Congrats, through today, is still the leading freshman sire in the country, ahead of Bluegrass Cat in second and Bernardini in third.
Click here to see the Thoroughbred Times 2010 Freshman Sire List, ranked by progeny earnings. Not bad at all for a stallion that stood for $4,500 his fourth year at stud this season, compared to $25,000 for Bluegrass Cat and $60,000 for Bernardini.
By A.P. Indy like Bernardini, Congrats is a member of a one-time Rokeby family that paid classic dividends to its master, the late Paul Mellon, when Sea Hero won the Kentucky Derby in 1993. Out of Glowing Tribute, the third dam of Congrats, Sea Hero, Congrats, and other members of this illustrious family trace to La Troienne, just as Bluegrass Cat’s family (and Derby winner Super Saver’s same family) does.
When Glowing Tribute’s Northern Dancer daughter Wild Applause—the second dam of Congrats—was put up for sale by Rokeby in 1992 at the Keeneland November sale in foal to Claiborne sire Forty Niner, Claiborne’s Seth Hancock pulled the trigger at $1,025,000 for the account of Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider—the connections of Blame, too. The resulting foal was Grade 2 winner Roar. The mare was bred back to home sire Mr. Prospector and next produced the filly Praise, the dam of Congrats and Claiborne sire Flatter—both sons of A.P. Indy.
Neither Flatter nor Congrats was particularly precocious: Flatter was Grade 2 stakes placed at 4 and won 4 of 6 starts but never a stakes race; brother Congrats was a winner of one race from two starts at 2, stakes-placed at 3, won a stakes at 4, and won the Grade 2 San Pasqual at 5, when he also was Grade 1-placed in the Santa Anita Handicap and the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Because Claiborne had Flatter, Congrats was sold. Writer Frank Mitchell put the deal together that sent Congrats from Claiborne and Ms. Dilschneider to Tampa bay businessman John Sykes (owner of Clover Leaf Farms II). Brent Fernung, owner of Journeyman Stud, originally managed the horse in Florida and is primarily responsible for the horse’s first-crop success, which includes 17 winners to date and Grade 1 winner Wickedly Perfect, plus the Grade 1-placed duo of Jordy Y and I’m steppin’ It Up. Wickedly Perfect, unfortunately, has gone to the sidelines after winning the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland 11 days ago and is out of the Breeders’ Cup. Unless another of his runners upsets at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, Congrats will most probably lose his hold atop the freshman sire list.
Clover Leaf Farms II and Tom Simon’s Grapestock LLC currently own Congrats, who stands now at Simon’s Vinery in Florida. It’s almost certain he’ll stand at Vinery in Kentucky in 2011, but the pressing question for ownership is at what price? Should it be bumped to $12,500, or kept lower? Vinery brought up Repent from Florida a few years ago, but breeders in Kentucky lost interest when his second and third crops went cold and now he’s in New York. That’s a looming danger for Congrats, too, but maybe Congrats can continue the momentum? Maybe he’s the real deal? Time will tell, but he’s overachieving right now—always a good sign.