Claiborne's First-Crop Sires Send Strong Contingent to Keeneland

Catholic Boy at Claiborne Farm Sara Gordon

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Following the passing of world-renowned international stallion More Than Ready this summer, four of his sons now stand in Kentucky in the hopes of carrying the torch for their accomplished sire.

Among them, Catholic Boy holds the distinction of earning Grade I victories on two surfaces. After collecting six graded wins over his three-year racing campaign, Catholic Boy launched his stud career at Claiborne Farm in 2020. The farm's Walker Hancock said that the $2.1 million earner, who is out a daughter of productive broodmare sire Bernardini, has all the criteria to replicate his sire's success.

“He has turned into a really gorgeous sire,” Hancock said. “He has the perfect mix of More Than Ready and Bernardini, which I think is appealing to breeders. He really fits the mold of a great stallion and we look for him to continue More Than Ready's legacy.”

The picture of versatility on the racetrack, Catholic Boy won the GIII With Anticipation S. at two in his second career start for Jonathan Thomas and then switched to dirt to take the GII Remsen S. As a sophomore, he tallied turf scores in the GIII Pennine Ridge S. and GI Belmont Derby Invitational S. and got his signature dirt Grade I in the 2018 Runhappy Travers S. He returned to the grass at four to take the GII Dixie S.

Launched at a stud fee of $25,000, Catholic Boy bred over 130 mares in his debut at Claiborne. This year his first crop of yearlings will go through the sales ring, but which surface will they ultimately excel on?

“They're kind of across the board,” Hancock explained. “They're a bit like More Than Ready in that you can get bay and chestnut, big and small. You can look at one Catholic Boy and say that this one looks like it's going to be dirt and then you look at the next one and say this one is going to be turf. He's really providing that versatility through his offspring that we saw him have on the track.”

At the breeding stock sales, Catholic Boy's first weanlings averaged over $60,000. With 20 of 24 sold, five youngsters sold for six figures. The Claiborne sire will be represented by nearly 60 yearlings at the Keeneland September Sale. Within that group, Claiborne will offer two in Book 2. Hancock said the pair is an accurate representation of the versatility Catholic Boy seems to be throwing.

Hip 714, a Catholic Boy colt out of Line (War Front) | Sara Gordon

Hip 638 is a filly out of the winning Speightstown mare Fashion Week. The yearling's second dam is Grade I-placed Theyskens' Theory (Bernardini), a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Stevie Wonderboy (Stephen Got Even).

“We've had buyers come to the farm over the last two weeks and every single one of them seem to really like her,” Hancock said of the filly. “She has a real presence about her. She's a really pretty individual and she looks like she'll hopefully be one of Catholic Boy's highest-priced yearlings.”

Hip 714 is a colt out of the winning War Front mare Line, who hails from a long line of Claiborne-bred broodmares. Line's dam Wend (Pulpit) was a three-time graded winner on grass.

“It looks like he'll have a little turf influence in his athletic abilities,” Hancock explained. “We're really pleased with how he has progressed. He has really blossomed with sales prep and I think buyers will be pleased with what they see.”

As the son of a War Front mare, this colt is a result of the matings that Claiborne envisioned when they brought Catholic Boy to the farm with the hope of supporting broodmares by their flagbearing sire.

“One of our draws with Catholic Boy was that we have a lot of War Front mares and More Than Ready crosses really well with Danzig,” Hancock noted. “[The cross] has had a ton of success in Australia especially and I think we'll see it more and more here in America hopefully in the next couple of years. It's a good cross because some of the War Front mares aren't the biggest and leggiest, but Catholic Boy is really providing the kind of size and leg they might need.”

Claiborne will showcase yearlings by a second first-crop sire at Keeneland September with Demarchelier, who has over a dozen youngsters cataloged for the auction.

A regally-bred son of Dubawi–and the only stallion in Kentucky by the globally-successful Darley sire–Demarchelier was a 'TDN Rising Star' on debut for Peter Brant and Chad Brown in his lone juvenile start. At three, he defeated allowance company on the Keeneland turf and then showed an impressive turn of foot to take the GIII Pennine Ridge S. After incurring a career-ending injury in his next start, he retired to Claiborne.

Demarchelier strikes a pose | Sara Gordon

Hancock said their team was not sure how the talented bay would be received by the market with his short-but-impeccable turf resume, but he shared that they were thrilled with how breeders responded to the new stallion, who has stood for a fee of $5,000 in his first three years at stud.

Demarchelier bred 102 mares in his first crop, which we were more than happy with,” Hancock said. “[Despite] being a horse that was just three for three and with a very European pedigree, he really wasn't that hard of a sell thanks to Dubawi doing so well as an international sire. Peter Brant supported him heavily and he always told us that the horse had a ton of ability.”

While Catholic Boy seems to be throwing an array of types with his progeny, Hancock said that Demarchelier is definitely stamping his offspring.

“Every single one of them looks exactly like him. They're not the biggest, but they're really good movers. They look like they're going to be very turfy. If you've seen Dubawi, Demarchelier has a lot of his characteristics. Obviously Dubawi's sons are really excelling in Europe and we expect Demarchelier to do that here too. We have a lot of really good breeders behind the horse and I think when they hit the racetrack this time next year, they'll speak for themselves.”

For more TDN Features on first-crop yearling sires, click here

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