiano and Killaloe blood in Keep Up’s pedigree as a reason the stallion is throwing big, quality foals who looks like they’ll be runners when they hit the track in coming years.

“You see how physically imposing [Keep Up] is and his depth of quality, and that’s what he’s passing on,” he explained. “Everyone has had that quality about them. The mares that we’ve sent to him were good mares that we thought would breed a racehorse but he is even moving them up considerably. I’m not saying these are going to be 2-year-olds but he’s just providing you quality to give you a chance. You have Unbridled’s Song on the top, that’s not the best thing considering sires of sires but you also have Keeper Hill, who was an Oaks winner and a Spinster winner from the family of Fappiano. So are we seeing the Fappiano coming out of this on the dam side? I would say we are with a combination of things.”

Fasig-Tipton October Hip 488 - Keep Up x Sheza Runaway Star
Keep Up had 17 foals in his first crop with seven already going through the ring for an average of $18,533 from a $5,000 stud fee ($4,000 for those who have Share the Upside shares) with his most expensive being a $42,000 filly who sold to Gatewood Bell at Fasig-Tipton July and the second most expensive coming at the Keeneland September sale in the way of a $35,000 filly. The stallion has four going through the ring this week at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Yearling sale in Lexington with all four selling on the final two days of the sale.

The first yearlings to sell have gotten Keep Up more interest from prospective breeders with those at the sales seeing the yearlings then researching the stallion.

“He actually is building up a bit of a following. People saw our first yearling in July, she was a lovely filly. A beautiful, athletic, smooth filly with good size and quality, bought by a really good horseman in Gatewood Bell. Then the filly we sold in September was bought by Jeff Herbert and his wife,” Headley Bell said. “They were sitting on a bench between barns and kept seeing this filly come out. It wasn’t the pedigree where they were looking at it, they were drawn to the filly. And then people start talking about them a bit because of that.”

While Bell admits that it is a struggle to get breeders’ attention, especially with many of the stallion’s yearlings looking like they’ll skip the 2-year-old sales, he’s hoping that the talk generated from the yearling sales helps give Keep Up a boost in the shed.

“My hope is that the word trickles out enough that people will say ‘I’d like to be ahead of the curve on him,’” he said. “He’s reasonable, he has enough ingredients to give him a chance and crazier things have happened. If he’s moving up these kinds of mares the way he’s moving them up then he’s likely to move up [other] mares and when it’s all said and done you’re trying to breed a racehorse. You’ve got the commercial side but in the end, you’re trying to breed a racehorse.”
Keep Up's second most expensive filly at Keeneland September
Hopes are high that Keep Up will continue to prove himself as his runners hit the track next year but even if he doesn’t, he’ll has a home at the farm for as long as he wants for one important reason – the family’s attachment to him.

“Mom (Alice Chandler) still drives here to the office and Keep Up is the draw that brings her to drive the farm to check on him,” Bell said. “Every day she does that. She drives and sees how he’s doing then she comes here and she has her orange juice and her muffin. It’s her routine and it’s just terrific, it keeps her engaged and that alone is worth him being here.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Being AP DVD Sales to Benefit PDJF and RRP

After spending the last several months spending time being shown in theatres from Toronto’s International Film Festival to showings in California, U.S. steeplechasing fans finally have a chance to buy Being AP while helping out a few important racing organizations.

Available for purchase in North America for the first time, part of the proceeds from the Being AP movies purchased in the U.S. will go toward a donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP). Both causes are important to McCoy, with the former jockey currently the president of the UK’s Injured Jockeys Fund and a patron of the UK’s official OTTB charity, the Retraining of Racehorses (ROR).

“These are two very important causes that are close to the hearts of all involved in the film, we are delighted to be able to help,” said producer Nick Ryle.

The Retired Racehorse Project’s annual Thoroughbred “Makeover” will take place on Oct. 27 through 30 in Lexington, Ky. at the Kentucky Horse Park. It is the second year the Makeover has been held at the park.

"Bringing the story of AP McCoy to North American Thoroughbred lovers is brilliant. RRP is thrilled to have been selected as a recipient of funds from the sale of these DVD’s so that we can continue to promote Thoroughbreds in second careers and host the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium October 27-30 in Lexington, Kentucky,” said Steuart Pittman, president of the RRP.

A racing documentary, Being AP follows Sir Anthony McCoy through his final season as a steeplechasing jockey. Chasing his 20th consecutive championship at the time the documentary was filmed, the movie gives viewers an inside look at his final season as he struggled with the choice to retire and how it affected his family and colleagues.

Winning the Conditional Jump Jockeys Title in 1995 after moving to England from Ireland, McCoy became champion jockey for the first time the next year and continued to win that title every year he rode until retiring last year. During his career, set multiple records including the most winners in a season with 289 winners in 2002. The jockey retired with 4,358 winners over jumps and nine wins in flat races.

Awarded a knighthood on the Queen’s 2016 New Year’s Honours list, McCoy is only the second jockey ever to be knighted with Sir Gordon Richards, who was knighted in 1953.

