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Ashford Stud Boasts Robust 2023 Stallion Line Up

'American market likes horses with plenty of size and strength' -Charlie O'Connor.

Justify at Ashford Stud

Justify at Ashford Stud

Anne M. Eberhardt

History is everywhere at Ashford Stud, from the headcollar worn by the exceptional Sadler's Wells to photo galleries of other brilliant stallions past and present at the operation's pristine reception. 

The American branch of Coolmore's global business has plenty of prompts as to what the future could hold too, with four exciting new prospects in Corniche , Early Voting , Golden Pal , and Jack Christopher .

The Wesley Ward-trained Golden Pal was dealt an unfortunate hand on his final start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) just down the road at Keeneland, with difficulties in the starting stall, but he joins the fold as a winner of that grade 1 contest from the previous year and will prove a popular option for breeders standing at $30,000 alongside his sire Uncle Mo 

Golden Pal at Keeneland on October 31, 2022 preparing for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Photo By: Chad B. Harmon
Photo: Chad B. Harmon
Golden Pal at Keeneland ahead of the Breeders' Cup

Jack Christopher has three top-level prizes on his CV, winning five of his six starts, and has been handed an introductory fee of $45,000—with fellow new lads Corniche and Early Voting at $30,000 and $25,000 respectively.

There is also the smaller matter of two Triple Crown winners on the roster in Justify  and American Pharoah .

In 2018, Justify became the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby having not raced as a 2-year-old, and retired to Coolmore unbeaten after six starts. His first runners have seen him responsible for four individual group or graded scorers from ten stakes performers overall. 

These include the unbeaten Airlie Stud Stakes (G2) winner Statuette, a sizeable daughter of brilliant miler Immortal Verse and an exciting prospect for Classic honors in 2023.

A trio of group or grade 3 winners back up their sire's prospects, as does a grade 1-placed performer in Champagne Stakes (G1) runner-up Verifying.

So what do the powerfully built chestnut's team in Kentucky think of the start Justify has made to his stud career? 

Ashford's director of sales Charlie O'Connor says: "The American market likes horses with plenty of size and strength. Justify, American Pharoah, and Uncle Mo are all examples of this.

"Plenty of those by Justify came to hand early and he had group or graded winners in June, July, and August. He's had three million dollar-plus yearlings sell this autumn, so there's great belief behind him.

"He's covered sizeable books of high-quality mares every year, which has given him every chance of success.

"One of those mares was 4,700,000gns (US$8,071,193) purchase Immortal Verse, who produced the unbeaten Statuette, long considered by Aidan O'Brien to be the best juvenile filly in Ballydoyle.

"Most recently, he had the winner and third in the Nashua Stakes (G3) and an impressive winner at Del Mar Nov. 19 in Justique who, according to trainer John Shirreffs, will likely be aimed at the Kentucky Oaks (G1)."

The Scat Daddy theme stands strong at the Versailles-based stud 11 years after the much-missed sire's death, and it is another first-season resident in Mendelssohn  who is bidding to carry on the red-hot Scat Daddy line.

Mendelssohn
Photo: Courtesy Coolmore Stud/Asuncion Piñeyrua
Mendelssohn at Ashford Stud

A popular and often vocal character on the track whose wins included the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) and UAE Derby Sponsored By Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2)—by 18 1/2  lengths—it is not hard to see why the glossy bay cost M.V Magnier a cool $3 million from Keeneland in 2016.

His first crop of 2-year-olds have been making waves, headed by JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G2T) winner Delight and six-length maiden scorer and stakes-placed Miracle.

O'Connor says: "Like Justify, Mendelssohn has been extremely popular with breeders since day one. Trainers like them too and are expecting them to be better again as 3-year-olds."

Another star of the show is American Pharoah, whose Triple Crown triumph in 2015 bridged a 37-year gap to Affirmed.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile was, importantly, a grade 1 winner at two, in addition to his 3-year-old exploits, and he is now handing down his ability to offspring who excel on both dirt and turf. 

O'Connor says: "As well as being super talented, American Pharoah was a thoroughly sound and genuine racehorse, and these are traits he's passing on to his progeny.

"He gets top-class 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and older horses over a variety of distances on both dirt and turf."

The most heralded and, at $150,000, priciest Coolmore kid on the block is Uncle Mo, sire of 11 individual top-level winners from 46 group victors.

He added to his impressive record when Mo Donegal  struck in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) this year, while his reputation as a sire of sires continues to grow, not least very close to home. 

O'Connor says: "Uncle Mo's sons are going extremely well at stud. Our own Mo Town  has had several first-crop 2-year-old stakes winners, including an impressive stakes winner recently at Keeneland for Brad Cox."

Tiz The Law  was another exciting addition to the Ashford roster as the winner of the Champagne Stakes (G1) at 2 and the Belmont, Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1), and Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at 3, and connections are naturally excited about the son of Constitution .

Tiz The Law arrives at Ashford Stud Jan. 2, 2021
Photo: Courtesy of Coolmore
Tiz The Law at Ashford Stud

"Tiz The Law didn't just win the Champagne, he destroyed his rivals, and so it continued for the majority of his racing career," says O'Connor. "His weanlings are an impressive bunch and sold well in November; he's a horse we're very excited about."

The mighty Gun Runner 's sensational start to his stallion career at fellow Kentucky stud Three Chimneys has been one of the major talking points over the last two years, and in Early Voting, Ashford has secured a son of the sire sensation.

The first-crop Three Chimneys-bred colt took down Epicenter in a thrilling finish to the Preakness Stakes (G1) in May, and O'Connor says: "Early Voting is a big, very good-looking horse, and his sire Gun Runner has been a revelation. He's showing here at Ashford and the breeders love him."

Corniche, meanwhile, was a dual grade 1 winner of the TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) and American Pharoah Stakes (G1) in 2021. 

Bred by Bart Evans and Stonehaven Steadings and a seven-figure yearling when selling to Speedway Stables from de Meric Sales at Ocala, he is out of Najran's dual grade 2 winner and grade 1-placed Wasted Tears

O'Connor says: "Corniche is by another leading sire in Quality Road , whose son City of Light  is off to a bright start at stud.

"Corniche is out of a very good racemare, he sold for $1.5 million at OBS April and was an unbeaten dual grade 1 winner in his juvenile year, so he has a lot going for him."