'Campaign' Unites Legacies of Tragic Dam and 'Gray Ghost'

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Global CampaignCoglianese

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The present crisis will perhaps find horsemen a little more stoical than most. When it comes to biding their time, after all, the Thoroughbred gives them plenty of practice. Nonetheless it must test the patience more than anything to have a racehorse just back to fitness this spring after a long lay-off, only to find most of the racing program immersed by the pandemic.

What a relief for his connections then that Global Campaign (Curlin) was able to find a landing strip for his touchdown, after a nine-month absence, at Gulfstream last weekend. Given the prevailing lack of options, it was a strong field for the grade and they tore through an opening half of :44 2/5. But Global Campaign, working his way into contention on the outside, really found his rhythm in the last of the seven furlongs and imposed himself by a length and a half on dual graded stakes winner Yorkton (Speightstown).

It was an immaculate comeback for a colt who had looked one of the most talented sophomores in Florida early last year, only to exit the Derby trail when grabbing a quarter in the GII Fountain of Youth S. He returned to beat subsequent GI Belmont S. winner Sir Winston (Awesome Again) in the GIII Peter Pan S., only to disappear again–evidently with bone bruising–after finishing third in the GII Jim Dandy S.

While a different kind of uncertainty still hinders their planning, there's no disguising the excitement shared by his owners now that Global Campaign appears ready to make up for lost time. And rightly so. For however he can consolidate his stud credentials, in the coming months, he already seems charged with a vital legacy.

That's because his mother, in giving him life, surrendered her own. Globe Trot (A.P. Indy) ruptured a mesentery, requiring the orphaned colt to be raised by a nurse mare. The scale of that loss would soon become apparent, as her two previous foals progressed onto the track. The first, by Distorted Humor, became the Grade II-placed, multiple stakes winner Sonic Mule; and the second is none other than Bolt d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro), who won two Grade Is as a juvenile and is now standing for $25,000 at Spendthrift.

With Global Campaign now gilding her reputation afresh, it seems especially sad that Globe Trot never bequeathed a filly to WinStar Farm. On the other hand, they could have lost the connection altogether, but for agreeing to partner with Sagamore Farm when its president Hunter Rankin and trainer Stan Hough, acting for their employer Kevin Plank, gave $250,000 for the mare's last yearling at Keeneland September 2017.

Rankin had Hip 1230 folded down in his catalog from the outset. Globe Trot was a half-sister to the dam of Recruiting Ready (Algorithms), who had by that stage won a couple of black-type prizes and been placed in three graded stakes in the Sagamore colors. Sonic Mule, moreover, was already up and running, with a similar profile and, a neon update. Bolt d'Oro had won the GI Del Mar Futurity immediately prior to the sale.

Rankin duly feared that the colt would prove beyond reach. As luck should have it, however, one or two superficial discouragements were reducing traffic to his stall.

“As a yearling, he had some epiphysitis on a knee,” remembers WinStar CEO Elliott Walden. “It was unsightly and took everyone off but Hunter and Stan. We try to sell most of our yearling crop, and decided that $250,000 was a fair price. I have had a great relationship with the Rankin family over the years, and we were happy to stay in. Stan is a top trainer and has had a lot of success for many years. We were comfortable with the situation.”

“We really didn't think we'd be able to afford him,” admits Rankin. “But he was in Book II, I guess the epiphysitis may have turned some people off and, at that point, he was maybe still just on the small side. He was very playful, he'd get up on his hind legs and all that kind of stuff. But he was already a powerful-looking horse, with a lot of presence, and of course Curlin was really starting to get going.”

Rankin, who stresses that the WinStar team have proved wonderful partners throughout, was delighted by their ready assent to an express desire that the horse go through the Sagamore program.

“Stan is like a second father to me, a real mentor,” Rankin explains. “Number one, he's a great guy; and number two, he's an incredible horseman. I've learned so much from him. With our operation, we kind of do everything soup-to-nuts. So when you have one that's special, you live and breathe it every day. I'm not saying this horse would be any less talented in another barn. But these people who are around him every day, they're our team. You see how they put their heart and soul into every single horse, so when you have one that can really run, you feel it a little more; everyone can participate. To have that buy-in, that's a Sagamore goal.”

At the same time, Rankin was thrilled with WinStar's rehabilitation team when Global Campaign was sidelined last summer. And as so often with horses–hence, perhaps, the kind of stoicism noted at the outset–the time off has, in some respects, been a blessing in disguise.

“As my late, great owner Jimmy Stone used to say, 'Sometimes your bad luck is your good luck,'” remarks Walden, who in his training days prepared Menifee (Harlan) to finish second in two Classics for that gentleman.

“No question about it,” Rankin agrees. “Because actually last year Global Campaign was still a big kid. He's always been pretty good around the barn, but on the racetrack he was a little immature. He'd buck and kick when breaking off from the pony, that kind of thing. Mentally, he has matured a whole lot since he left us last year at Saratoga. Stan always gives horses time to mature, which really helps them; and WinStar did a great job with their lay-up program. So we're very pleased with how he's developed as a 4-year-old. He's always had the physical gifts but if he can put his mind on his business, and really get focused, I think he's going to have a big future.

