New Faces in Ashford's Stud Barn

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Eclipse Champion and 2020 GI Pacific Classic S. winner Maximum Security joins fellow Grade I winner Echo Town as incoming sires at Ashford Stud. | Benoit 

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Coolmore's Ashford Stud welcomes a trio of new stallions to their program for the upcoming season. Maximum Security (New Year's Day) and Echo Town (Speightstown) will start off their stud career at the Versailles, Kentucky-based farm, while Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) will stand his first year in the States since relocating from Coolmore's headquarters in Ireland after spending two seasons there.

Today we sat down with Adrian Wallace to discuss their two first-season sires.

 

Maximum Security (New Year's Day), $20,000

Very few racehorses have had a rollercoaster of a career comparable to that of Maximum Security's.

So when asked if there was one thing that people should remember about the frequent headliner, Wallace said, “The thing to remember most about Maximum Security was that he never gave up. He was tenacious. Every race he ran, you never knew when the bottom was going to come. And almost invariably, he was the horse that came out the victor. We saw it in a whole host of great races at three and four. He was tough, he was tenacious and he was dominant.”

A late May foal and homebred for Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security won on debut at two in a maiden claimer at Gulfstream before taking the 3-year-old male division by storm last year, winning the GI Florida Derby, GI Haskell Invitational S., GIII Bold Ruler H., GI Cigar Mile H. and of course, crossing the wire first in the GI Kentucky Derby.

“I think what makes the horse unique is that he's so, so tough,” Wallace said. “He's a true rags-to-riches story. It's no secret that he started in the basement ranks of racing and ascended to the hierarchies.”

After winning his division's Eclipse Award, Maximum Security made his 4-year-old debut a winning one as he crossed the globe for the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup. Transferred to the barn of Bob Baffert soon after, the bay continued the winning streak in the GII San Diego H. and GI Pacific Classic S. But despite the less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding his transfer during his 4-year-old season, Wallace said he believes there is no denying the colt's dominating campaign.

“Nobody will ever forget that day in Saudi Arabia when Maximum Security secured the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup against what can only be described as an absolute heroine of a mare in Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute),” Wallace said. “That stretch drive looked like it was never going to end, but after a battle with her he managed to prevail and then, after such an arduous trip to Saudi Arabia, come back to California under the tutelage of Bob Baffert to win the Pacific Classic, which is a sire-making race.”

Maximum Security retired this year with earnings of almost $12.5 million and ran in the money in all but two of his 14 career starts.

“When you look at his body of work, whether it's four Grade Is or five Grade Is, this horse was utterly, utterly dominant,” Wallace said. “This horse took his tracks with him all over the world. He danced every dance and is an absolute champion in our eyes, and most people's eyes. I think he's a horse whose future is very, very bright.”

A son of 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day (Street Cry {Ire}), Maximum Security is out of the winning mare Lil Indy (Anasheed), who sold for $1.85 million at last year's Keeneland November Sale. The mare is a half-sister to GI winner and stakes-producing sire Flat Out (Flatter), as well as stakes winner Our Best Man (Runaway Groom).

“He's got a deep pedigree,” Wallace said. “At $20,000 dollars, he really does provide great value and a great record for a lot of breeders in 2021.”

Wallace spoke on what he's heard from the new stallion's visiting breeders.

“He's a lovely, easy mover with a great neck and shoulder and a lovely hip,” he said. “People have been struck by how good of a mover he is when they've come to see him. He's a horse that looks like he's almost a sprinter type. A lot of people have commented that it's amazing that the horse was able to carry his distance as far as he did. So he looks like a horse that's going to put in quite a lot of speed in his mares. Being a son of a Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, you'd expect a fair amount of precocity. I think physically, he will add a lot of precociousness to his stock.”

 

Echo Town (Speightstown), $10,000

Echo Town, a 'TDN Rising Star' and this year's winner of the GI H. Allen Jerkens S., will stand his first season for $10,000.

With the ongoing success Munnings has displayed at stud in the past years, led most recently by a trio of Grade II-winning sophomore fillies in Venetian Harbor, Bonny South and Finite, Ashford was more than willing to add another son of Speightstown to their roster.

In fact, Wallace notes that Echo Town has a one-up on Munnings as he kicks off his stud career.

“Echo Town achieved what Munnings couldn't do,” he said. “Echo Town is a Grade I winner, whereas Munnings himself placed in Grade Is. It's no word of lie to say Speightstown is probably one of the most sought-after stallions in the world. Four sons of Speightstown, including Munnings, have sired Grade I winners, so he's proving himself to be a sire of sires as well.”

Wallace added that Echo Town fits the bill physically as well.

“Echo Town is a horse that's going to appeal to a lot of breeders,” he said. “Physically, he's going to be very easy to breed to and suit a wide array of broodmares. He is all quality-a lovely head, great neck and shoulder to him. He's a very easy mover. He's a horse that's medium sized, not too big, but he's going to push enough size into a mare and he's going to put a lot of quality into them.”

The three-year-old bay is out of the Menifee mare Letgomyecho, winner of the GII Forward Gal S. He is a half-brother to three other stakes horses, including GIII Gotham S. winner J Boys Echo (Mineshaft) and GIII-placed Unbridled Outlaw (Unbridled's Song).

Wallace said the plan will be to draw up Echo Town's book as reflective of what has already proven successful for the sire line.

“Basically, what we're going to try to do is get him to those bloodlines with which Speightstown and Munnings have been successful. Munnings has been very successful with daughters of Tapit in siring Bonnie South and Finite. Echo Town will suit A.P Indy-line and Tapit-line mares, as well as mares from the Deputy Minister line. Pedigree-wise, he fits a wide array of broodmares.”

A $100,000 Keeneland September purchase for L&N Racing, Echo Town earned his 'Rising Star' badge at first asking this year, breaking his maiden by 2 ½ lengths going six furlongs at Fair Grounds for Steve Asmussen.

After adding two more wins at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs and finishing a close second in the Bachelor S., Echo Town ran second to No Parole (Violence) upon his graded stakes debut in the GI Woody Stephens S.

He followed that effort by defeating the same rival along with several other top graded stakes contenders in the GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. Presented by Runhappy.

“The Allen Jerkens, being a stallion-making race in itself having produced the likes of Tale of the Cat, Hard Spun and More Than Ready, is obviously a very prestigious race to win at Saratoga,” Wallace said. “He showed a lot of speed that day, and when push came to shove at the top of the stretch, there was no doubt really which horse was going to win. He scooted clear to win by almost four lengths with a good time. He was all speed and brilliance.”

Wallace said that Echo Town has had a positive reception from breeders already.

“All the breeders that have come to see him have liked him,” he said. “He's priced at $10,000, which I think for a lot of breeders if you're looking at sons of Speightstown, given Munnings' recent success and the fact that he is now fully booked, if you're looking at that line, I think Echo Town is the right way to go.”

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