Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stallion Feature: After Market and Courageous Cat

When Martin and Pam Wygod purchased Tranquility Lake for $250,000 at the 1996 Keeneland July Yearling Sale, they were not only investing in a Thoroughbred that would become a multiple grade one winner, but a mare that would prove to be an outstanding broodmare, producing two grade one winners and a group two victor. But the mare’s success does not come to a halt there: her offspring have proven to be top producers, thus allowing Tranquility Lake to have a lasting impact on the breed.

A mare whose best breeding results were with Storm Cat, two of her Storm Cat sons – her pair of grade one winners – stand at stud in North America, whereas her group two winner that sold for $9.7 million as a yearling – also by Storm Cat – is a stallion in China. Those two grade one winners, who the Wygods also campaigned, serve as a chance to influence the breed with Tranquility Lake and her spectacular tail female family, as well as the incomparable Storm Cat.

After Market

The first foal out of Tranquility Lake, After Market began his career in November of his two-year-old campaign, winning a turf maiden special weight at Aqueduct. He did not race again until June of the next year, winning an allowance prior to capturing both the Lexington Stakes (GIII) and the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Breeders’ Cup Stakes (GII) on New York turf.
After Market
Photo by Kurt

But then things began to go downhill for the son of Storm Cat. Following a pair of last-place finishes, After Market left Bill Mott’s barn on the East Coast for the barn of John Shirreffs on the West Coast. But after two off-the-board finishes on the turf in California, After Market’s career continued to seem as though it had met its peak.

But suddenly, everything clicked. After Market cruised to an impressive victory in the Inglewood Handicap (GII) prior to capturing a pair of consecutive grade one races, one in which he defeated the multiple grade one-winning California champion Lava Man going ten furlongs over the turf course at Hollywood Park.

Following a win in the mile and three-quarters Del Mar Handicap (GII), After Market returned to the East Coast to culminate his career with a game runner-up finish in the Kelso Handicap (GII) at Belmont Park. After Market had been slated to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Monmouth Park, but was scratched the morning of the race due to the rain that had fallen in New Jersey, leaving the turf course much softer than After Market preferred.

Shortly after scratching out of the Breeders’ Cup, After Market arrived at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky for the new chapter of his life. Since his first breeding season in 2008, the beautifully-conformed stallion has produced three graded stakes winners, including the graded stakes-winning Lady of Fifty, a filly that has been brilliant in California.

Courageous Cat

Unlike his full brother After Market, Courageous Cat did not immediately form a string of victories once his racing career began. Following three losses, the blaze-faced Thoroughbred captured a seven-furlong turf maiden special weight at Belmont and after winning an ungraded stakes at Belmont, Courageous Cat took the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (GII) – a race his brother had won three years earlier – in a final time that was just 0.57 seconds off the course record.
Courageous Cat
Photo by Terri Cage

After running third in the Jamaica Handicap (GI), Courageous Cat shipped to the West Coast for the Breeders’ Cup, coming within a half-length of the great Goldikova when finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI). He began his four-year-old campaign with a game, narrow victory in the Canadian Turf Stakes (GIII), but when shipped to Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free (GI), Courageous Cat finished ninth in a field of sixteen.

Upon coming back to North America, Courageous Cat finished third behind Gio Ponti in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (GI). He was then given an eight-month layoff, returning with an easy win in the Poker Stakes (GIII) at Belmont prior to shipping to California to take the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (GI) in resolute fashion.

The Shoemaker Mile would be the final victory of Courageous Cat’s career. Following a close runner-up effort in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (GI), Courageous Cat suffered a horrendous trip in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Churchill Downs, finishing last. Nonetheless, the Bill Mott trainee had formed a remarkable career, becoming Tranquility Lake’s only millionaire.

Like After Market, Courageous Cat entered stud at Lane’s End, but after his initial season, the stallion was moved to Questroyal North in New York.

Their Ancestry

The Storm Cat/Rahy cross on which After Market and Courageous Cat are bred is the same one that produced the outstanding Giant’s Causeway, a champion racehorse and perennial leading sire. This cross also yielded the group one-winning daughter of Serena's Song, Sophisticat, as well as multiple other grade/group stakes winners. The Nearctic/Nasrullah sire line cross on which these two stallions are bred not only makes them linebred to the influential Nearco, but puts them on the same sire line cross as successful stallions Giant's Causeway and High Chaparral, as well as the great racemares Goldikova and Makybe Diva.

