Breeding Watch: Strong strike Rate

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It was a good holiday weekend for the Three Chimneys Farm duo of Sky Mesa and Exchange Rate, who combined to sire three graded stakes winners in North America.

Exchange Rate has been on a big international roll in 2015 and he added another graded winner to his tally last Saturday at Churchill Downs. Xtra Luck tracked and pounced in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap, coasting home 1 1/2 lengths to the good in the grassy 12-furlong affair.

Xtra Luck’s win gives Exchange Rate seven stakes winners in five countries in 2015 – U.S., England, Argentina, Venezuela and Japan.

Xtra Luck is out of a mare by the Roberto son Kris S., also the dam sire Bragging, a Group 2 winner at Newmarket on May 3. Those two are among the six starters produced by this direct cross.

Exchange Rate’s most recent Grade 1 winner, Ball Dancing, is also out of a Roberto granddaughter. Winner of the April 11 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland, Ball Dancing is out of a mare by Silver Hawk.

Overall, Exchange Rate has sired six stakes winners from 32 starters (19 percent) out of granddaughters of Roberto, including 2014 Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Sunset Glow (dam by Dynaformer).

Sky Treasure, a 5-year-old son of Sky Mesa, stormed from last to earn a 1 length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 Nassau Stakes going 1 mile on the Woodbine turf course. Sky Treasure races in the colors of John Oxley, who campaigned Sky Mesa to victories in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and Grade 1 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland Race Course in 2002.

Oxley acquired Sky Treasure through agent and trainer Mark Casse for $175,000 at the 2011 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale. Sky Treasure is out of the Smart Strike mare Preemptive Attack and he’s Sky Mesa’s 48th stakes winner (9 percent stakes winners from starters) and 18th graded stakes winner (3.3 percent).

Sky Mesa struck again at Woodbine the following afternoon when his 3-year-old daughter Ol’ Fashion Gal took the Grade 3 Selene Stakes.

A $60,000 Keeneland September yearling, the chestnut filly is out of a mare by Horse Chestnut, with a second dam by Smart Strike. She was bred by Oxley, but races for Bill and Vicki Poston. She won last November’s Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar’s inaugural Bing Crosby meeting for the Postons.

Sky Mesa has had previous success with mares showing Smart Strike, including Ol’ Fashion Gal’s full sister and 2012 Woodbine stakes winner Spirited Miss and Grade 2 winner Llanarman, who is out of a Smart Strike daughter.

We commented last week on the influence of the Juddmonte Farm products Empire Maker and First Defence on the Preakness weekend stakes program at Pimlico.

Last Saturday another Juddmonte-bred stallion from the same family, Decarchy, dominated the proceedings on the California Gold Rush card at Santa Anita Park.

Decarchy earned his signature win in the Grade 2 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap in 2002 for Bobby Frankel and Juddmonte. He was certainly bred to be a star, being by Juddmonte’s champion European miler Distant View (by Mr. Prospector) out of the legendary broodmare Toussaud.

The Kilroe, however, proved to be Decarchy’s last victory and he closed out his career with a 12th-place run in the 2003 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile in the colors of JMJ Racing Stables and Magali Ventures. He was retired to Magali Farms in California for the 2004 season, the same year his classic-winning brother Empire Maker began his stallion career at Juddmonte’s Kentucky base for a $100,000 fee and a year after his full brother, Chester House, died of cancer on the same farm.

Decarchy never did catch the world, or even the state, on fire like his brothers would. Coming into the year he was the sire of only 10 stakes winners (one graded) in his first eight crops (245 foals) but he did enjoy 15 minutes in the sun Saturday, siring the winners of two of the five stakes events for the Cal-bred set.

First up was Neveradoubt, who surprised in the $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes at 41-1. The 3-year-old filly from the Mike Puype barn is out of a mare by Southern Halo.

One race later in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for older males, Motown Men found his groove and the winner’s circle as the odds-on choice. The 6-year-old gelding is Decarchy’s second stakes winner from three starters out of mares by Gilded Time after 2007 ATBA Sales Stakes winner Timehascometoday.

Daughters of champion Gilded Time are quietly having a very good spring around the country.

Motown Men is the fourth new stakes winner they’ve produced since March 7 when Sarah Sis (by Sharp Humor) won the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The others are the Grade 3 winners Shaman Ghost and Whiskey Ticket, both by Adena Springs’ Ghostzapper.

Matt O’Neil is a freelance writer and pedigree consultant based in Chicago. A former editor of Owner-Breeder International, his work has also appeared in numerous publications that include The Blood-Horse MarketWatch, The Florida Horse and Keeneland Magazine. He is currently marketing and social media coordinator for Adena Springs Farm and a partner in the fantasy horse racing game