By Sid Fernando
Unless there’s a recount or late money that hasn’t been tabulated yet, Darby Dan’s Dialed In, according to stats at TDN, has nailed down the first-crop sire championship on the last day of 2016 from Lane’s End’s Union Rags. The title was decided in the $100,000 Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel, a race won by Dialed In’s Ms Locust Point. Dialed In had led the standings by only $35,194, but Union Rags had a runner in the race, too, and with the winner’s share worth $60,000 there was a chance for the Lane’s End horse to eke out a photo finish. Unfortunately for him, his daughter Aiden’s Rag Doll finished fifth in the race, and Darby Dan confidently tweeted the win at 3:11 PM, 10 minutes after the race went off.
— Darby Dan (@darbydanfarm) December 31, 2016
It’s quite an accomplishment for the Darby Dan stallion, who entered stud in 2013 for a $7,500 fee. In contrast, Union Rags stood his first year at $35,000 and was the most expensive new horse that year when he was syndicated for more than $12 million. The fees for both stallions have been bumped for 2017 off their exploits, Dialed In to $15,000 and Union Rags to $50,000.
Dialed In is a son of Lane’s End’s A.P. Indy horse Mineshaft from Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat. He was bred by W.S. Farish, Madeleine Pickens (formerly Madeleine Paulson), and Skara Glen Stables, and his second dam was Allen Paulson’s champion filly Eliza, a half-sister to Paulson’s G1 Santa Anita Derby winner Dinard. Robert LaPenta’s Whitehorse Stable, notably partial to the A.P. Indy line, purchased Dialed In for $475,000 from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.
Trained by Nick Zito, Dialed In won his debut at 2 at Churchill on Nov. 12th, coming from far back in Zito style to win at 6 1/2 furlongs by a half-length. He next won the G3 Holy Bull Stakes at a mile at Gulfstream on Jan. 30th in last-to-first fashion and became a certified talking horse. After a loss in a Gulfstream allowance on March 6th as the heavy favorite, Dialed In rebounded to win the G1 Florida Derby by a head from Shackleford on April 3rd. He’d won three of his four starts at this point, had a penchant for coming from far back to win, and appeared to be well suited for the Kentucky Derby’s mile and a quarter. Unfortunately, Dialed In never won again. He ran eighth as the favorite in the Derby and followed up with a fourth in the Preakness. He then made one more start the following March at Gulfstream and was retired with a record of three wins from seven starts and $941,936 in earnings. Nagging injuries reportedly compromised the colt.
Doug Cauthen and Robert Hammond, now vice chairman at Darby Dan, put together a partnership to stand the horse, with LaPenta staying in for a piece.
Dialed In was obviously talented, and with his good looks and pedigree, he was extremely popular his first year at stud. Darby Dan’s “Share the Upside” program for the horse drew in the smaller breeders who believed in his potential by offering a lifetime free breeding right to him with the purchase of two nominations at $7,500, or $15,000 total. That investment now looks inspired to those — quite a few — who participated.
Dialed In is the sire of 19 first-crop winners, three of them black-type winners. One of them, Gunnevera, won the G2 Saratoga Special and the G3 $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes and is on the Triple Crown trail with the Holy Bull as his immediate target. Dialed In’s latest stakes winner also won quite well today at Laurel, so there’s much to like about his chances in 2017.