I’m used to the Illinois foal report being my Christmas present. This year, the Department of Agriculture has released the 2017 report of foals born in Illinois earlier than usual. It’s come in time to be my (early!) birthday present! Here, I discuss a few things I noticed while reading it — and then, as always, my five foals to watch.
Since this is Illinois, and things remain unstable, the numbers reflect that. I went into detail last year about the decline in Illinois foal crops, and a similar pattern is in place. Total foals born in Illinois are down once again, from 258 last year to 224 this year. Illinois conceived and foaled thoroughbreds are down from 141 to 131. The precipitous decline of Illinois-foaled thoroughbreds by out-of-state stallions continued, as that quantity dropped from 117 last year to 93 born this year. Registered stallions have plummeted as well, from 64 last year to 48 this year. Most prominently, Cashel Castle stands in Indiana now, and Straight Line is in Kentucky.
I always take a special look for the progeny of three stallions: Curlin, Fort Prado, and Three Hour Nap. As is relatively common, there were no Curlin babies born in Illinois this year. A bit surprising was that there were also no Fort Prado babies born in Illinois this year. He was still standing in Kentucky last year, when these mares were bred, but there had always been a few mares here who kept going to him even after he left Illinois. In 2017, there were none.
Three Hour Nap still stands in Illinois, and he had seven foals born this year. Two foals, both bred by Hugh Robertson (who campaigned Three Hour Nap), are out of mares who have already had his babies hit the track. Roaringoodmartini’s first foal, a Three Hour Nap daughter named Klassy Karalynne, was off the board in one start this year at two, after a wide post and a troubled start. She’s Wild has five foals of racing age, all by Three Hour Nap. Three are winners: Acrobatic Ally, Ally’s Dream, and Anna’s Alibi. Doggone Wild missed the board in eight starts; Snallygaster, their current two-year-old, was sixth on debut but has worked twice since then.
Five other mares had Three Hour Nap foals this year. Honeyanna has three winners among four starters; the fourth, Nutsandhoney, hit the board in six of nine starts though he never won. Rendlake Lady is an unraced Posse half to stakes-placed Cahill’s Touch, himself a first-out winner at two, making her Three Hour Nap filly an interesting win-early candidate given the Three Hour Nap babies’ precocious tendencies. Rendlake Lady’s only racing-age foal is an unraced three-year-old Parading filly. Smart Kiara won one of her eight career starts, and her Three Hour Nap colt this year is her first foal. Stivers Suprise has no foals of racing age, but she was a familiar face on the Chicago circuit from 2008 through 2013. She earned six figures the hard way: with seven wins and another seven podium finishes in 56 career starts, all but two at either Arlington or Hawthorne. Time for Theatrics has seven racing-age foals: five have started, and all five have won. Two of them, Parade For Me and Pass the Money, were first-out winners at age two.
And now, without further ado, the five foals who jumped out at me most. As always, it’s a mishmosh. Some I highlight for purely pedigree reasons. Others, I note because I was a fan of the horse or their relative. Sometimes, it’s a little of both. As always — you can read the full foal list online, and let me know in the comments which foals you’ll be watching!
- Blame x Alette, colt: I can see this horse loving two turns on the grass. His dam, Alette, was a solid two-turn grass mare through 2013 and 2014. She won the Illini Princess Handicap in 2014, finished second behind Kepi (and ahead of La Tia) in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap earlier that year. Though sire Blame was himself a dirt horse, so many of his classy progeny have done well on grass that it would be no surprise to see this colt follow in those footsteps. Then again? This colt could have a main-track future, after all, and it’s not just Blame’s race record that would give him that option. Alette romped in a maiden special weight on the Hawthorne dirt, easily won several other races washed from turf to dirt, and was stakes-placed on the polytrack at Arlington. A two-year-old out of Alette’s half-sister Mourette, Sir Anthony (Mineshaft), broke his maiden first-time dirt and should be a factor in Saturday’s Sun Power Stakes.
- Daaher x Happy Henrietta, colt: Though Daaher himself saw his greatest glory in the fall of his three-year-old year, with wins in the Jerome (G2) and the Cigar Mile (G1), he has emerged as a strong precocity sire. His first-time starters and his two-year-olds tend to do well — most prominently Gypsy Jane, who won first out at two and also won a stakes at two. She stayed good, too, becoming a multiple graded stakes winner at three. This colt, the only Illinois-bred Daaher born this year, is out of Happy Henrietta — a first-out winner at age two, winner of the 2008 Showtime Deb Stakes later that fall, and third in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante later that year. Though she was not a stakes horse through the rest of her career, she was a durable racemare — Happy Henrietta raced until she was eight, winning nine times and hitting the board another twelve across 49 starts.
- Ghaaleb x Totaled, filly: I remember Totaled’s March 2015 debut like it was yesterday. I hadn’t handicapped the races at Hawthorne, so I decided to sharpen my physical handicapping, and bet two bucks to win on my paddock standout in each race. Totaled was my day-maker. She strolled into the paddock like she owned the place. Her compact, muscular build looked perfect for the sprint distance. I plunked my money down on her, looked at the tote board, and was flabbergasted to see she was a longshot. The looks told the story; she won with authority at 15/1. Though she was well-beaten in the Pretty Jenny Stakes next out, and never ran quite so well again, I eagerly followed her through her entire career, hoping to see another flash of what she showed on debut. Perhaps that will come via her foal — a filly by rising Illinois stallion Ghaaleb.
- Munnings x Giant Deduction, colt: I’ve seen few more exciting attempts to breed speed to stamina than this one here. Giant Deduction is all stamina: a Giant’s Causeway daughter of Illinois turf route blue hen Taxable Deduction. She graduated at first asking, going a mile on the turf. Though she only raced four times during her career, other progeny of Taxable Deduction proved themselves to be extremely durable and classy: Free Fighter won a trio of graded stakes, Suntracer and Leading Astray also made the grade, and Corrupt and Afortable were graded stakes placed. Giant Deduction’s first foal arrived this year — and the attempt to inject some speed with classy, consistent sprint sire Munnings will be an interesting experiment with this well-proven, long-winded family. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
- Suntracer x Peaceful Battle, colt: Taxable Deduction makes another appearance — this time, on the top half of the pedigree. Suntracer, a Kitten’s Joy son of Taxable Deduction, began at stud in 2016 at Stonewall’s Prestige Stallions in Florida. Competitive in stakes company his entire career, the long-distance turfer finally got his first graded victory in his second to last race, the 2014 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3). Suntracer, himself bred in the Land of Lincoln, has one Illinois-bred in his first crop. The colt’s breeding is Team Block, top and bottom: not only is he by their star Suntracer, he is out of Peaceful Battle, a mare from a longstanding Team Block family that traces back to Cerada Ridge. Peaceful Battle has already produced a consistent turf router, In the Chamber, suggesting that her Suntracer colt might enjoy going long on grass as well.