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A Year to Remember: Runnymede Sparkled in 2010

Although there have been many outstanding years in the storied history of Runnymede Farm, 2010 undoubtedly ranks among the best on all fronts, extending from racing to sales around the world.

In a truly remarkable accomplishment, more than 10% of the yearlings Runnymede offered for sale in 2009 turned into runners that earned Grade/Group 1 black-type as juveniles in 2010, many times more than the overall industry average for elite performers and even farther above the standard for two-year-olds.

“We were blessed with good fortune in 2010,” reflected Runnymede President Brutus J. Clay III, noting that the year began just after his father, farm Chairman Catesby Clay, had earned recognition as the Thoroughbred Club of America’s esteemed Honor Guest at its 78th annual Testimonial Dinner.

Horses bred and raised by the farm, many of them in partnership with our longtime friend Peter Callahan, amassed even more laurels.

Jaycito romps to victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita (Benoit Photo)
Jaycito romps to victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita (Benoit Photo)

Jaycito, a colt by Victory Gallop out of our Ascot Knight mare Night Edition, ascended to the elite status of Grade 1 winner with a romping win in the Norfolk Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park for Zayat Stables. Catesby Clay’s Rogue Romance, a son of Smarty Jones bred from the farm’s late superior producer Lovington, by Afleet, won the Bourbon Stakes (G3) on Keeneland’s turf before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on dirt at Churchill Downs.

A large contingent of Clays spanning three generations joined the farm patriarch at both Keeneland and Churchill to witness Rogue Romance’s exploits.

“Watching Rogue Romance go from last to first in the Bourbon Stakes and seeing my father having tears of joy in his eyes as his grandchildren surrounded him while exuberantly screaming, ‘We won! We won!’ is an experience we’ll never forget,” Brutus Clay said. “Such events don’t happen every year. For this moment in this incredible sport that one never masters, our family is truly blessed.”

Both Rogue Romance, who is trained by Ken McPeek, and Jaycito, who has joined the stable of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, are pointing to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in 2011, allowing the Runnymede team to dream about what every breeder and owner in racing aspires to in the coming months.

Laughing Lashes wins the Keeneland Debutante Stakes in Ireland (Healy Racing Photos)
Laughing Lashes wins the Keeneland Debutante Stakes in Ireland (Healy Racing Photos)

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Ireland, the gray juvenile filly Laughing Lashes won the Keeneland Debutante Stakes (G2) and finished a strong second to champion Misty For Me, whom she had previously defeated, in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) at the Curragh. By Mr. Greeley out of Runnymede’s Unbridled’s Song mare Adventure and trained by Jessica Harrington, Laughing Lashes is expected to be a prime contender for Ireland’s filly classic races of 2011.

But that trio of exceptionally talented youngsters was just part of our story in 2010. A full 41% of the yearlings offered from the previous year proved their mettle on the track by winning as two-year-olds, with 11 winners scoring in five countries and on three continents. They carried the Runnymede name with them as they flashed potential for even greater feats in the future, with three earning more than $200,000 each in their juvenile seasons.

The young stars included Deep Sound, one of two juvenile colt winners for Runnymede’s unique breeding program in Japan. Deep Sound is out of our Danehill mare Josette. Target Machine, the other juvenile winner for Runnymede in Japan, began 2011 with a victory over 2,000 meters (about 1 ¼ miles) at Nakayama Racecourse on January 8 to remain undefeated. As a son of our mare Hunter’s Mark, Target Machine is a particularly exciting prospect as his dam is a half sister to 2010 leading Japanese sire King Kamehameha.

Both the winning colts bred in Japan are from the first crop by Triple Crown winner and two-time Horse of the Year Deep Impact, the son of Sunday Silence who by year’s end had broken Japanese freshman sire records for most winners and wins. Runnymede was the only American-based farm to breed to Deep Impact in his first season at stud and the farm is eagerly anticipating the colts’ sophomore seasons.

