By Lucas Marquardt
Qatar Racing’s American-bred Legends of War (Scat Daddy), raised and sold in Kentucky, is slated to compete in Royal Ascot’s G2 Coventry S. on opening day of the famous meeting June 19 on the heels of an impressive debut maiden win traveling six furlongs at Yarmouth May 23. Bred by Deron Pearson’s DP Racing and raised at Taylor Made Farm, the colt sold for $200,000 to Hunter Valley Farm at the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase yearling sale last September before ultimately re-selling for 900,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale. With Legends of War seemingly poised to make a mark across the Atlantic, Mark Taylor of Taylor Made sat down with the TDN to discuss the colt’s story. An edited transcript follows.
TDN: What were your impressions of Legends of War as a youngster on the farm? Did he show anything that suggested he could one day become a successful racehorse?
MT: Legends of War is a horse that’s very interesting–especially in context of the American horses going to Europe conversation. First of all, I want to give [the staff on the farm] credit. We’re raising a lot of good horses here right now and it has nothing to do with–we’ve just got an awesome team and I give them so much credit for the way they take care of these horses.
Legends of War was always a horse that honestly we picked on for being too small. If you go back and look at the notes, he was very well made, a very good mover, very correct, a touch short-legged. But if you look at him, he is by Scat Daddy out of a Rahy mare, out of Danehill Dancer mare, and he looked like he was supposed to look. He wasn’t supposed to be a big horse.
You look at a horse like Legends of War, you could tell he would have a turn of foot. He was more of a compact, big hipped, nimble kind of horse that had a huge, huge walk on him.
TDN: You brought Legends of War to the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Sale and he ultimately hammered for $200,000 to Hunter Valley Farm. What were your expectations when you brought him to auction?
TDN: We figured a European was probably going to buy this horse, so [we decided to] put him over there. He sold for $200,000, which at the time, was good. But we raised him for Deron Pearson, who’s a very good client of ours and maybe we underestimated that colt to Deron. I’m sure in hindsight, maybe he would have kept him. The plan as always was to sell the horse. Deron keeps a few, but he’ll put most of his through the ring. He’s a great breeder. Most people know him as just a racing guy, but he’s producing.
TDN: Hunter Valley ultimately resold Legends of War for 900,000gns at the Tattersalls Breeze-Up Sale as a 2-year-old and he took a major step towards justifying the price with an impressive debut win at Yarmouth last month. What were your thoughts on the performance?
MT: I was super impressed by Legends of War–that’s kind of what I envisioned him doing. I said, “This horse is going to be early, and he’s going to be turf.” So it didn’t really surprise me, but you never know if a horse is going to have that class.
And the way he won was super impressive, and it bodes well for what’s on the horizon.
TDN: You also consigned two-time group stakes winner and recent G1 Investec Derby runner-up Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy) as a Keeneland September yearling in 2016. Do you notice any subtleties to the differences between turf racing in North America and Europe? Specifically, are there certain types of horses who are better equipped to handle racing over there?
MT: Roaring Lion was always getting a tick higher grades [than Legends of War] conformationally, and I think that’s because as Americans, we’ve got a little bit more of a size bias than Europeans do.
When we had Unbridled’s Songs, and a lot of them, they tried taking a few of them over to Europe. Unbridled’s Song was a sneaky good turf sire in America, but he was too big in my opinion to handle the courses over there with the undulation. They weren’t nimble enough. They’re galloping horses. They can’t get stopped, they can’t get in trouble and the turn of foot is not their thing.
TDN: Scat Daddy is obviously at the top of everyone’s mind these days after Justify’s Triple Crown win and a number of other top-level performances. Although he passed away at a young age, do you see him making a mark on the breed for years to come?
MT: We all need a son of Scat Daddy to emerge on both sides [of the Atlantic]–it’s happening over here with Justify obviously, but the more these sons of Scat Daddy that we can get into the breeding shed over the next few years, the better for everybody. It’s amazing because if you look around, as of last year, there really are not a lot of sources of [the Scat Daddy bloodline]…Hopefully the more of those we can get in these last couple crops, the better.
TDN: Do you have any other runners slated to compete at Royal Ascot?
MT: There is a really nice filly by First Samurai called Chelsea Cloisters–we had her in [Fasig-Tipton] July last year, and Gatewood Bell has had a lot of luck buying from us. He bought Con Te Partiro (Scat Daddy) a couple years ago and she won a listed race at Royal Ascot, and then he bought this filly. He made a really nice buy there–she has shown that she’s got some class and she’s going to be tough over there.
We really have a lot of good horses running in Europe, and the timing couldn’t be better because the markets are getting very international. Luckily, we’ve got breeders that are producing those kind of horses that can go over there and compete with the world’s best.