A.P. Indy is a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a distinguished daughter of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Before A.P. Indy, Weekend Surprise produced Preakness winner Summer Squall in 1987. She foaled A.P. Indy in 1989, and in 1990, the year his half-brother by Storm Bird became a classic winner in May, the future Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner sold at Keeneland in July as the year’s high-priced yearling, for $2,900,000. In other words, A.P. Indy was American racing royalty at the time he sold. He is a product of the Bold Ruler line through its two best representatives, both bred on the Bold Ruler/Princequillo sire-line cross that harmoniously combined speed with stamina, and he has been a quintessential American dirt sire and one of the few around today who gets offspring that stay 10-12 furlongs—an anomaly, yes, but very much in the tradition of his and his sire’s and grandsire’s ability to win the Belmont Stakes.
A.P. Indy adapted to a shortening distance landscape in the US through a fortuitous combination with daughters of Mr. Prospector and daughters of his many sons and grandsons. Many of the resulting foals from these combinations are now at stud—horses such as Pulpit (sire of sires Sky Mesa, Tapit, and Stroll), Malibu Moon, Flatter, and leading first-crop sire Congrats—and these sires are crafting a dynasty that actually threatens to save the crippled and speed-biased US sire ranks from the bland production of nine-furlong and below speed horses. And one of its most recent examples, Bernardini, may actually become the first prominent A.P. Indy-line sire that draws European interest back to these shores as the heir apparent to horses like the recently pensioned Kingmambo and the aging Dynaformer.
Like his sire, Bernardini was a classic winner; instead of the Belmont Stakes, though, he won the Preakness, by 5 1/4 lengths. He stayed farther, also winning the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup by almost 7 lengths and the Travers Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths, and he was beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by only the top-class older horse Invasor.
Standing at Darley his first season for $100,000, Bernardini no doubt covered a stellar book of mares and success was predicted for him, but not as quickly as its come: On Oct. 9, he achieved a rare double of two Group 1/Grade 1 winners from his first crop, when the filly A.Z. Warrior won the Frizette on dirt at Belmont while the colt Biondetti took the Gran Criterium in Milan on turf. Both races were at a mile, too, and the duo became the second and third stakes winners for the sire following the Group 3 win in England by the filly Theysken’s Theory—subsequently Group 1 placed, too. Meanwhile in the US, the impressive maiden winner Stay Thirsty is Grade 1 placed on dirt as well.
Bernardini has had several other European winners as well, and his success in Europe off the bat will no doubt get the attention of European buyers. More importantly, his early success on both sides of the pond bodes well for the future because he was expected to do more with his 3-year-olds over a distance of ground, with the type of staying sire power he has behind him.
The quick success of Bernardini, by the way, has capped an amazing run of late for Darley sires worldwide. In the US the international entity also has Street Cry, Medaglia d’Oro and Elusive Quality; in Europe, Darley has the young guns Dubawi, Shamardal, and Iffraaj; and in Australia, there’s Lonhro and Commands.