Storm Cat, the sire of both After Market and Courageous Cat, is one of the best stallions in Thoroughbred history. A recurring leading sire, Storm Cat produced more than thirty grade one winners, including the champions Giant’s Causeway, Seeking the Dia, Storm Flag Flying, and Sweet Catomine. As a sire of sires, Storm Cat has been exceptional, producing the likes of not only Giant’s Causeway, but also Bluegrass Cat, Forestry, Forest Wildcat, Hennessy, Stormin Fever, and Tale of the Cat.

The Northern Dancer sire line from which both After Market and Courageous Cat descend is certainly among the most influential ones of the breed. In the 1970s, the Canadian-bred champion was the leading sire once in North America and four times in the United Kingdom, as well as the twentieth century’s most successful sire. Northern Dancer’s stud record was astounding, as the son of Canadian Hall of Famer Nearctic was an incredible producer of successful racehorses, sires, sires of sires, and broodmares. Among his best sons were the champions Nijinsky and Sadler’s Wells, both of which became leading sires, the latter of which was the leading sire in the United Kingdom for an astonishing thirteen consecutive years and for a total of fourteen years.

As aforementioned, Tranquility Lake has proven to be a top producer. This is no surprise, as she is a daughter of one of the finest broodmare sires in Rahy. The son of Blushing Groom has produced the dams of an abundance of grade/group one winners, including Furthest Land, Giant’s Causeway, Life At Ten, Megahertz, Rahy’s Attorney, and Sophisticat.

Tranquility Lake’s immediate female family is remarkable, as both her dam and granddam are Reine de Course mares, or highly influential dams. Her dam, Winters’ Love, was a multiple graded stakes-placed runner on the track who produced not only Tranquility Lake, but also the multiple graded stakes-winning and leading California sire Benchmark, the graded stakes-placed King Crimson, and the black-type-placed Hope for Gold. Tranquility Lake’s granddam, Cold Hearted, was not only a graded stakes-placed runner, but a stakes winner on the track that went on to become an incredible broodmare. Her twelve foals that raced accumulated a total of more than $1.5 million. Among those offspring were the Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Caveat, one graded stakes winner, a black-type winner, two graded stakes-placed runners, and a stakes-placed runner.

As young stallions, the influence After Market and Courageous Cat will have as sires of producers will not become incredibly apparent for at least a handful of years. However, as sons of an incredible producer, their chances at becoming successful broodmare sires are rather positive, as remarkable mares such as Baby Zip, Con Game, Razyana, Terlingua, and Weekend Suprise yielded offspring that were not only successful racehorses and sires, but also damsires. Their sire, Storm Cat, was North America's leading broodmare sire in 2012, whereas their own broodmare sire, Rahy, has proven to be perhaps one of the best damsires in the history of the breed. Traces of the likes of Mahmoud, Native Dancer, and Princequillo, all top-notch broodmare sires, also insinuate that After Market and Courageous Cat could become efficient in siring top producers.

These full brothers provide breeders with an opportunity to breed their mares to stallions that have royal blood flowing through their veins. Each of them being young, long stud careers hopefully loom ahead for After Market and Courageous Cat, leaving them time to make their mark on the majestic creature that is the Thoroughbred racehorse.


  1. Im more fond of Courageous Cat. Hope his foals will do well when they come. I am sure along with me you are pleased to see that Clawback won the Jimmy Winkfield. When I saw Clawbacks debut and then his win I was going to write an article on him called "Clawback... next good sprinter?" But I backed off and than I was happy to see you had him in your "Juvenile Spotlights". Regardless I am pretty happy and hope you are to!


    1. Thanks for your comment, Zee! I'm actually partial to After Market, but likely because I've met him at Lane's End a couple times and he has quite the personality. But Courageous Cat is quite the striking individual and seems to carry the hot blood that is common for offspring of Storm Cat. And yes, I am very pleased that Clawback won the Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct today. He seems to be rather talented.

  2. I won ~$82 on that Goldikova/Courageous Cat exacta. I rarely bet (mainly because my husband handicaps enough for the both of us!) so that was a memorable bet for me. Bummer that Courageous Cat moved from LE; glad I got to see him this past fall before he moved.

    1. That's great! He ran a tremendous race that day! And he sure is a handsome one.