By Sid Fernando
It seems there’s change afoot in the breeding and racing industries. After years of criticism from observers (including this one) leveled at breeders, owners, and racetracks that North American racing was too preoccupied with speed and two-year-old racing to the detriment of the sport’s and breed’s classic heritage, it appears, at least anecdotally, that more route races are popping up at tracks around the country, and more opportunities exist now for turf horses. In breeding parlance, “turf” has always been code for “stamina,” too, and turf horses have historically been integral to the development of classic types here. More recently, the pedigree of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom hammered home this point: his sire, Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux, and dam, German-bred Dalicia, by German-bred Acatenango, were all exclusively turf racehorses.
That the pendulum is swinging back to hopefully create equilibrium between speed and stamina is best exemplified by the success of Ramsey Farm’s homebred champion turf racehorse Kitten’s Joy, who last year was THE leading sire in North America by progeny earnings. In these times, that’s quite an accomplishment.
The trend seems to be continuing, too. See WTC’s Leading Sires of Unrestricted Stakes Winners table to August 24, 2014 (click on it to enlarge it). The top three listed are all turf champions that won at distances of 10F or more: Kitten’s Joy, English Channel, and Giant’s Causeway. Fingers are crossed that this isn’t just a temporary blip!