By Diana Pikulski
Keepmeinmind (Laoban–Inclination, by Victory Gallop), whose prowess on the track first brought sire Laoban to the national forefront, and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner and Eclipse finalist Fire At Will (Declaration of War–Flirt, by Kitten's Joy) join Honest Mischief, Freud and Mission Impazible at Sequel New York's stallion roster, bringing diverse and interesting options for Thoroughbred breeders in the Empire State.
Bred by Southern Equine Stables, the physically impressive Keepmeinmind broke his maiden in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. in November of his 2-year-old season. Prior to that, he was runner-up to future two-time Eclipse Award winner Essential Quality (Tapit) in the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity. He finished third in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie.
“Keepmeinmind had a great 2-year-old campaign,” said Carlos Manresa, director of operations at Sequel New York. “He was really the first of the Laobans to make national notoriety, along with, of course, Simply Ravishing.”
At age three, Keepmeinmind was a respectable sixth in the GI Kentucky Derby and fourth in the GI Preakness S. He finished just a half-length behind Essential Quality in the 2021 GII Jim Dandy S. Keepmeinmind was originally trained by Robertino Diodoro, and at age four he was transferred to Todd Pletcher for whom he won a Saratoga allowance. He was then third to Life Is Good (Into Mischief) in the 2022 GI Woodward S.
Pletcher told the TDN, “Keepmeinmind is a specimen with a terrific disposition. He competed with and beat the best of the best. A big boost for the New York breeding roster.”
“He's a more elegant, refined version of Laoban,” said Manresa of Keepmeinmind. “He's got the big, big hip, but he's also a leggy, stretchy horse that you would expect from the Uncle Mo line.”
Keepmeinmind will stand in 2023 for $6,500.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Fire At Will retired with a record of 6-3-0-1 and earnings of $675,932. Bred in Kentucky by Troy Rankin and raced by Three Diamonds Farm, Fire At Will broke his maiden at two in his second start in Saratoga's With Anticipation S. He then took the GII Pilgrim S. on the turf at Belmont. He punctuated the year with a victory in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland. He was an Eclipse Award finalist for the 2-year-old champion male, eventually won by Essential Quality.
“It's definitely an interesting time to bring a horse that has been successful on multiple surfaces to stud in New York,” said Manresa. “New York is in a shift towards all alternative racing surfaces, specifically at Belmont. There's been a lot of discussion over having a synthetic course as well as the dirt and grass surfaces.”
Fire At Will brings an impressive performance on the grass as well as proven turf pedigree to New York. Fire at Will is the first foal from the Kitten's Joy mare Flirt. His sire Declaration of War won the G1 Juddmonte International S. in 2013.
“[Fire At Will] is absolutely the fastest 2-year-old I have ever trained on the turf,” conditioner Mike Maker told the TDN.
“Fire At Will is standing at Sequel New York in partnership with Three Diamonds Farm, which is owned and managed by Kirk and Deborah Wyckoff,” said Manresa. “They're tremendous supporters of the New York-bred program, and it just seemed like the perfect fit for this Breeders' Cup champion to come to stud in New York.”
His fee for the upcoming season will be $6,000.
“We try to make a habit out of selecting the perfect stallions for us,” said Manresa. “And this year, we got lucky and were able to attract two phenomenal stallions that had exceptional racing careers at two years old, both being Breeders' Cup participants, both being placed in the Breeders' Cup, and one of them being a Breeders' Cup champion.”
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