By Sid Fernando
What a weekend it was for the young WinStar sires Super Saver and Pioneerof the Nile, both of whom were represented by first-crop SWs. The latter’s oldest runners are three, and two of them, Midnight Storm and Jojo Warrior, won graded races at Del Mar on August 31. Pioneerof the Nile is the clear second-crop leader in North America by progeny earnings, and though he’s represented by five SWs, four of whom are graded winners, his best horse may have been the injured Social Inclusion, who hasn’t won a stakes race but has showcased freaky ability through a mismanaged campaign this year.
A multiple G1 winner at two and three on AW, Pioneerof the Nile, by Empire Maker from Star of Goshen, by Lord at War, wasn’t blessed with a ton of speed, but he had excellent lung capacity and stayed on well over Churchill Downs’ surface to finish second in the Derby to Mine That Bird. As expected for a classic type, he didn’t have a plethora of two-year-old winners last year, and his lone juvenile SW, Cairo Prince, won the G2 Nashua Stakes deep in the year, on November 3. But they are winning now, as three-year-olds.
WinStar CEO Elliot Walden, a former trainer, must be walking on air these days. It was Walden’s brother Ben Jr. who’d initially followed their father, Ben P. Walden Sr., of Dearborn Farm, into the sire business, first as the founder of Vinery on the old Dearborn property and later at Pauls Mill and Hurricane Hall Stud.
It’s Elliot Walden’s turn now. Walden presides over a powerful roster of more than 20 stallions at WinStar, including such established stars as Distorted Humor, Tiznow, and Speightstown. WinStar absorbed much of the Vinery roster when that farm (during the Tom Simon era) ceased its stallion operation in 2013, getting in the process not only Pioneerof the Nile but also the proven More Than Ready among others; and WinStar also got young horses such as Artie Schiller and U.S. Ranger from Ben Jr.’s Pauls Mill when he cut back.
But none of them can probably make Walden as proud as Super Saver, a WinStar homebred and the farm’s first and only Kentucky Derby winner. By Maria’s Mon out of Supercharger, by A.P. Indy, Super Saver descends from a long line of Phipps-bred mares tracing to the influential blue hen La Troienne in tail-female. Click here if you want to read about it.
A winner of three of 10 starts, including a G2 race at 8.5F at two, Super Saver is one of two Kentucky Derby winners—Monarchos is the other—for his late sire, whose male line traces directly to Raise a Native through Wavering Monarch, Majestic Light, and Majestic Prince. The main branch of Raise a Native runs through the ubiquitous Mr. Prospector nowadays, so it’s not in the least surprising that six of Super Saver’s seven winners to date are inbred to Mr. Prospector, and that the one that isn’t, is inbred to Raise a Native—both speed sources. But of his SWs, one is inbred to A.P. Indy and the other to Seattle Slew—both sources of stamina—and this isn’t as common in early two-year-olds.
The fast start
The Super Saver juveniles are much more precocious than the Pioneerof the Niles were last year, and it bodes well for the stallion because it’s expected—like the Pioneerof the Niles—that his three-year-olds will be better. And that’s exciting to anticipate, both for Walden and WinStar and for potential breeders and the industry at large. Kentucky Derby winners have been at a disadvantage the last few decades in a speed-favoring racing enviornment, and look no farther than Monarchos—now standing for $4,000—to see what can happen if things don’t go well off the bat for a staying horse.
Super Saver at present is the leading first-crop sire by progeny earnings. His seven winners to date have all exhibited class, winning maiden specials mostly at major tracks (or, in the case of Hashtag Bourbon, breaking his duck in a stakes race), and three of them are already SWs—two of them graded SWs at Saratoga.
Those two, Competitive Edge and I Spent It, ran one-two in the G1 Hopeful Stakes today (click here for the chart), and the winner, especially, looks like he’s a potential classics type. The runner-up, by the way, won the G2 Saratoga Special on August 10 (click here for the chart). Note that Competitive Edge was a $750,000 two-year-old and I Spent It cost $600,000 as a juvenile, indicators that some of the Super Savers were fast and developed enough to hold their own against two-year-old sprint types at the sales.
Super Saver entered stud at WinStar in 2011 for a $20,000 fee, was the same in 2012, and dropped to $17,500 in 2013 and 2014. If he continues at this rate, he’s going to be difficult to get into.