By Frances J. Karon
One day after the first anniversary of the death of Giant’s Causeway, that stallion’s multiple G1-winning son Carpe Diem was represented by his first winner, Nayibeth, from his first starter, one of 124 registered 2yos from Carpe Diem’s first crop.
Already prior to the fifth race at Keeneland on April 17th, Nayibeth was not much of a secret. From her four most recent breezes, Nayibeth had posted two bullet works, ensuring her 7/5 favoritism at post time — a favoritism that was also bolstered by the fact that she’s trained by Keeneland spring meeting 2yo maestro Wesley Ward — and she won in hand by 4 1/4 lengths, in a final time of a meet-best :51.54.
Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, the bay filly out of Le Relais (Coronado’s Quest) was a $230,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale purchase by Ben McElroy, on behalf of Ramon Tallaj, consigned by Denali Stud. That figure was nearly $100,000 higher than Carpe Diem’s yearling average and well above his median of $86,000. Her high sale price was reflective of her good looks as well as being a half-sister to Soldat (War Front), a GSW on both dirt and turf.
Carpe Diem was bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable and sold through Beau Lane Bloodstock to Northwest Stud for $550,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. Northwest turned around and pinhooked him to the OBS March sale as a 2yo, making a significant profit on their investment when Stonestreet Stables signed the ticket at $1.6 million. He was already at the time a half-brother to G1SW J. B.’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch), produced from the stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams. Later, his younger half-sister Farrell (Malibu Moon) enhanced their dam’s produced record with four G2 wins and over $1 million in earnings.
Sent to trainer Todd Pletcher, the liver chestnut won a maiden special weight for Stonestreet and co-owner WinStar at Saratoga in September and the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, his first two starts, prior to ending his juvenile season with a second-place finish as the favorite to Texas Red in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. (As a side note, Carpe Diem and J. B.’s Thunder won the same race — the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland — but Carpe Diem won it on the dirt and J. B.’s Thunder on all-weather.) At three, Carpe Diem was a five-length winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and a three-length winner of the G1 Toyota Blue Grass, which like the Breeders’ Futurity is contested at Keeneland, the scene of Nayibeth’s triumph. His only off-the-board finish came in his next and final start, the G1 Kentucky Derby, and he was retired in July of 2015 due to a bone chip in his right knee, having earned back over $1.5 million of his purchase price. He’s been standing at WinStar for an advertised fee of $25,000 since his retirement.
As a G1 winner at two and three, winner of 4-of-6 starts from 5 1/2 to nine furlongs, Carpe Diem — a well-bred physical standout — was precocious, brilliant, and had successfully transitioned his form to his 3yo season, giving him all kinds of appeal as a stallion prospect. Giant’s Causeway had already been represented by such established sons as Shamardal, sire of 21 G1 winners including dual French classic winner Lope de Vega (and more recently undefeated 2018 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord), and First Samurai, whose G1-winning son Lea also has first 2yos of 2019, so for Carpe Diem’s career off to a good start with a promising winner is no surprise. Nayibeth’s trainer has a penchant for sending flashy Keeneland maiden winners to Royal Ascot, where he’s won 10 races including two with Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy), who was bred and co-owned by Nayibeth’s breeder Stonestreet. Ward is already planning on shipping Lady Aurelia’s half-sister Lady Pauline (Munnings), a Stonestreet homebred and another one of his impressive maiden winners at this Keeneland meet, to Royal Ascot, and it’s no stretch to imagine that Nayibeth will be there as well to fly the flag for Carpe Diem. As a half-sister to a GSW on turf and granddaughter of Giant’s Causeway, a G1SW on turf and G1-placed by a nose on dirt, she could easily be expected to excel on that international stage.
Two more things worth noting: The first is that Nayibeth is bred on the Giant’s Causeway/Forty Niner cross, an A nick in North America that has produced G1SWs Book Review and Carrick, G2SWs Caroline Thomas and Naissance Royale, and G3SW Not This Time. And second is that Stonestreet has had outstanding success with horses they raced going on to become good sires, with Curlin, Kantharos, and Maclean’s Music foremost among the group, so look for Carpe Diem to increase his tally of talented runners before the year is over.