Support Of Triple Crown Winner Justified

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Justify | Coolmore Australia

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In times of incredible uncertainty, the arrival of new foals allows breeders the excuse to steal a few moments to hope and dream. This can be especially true when the first crop of new sires arrive on the scene, and one of the most anticipated stallions with first foals this year is the unbeaten American Triple Crown winner Justify, who has already had plenty of quality first-crop representatives pop up across the Northern Hemisphere.

Justify was raced by a powerhouse partnership including China Horse Club, and it was that group’s silks that he carried in his Triple Crown-sealing GI Belmont S. victory. China Horse Club pledged to support Justify from the outset of his stud career, sending him some of its finest mares and buying yet more at the sales to support him, and their faith in the son of Scat Daddy has been rewarded with some excellent first foals on the ground in Ireland and the U.S.

China Horse Club spent $850,000 at Fasig-Tipton November last year to take home the listed-winning Easter Lily (Ire) (Galileo {Ire})– a daughter of the stakes-winning Danehill mare Chanting and a full-sister to the stakes-winning Circling (Ire)-in foal to Justify, and the 5-year-old mare delivered her first foal, a filly, at Baroda Stud earlier this season.

“She had a nice filly down at Baroda Stud that we’re really happy with,” said China Horse Club’s Michael Wallace. “She’s a nice first foal with plenty of size, great depth of girth and width of shoulder. For a first foal it’s a very pleasing physical outcome. The mare goes back to No Nay Never.”

Also visiting No Nay Never this season is Hourglass (Ire), another daughter of Galileo bought by China Horse Club last November, she for $1.1-million at Keeneland. The 5-year-old Hourglass is a half-sister to Shamardal and also from the family of the late leading sire Street Cry (Ire). Wallace described Hourglass’s Justify colt, also born at Baroda, as “very robust and a great mover.”

China Horse Club spent $3.38-million at the American breeding stock sales last November on five mares in foal to Justify. Those purchases also included Media Mischief (Into Mischief), a 6-year-old half-sister to G1 Prix de Diane winner Nebraska Tornado (Storm Cat) and group/graded winners Burning Sun (Danzig) and Mirabilis (Lear Fan) for $550,000. Media Mischief has produced a bay Justify filly at Baroda Stud, as has C’Est Ca (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a 5-year-old daughter of GI Frizette S. winner A Z Warrior (Bernardini) and full-sister to Irish stakes winner Key To My Heart (Ire) who cost $600,000.

“They’re both bay fillies, both very attractive and well-marked,” said Wallace of the daughters of Media Mischief and C’Est Ca. “All the Justifys seem to have very good, broad heads on them. They’re going to be attractive yearlings. They were both foaled down at Baroda and we’re very happy with them. Both mares are visiting Siyouni (Fr) this year.”

The fifth mare of the group, the $280,000 Costa Del Sol (Istan)-a full-sister to the GI Haskell second Albano and a half to multiple graded winner Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen)-was left in the U.S. at Hunter Valley Farm. She produced a chestnut filly-“a very attractive filly and a good mover”-and the mare is now back in foal to another young China Horse Club stallion, Yoshida (Jpn), who is standing his first season at WinStar Farm.

Wallace said buying up those high-quality mares in foal to Justify served two purposes: to fulfill a plan to bolster the Club’s European broodmare band with some strong pedigrees, and to support its Triple Crown winner.

“We have options to move these horses around and it’s a global market,” Wallace said. “People understand who Justify is regardless of whether you’re selling them in America or Europe. So you could sell them in either place and we haven’t made that decision as yet. The mares that were bought that went back to Europe had very good, strong European-type pedigrees. The intention for the year was to try to acquire a few of these nice European pedigrees for the long-term broodmare band in Europe. But also we wanted to get involved in Justify in quite a strong way, so this was a double-edged sword that allowed us to do both.”

