By Steve Sherack
A pair of Spendthrift Farm homebreds stamped themselves as 3-year-olds to watch for the second half of the season with recent jaw-dropping 'TDN Rising Star' performances.
Following Sea (c, 3, Runhappy–Quick Flip, by Speightstown) earned his 'Rising Star' badge with a flashy maiden win at second asking for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on the GI Arkansas Derby undercard, good for a gaudy 97 Beyer Speed Figure.
The bay was hustled to the front by Joel Rosario in the six-furlong affair and was pressed on his inside through an opening quarter in :21.89. He began to shake clear heading into the far turn, kicked for home in complete control and was never seriously asked down the lane en route to an effortless 5 3/4-length decision.
Following Sea's final time of 1:09.92 bested the 1:10.13 final clocking posted by Edgeway (Competitive Edge) at the same distance later on the card for filly and mare sprinters in the Carousel S.
Following Sea previously crossed the line a solid second after a wide trip on debut behind stablemate and subsequent GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby fourth Defunded (Dialed In), but had his number taken down and placed third for causing interference shortly after the start at Santa Anita Mar. 6.
“We always loved him and raised him right here on the farm,” Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey said. “He's taken a little bit–he's a good-sized colt and had a couple of ticktack issues that kept him from running earlier. Bob was a little frustrated with his first start–he still showed some talent–but he really put it together Saturday. I loved what I saw. The way he made that move on the turn and put the race away at that point… It looked very easy. It looked very fluid. And it looked very fast. We thought something like that might be there and couldn't be happier.”
As for what's next and potentially stretching Following Sea out going forward, Toffey said:
“It's hard to know how he'll stretch out, but yes, he has the size and shape. Runhappy was definitely best sprinting, but you really never know until you try them. We're eager to find out ourselves.”
Toffey continued, “If a horse is ready to go on and make the move into much bigger company, it's always been really impressive how well Bob does that. For now, we're just gonna enjoy the win and let the horse tell Bob what he's ready to do next.”
Quick Flip–a winner of her first three starts at two, including Tampa's Sandpiper S.–was purchased by Spendthrift Farm carrying Following Sea in utero for $230,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale. She is a half-sister to the Baffert-trained SW & MGSP Qahira (Cairo Prince) and SW Stormin' Lyon (Storm Boot), and hails from the family of GISW Mitterand (Hold Your Peace).
In addition to the stakes-placed Inspeightof (Orb), Quick Flip's most recent produce includes a 2-year-old Into Mischief filly, purchased by bloodstock agent Mike Ryan for $450,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase, and a 2021 Hard Spun colt. Quick Flip will be bred back to Authentic, per Toffey.
“It looks like a bargain now,” Toffey said with a laugh of purchasing the now 12-year-old mare. “Those are always tricky–buying one in foal can really go either way. We certainly had a lot of respect for Runhappy and liked the mare's page. Thought she would be a good, useful mare for us to breed in house. We're very excited going forward.”
Missy P. (f, 3, Into Mischief–Greer Lynn, by Speightstown) was another no doubt 'Rising Star' carrying the orange-and-purple silks of B. Wayne Hughes's operation, romping by 9 1/2 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs on debut for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella at Santa Anita Mar. 12.
The full-sister to GISW and fellow 'Rising Star' Mia Mischief forced the issue from an outside second, cruised up to challenge approaching the quarter pole and opened daylight in the stretch under a handride by Flavien Prat to win like a 2-5 shot should. She earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Missy P. has posted three moves since her unveiling, most recently working five furlongs in :59.80 (5/22) at Santa Anita Apr. 8.
“Richard has thought about the [GII] Eight Belles [S. going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs Apr. 30] or just running her for some listed blacktype out in California,” Toffey said. “We'll see. That may be the thing to do–get her blacktype before we go bear hunting.”
He continued, “I was out in L.A. this last weekend and was able to see her. The phrase that came to my mind watching her train was, 'coiled spring.' She's really a muscular and well-defined filly. About the time of her first start, Richard said that she weighed 1,200 pounds. That's a big horse. She just looks great. She's a good, correct filly.”
Mia Mischief, heroine of the 2019 GI Humana Distaff S. at Churchill Downs, was sold by Spendthrift for $135,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She later brought $300,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Old and $2.4 million from Stonestreet as a horse of racing age/broodmare prospect at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale.
“Missy P. is much more substantial and much more powerful,” Toffey said. “That's saying a lot because Mia Mischief was a really stout, well-made muscular filly herself.”
Having Missy P. join Spendthrift's racing stable wasn't always the plan. She was scratched from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale after getting cast in her stall, Toffey said.
“She's one that we may have dodged a bullet on,” Toffey said. “She just was a little off behind when we were getting very close to needing to ship her up to the sale. We always felt very good about her being fine, but you couldn't take one like that to sell.”
Missy P.'s dam Greer Lynn, a winner of one of four career starts for Hughes, is a daughter of the fantastic producer Roll Over Baby (Rollin On Over), dam of GSWs Roll Hennessy Roll (Hennessy) and Sing Baby Sing (Unbridled's Song); MSW & GSP Majorbigtimesheet (Carson City); SW & MGISP Value Plus (Unbridled's Song); and MGSP Werblin (Unbridled's Song).
Greer Lynn was acquired privately by Spendthrift after RNA'ing for $400,000 as a Keeneland November weanling.
“She essentially was a failed pinhook,” Toffey said. “We bought her with the intention of flipping her back in a yearling sale. She just didn't grow and wasn't at a real impressive stage as a yearling, so we kept her and put her into training. Again, like a lot of horses, we always felt like there was plenty of talent there, but she just had some minor things that kept her from really demonstrating it. She was always a beautiful mare and kind of a classic, Speightstown type. We bred her to a lot of horses in house and maybe we didn't always give her the best opportunity to be successful, but Into Mischief is pretty good at righting those wrongs.”
Sent to leading sire War Front by Spendthrift, Geer Lynn brought $700,000 from SF Bloodstock at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton November Sale, then switched hands again at the 2020 Keeneland November Sale, bringing $750,000 from Summer Wind Equine. Greer Lynn is also represented by a 2-year-old Goldencents filly, purchased by bloodstock agent Mike Ryan for $300,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase, and a Medaglia d'Oro colt of this year. She aborted her 2020 War Front foal.
In addition to the aforementioned Mia Mischief, the Into Mischief/Speightstown cross is also responsible for recent GI Carter H. winner Mischevious Alex and MGSW Engage.