Based on the 2015 Illinois Department of Agriculture foal report, there were 173 Illinois Conceived and Foaled Thoroughbreds last year, and another 177 Illinois Foaled Thoroughbreds, meaning there were 350 foals born last year who were, in some capacity, bred in the state.
By number of foals sired, Forest Attack (Forestry – Joy Valley, by Ghadeer) was the runaway leader with 26 Illinois-breds, all both conceived and foaled in the state.
Kentucky-bred Forest Attack was campaigned by Illinois connection Scarlet Stable. Scarlet claimed him out of the barn of Todd Pletcher in his second start, his maiden win, and campaigned him for the rest of his career. He raced mainly in Kentucky and mainly in allowance company for trainer Mike Maker, but did win the Dust Commander Stakes at Turfway, a mile over the poly. That stakes win came in 2010, at age six.
Forest Attack did his best work by far over polytrack. All seven of his wins came over poly, with six at Turfway and one at Keeneland. Most of them came at sprint distances at Turfway, though he had that one-mile stakes win as well as a 1 1/16 mile allowance win at Keeneland.
Even in a circuit like Illinois, one that still has polytrack, Forest Attack seems an unlikely candidate for so much breeding support. After all, he has not produced a single winner to date. His total progeny earnings total a whole $400 — just 40% of his live-foal stud fee.
Forest Attack began standing stud in 2011. He stands at McCrosky Farm, in Waterloo, IL, for a $1,000 live-foal stud fee. Waterloo is on the western edge of the state — just about half an hour’s drive south from Fairmount Park in Collinsville.
Looking into who has bred to Forest Attack, and who continues to breed to Forest Attack, Roger Brueggemann is a strong common bond. Despite the fact that Brueggemann no longer trains a string in Chicago, and has migrated to Kentucky and Fair Grounds now, a lot of the support Forest Attack he has gotten in Illinois traces back to him. It makes sense; though he never trained Forest Attack, the horse did spend much of his career with Scarlet Stable, an outfit for whom Brueggemann has long trained, and still trains.
Many of the breeders of Forest Attack foals link to Brueggemann in some way. Brueggemann himself has bred some. Scarlet Stable also has, in addition to Chris and Rose Barney: whose nom de course is, you guessed it, Scarlet Stable. Maxim and Susan Jakovac have also bred Forest Attack foals within the last few years; Brueggemann has also trained horses they have owned and bred.
The other major breeder connected to Forest Attack is Donald McCrosky. Though McCrosky’s horses have typically been seen running at Fairmount for trainer James Childers, Forest Attack does stand at his farm.
Forest Attack only had four foals in his first crop. Out of those four 2012 foals, only one has started. Brown Ice (Ice Pellet, by Bold Executive) started once in a maiden special weight at Fairmount in May of 2015, but finished a well-beaten fourth in a field of four. He has not returned to the track since.
Brown Ice remains Forest Attack’s only starter to date.
He sired seven foals of 2013; none have yet started. Just one of Forest Attack’s second crop, Scarlet City (Sole of the City, by Salt Lake), has been on the worktab recently. Scarlet City, who just turned three, has posted three recent works at Fair Grounds.
Her dam Sole of the City had some class. Though she was claimed by Roger Brueggemann and Scarlet Stable for $18,000 at Hawthorne in 2006, she never ran in a straight claimer again, and she won the Prairie Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows in 2008. She then produced Scarlet Stable’s best runner currently in training: House of Sole (Limehouse). House of Sole got a late start for Brueggemann, debuting only in March of her four-year-old year (2015). Still, in eleven starts, this sprinter has never finished out of the exacta, and has placed in stakes company twice. These are big shoes for a daughter of an unproven sire to fill, but if Scarlet City can, it would begin to build Forest Attack’s reputation. By all accounts, Sole of the City suggests that Scarlet believes in their stallion enough to send him this good mare. Indeed, they sent Sole of the City back to Forest Attack for 2014, 2015, and again for 2016.
Though Sole of the City is the star broodmare who has seen Forest Attack so far, there have been a few other mares with black type close in the pedigree. Attack Cat, a so far unraced 2013 Forest Attack foal, is half to B Two Special (Kitalpha) — a sprinter who finished second (behind a Brueggemann stablemate!) in the 2013 Robert S. Molaro Handicap, an Illinois-bred six-furlong dirt sprint stakes at Hawthorne. Virtuous Wife, a mare who has produced Forest Attack foals in 2013, 2014, and 2015, also produced Star of Paradise. This makes the Virtuous Wife foals particularly interesting to keep an eye on — Star of Paradise won on dirt, turf, and poly, at distances between six furlongs and 1 1/16 miles. He also finished second in the 2012 Buck’s Boy Handicap. The Buck’s Boy, as can be inferred from its namesake, was an Illinois-bred turf route stakes.
In general, if any of Forest Attack’s babies were to make an impact on Illinois racing over the next year or two, they will most likely do so at sprint distances. Forest Attack himself could stretch out if he had to, but showed most of his form at sprint distances. Most of the mares to whom he was bred during his first few years at stud have either shown their best sprinting, or their winners have almost entirely prevailed at sprint distances. Even broodmare Try Harder, who broke her maiden going nine furlongs? The only wins by her progeny have come at sprint distances. If anyone is able to get two turns with some strength, though, look to the foals by Virtuous Wife as the most likely candidates.
There was a huge jump in Forest Attack babies in 2015. It seems to be mainly a function of farm owner Donald McCrosky. Out of 26 foals born in 2015, McCrosky bred 17. This is up from just seven (out of 13 total Forest Attack foals) in 2014. Forest Attack got other support in 2015, including from the Barneys, the Jackovacs, and one foal each from two new breeders. Still, the farm owner seems to be doubling down on his stallion — a perfect example of putting your money where your mouth is.
McCrosky did breed Brown Ice, the only Forest Attack baby to hit the track so far. Among his 17 Forest Attack foals in 2015, one of them stands out. There was a colt by Good and Rough — the dam of Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner Shogood. Between Forest Attack’s polytrack prowess and Shogood’s, watch this foal at Arlington, assuming Arlington still has a polytrack surface. The filly out of Rare Action also stands out as one to watch — though Rare Action was not a stakes horse, she was as durable as it gets, with eight wins and 30 more money finishes in 58 career tries.
No matter what, there will be — relatively speaking, at least — a lot of Forest Attack babies heading out to prove themselves in Illinois over the next few years. His strengths as a stallion are yet to be determined, but whether he proves a success or not, he will have more foals than most Illinois stallions from whom to form a basis for evaluation.