Two mares that have already produced champions that have produced foals by Justify in Kentucky for China Horse Club are Beatrix Potter (Ire) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}) and Sambuca Classica (Cat Thief). China Horse Club last year sent Beatrix Potter (Ire) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}) across the Atlantic to visit Justify, and she foaled a filly at Wood’s Edge Farm. The 15-year-old Beatrix Potter has produced not only the champion sprinter and G1 July Cup and G1 Sprint Cup winner Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), but also ‘TDN Rising Star’ and G2 Mill Reef S. winner Pierre Lapin (Ire) (Cappella Sansevero {GB}), a leading threat for this year’s Classics.

“We couldn’t be happier with the product there,” Wallace said. “She’s a big, beautiful filly with a lot of quality, a great mover with good length and depth about her. Beatrix Potter goes to Medaglia d’Oro this year.”

Sambuca Classica, the dam of American champion 2-year-old colt and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) and two other stakes winners has produced a “really good” Justify colt at WinStar.

“He is an outstanding type,” Wallace said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with such an elite broodmare putting down a colt like that, and we’re breeding her back to Justify. She has an elite pedigree, not just with Classic Empire. Her other foals are runners as well so she’s an exciting prospect that I’d love to get a filly out of.”

While much of the world has shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the life cycle of the Thoroughbred athlete rolls on, and while China Horse Club’s Justify foals are hitting the ground in the Northern Hemisphere, Down Under the Club had a very productive few days last week as both a buyer and a seller at the Inglis Easter yearling sale, which was conducted virtually for the first time. China Horse Club bred the A$1.8-million sale-topping Snitzel (Aus) colt out of champion sprinter First Seal (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), and sold each of its offerings as well as adding 12 to the stable.

The virtual sale has been widely deemed a success by participants and observers worldwide, and Wallace concurred.

“Everyone knows there was a great level of uncertainty surrounding it, but a couple days post sale it’s very clear that it’s a very robust industry and the market adjusted to the unique virtual experience very well,” he said. “A lot of credit has to go to the farms that offered the horses and Inglis for providing that platform and allowing people to do that.”

With the horses spread out across the Hunter Valley and beyond and bidders conducting their business contained in their homes across the world, Wallace said it was naturally more difficult to gauge what a horse would bring before it entered the ring.

“It was an interesting experience being a seller, making it a little more difficult to judge who was really on your horses because you weren’t getting that one-on-one contact with a lot of people and getting those repetitive viewings,” he said. “You didn’t have the opportunity to read peoples’ body language, and all those little factors. That made it a little harder to judge, and the uncertainty of the market made planning and budgeting a little more difficult as well in the first hour or two of the sale.”

Rather than shying away from the new auction format and economic uncertainties, China Horse Club took the strategy of trying to capitalize on a slightly down market and weak Australian dollar.

“We ended up buying 12 horses, which probably wouldn’t have been our thoughts four or five months ago,” he said. “We probably would have been considering fewer numbers, just because it’s such a hard market to buy horses in in general. But we took a very open view that there might be a slight softening through the middle part of the market. With such a large group of high-quality horses, we found those we really liked and we put budgets surrounding them. We’re just happy to have acquired them as they came through. Hopefully one or two of them will end up in the stallion barn down the track.”

Just because the market was down doesn’t mean the product was, and Wallace said those top-quality colts like the Snitzel son of First Seal are “almost recession-proof.”

“We knew we had a very special horse and we thought we had a chance of being right at the very pointy end of it, but with the uncertainty you just didn’t know,” he said. “If he turns out to be an elite racehorse, by the time he heads to stud COVID-19 will have passed and the market will have rebounded, and his value will hold true over a long period of time.”

Wallace acknowledged that while there are elements of a successful high-end yearling sale that cannot be replicated virtually, he suggested there are aspects of the virtual process that could be integrated into the traditional system to allow for greater reach.

“It offers a platform that allows people to be a bit more remote,” he said. “I don’t think you’re ever going to take away the necessity of people having first-hand experience of viewing the horses through their own eyes, because video just can’t replicate that at this stage. That’s always going to be a necessity. But it allows the further afield markets, the Asian buyers especially, to become a bit more involved and interactive with the horses they’re looking at, how they can view them and the information that’s available. The more audiences and eyes you can get [a horse] in front of, the better; there’s never a negative, because the more people that get involved, odds are the more people that will bid.”

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