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Into Mischief and Mitole available to quarter horses via artificial insemination

Mitole wins the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita at the start of November
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Spendthrift Farm has partnered with Robicheaux Ranch and will offer the opportunity for quarter horse mares to breed with leading thoroughbred stallion Into Mischief and recent Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Mitole for the 2020 season.

The two big breeding operations announced this need-for-speed development on Wednesday and confirmed the cross-breeding will be by artificial insemination, starting in the 2020 breeding season.

Between Spendthrift Farm owner B Wayne Hughes looking for creative ideas and Ryan Robicheaux, manager of Robicheaux Ranch in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana., looking for an outcross, the venture interested both sides of the deal. 

Spendthrift's stallion sales manager, Mark Toothaker, said Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, who campaigned four-time Grade 1 winner Mitole, approached Spendthrift with the idea.

Toothaker said: "They had approached us early on that they had some people in the quarter horse business - of course, they have a quarter horse background, and [Mitole's trainer] Steve Asmussen does as well.

"They'd been approached by some folks wanting to know if we would make Mitole available to breed to some quarter horse mares and that they had some real high-end mares that would be interested in breeding to him."

Though the initial conversations were all about Mitole, the name of leading stallion Into Mischief was brought up while the partnership was being worked out.

"He's been a breed-changing stallion in the thoroughbred world," Toothaker said. "Why couldn't he have tremendous influence on the quarter horse world?"

Robicheaux Ranch will handle the frozen semen collected from Into Mischief and Mitole, as well as the contracts for the mares.

The collection for artificial insemination will not affect the full book of thoroughbred mares scheduled for Into Mischief and Mitole in Lexington.

The Jockey Club requires live cover for thoroughbreds to be registered and does not allow artificial insemination.

The American Quarter Horse Association, which allows for artificial insemination, registers thoroughbred-quarter horse crosses with its Appendix Registry.

Into Mischief's son Goldencents wins the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in 2013

Into Mischief will be offered at a $10,000 fee for quarter horse mares, and freshman stallion Mitole will be offered at $4,000. Their thoroughbred fees for 2020 are $175,000 and $25,000 respectively. 

"This is something new. It's never been done before in this type of scale," said Toothaker. "Obviously, they bred Storm Cat to quarter horse mares and I know that Favorite Trick had some success."

Two-time leading sire Storm Cat, Favorite Trick, the 1997 horse of the year, and Hennessy, a Grade 1-winning son of Storm Cat, have all produced Graded-winning appendix horses, who raced on the quarter horse circuit.

Robicheaux noted that Favorite Cartel, a Grade 1-winning appendix son of Favorite Trick, is one of the leading sires in the quarter horse industry. Favorite Cartel is located at Burns Ranch in Menifee, California, and will stand for $12,500 in 2020.

"We're searching and we're dying for that outcross right now to breed to our mares," said Robicheaux. "Right now, you buy a mare in the quarter horse industry, you're limited who you can breed it to. They've tried some thoroughbreds, but we've never had the calibre that Mr Hughes at Spendthrift is offering."

In addition to handling contracts for other quarter horse mares, Robicheaux, planning to breed some of his own to Spendthrift's stallion, added: "I'm excited. It's got a big buzz around the horse industry - quarter horse and thoroughbred - and I'm very fortunate."

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He's been a breed-changing stallion in the thoroughbred world. Why couldn't he have tremendous influence on the quarter horse world?
E.W. Terms