Hawkbill's half-brother gives their dam a second elite win
Breeders' Cup Juvenile beckons for Trensa's son by Union Rags
Those browsing the breeding stock catalogue at Keeneland next month will be hoping not to miss out as their predecessors did at the 2008 sale, when a young mare by Giant's Causeway failed to reach her reserve at $265,000.
Trensa, then a four-year-old, actually persevered on the racetrack for a couple of years and managed a Grade 3 podium on turf at Del Mar. When eventually retired by her owner-breeder, that marvellous Texas character Helen Kleberg Groves of King Ranch, the mare was sent for her second cover to Kitten's Joy and produced a chestnut colt well spotted, at $350,000, by John Ferguson at the Keeneland September Sale. Named Hawkbill, he won the Eclipse last year and failed only by a head to win his second elite prize in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine last month.
On Saturday Trensa's 2015 foal by Union Rags, Free Drop Billy, became her second winner at the highest level when a four-length winner of the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
On his previous start, in the Hopeful at Saratoga, he had charged through from off the pace to get within a neck of the veering winner, Sporting Chance, and this time clearly relished his first chance to run two turns. Robby Albarado testified colourfully to the improvement made by the colt for a longer, cleaner trip. "He's been in a lot of trouble in all of his starts," the jockey said. "He's got a lot of hair on his chest for a young horse."
Free Drop Billy maintains the momentum for Union Rags, the Lane's End sophomore who produced three Grade 1 winners (all fillies) from his first crop: Paradise Woods, who only the previous weekend had added the Zenyatta Stakes to her 12-length Santa Anita Oaks romp; Alcibiades Stakes winner Dancing Rags; and Del Mar Debutante winner Union Strike.
Union Rags is also responsible for the popular one-eyed Patch, who finished third in the Belmont – the Classic he had himself won on what turned out to be his final start. It was sooner his two-year-old form, perhaps, that qualified the big-striding son of Dixie Union for an opening fee of $35,000, having won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes by five lengths before failing by just a head to reel in Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The endeavours of his first runners in 2016 earned Union Rags a hike to $50,000 this year.
Free Drop Billy was acquired by the Albaugh Family Stable at Keeneland last September for $200,000, and after his Hopeful run they proved ready to spend four times as much on his $800,000 Curlin half-brother at the same sale last month. Trensa has a More Than Ready foal at foot and a sibling to Hawkbill is anticipated after she returned to Kitten's Joy this year.
Trensa was homebred by Groves from her Fappiano mare Serape, purchased in utero with the In Reality mare Mochila for $750,000 from the Tartan Farms/John A Nerud dispersal in 1987. Mochila was a Grade 1-placed half-sister to Cozzene, and Serape went on to win the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes. Her daughter by Storm Cat, a three-parts sister to Trensa, was a triple Grade 3 winner on turf. It's a family that seems to reflect the profile of different sires, in terms of racing surface, but then few people nowadays seem disposed to find out how versatile their horses might be.
Free Drop Willy had started off his Saratoga sojourn when second to Firenze Fire, the pair clear, in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes. While that was over just six furlongs, the form doesn't look too bad now after Firenze Fire – only fourth in the Hopeful in the meantime, when evidently not in peak condition – himself won a Grade 1 on Saturday in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont.
This is a colt to give everyone hope, a first foal homebred from a Langfuhr mare named My Every Wish, claimed at Aqueduct for just $16,000. He is one of just 51 foals in the first crop of Poseidon's Warrior, a speedy son of Speightstown who won the Grade 1 Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap, standing for $6,500 at Pleasant Acres in Florida – home also to Treasure Beach, the Irish Derby winner who has been making a very good early impression.
Like Free Drop Billy, Firenze Fire has now booked himself a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. It is a rags-to-riches rise, but you do not have to seek far for an explanation. For My Every Wish, second in both her career starts, is out of a sister to none other than Oatsee – a Broodmare of the Year with Graded stakes winners including Alabama Stakes winner Lady Joanne and Preakness hero Shackleford.
As a mare that can likewise deliver two Grade 1 winners, that puts Trensa in pretty good company.