Last night, I noticed that the Department of Agriculture had finally posted the 2014 Illinois-bred foal registrations list. I love going through the foal registrations. Since Equibase does not make foals searchable until they are two years old, nor is there a way that I have found to search Equibase for all foals bred in a certain state during a certain year, these Illinois-bred foal reports are invaluable for for looking on the horizon and spotting some exciting racehorses.
From the standpoint of sires…I was disappointed not to see any Curlin babies. There were two in the 2013 Illinois foal crop, Curlinup (Almost Sma) and Chicken Noodle (Perfectly Campbell). Maybe we will see a few more Illinois-breds by my favourite sire come 2015. However…another sire I follow quite closely was well-represented: Fort Prado. Despite the fact that he moved to Kentucky, the Illinois-bred son of El Prado is still getting significant support from Illinois mares, with 21 Illinois-foaled progeny born last year.
Hopefully, all of these now-yearlings grow up to be happy, healthy, and fast. The list abounds with familiar names: local sires, faraway sires, mares who have produced so many of the racehorses I see at Hawthorne and Arlington week in and week out…but here are five very early frontrunners for my favourite Illinois-bred racehorses born in 2014:
- Fort Prado x Leading Astray, filly: I saw this horse on the foal list, and could not help but exclaim aloud, “this is the most Block breeding I have ever seen!” Both sire Fort Prado and dam Leading Astray were graded stakes winning Block homebreds. Fort Prado won stakes races from ages three to eight; though his oldest progeny are only four now, Leading Astray’s dam, Taxable Deduction, is Illinois’s bluest hen in recent times. Taxable Deduction does not have a recorded foal from 2014 — this filly is Leading Astray’s first foal, and has been nicely bred to run and help carry on her fine Illinois female line.
- Fort Prado x Roaming Free, colt: Simple and subjective: but I am going to follow this colt so closely because he is full to one of my favourite locals in training now, Away Westward. He is bay, not grey like his brother, but bound to be absolutely gorgeous as all Fort Prado babies are. This also makes him from another very Block family: dam Roaming Free is a Block homebred, as is stakes-placed second dam Adarec, and both of those generations are Illinois-bred as well. You have to go all the way back to third dam Cerada Ridge to find a Kentucky-bred on the female line, and even she was campaigned by Patricia Block.
- Hat Trick x Beret, filly: I will admit, some of my interest in this foal is frivolous. After all, every single one of Beret’s named babies has been named after millinery: Kepi, Tam, Brim, My Borsalino, Hat Dance, Ten Gallon. Now? They mated Beret with Hat Trick. Part of me wants to say this baby must be named after a hat…but another part would really prefer something more along the lines of Xzibit or matryoshka dolls, since this is just so much hat. Of course, this foal should hold interest past her name, since Beret has been a producer. Kepi is a multiple stakes winner, and Tam, My Borsalino, and Brim have run some good races around here as well.
- Midnight Lute x Jabber, filly: Jabber, herself a Texas-bred, has been the root of one of my favourite families of Illinois-breds. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jabber had another foal in 2014. This foal by Midnight Lute could well be another sharp sprinter: after all, Jabber produced River Bear by another sprinting Mr. Prospector-line stallion, Unreal Zeal. Then again, that mating of Jabber and Unreal Zeal also produced Lady Riss, a multiple stakes winner who could go two turns or one. From a more personal standpoint, Mischief N Mayhem is also from this family; her dam is Jabber daughter Icy Mocha. I am particularly excited that this foal is a filly; such a well-bred addition to Jabber’s female family could help carry on this line after she races.
- Musketier x Optimistic Bullet, filly: I want Musketier to succeed as a sire so much it almost hurts. I love long races, I love horses who can stay sound until they get older. Because of all of these things, I love the fact that Musketier, who won the 1 1/2 mile Singspiel Stakes (GIII – CAN) at age 10 is getting a chance as a stallion. I was thrilled to see that he has one Illinois-bred foal in his first crop, the first foal out of Optimistic Bullet. The Brazilian-bred Optimistic Bullet did not run quite as long as her sire, but raced 29 times between the ages of three and five. She won four times, all at sprint distances. Hopefully this filly will find a happy medium of stamina and speed, and contribute to Musketier’s success at stud.