By Frances J. Karon
On a significant Saturday of stakes racing in the U.S., the sires of most of the Graded winners were not surprising: Bernardini, Candy Ride, Curlin (sire of a GSW on Friday, too), Distorted Humor, Into Mischief (also with a GSW on Friday), Speightstown and son Munnings, Tapit (two GSWs), Uncle Mo — these stallions familiar to the top of annual leading sires’ lists accounted for the winners of 10 of the 16 Graded races. Of these, the average current stud fee of the eight that stand for a published figure — Distorted Humor, still active at the age of 28, is private — is $125,000, from a low of $35,000 for Bernardini to a high of $225,000 for Into Mischief.
Distorted Humor’s son Maclean’s Music had one GSW, too, as did Flatter (who also sired the second in the G1 Ashland), Noble Mission (now in Japan), and Mehmas (at Tally-Ho Stud in Ireland).
But for outperforming the big guys on Saturday, the standout sire was The Factor, represented by two GSWs, each conceived on a $15,000 fee. His 7yo, first-crop son Bound for Nowhere won the 5 1/2 furlong G2 Shakertown on the turf at Keeneland for the second time in his career, and 5yo daughter Charmaine’s Mia won the mile G2 Royal Heroine — her third Graded stakes victory of 2021 — on Santa Anita’s turf course.
From the first crop of War Front and out of the Miswaki mare Greyciousness, The Factor was (by eight days) his sire’s second G1 winner, with a win in the Pat O’Brien on the all weather at Del Mar as a 3yo in 2011 for trainer Bob Baffert. At the end of that year, he became a dual-surface G1 winner after his score in the Malibu on Santa Anita’s dirt course. He won four Graded stakes at three and four over seven furlongs, plus one, the G2 Rebel as a 3yo, at a mile and a sixteenth. He and War of Will (dirt and turf) are War Front’s only multi-surface G1 winners.
War Front has turned out to be a very handy sire of sires. His G1-winning son Declaration of War, who started out at Coolmore (in Ireland, then the US) but was sold to Japan for the 2019 season, has 32 SWs (18 GSWs) across two hemispheres and The Factor has 30 SWs (nine GSWs), almost all from his Northern Hemisphere crops. Spendthrift’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb has a G2SW in his first crop (now three); Airdrie’s G2SW Summer Front has three GSWs from his first crop, foals of 2017; and Crestwood’s G1SW Jack Milton has a G3SW from small crops.
The Factor retired to Lane’s End for $15,000 in 2013, peaked at $25,000 in 2016 and 2017, went to Japan for 2018 and bred 166 mares — he won’t have any 2yos in NA this year — and returned to Lane’s End in 2019, standing again for $15,000. He’s been at $17,500 since 2020.
Because his progeny tend to get better with age and are not generally Triple Crown-trail type of horses, The Factor has not been as popular as he deserves to be. His current 3yos comprise his smallest crop of Northern Hemisphere foals of racing age, with 70 or so, and those are from the mares bred in the immediate aftermath of his first-crop 2yo G1 winner Noted and Quoted. (His other G1SW, Cistron, got his G1 as a 5yo on the dirt in 2019.)
Charmaine’s Mia (dam by Bernstein) was a $40,000 Keeneland November weanling RNA and $4,000 Keeneland September yearling sale to Cool Hill Farm, and she won four races in 25 starts from two to four for owner/trainer Michael McDonald at Woodbine and Gulfstream before her private sale at the end of 2020 led to a barn switch to Phil D’Amato, for whom now at the age of five she’s undefeated in three starts, all Graded stakes races on the turf in California. She’s bred on a The Factor/Storm Cat-line A eNick that has also produced G3SW Chiefdom, among others. She briefly held the 6-furlong course record at Santa Anita in January, for about two weeks.
It’s because The Factor sires the kind of horses that aren’t early and/or don’t necessarily have a lucrative stud career looming that we get to enjoy a horse like Bound for Nowhere for a while. A $310,000 Cromwell Bloodstock yearling purchase on behalf of owner/trainer Wesley Ward from breeders Wayne, Gray, and Bryan Lyster of Ashview Farm, Keeneland-based Bound for Nowhere is a physically imposing individual, though not quite as big as 17-hand Midnight Lute (Real Quiet), the two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner who is a half-brother to Bound for Nowhere’s dam Fancy Deed (Alydeed). Daughters of Alydeed have produced just three GSWs, one of which is War Front’s G2SW War Dancer, from 20 total SWs.
At three in 2017, Bound for Nowhere won his first two races — a maiden at Turfway and turf allowance at Keeneland — by a combined 10 1/4 lengths before traveling to Royal Ascot, where in only his third lifetime start (which speaks to the high regard his trainer has always had for him), he ran fourth behind Caravaggio, Harry Angel, and Blue Point in the G1 Commonwealth Cup for 3yos. Caravaggio has first 2yos this year (and is already represented by a winner), Harry Angel has yearlings, and Blue Point has foals, so it really hits home how lucky we are that Bound for Nowhere, who remains an intact horse, is still racing and competitive at Graded stakes level.
He earned his first line of black type winning the 2018 G2 Shakertown, a race he’s now won twice, and stretched out in distance to take down the Listed Tourist Mile, a $750,000 race at Kentucky Downs, that same year. He also ran second by a neck and third by a head and a neck, respectively, in the 2019 and 2020 Shakertown, plus a second by a head in last year’s San Simeon at Santa Anita to The Factor’s Cistron (Officer), from the same crop as Bound for Nowhere. The 2021 Shakertown win margin was a nose.
Ward has never hesitated to give Bound for Nowhere time off if he doesn’t feel the horse is at 110%, and consequently, he’s never made more than five starts in a single year. From 15 races spaced out across five seasons, he’s got three stakes wins — and seven total wins — with four Graded/Group stakes seconds and thirds. He’s earned $999,857 (in USD and converted GBP currencies) and will become a millionaire in his next start…and before the end of 2021, maybe another G1 winner for The Factor.