Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Legacy of A.P. Indy

As stallions such as Candy Ride, Curlin, Quality Road, and Shakespeare march toward the breeding shed at Lane’s End Farm this year, a certain stallion will not visit the breeding shed. Instead, he will leave behind a legacy for his offspring to carry on, the same legacy that he has carried on through his Triple Crown-winning sire and grandsire.
A.P. Indy is the result of breeding the best to the best. His sire is the great Seattle Slew, winner of the 1977 Triple Crown and one of the greatest sires to ever live. His dam – a daughter of Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner and arguably the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle – is Weekend Surprise, a multiple graded stakes winner. The year A.P. Indy was born, Weekend Surprise’s first foal – Summer Squall – went undefeated, ending his two-year-old season with a win in the Hopeful Stakes (GI). He would go on to win the Preakness Stakes (GI).
Photo: Terri Cage
When A.P. Indy went to auction as a yearling, high hopes were pinned to him. Not only was he royally bred, but he had beautiful conformation. Lane’s End Farm sold the colt to Japanese entrepreneur Tomonori Tsurumaki for $2.9 million at the 1990 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Tsurumaki named the colt after his automobile racing circuit in Japan, Autopolis, and Indianapolis.
Instead of the colt going to Japan like many expected, he stayed in America and was sent to trainer Neil Drysdale in southern California. A.P. Indy made his first start in August of 1991 at Del Mar, finishing a disappointing fourth.
The disappointing finish was not due to a lack of talent, but rather soreness. It was discovered that A.P. Indy was a ridgling, meaning he had an undescended testicle, which was causing him pain. In order for the colt to run better, it needed to be removed. Normally, a horse in this situation would just be gelded. But with his worth and royal bloodlines, his connections didn’t want to geld him, which would prevent him from reproducing.
Instead, only the undescended testicle was to be removed. The procedure of removing just one testicle while allowing the horse to still be able to reproduce had only been attempted once and the threat of infection or inflammation also loomed.
Fortunately, the procedure worked and a dynasty was saved.
A.P. Indy returned to the track, living up to expectations. By the end of his juvenile career, he had won three races – one of which was the Hollywood Futurity (GI) – and had earned $357,255. He entered his three-year-old campaign with dreams of the Kentucky Derby (GI) in the minds of his connections.
After wins in the San Rafael Stakes (GII) and Santa Anita Derby (GI), A.P. Indy was a leading Derby contender. However, he was withdrawn from the Run for the Roses due to a quarter crack the morning of the race. He skipped the Preakness Stakes (GI) as well, opting for the Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont Park eight days later instead.
It was a wise decision. The son of A.P. Indy drew off to win by five and one-half lengths, running his winning streak to six in a row. Thirteen days later, he would finally be able to contend in a Triple Crown race: the Belmont Stakes (GI). Sent off as the heavy favorite, A.P. Indy showed his toughness in the mile and one-half race, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in what is currently the third-fastest time for the Belmont: 2:26.13.
A.P. Indy did not start again for over three months. He made his return to the races in the Molson Export Million Stakes (GII) at Woodbine, finishing an uninspiring fifth in a seven-horse field. He continued on towards the Breeders’ Cup, making his final prep in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI). After a terrible stumble at the start, A.P. Indy got up to finish third behind the grade one-winning Pleasant Tap and the Kentucky Derby-winning Strike the Gold.
Following the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Neil Drysdale trainee made his way to Gulfstream Park in Florida for the ninth Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), which would be the final start of A.P. Indy’s career. After the championship race, A.P. Indy would go to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky to stand at stud.
Under Eddie Delahoussaye, A.P. Indy impressively drew away from the talented field to win by two lengths in a notable final clocking of 2:00.20 for ten furlongs. Every single horse that finished behind him in the championship race was a grade or group one winner. His accomplishments in 1992 garnered him the prestigious title of Horse of the Year. Nine years later, he would be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
When A.P. Indy arrived at Lane’s End in preparation for his first breeding season, a large question loomed as a result of the surgery that had been performed when he was a two-year-old: Was he fertile?
Photo: Terri Cage
Once that question was answered with a yes, A.P. Indy had many expectations to live up to. He was the son of a successful sire and Triple Crown winner in Seattle Slew and a grandson of possibly the greatest racehorse to ever live in Secretariat. In addition, his dam, a graded stakes winner, had already produced two classic champions and a graded stakes-placed horse from her first three foals.
In his first crop, A.P. Indy sired thirteen stakes winners. One of the horses from his first crop did not start as a two-year-old, but went on to become what many consider to be the first “big horse” sired by A.P. Indy. That horse was Pulpit, who won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GII).
Since entering stud in 1993, A.P. Indy has sired twenty-six grade one winners, including Bernardini, Flashing, Mineshaft, Little Belle, Music Note, and Rags to Riches. He is also a sire of sires, having produced several successful sires such as Bernardini, Congrats, Malibu Moon, Mineshaft, Pulpit, and Stephen Got Even.
In April of 2011, A.P. Indy was pensioned from stallion duty, as he was unable to get any of the mares he was bred to last year in foal. There are still offspring of A.P. Indy on the track and some that have not yet raced, but there will never be another A.P. Indy foal born. It is unfortunate to see an end to this great horse’s stud career, but his sons and daughters will continue to expand the dynasty, which has become one of the most royal families in the industry.
I will always greatly admire A.P. Indy and not just for his incredible racing and breeding careers, but also for the presence he has. I have been fortunate enough to be in his presence twice and each time, it was nearly impossible to tear my eyes away from him. While visiting him at Lane’s End, I could tell that the stallion knew he was the king of the farm. Despite being in his twenties when I visited him, A.P. Indy radiated with confidence and class. I have seen many brilliant horses in person, having attended the Breeders’ Cup twice and having visited several of the renowned farms in central Kentucky, and I can honestly say I feel as if A.P. Indy is truly one of the greatest of all of them. He has ‘the look of eagles’ and seems to know just how important he is. Seeing him in person and touching his coat brought light to my eyes and I will forever be thankful that I was able to meet the great A.P. Indy.
Photo: Terri Cage
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