By Sid Fernando
City Zip was safely on his way to a nice stud career in New York when fate, in the name of Ghostzapper, intervened.
A 1998 son of Carson City and the Relaunch mare Baby Zip, City Zip was a typically precocious but exceptional two-year-old representative of his sire. And he had a penchant for Saratoga, where he won in succession the G2 Sanford Stakes, the G2 Saratoga Special Stakes, and the G1 Hopeful Stakes (dead heat) in the summer of 2000. All told, City Zip won nine of 23 starts at two and three, earned $818,225, and was snapped up by Gus Schoenborn and a partnership group to stand at Schoenborn’s Contemporary Stallions in Coxsackie, NY, for a fee of $7,500 in 2002.
As an early maturing sprinter with a following in the Empire State, City Zip was popular in his first years at stud. But after the 2004 breeding season, with his first crop only yearlings, City Zip’s half-brother Ghostzapper streaked onto the scene, winning the G2 Tom Fool H. on his season debut on July 4, followed by the G3 Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup H. on August 21, the G1 Woodward S. on September 11, and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 30 en route to the Horse of the Year title and accolades of superstardom.
Enter Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm, which struck a deal for City Zip. The stallion was moved to Kentucky to cover mares in 2005 at $15,000, double his New York fee. It’s very unusual to raise a sire’s stud fee in that fourth and difficult year—the year his two-year-olds run—but such was the power of being related to Ghostzapper, who was scheduled to defend his title in 2005. As it happened, Ghostzapper couldn’t sustain his hype; he would make only one more start—a win in the G1 Metropolitan H. on May 30. But City Zip found legs that year: his first crop included 20 winners at two, the most by any freshman sire. The stallion has been running with the big boys since.
City Zip had five SWs in his first crop, four in his second crop, and another four in his third crop—all conceived in New York. Bustin Stones, from his second crop, was a G1-winning sprinter on dirt at 7F while With a City, from his first crop, was a G2 winner on AW at 9F as a classics contender, and Acting Zippy, from this third crop, was a G3 winner on turf at 9F as a five-year-old. Together, these three early SWs from New York would foreshadow the career that City Zip is now enjoying, as a terrifically versatile sire of horses over the range of surfaces and distances most common in North America. It’s one reason why the stallion is ranked No. 5 on the General Sire List this year to date, and No. 3 overall when limiting earnings to North America only.
A chunky horse who looks like the sprinter he was, City Zip sires his fair share of early two-year-olds and sprinters but his turf prowess is the most surprising element of his resume. But note that his broodmare sire, Relaunch, was a front-runner who stayed 12F when second to John Henry in the G1 San Luis Rey on turf, and his third dam is by turf champion Hawaii.
City Zip has sired four G1 winners. Aside from Bustin Stones, they include Dayatthespa, who won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. at 9F on turf; and 2014 G1 winners Personal Diary, who took the Del Mar Oaks at 9F on AW, and Palace, who won the Forego S. at Saratoga at 7F on dirt on August 30.
City Zip stood for an advertised fee of $25,000 live foal in 2014 at Lane’s End. By all indicators, he’s the consummate breed-to-race stallion and is value up and down.