Traffic Guard (USA)
(Photo : Greig Muir)
“The Western World’s current standard-bearer of the Halo-line,
More Than Ready”
Stallion masters are always on the lookout for the sons of emerging sires of sires, and there’s no horse right now with better dual hemisphere credentials in this department, than the Western World’s current standard-bearer of the Halo-line, More Than Ready. The jet black hero of America’s greatest stallion-maker, Saratoga’s King’s Bishop Stakes (Gr.1), has shown his mettle in both hemispheres, and looks to be America’s counterpart to Japan’s Sunday Silence in the perpetuation of the strain.
As matters stand, his unbeaten son Verrazano, is the ruling favourite for America’s marquee horse race, the Kentucky Derby (Gr.1), while Down Under, his sons Sebring and Perfectly Ready, have already made their marks with their debut crops. Leading the charge is the Golden Slipper ace, Sebring, whose son Criterion overcame a wide run to claim the laurels in last week’s Black Opal Stakes (Listed) in Canberra. In doing so, the David Payne-trained chestnut guaranteed himself a berth in next month’s Golden Slipper (Gr.1) and a shot at the $2million first prize. A day later, the Sebring fillies Bring A Ring and Australia Day finished first and third in the Sporting Bet Classic (Listed) on Adelaide Cup day at Morphettville, placing Sebring bang in the mix for first season stallion honours with Real Saga.
Across the Tasman, Perfectly Ready shaded Darci Brahma for the Freshman Sires’ title in the 2011 season, some feat considering Darci Brahma is considered one of New Zealand’s brightest hopes of finding a replacement for the aging Zabeel.
The Verrazano story is interesting, if only because his acquisition by the Irish reveals the state of play in the broader international battle for world dominance of the stud scene between the game’s two titans, Coolmore and Darley. Four years ago, Sheikh Mohammed made his intentions clear when he corned the market’s outstanding prospects, splurging more than $200million on the top four colts of their American generation, Breeders Cup and Kentucky Derby hero Street Sense, the King’s Bishop victor Hard Spun, dual Group One winner Any Given Saturday, and champion sprinter, Street Boss, all of them going to stud in the same year as Sheikh Mohammed’s outstanding homebred, Bernardini. Of these, Bernardini is the obvious standout, while Hard Spun has featured promisingly, though for the time being, you’d have to describe him as the “nearly” horse. More recently though, the Arab contingent have gone quiet relatively speaking, while Coolmore have been alert to every opportunity, with a stream of top class stallion prospects in Europe, as well as getting first bite of the cherry among the generation leaders of the past couple of seasons in the United States. Coolmore already have a top son in Majestic Warrior, they have secured consecutive juvenile champions, Lookin’ At Lucky and Uncle Mo, besides A.P. Indy’s highly performed son, Stay Thirsty. And now, as exciting as any, Verrazano.
They continue to be active wherever they can find them, and they have the added ace up their sleeves in the Aussie-bred Fastnet Rock, whose numbers at stud are eclipsing even those of his phenomenal sire, Danehill, and whose sons by a stretch are the most sought after commodity in the Southern Hemisphere, almost to the exclusion of all else. It would be intriguing to know what bookmakers are quoting on the outcome of this one.
P.S. Europe’s best performed son of More Than Ready is Traffic Guard (Timeform rating 123) who commenced duties here last season.