Those who wish to purchase Being AP can do so at with free shipping offered until the end of October. DVDs purchased through Dec. 24 will have the opportunity to win an autographed copy of the DVD or Blu-Ray signed by McCoy.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: American Bloodlines in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

If there’s one thing racing fans can count on in this world, it’s that a big race will have multiple horses who trace back to 1964 Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer.

This Sunday’s 5-million ($5,621,000) Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is no exception to that rule with 11 horses tracing back to the stallion through their sire or broodmare sire. But with Northern Dancer multiple generations back in all the runners’ pedigrees (the closest he is found in an Arc runner's pedigree is three generations back), it’s worth focusing on his sons and grandsons who make his appearance possible.

Not surprisingly, Sadler’s Wells is a popular line in this race even though the stallion isn’t the sire of any of the runners.

Medaglia d'Oro
His son Galileo has three runners, all from the Coolmore stable, with two more sires carrying Sadler's Wells blood. U.S. stallion Medaglia d’Oro could continue his hot streak if his runner Talismanic wins the race. A son of El Prado, Medaglia d’Oro is coming off of an outstanding last weekend where his runners won five stakes including another Grade 1 win by Songbird in North America. Talismanic has a tough task ahead to continue his sire’s roll, as the 3-year-old colt has yet to win a group stakes but the weight allowance given to 3-year-olds may help him out here.

German sire Adlerflug comes through the In the Wing branch of Sadler’s Wells family and interestingly is also from Galileo’s female family with Urban Sea’s dam being a full sister to Adlerflug’s second dam. Adlerflug’s runner Savoir Vivre also brings in unique blood on his dam’s side with his broodmare sire Monsun the only stallion to bring the Konigsstuhl line into this year’s Arc. Adlerflug doesn’t have that distinction with In the Wings however, as his son Songspiel is the broodmare sire of Left Hand, who is one of four runners in the race by Dubawi.

Highland Reel
Northern Dancer’s son Danzig also plays a major part in this year’s Arc through two sons. Danehill is not just responsible for the sire of an Arc runner in Fastnet Rock, he is also the grandsire of Mastercraftsman, who is the sire of The Grey Gatsby. Danehill himself is the broodmare sire of the front runner Highland Reel, who is from the extremely successful Galileo/Danehill cross. While Highland Reel isn’t in this field to play “rabbit” for his stablemates Order of St. George and Found, his front running style definitely won’t hurt their chances in the race.

Danzig also plays a part in the Urban Sea story as he is the grandsire of Sea the Stars, who is also known as Galileo’s half-brother. Sea the Stars has two runners in Migwar and Harzand and is the only stallion from Danzig’s Green Desert line with runners in this race as a son of the recently pensioned Cape Cross. Sea the Stars has upset his brother a few times this year with Harzand winning both the Epsom and Irish Derbies. Harzand is looking to add a third Group 1 and better Taghrooda’s third place finish in the Arc for their sire on Sunday. Migwar looks like he may be outmatched here but if the turf gets a decent amount of rain, could give his sire another placing in the race.

Hail to Reason can be found on both sides of pedigrees of runners in this race with Deep Impact’s Makahiki having him four generations back as the Sunday Silence's grandsire. He is also six generations back on Makahiki’s damside with his grandson Southern Halo the broodmare of Makahiki’s second dam Real Number.

Makahiki provides a little more support to Hail to Reason than Found, whose Hail to Reason blood comes from Roberto’s branch. The Breeders’ Cup winning filly, who is by Galileo, doubles up on the Northern Dancer with that stallion four generations back on her damside and also has a double dose of Mr. Prospector, although that cross is four and five generations back.

The broodmare sire side of the Arc field is quite Mr. Prospector heavy with six horses following their broodmare sire family tree right to the stallion. New Bay and Postponed get a double dose of Mr. Prospect through their sires and their broodmare sires with the stallion four generations back in the cross on both horses.

U.S. sires Gone West and Kingmambo are the main horses responsible for bringing so much Mr. Prospector blood into the field with both sires playing the part of broodmare sire to one runner a piece. In addition, Kingmambo is the sire of Postponed’s broodmare sire Dubai Destination. Gone West plays an even bigger part in the Mr. Prospector story with the stallion siring New Bay’s broodmare sire Zamindar and Harzand’s broodmare sire Xaar.

Talismanic, who was talked about earlier in this blog also comes from that Mr. Prospector line through his broodmare sire Machiavellian. Though Talismanic was born in Great Britain, the colt has North America to thank for a lot of his pedigree. Already covered is that he comes from the Northern Dancer sireline but he also leads to Northern Dancer through Danzig as his second dam’s sire. In his first four generations 24 of the 31 horses present were bred in North America.

As with the sires, only a few runners step out of the normal mold when it comes to their broodmare sire lines. Outside of the aforementioned Savoir Vivre with Monsun, Siljan’s Saga is alone in bringing the Kiairon line to the Arc while Silverware goes back to Riverman through River Mist.

Since 2000, Danehill is the only broodmare sire who also sired an Arc winner during that time period. On Sunday, he can become one of three stallions whose daughters have produced three Arc winners. Dubai Destination could also join that club if Postponed wins the Arc. Surprisingly, if any of their seven combined entries win the Arc, it will be a first win for Galileo or Dubawi.