By Alan Carasso
Fort Warren (c, 2, Curlin–La Appassionata, by Bernardini), a $550,000 Keeneland September yearling acquisition, took race-long pressure through fast internal fractions and clung on gamely late to graduate at first asking Sunday at Santa Anita en route to the 'TDN Rising Star' distinction. He is the 22nd 'Rising Star' for his leading Hill 'n' Dale-based stallion.
Away only fairly from the inside gate, Fort Warren had to be used some by go-to rider Juan Hernandez, but speared through to take up the running and covered the opening couple of furlongs in a slick :21.75, with second-time starter Johannes (Nyquist) glued to his flank. Ridden along on the turn while maintaining a narrow advantage, Fort Warren always appeared to be going slightly better than Johannes after a half in a testing :44.65, but that duo soon had company in the form of the well-meant firster Spun Intended (Hard Spun), who sat a wide trip near the tail early on before coming into the race nicely, having covered significant ground on the turn. Fort Warren turned back the Johannes challenge once and for all in upper stretch, but Spun Intended refused to go down without a fight, as he battled bravely for every yard, only to drop a long-neck decision.
“This horse, being by Curlin, they're not supposed to have that kind of speed, but he's a beautiful horse and we're excited about him,” said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “That was a tough field…Having the one-hole and having to go that fast early and then he would let that horse get past him. He showed a lot of grit.”
The Feb. 11 foal is the lone listed produce for his SW/GSP dam, a full-sister to GSW Wilburn and a half to Grade II-winning juvenile Beethoven (Sky Mesa) and to the dam of GSW Moonlight d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro), who sadly passed away after foaling Fort Warren in 2020. Moonlight Sonata, who won the GIII Arlington-Washington Lassie S. at odds of 60-1 in 2002 for trainer Bill Helmbrecht, is also the dam of $1.1-million KEESEP yearling A.P. Sonata (A.P. Indy), whose son Grand Sonata (Medaglia d'Oro) won this year's GIII Kitten's Joy S. for Whisper Hill Farm and was a latest third in the GII Hill Prince S. at Aqueduct. Stonestreet purchased Moonlight Sonata for $750,000 carrying the filly that would become La Appassionata at Keeneland November in 2012. This is also the family of champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road).
The cross of Curlin over A.P. Indy-line mares has resulted in countless winners at the graded level and, when bred specifically to Bernardini dams, Curlin is responsible for MGISW and GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff hopeful Clairiere, GISW Paris Lights and other graded winners Cezanne and 'Rising Star' Spice Is Nice.
6th-Santa Anita, $62,500, Msw, 10-30, 2yo, 6 1/2f, 1:15.92, ft, 1/2 length.
FORT WARREN, c, 2, by Curlin
1st Dam: La Appassionata (SW & GSP, $162,920), by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Moonlight Sonata, by Carson City
3rd Dam: Wheatly Way, by Wheatly Hall
Sales history: $550,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,600. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC & Catherine Donovan; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.