Milestones were baked in the cake for the Farish family’s Lane’s End long before a Sallee van traversed a windy road through the farm in Versailles, Ky., early Monday morning to deliver Accelerate and City Of Light as headline additions to the stallion roster.
Adding the reigning champion older male and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, as well as the hero of both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup Invitational, is an appropriate exclamation mark for a commemorative year: 2019 marks 40 years since Will Farish founded Lane’s End and 30 years since the birth of the farm’s signature horse, A.P. Indy. Farish himself turns 80 March 17.
Accelerate and City of Light were adjusting to a big temperature swing following their trip from Gulfstream Park in South Florida to Central Kentucky, where the wind chills dipped to about negative 15 degrees Wednesday when the farm welcomed members of the media for the second annual Lane’s End Press Pass. Both newcomers wore blankets while the rest of the stallion crew went au naturale, including woolly coats on A.P. Indy and fellow Lane’s End stalwart Lemon Drop Kid.
The triumvurate of newcomers Accelerate, City Of Light and 2017 champion 3-year-old male West Coast is reminiscent of the trio that launched Lane’s End’s stallion division in 1985 (handicap stars Dixieland Band, Fit To Fight and Hero’s Honor) and is emblematic of the farm’s sustained success with stallions who fit a “classic” profile of elite ability on the dirt over a route of ground.
Farish and farm manager Mike Cline have been there all along, and Farish’s son, Bill, has been a key player nearly all that time as the Lane’s End property has grown up and expanded through the years.
“The farm is a lot different than it was back then but when you’ve watched it all along it doesn’t seem like it has changed that much,” Bill Farish said. “When you look back at pictures you really see how much it has. The whole business has changed. Back then we had the July sale and that was our target every year, the Keeneland July sale for our best horses. Back then it was a little more of a social business in a way. People would come out to the farms to see the yearlings and you would have three shows a week, sometime even more, leading up to the sale.”
Relationships and common threads played significant roles in Lane’s End’s ability to land City Of Light and Accelerate.
City Of Light is bedded down across the aisle from his sire, Quality Road, who is emerging as perhaps the farm’s next candidate for a leading sire title and has a $4 million head start on the rest of the competition thanks to City Of Light's dominant victory in the Pegasus World Cup last week at Gulfstream.
City Of Light’s owners during his racing career were William and Suzanne Warren, whose previous standout, 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, also stood at Lane’s End. Bill Farish noted that Quality Road and Saint Liam both hail from the vaunted breeding program of the late Edward P. “Ned” Evans.
“That’s a neat tie-in with all three of those horses,” he said. “With City Of Light, we had already sold 165 contracts at $35,000 [before the Pegasus], so he clearly now is underpriced but people are going to get great value in his first year. He has a great book of mares and we turned down more than twice that many mares to hold his book to 165. What a way for him to come to stud, and he is just a beautiful horse.”
Accelerate wound up at Lane’s End as a natural course of business considering he was purchased as a yearling by the farm’s bloodstock manager, David Ingordo, on behalf of his client Kosta Hronis and Hronis Racing.
“He stands up with any yearling I have ever bought or seen at a sale,” Ingordo said. “He has always seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, like he [debuted] in Arrogate’s maiden race and then he had to go against a Triple Crown winner, Justify, for Horse of the Year, but the horse his whole life never took a bad step, never was out of training and he truly was a throwback racehorse. As a horse buyer and in talking to different breeders we talk to at the farm or I deal with individually, he is exactly what the industry is looking for, something that is sound and a tough horse. For us, it is nice to have a good branch of that Smart Strike line that Mr. Farish propagated here in Smart Strike himself.”
West Coast presents a new avenue for Lane’s End, which had never previously been involved in a new stallion from the racing program of Gary and Mary West, but the formula is familiar as he represents the A.P. Indy line (West Coast is by A.P. Indy’s son Flatter).
“West Coast has been an exciting pick-up and he has been well received,” Farish said. “We had never done much business with Gary and Mary West and always wanted to but had never found the right horse to work with them on. He was a top 3-year-old and being an A.P. Indy-line horse, we were very keen to get him here.”