Spendthrift Welcomes A Third Met Mile Winner

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Dual Grade I winner Vekoma is settling in at Spendthrift Farm. | Sarah Andrew 

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While there's never one fool-proof indicator for determining stallion potential, Spendthrift Farm has found one race that they feel consistently produces winners who draw their attention.

In the past four years, they've welcomed a trio of GI Metropolitan H. victors to their stud barn.

First was Mor Spirit (Eskendereya), the first Grade I-winning two-year-old to later win the Met Mile since Holy Bull in 1994. Then came Mitole, another son of Eskendereya who would go on to be named the 2019 Eclipse Champion Male Sprinter. This year, they welcome a third winner in five-time stakes-winning millionaire Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“The Met Mile, every year, seems to be one of the most competitive races that is run,” said Spendthrift's Stallion Sales Manager Mark Toothaker. “Everybody seems to point to that race. It just is a race that everybody has circled on their calendars. To have three Met Mile winners here at Spendthrift, they've all been supported very well and all have gotten really big books of mares, so now they just have to go do the deal on the racetrack.”

This most recent Met Mile hero was a 2017 $135,000 Keeneland September purchase for R.A. Hill Stable. The late-May foal made his winning debut in September of his 2-year-old year before taking the GIII Nashua S. at Aqueduct to complete an undefeated juvenile season.

Campaigned by R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, Vekoma ran third in his sophomore debut in the GII Fountain of Youth S. behind eventual dual Grade I winner Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}). He became a top consideration on the Derby Trail after taking the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. in his next start.

After failing to fire in the GI Kentucky Derby and staying on the sidelines for the remainder of his sophomore year, Vekoma returned for his best season yet in 2020.

The George Weaver trainee first took the Sir Shackleton S. in March, then followed that effort with an overwhelming 7 1/4-length victory in the GI Runhappy Carter H. to register a 110 Beyer in the Belmont slop.  One month later, he faced off with fellow Grade I winners Code of Honor, McKinzie (Street Sense) and Hog Creek Hustle (Overanalyze) in the GI Runhappy Metropolitan H.

“He broke well and just sat right there and waited until it was his time,” Toothaker said, recalling the race. “He got his cue in the stretch and opened up and drew off in what was a very, very dominating performance. [The Metropolitan H.] is always a very difficult race to win and this year was no different. It was a very talented field that he was able to beat that day, and he beat them pretty soundly.”

Although Vekoma was set to be a top choice in the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint, a fever days before the raced forced him to scratch.

“It was very unfortunate that Vekoma didn't get to run in the Sprint,” Toothaker said. “He was going to be the heavy favorite against that field. No knock against anyone, but I feel like Vekoma would have had that bunch over a barrel.”

Over his three-year career, the speedy chestnut was well known for his unique way of going. Toothaker admitted that this delayed Spendthrift's consideration of the stallion prospect.

“I've known George Weaver for a long time and he called me one day and he said, 'Tooth, you've got to come see this horse.' I said, 'George, he's got to be really crooked' but he replied, 'How many crooked horses do you know that I buy? Listen, he walks really well. We had no idea he did that until we breezed him.'”

Toothaker made the trip to New York to see the prospect and sure enough, he was sold at first sight.

“George picked me up at the airport and we went and looked at him and I loved him,” he recalled. “I thought he looked like a rocket ship. I'm thrilled to death to be able to have him here at Spendthrift.”

Vekoma will be the first son of Candy Ride (Arg) to join the Spendthrift stallion roster.

“Spendthrift has been looking for a son of Candy Ride for a while and we had not been able to land one that we really liked,” Toothaker said. “This horse, when we had a chance to see him, we felt like he was the one we had been looking for. Candy Ride's sons are doing extremely well and we were very happy to land Vekoma.”

The dual Grade I winner is out of the Speightstown mare Mona de Momma, winner of the 2010 GI Humana Distaff S. and GIII Las Flores H. and a $1.55 million Keeneland November purchase for Vekoma's breeder, Alpha Delta Stables. While Mona de Momma died soon after foaling Vekoma, his half-sister Bloody Point (War Front) earned over $100,000 and is now a producer. Big names under his third dam include influential sire Mr. Greeley (Gone West), champion juvenile, GI Kentucky Derrby winner and sire Street Sense (Street Cry {Ire}) and dual Grade I winner Paradise Woods (Union Rags).

Toothaker said that Vekoma's physical trends strongly towards his female side.

“Vekoma really looks a lot like Speightstown,” he said. “I mean, I've had people come out and say they see Candy Ride in him as well, but to me, he looks very much like a lot of the Speightstowns you see out there. He's got good bone, he's got a really strong body and a good hip.”

Already, Toothaker is imagining the first foals from Vekoma.

“I can foresee him having just absolutely beautiful, rocket ship-like weanlings down the road. I think he'll be a very precocious sire- his body looks very precocious. He was so fast and hated to lose. So we're looking forward to getting mares to him this year and then seeing what the foals look like in 2022.”

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