Awesome Gem captures the Hollywood Gold Cup (Benoit Photo)
Awesome Gem captures the Hollywood Gold Cup (Benoit Photo)

Yet Runnymede’s 2010 accomplishments were not limited to juveniles. Veteran gelding Awesome Gem, a son of Awesome Again that we bred from the Pentelicus mare Piano, won his first Grade 1 race in an already brilliant career when he captured the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). Awesome Gem went on to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G3), extending his streak to four consecutive Breeders’ Cup appearances that began with his fine third-place finish to Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Running for West Point Thoroughbreds and generating a huge fan following around the United States, Awesome Gem has earned more than $2.29-million, making him one of the richest horses ever to have been raised on the fields of Runnymede.

Other sources of great pride at Runnymede during 2010 were two handsome three-year-old colts, both of whom will be racing again in 2011.

Dancing David, a son of Danehill Dancer and our Seeking the Gold mare Seek Easy, placed second in the Dee Stakes (G3) in England before carrying our green and black silks in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1). In a one of a kind adventure that was chronicled in Thoroughbred Daily News, Catesby Clay and his wife, Elizabeth, traveled to Chantilly to cheer on the colt with seven of their eight children, son-in-law David Blee and farm General Manager Martin O’Dowd.

“We might have been hoping for a stronger showing, but he did finish in the top half of a large and high-class field, crossing the finish line ahead of eventual Irish classic winner Cape Blanco,” noted Brutus Clay. “The trip was a valuable lesson. While it might not have been lucrative and we might not have seen the ultimate result we wanted, I wouldn’t have traded the experience with my father, mother and family for the world. It was an experience of a lifetime, all due to this magnificent horse, Dancing David, taking us to the very top of the racing world.”

Back in the U.S., Manhattan Fox finished a good second in a stakes on the turf at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Stakes (G1) day and later won an allowance race at Calder Race Course after finishing a strong second in a very competitive Keeneland allowance. The chestnut son of Elusive Quality out of our Storm Cat mare Safeen had won as a juvenile at Goodwood in England.

Our other older winners included Ordination, a half brother to Dancing David by Fantastic Light who raced for us and Christophe Clement early in the year and then transferred to Ken McPeek to continue his career in other silks. Ordination won three races in 2010, including back-to-back victories at Keeneland during the fall meet, and finished third by only a head in the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park to close out the season and push his career earnings to $131,583.

Other older Runnymede-bred winners included Rogue Victory, who won an allowance at Saratoga after beginning the year with a win at Gulfstream Park. The son of Victory Gallop also finished third in the Memorial Day Handicap at Mountaineer to boost his bankroll to over $200,000.

On the sales front, Runnymede was proud to offer yearlings at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton Co. in Kentucky, the Arqana Deauville sale in France, the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale in Japan and the Tattersalls October sale in England.

Runnymede sold a lovely First Samurai filly who is a half sister to Laughing Lashes for $450,000 to Oliver St. Lawrence, agent, at Keeneland. St. Lawrence represents Fawzi Nass of Bahrain, an international owner employing several European conditioners including ten-time British champion trainer Henry Cecil, who will train our filly in England.

During Arqana’s Deauville yearling sale in France, leading European agent Charlie Gordon-Watson acquired our robust Oasis Dream colt who is a half brother to Dancing David for €250,000 (about $319,000) on behalf of an international client. The colt will be trained by Sir Michael Stoute, whose outstanding credentials include the development of 2010 Epsom Derby (G1) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner Workforce for Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms.

With these kind of yearlings in 2010 coupled with a foal crop that includes offspring by top stallions such as Street Cry, Medaglia d’Oro, New Approach, Big Brown and Henrythenavigator as well as our trio of classic candidates—Rogue Romance, Jaycito and Laughing Lashes—Runnymede continues to be blessed. We have high hopes that 2011 will be another sensational year and we wish the same for owners and breeders everywhere.