By Andrew Caulfield
Only a week ago, when discussing the long-term prospects for the survival of Storm Cat’s male line, I wasn’t sure whether to mention the Forestry branch alongside those of Harlan, Hennessy and Giant’s Causeway. In the end I decided not to, but perhaps I should have–it was Forestry’s son Shackleford who supplied Promises Fulfilled, the unexpected winner of Saturday’s GII Fountain of Youth S.
Promises Fulfilled comes from only the second crop of 3-year- olds by the 2011 GI Preakness S. winner, and the first also produced a winner of a Grade II carrying 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. That was the Rebel S. winner Malagacy, who never made it to the Triple Crown.
My reluctance to include Forestry in last week’s article reflected the doubts created by his topsy-turvy stallion career. After all, how many stallions have ever commanded a fee as high as $125,000, only to plummet to as little as $8,000 only six years later? By the end of 2014 it had been announced that Forestry would not be returning from his shuttle visit to Brazil.
Forestry’s story could be described as a salutary warning to anyone (and this includes virtually everyone) who is tempted to get carried away by a stallion’s early results.
Expectations were already high before Forestry had even had a runner, as he had hit the headlines both as a yearling and as a 3-year-old. With Storm Cat as his sire and the Grade I winner Shared Interest as his dam, the young Forestry was guaranteed to attract considerable attention when he appeared at the 1997 Keeneland July Selected Sale–especially when Shared Interest’s third and fifth dams were those famous mares Sequence and Myrtlewood. Even though the youngster was little more than 14 months old, he topped the sale at $1,500,000 and was sent to Bob Baffert. All he needed to do was win a Grade I and he was going to be a very valuable stallion prospect.
Shared Interest hadn’t become a Grade I winner until she was five and this fact, coupled with Forestry’s May 9 birthday, helps explain why Forestry wasn’t asked to race at two. His trainer once explained that, “when we bought him, he was medium-sized and got big quick. That’s why I didn’t want to push him too early.”
Forestry soon rewarded his connections’ patience, with his record standing at six wins, a second and a third after eight starts. He was winning for the fifth successive time when he landed the GII Dwyer S. over a mile and a sixteenth, but the step up to a mile and an eighth in the GI Haskell Invitational proved just too much. Forestry weakened into third place in the closing stages after leading most of the way.
Forestry’s search for that all-important Grade I victory saw him dropped back to seven furlongs in the King’s Bishop S. and he seized his chance, winning well after covering the first half-mile in :43.59 and six furlongs in 1:07.68. Forestry started favorite for the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint on the strength of this victory but could finish only fourth behind Artax. Incidentally, his year-younger half-sister Cash Run had fared much better earlier on Breeders’ Cup day, winning the Juvenile Fillies.
Forestry duly became the highest-priced new sire of 2000 when he retired to Taylor Made Farm at a fee of $50,000. Judged purely on his first crop, you could be forgiven for thinking that Forestry had a good chance of following in Storm Cat’s footsteps to the champion sire title. This crop contained 75 named foals, of which six (8%) became graded stakes winners and a further ten finished second or third at the graded level. That’s more than 21% graded stakes performers. It was Forest Danger, winner of the Carter H., who became his first Grade I winner in 2005.
Forestry’s second crop, numbering only 56 named foals, produced another two graded winners and the Grade I winners Diplomat Lady and Discreet Cat emerged from an 82-strong third crop. The 10 graded winners from these first three crops represented 4.7%, which encouraged the belief that even better was to come from the crops sired at ever-greater fees. However, there were no graded winners among the 2006 crop’s 106 foals, sired at $75,000; just one Grade III winner among the 2007 crop’s 90 named foals, sired at $100,000; and no graded winners among the 2009 crop’s 94 foals, also sired at $100,000.
The one bit of good news concerned Forestry’s 2008 crop–his most expensive, at $125,000. Its two graded winners were headed by Shackleford, who won a legion of admirers with his courage and his bold running style. In defeating Animal Kingdom to land the Preakness, Shackleford became the first colt by a son of Storm Cat to win a Triple Crown event, and he also trained on well enough to take the GI Metropolitan H. and GI Clark H. as a 4-year-old. His trail-blazing Met Mile success was especially admirable.
Shackleford also has the distinction of being out of Oatsee, a Broodmare of the Year who has produced graded stakes winners to four different stallions.
Promises Fulfilled follows Malagacy, Wellabled and Dream It Is as the fourth graded winner to emerge from Shackleford’s first two crops, each of them sired at a fee of $20,000 at Darby Dan. With more than 100 juveniles in his third crop, it is going to be interesting to see what the rest of 2018 holds for the 10-year- old stallion.
There’s a good chance that we haven’t yet seen the full extent of Promises Fulfilled’s talent, as he has a May 11 birthday and has raced only four times. Shackleford would probably need a little help from his mares if he is to sire contenders for the GI Kentucky Derby or the GI Belmont S.
Promises Fulfilled’s dam Marquee Delivery may be one such mare. This versatile mare, who showed her form on dirt, turf and all-weather, was third in the GIII Arlington Oaks over a mile and an eighth. She was bred to stay reasonably well, as her sire, the flashily-marked Marquetry, was a Grade I winner over a mile and a quarter and her dam, the stakes-winning Fast Delivery, was a daughter of Little Missouri, a Grade I winner over a mile and a half. The main cause for doubt is that Marquetry sired two Eclipse Award winners and both of them–Artax and Squirtle Squirt–were champion sprinters.