By Chris McGrath
It was impossible not feel the electricity round the Lane’s End barns on the Keeneland sales grounds yesterday. For these are exciting times at a farm launching an armada of young stallions in the wake of the flourishing Quality Road (Elusive Quality), not to mention the flagship Candy Ride (Arg) (Ride The Rails), gazing down from the top of the general sires’ list. And reinforcements are at hand, too, with two new recruits already signed up in Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky), the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and City Of Light (Quality Road).
The latter was in the farm’s consignment here three years ago, and will be joining his sire having meanwhile vindicated his $710,000 sale with two Grade I wins. But a more literal homecoming was in Bill Farish’s mind as his team paraded their Book 1 yearlings before perspiring prospectors on a sultry afternoon. For the farm has just welcomed back The Factor (War Front) from his one-off stint in Japan–knowing that he has been sharing its overall momentum even in his absence.
“It’s quite remarkable, really,” Farish said. “I think it’s really sneaking up on people that he’s doing so well in that third-crop sire list. It’s a pretty good group of stallions, but in a lot of the statistical categories, he’s right at the top.”
Sure enough, The Factor has overtaken even Airdrie’s thriving Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) by prizemoney, winners and black-type horses in their intake’s year-to-date table. As such, the deal to send The Factor to Japan could not have been better timed.
“By going out there when he did, I suppose he didn’t have the pressure of ‘filling in’ during what was really a make-or-break year for him,” Farish explained. “So it really has worked out, timing-wise, with a lot of his best runners now hitting the track. It’s funny how things work out. This was a crucial year for him to have a good crop, and luckily he’s getting the results.”
There are only three owners involved in The Factor, the majority stake held by George Bolton. “So really it was his decision,” Farish said of the Japanese sojourn. “It was an economic decision, it was a very nice offer and would have been hard to turn down in that year of his production. The good news is that he has two good crops to continue the momentum now: a nice bunch of yearlings, including in the sale here, and then a crop of over 100 foals.
“One of the great things The Factor has going for him is that his sales history is so strong. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue. He gets good-looking yearlings, and that obviously appeals to the commercial breeder. And he has versatility, too: he’s not all dirt, or all turf.”
In that respect he resembles his sire, whose reputation he helped to forge as a graduate of his debut crop. Having started out at $15,000 and moved up to $25,000 before his temporary exile, The Factor represents a relatively accessible alternative to his $250,000 sire. And the fact that he remained an elite operator at four, during his own racing days, meanwhile augurs well as his stock continues to mature. From his first crop, for instance, Bound For Nowhere was beaten under a length when third in the G1 Golden Jubilee S. at Royal Ascot this summer.
“Yes, it’s interesting-because everybody felt he was going to be a 2-year-old sire, a lot of them got thrown into that treadmill,” Farish reflected. “That could have hurt him a little, because as we know it can be a hard process on young horses. It seems that maybe his second crop could be benefiting from not having to go through all that. Just a little patience is maybe a good thing. They’re not necessarily super-early, 4 1/2-furlong Keeneland-type horses. They are 2-year-olds, but maybe for the middle-to-later part of the year.
“He’s got a bunch of runners this weekend in some pretty rich races, so let’s hope the momentum continues. It’s exciting. He looks in great shape and hopefully he can come back and pick right up where he left off.”
As Farish returned to his farm’s consignment, a strong, dark colt with a blaze was being shown-unmistakably, a son of freshman Honor Code (A.P. Indy), stamped uncannily with the shimmering presence of his sire. But Farish is trying to keep his feet on the ground.
“The stallion business will humble you, for sure,” he stressed. “So you never feel too giddy. But we’re thrilled how things are going right now, especially with this group of young horses. You’re only ever as good as your last one, so we’re always trying to find the next good one. But the good thing for The Factor is that he’s at a different stage of his career, compared with some of these younger ones. If he’s priced appropriately, I think he’ll have a very good year.”