Pope McLean’s Crestwood near Lexington is the latest Kentucky farm to stand a son of Claiborne’s War Front — one of the most sought-after stallions in the world. Jack Milton, a G1 winner who joined the Crestwood roster for 2016, is the least expensive of his sire’s five sons in the state at $6,500 live foal. Claiborne stands Data Link, who entered stud in 2014, for $7,500; Ashford has Declaration of War, who retired to Coolmore in Ireland in 2014 and was transferred to Ashford in 2015, for $40,000; Lane’s End is home to The Factor, who stands for $25,000 and will have his first runners this year; and Airdrie has new sire Summer Front in 2016 for $10,000.
Demand for Summer Front was so strong that farm seasons to the horse became unavailable by December and the private market was trading the few in circulation at more than the stud fee. Jack Milton was late entering the market — his stud announcement came on December 9th — and he’s sure to benefit from the Summer Front overflow and the demand for the War Front line, which has put Danzig back in the spotlight in a big way.
The recurring theme with Danzig-line stallions — perhaps best exemplified in this country by Danzig’s own Lure — is high-class miler speed on turf, irrespective of their own racing records. Danzig, a son of Northern Dancer, only sprinted on dirt, and, likewise, War Front did the same, but both stallions have sired enough turf milers — Jack Milton and Data Link won the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile; Declaration of War won the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at a mile in Europe; and Summer Front was a multiple Graded winner at a mile on turf — that the phenomenon is undeniable. Of course, it all traces to Northern Dancer, one of the great sires of European classic horses, but Danzig expressed a shorter version of it while Nijinsky and Sadler’s Wells, for examples, were on the longer end.
It’s one reason why Danzig stallions flourished abroad and languished here mostly until War Front — and Hard Spun — came on the scene from the last few Danzig crops. A changing domestic landscape for more turf opportunity and the sheer quality of the War Fronts have created the new interest and demand, and the perception that some of these horses will crossover and get dirt horses as well — just as Danzig did and War Front does, too — is at the back of the minds of stud masters and breeders alike.
Danzig actually sired high-class horses over a range of distances and surfaces. Dayjur was a turf sprinter, for instance, while Danzig Connection won the G1 Belmont Stakes at 12F on dirt, and War Front has a bit of this in his bag as well. The aforementioned Declaration of War, though a G1 winner at a mile, also stayed the 10.5F of the G1 Juddmonte International, while The Factor was an exceptionally fast G1-winning dirt sprinter.
Jack Milton is out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver and is a full brother to Peace Preserver, who won the G3 Noble Damsel Stakes at a mile on turf at Belmont in 1:33.93. Jack Milton won the G3 Poker Stakes at a mile on turf at Belmont in 1:33.09 and, as mentioned, he also won the G1 Maker’s 46 Mile and G3 Transylvania at 8.5F on turf, both at Keeneland. All told, he won five of 19 starts and $853,828, and along the way he ran some fast speed figures to garnish a legitimate racing resume.
He has excellent lineage on the bottom side of his pedigree with deep roots to Claiborne sires and blue hens, which isn’t surprising for a horse bred by Seth Hancock’s Cherry Valley Farm, LLC. Cherry Valley also bred Jack Milton’s Dam, Preserver (1996), whose sire, Forty Niner, was a Claiborne homebred and sire. The 2nd dam, Berth (1984), was bred by Cherry Valley and The Gamely Corp. of longtime Claiborne client and partner William Haggin Perry, and her sire, Believe It, was a Claiborne stallion. The 3rd dam, Harbor Flag (1978), was bred by The Marjory Corporation and Seth Hancock and was by Claiborne sire Hoist the Flag. The 4th dam, Bayou Blue (1971), was bred by Claiborne and was by the farm’s celebrated sire Bold Ruler. The 5th dam, Bayou (1954), was bred by Claiborne and was a daughter of farm stallion Hill Prince. And the 5th dam, Bourtai (1942), by Stimulus, was a fortuitous Hancock acquisition and the foundation mare for a rich vein of stakes winners.
Bourtai’s Claiborne-bred daughter Delta (1952), by Claiborne import Nasrullah, was the 1968 Broodmare of the Year and the dam of five stakes winners; and Bourtai’s daughter Levee (1953), a Claiborne-bred sister to Bayou who wasn’t retained, was the 1970 Broodmare of the Year and the dam of four stakes winners, including champion Shuvee.
Various branches of this family have been successful for many other breeders, from Ken and Sarah Ramsey (G1 winner Real Solution’s 5th dam is Bayou) to Juddmonte Farms (G1 winner Aptitude’s 3rd dam is Bayou), but Claiborne (G1 winners Coastal’s and Slew o’ Gold’s 2nd dam was Bayou) and Seth Hancock continue to keep it current.
Claiborne’s imprimatur, essentially, is all over Jack Milton’s pedigree, and for $6,500 that’s quite a bit of value.