By Alan Carasso
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners has acquired a part-interest in recent 'TDN Rising Star' Annex (Constitution) from LNJ Foxwoods, Aron Wellman, Eclipse's managing partner tweeted and then later confirmed via phone Thursday afternoon.
“We're in a fortunate position where we've got a good relationship with the Roth family, with Jaime, and I go way, way back with Alex Solis [III] and Jason Litt, their advisors,” said Wellman. “That existing relationship certainly helped to be able to open the door for the opportunity to buy into the colt.”
Sent off at debut odds of 5-1 in a one-mile Gulfstream maiden Jan. 16, Annex was given a patient ride by Junior Alvarado and hit top gear at the eighth pole, streaking home to graduate in extremely impressive fashion (video). The flashy chestnut earned a very strong 81 Beyer Speed Figure.
“It was really an eye-catching performance,” Wellman said. “I don't think it took any sort of profound opinion to get on the horn and try to see if a horse of his caliber could be added to our stable. I thought it was a very good group of colts that he ran against and the style and manner in which he was able to win the race and show such an electric turn of foot–he came home wicked fast that day, and looked like potentially he had more gears to call upon if Junior Alvarado had asked him to do so.”
He continued, “He comes from a Hall of Fame operation in Bill Mott and you know he is thinking long-term with a colt like Annex. He certainly didn't have him cranked up first time, so we'd like to think there is plenty more there. When a horse flashes that type of natural ability in a debut and especially around two turns at a major venue, those are certainly the kind of horses we want to have as part of our stable and take us to the big races on the big days. Hopefully he is capable of building on what was a very impressive unveiling.”
It's only fitting in the wake of a freshly inaugurated President, we add a smashing son of Constitution @WinStarFarm to the stable in the form of @theTDN Rising Star, Annex. Honored to partner w @LNJFoxwoods @Fijithegreat with Hall of Famer, Bill Mott, at the helm. #BelieveBig pic.twitter.com/1sJEYblSpg
— Eclipse Thoroughbred (@EclipseTBP) January 21, 2021
Eclipse is set to be represented by a pair of runners in both of this weekend's Pegasus races–Largent (Into Mischief) in the Turf and Constitution's son Independence Hall in the main event. Like many judges, Wellman is bullish on the WinStar inmate and that made Annex that much more attractive.
“He's quickly stamped himself as a blue-chip stallion with his first few crops and certainly being associated with Independence Hall helped our cause and it allows us to have some intimate appreciation for Constitution,” he said. “He's shown that he can throw elite performers. This colt is out of a mare by Unbridled's Song and out of a half-sister to the dam of [MGISW] You (You and I), so there is plenty of quality there on the bottom side as well. We hope he continues to go from strength to strength.”
With the first stage of Triple Crown nominations set to close Saturday, Wellman said that the partnership is all but assured to pay up for the series. But he added that neither would it trouble them in any small way to remain on the grass.
“Frankly we bought him with the perspective that he's proven the ability to be a superior turf horse,” he said. “If that's what he turns out to be and can race in the upper echelon of turf races in America, of which there are incredible options with the Turf Triple, et cetera, we are not afraid at all to have a good turf horse.
He added, “We just want a good horse, but obviously the temptation to try a horse with this kind of ability that's already proved he can get two turns is there. But we're not going to be in any rush. He's in phenomenal hands, the LNJ crew has managed him beautifully to posture him for future success and have taken their time with him. If the time comes when Annex earns his opportunity to test the dirt, we're not going to be afraid to do that and we'll certainly be enterprising in that regard. But we just bought him to be a good horse, if that's turf or dirt, it doesn't matter.”
Wellman also provided an update on the stable's Valiance (Tapit). A stakes winner on turf as a 3-year-old, the gray filly broke through with a 6-1 upset of the GI Juddmonte Spinster S. on the main track ahead of a gallant runner-up effort behind likely champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff Nov. 7.
“After the Distaff, we decided we were going to give her some time to recover from her campaign at WinStar Farm,” Wellman explained. “She's been there since the Breeders' Cup, it's been about 70 days now, and we're just about ready to put the tack back on her and gradually get her back into a training pattern. We'll probably give her 30 or 45 days to leg up at WinStar and then she'll join [trainer] Todd [Pletcher] in Florida before heading back up to New York. We're very enthused about her trajectory. Everything about her in terms of versatility is exciting and she's really thrived, even since the Breeders' Cup. She's really turning into a physical specimen and an imposing mare. We've conservatively managed her with the belief that she could turn into an elite filly and thankfully that came to fruition and we're certainly looking forward to another high-class campaign beginning in late spring or early second part of the year.”