“He is a gorgeous horse, physically. I think he's the perfect size, not humongous, I'd say around 16.2hh; really nice-bodied, very powerful, with a beautiful stride and very efficient movement. And he's got that presence about him. He's what you dream about. You just don't come across horses like that very often–especially in a stable like ours. It's not like we have 100 horses in training.”

The present strength is more like 20. Sagamore was purchased by Maryland native Plank in 2007 with the long-term ambition of renewing its historic luster. How fitting, then, that Global Campaign's sire Curlin should represent a line tracing to Native Dancer: “the Gray Ghost of Sagamore”.

That is scarcely an unusual distinction since Curlin's grandsire Mr Prospector got to work. There is plainly something quite out of the ordinary, however, about the contribution of Global Campaign's dam.

Globe Trot was originally bought by Bill Graves for Gordon Stollery for $100,000 from Claiborne Farm at Keeneland September in 2009. They were amazed to get her at that price. Her dam Trip (Lord At War {Arg}) had won three graded stakes and was a half-sister to the listed-winning dam of that summer's sprint sensation Zensational (Unbridled's Song).

The next dam Tour, incidentally, introduces another line of Mr Prospector through her sire Forty Niner. But speed pervades this pedigree in many layers. Zensational himself won three Grade I sprints, vindicating one of the late Jimmy Crupi's legendary paydays ($20,000 KeeSep yearling to $700,000 F-T Florida 2-year-old). And this is one of the very fastest lines tracing to the matriarch Myrtlewood.

Some additional zip was applied through Tour's granddam, both of whose parents were out of mares by Spy Song, runner-up in Assault's Kentucky Derby before confirming his real metier in sprints. More resonant duplication, however, concerns Myrtlewood herself. For other branches of her dynasty also unite the families not only of Mr Prospector himself, but also of Seattle Slew–responsible, of course, for Globe Trot's sire A.P. Indy.

Globe Trot was sold to WinStar after the death of Stollery in December 2011 and added a third career win in their silks without being able to extend the stakes success of her first four dams.

“She was by A.P. Indy but much more balanced and typey than most,” recalls Walden. “She was a medium-sized mare, with a quality head, and good balance. She was athletic.”

Both Globe Trot and her dam Trip, though each by influences for stamina, operated around a mile; Tour was a sprinter, so, emphatically, was her son Zensational; and so was Sonic Mule. Zensational's half-sister has produced Cutting Humor, who broke the nine-furlong track record in the GIII Sunland Park Derby last year; but Bolt d'Oro was dropped in distance for the GI Met Mile, his only start after the Kentucky Derby. With so much speed holding up against the Classic influences in his family, it may be that Global Campaign ultimately proves an ideal type for just that race.

But one step at a time. For now, Rankin is thrilled simply to have the horse back and thriving.

“He's always had a world of talent, he's just had some nagging things that have delayed him,” he says. “But he's doing very well now, and we're very excited. We didn't crank on him as much as you might for a horse coming off a nine-month lay-off, so what he did the other day he kind of did on his own and I think that says a lot about him.

“It wasn't about this race, it was about getting him ready for what's next. He had a patient rider, who I thought rode him very well. The horse didn't break well but we kind of expected that, not being as sharp as he could be, and Chris Landeros just let him settle. 'Global' was really getting into his best from the eighth-pole down to the wire, and he came out of the race great. Obviously we're going to have to see what the schedule looks like, for the end of the summer and the fall. But if he stays sound, he's got the talent to be very special.”

Rankin sees echoes in Global Campaign, as an older horse, of another son of Curlin in Palace Malice. And Walden is already excited by the idea that he can someday redeem the tragic loss of his dam at WinStar.

“We are excited about standing him at stud,” he says. “The combination of his sire, female family, good looks and race record make him an extremely attractive stallion prospect. And we're excited about racing him the rest of the year, because we believe he can be competitive at a higher level. We have had some bad luck with him, but the team here at WinStar helped rehab him last summer and fall. Getting to see him develop as a homebred, and then to rehab him, he has a special place in our hearts. We were all texting after his win on Saturday.”

WinStar, of course, has dealt with many a champion in recent years–not least a Triple Crown winner. As such, the blooming of Global Campaign will be even more precious at Sagamore, where the team is so respectfully striving to stoke the embers of a great Maryland Turf tradition.

“When Stan and I got together on this project, I guess about five years ago, this was always the goal,” Rankin said. “Obviously you want to win the Derby and all of that, like everybody does. But what we really wanted was to find a horse that could carry the torch for Sagamore, and make it go on past us. I'm not saying that he's that, yet. But he has the makings and the talent to do that.

“An operation our size obviously has lots of competition. And really good competition: to find horses like this, we're competing against very smart people, with a lot of money. So I'd love to be able to look at Kevin and tell him that we did what we set out to do. There's a lot of luck involved. But the way Kevin has treated us, it would be wonderful for this horse to let something great happen.”

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