September 25, 2009

Summer Squall and Cryptoclearance - Legends from the late '80s

There is a folk legend that bad things come in threes. This was certainly the case yet again in the equine world, as Margaux Farm’s Cryptoclearance joined El Prado and Summer Squall as major sires who all met their maker this week. The rare pure-breed bay stallion died yesterday from a heart attack after complications following colic surgery. For some reason, I always thought of Oaklawn Park when hearing the name Cryptoclearance, even though it turns out he only ran at the “Southern Spa” once – a solid second place finish to Lost Code in the 1988 Oaklawn Handicap (finishing ahead of Gulch). However, his name comes up often in the Daily Racing Form as a major influence as a sire, with colts winning consecutive runnings of the Arkansas Derby in 1997 – 1998 with Crypto Star and Victory Gallop, respectively. His other standout offspring include Breeders’ Cup Classic winning Volponi, Bluegrass Stakes winner Millennium Wind and multiple Grade I stakes winning filly Strategic Maneuver.

Cryptoclearance may not be as heralded as his famous Derby winning brother, Unbridled, both coming from the legendary Mr. Prospector sire line via Fappiano, but only time will tell how his true legacy unfolds as he seems to have more breeding momentum going with grandson Candy Ride (remember Chocolate Candy from this year’s Derby and Evita Argentina who has beaten males sprinting?). Regardless, his bloodlines will continue to provide a boost to stamina for generations to come, particularly on the bottom half of the breeding equation.

Now a word on fellow departed Summer Squall, who is the “it” horse in breeding circles after his grandson Summer Bird dominated the summer three year-old male series. The hard luck Summer Squall was known for two things; being THE breakout runner for Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stables racing partnership (one of my models used for Saturday Racing Syndicate - coming soon to a town near you!) and his “forgotten” rivalry with aforementioned Unbridled. I say forgotten in that horses seldom meet these days more than a couple of races during a particular meet and then go their separate ways. Summer Squall faced Unbridled head to head six times and won an impressive four of them! Problem is that Unbridled won the big ones -- Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (Squall was sick and did not run in Classic) and was voted Champion 3YO colt over Summer Squall.

Summer Squall was produced from the Secretariat mare, Weekend Surprise, making him a half-brother to uber-stallion, A.P. Indy, again being overshadowed! Squall’s best runners included 1999 Kentucky Derby hero and Horse of the Year Charismatic and Champion 2YO filly Storm Song. Due to declining fertility from his status as a ridgling (check if you need a translation), he retired from stud duty at Lane’s End Farm in 2004.

I referred to Squall earlier as hard luck in that he was slighted in the voting for Champion 2YO colt to Rhythm (who happened to be owned by blue blood, Ogden Phipps) in spite of going five for five, including three historically significant races. Furthermore, due to New York’s anti-medication rules, he wasn’t able to participate in the 1990 Belmont Stakes where he likely would have finished ahead of 4th placed Unbridled yet again. He also came down with a severe viral infection that sidelined the second half of his 3YO campaign, likely costing him another crack at an Eclipse Award. But he did get the better of Unbridled in the end, outliving him for 8 years!

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