The most famous public auction in the Thoroughbred world, the
Keeneland September Yearling Sale can easily be compared to a marathon. With nearly two weeks to search for a
potential champion, hopeful buyers have thousands of yearlings to analyze with
hopes of finding that one special prospect. The large size of the sale is not
the only reason its name is so well-known in the Thoroughbred industry; it also
frequently proves to be a quality source for finding a successful racehorse,
having offered two of the past five Kentucky Derby winners, four of the past
five Preakness Stakes winners, three of the past five Belmont Stakes winners, and
two of the past five Breeders’ Cup Classic winners. In 2013 alone, the sale has
produced 29 grade/group one winners to date.
As if an endorsement for the upcoming Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Strong Mandate romped in the Hopeful
Stakes (GI) at the most prestigious meet in the United States: Saratoga. Sold
as hip 69 at last year’s September auction, Strong Mandate was purchased for
$200,000 by Robert Baker and William Mack, who have campaigned the likes of the
grade one winners Dublin, Grand Slam, and Scorpion – all trained by Hall of
Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
Like these conquerors of grade ones, Strong Mandate was sent to Lukas’ barn,
where he was prepared for his career debut at Saratoga. On July 22, Lukas unveiled Strong Mandate at the Spa, but the son of Tiznow crossed
the wire a rather disappointing fifth. However, the colt achieved redemption in
his second career start, stretching out to six and one-half furlongs.
Encountering seven rivals in another maiden special weight at Saratoga, Strong
Mandate led from start to finish, always holding a rather substantial advantage
over his rivals. His easy lead allowed him to have plenty left for the stretch
run, in which he drew away to an effortless 4 ½-length win under a hand ride
from Jose Ortiz.
This victory was impressive enough to convince Strong Mandate’s connections to
send him to the Hopeful Stakes (GI) on Saratoga’s closing day – also Lukas’ 78th
birthday. It was a wise decision. Over a muddy track, Strong Mandate tracked
the pace set by the favorite, Corfu. Entering the far turn, the bay colt inched
close to the front, easily passing his opponents en route to the lead. Seizing an advantage over Corfu outside the quarter pole, Strong Mandate
galloped into the homestretch powerfully, beginning to draw away. With a
furlong left to go, it was evident that the others had no chance of defeating
the colt. With robust strides, he lengthened his lead, crossing the wire 9 ¾ lengths
What’s in store for this talented colt’s future? His connections are
considering a start in the Frontrunner
Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita on
September 28, or perhaps the Champagne Stakes (GI) at Belmont on October 5.
Regardless of where he surfaces next, it is clear that his owners made the
right decision in purchasing him. Now it’s just about making the right decisions
in mapping out his career.
Strong Mandate is sired by two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic
(GI) winner, Tiznow, who has ranked among the top thirty sires in North America
for the past six years, finishing among the top five sires in both 2008 and
2009. Tiznow has sired a multitude of grade one winners, including Bullsbay, Colonel John, Da’ Tara, Folklore,
Gemologist, Morning Line, Tiz Miz Sue, Tizway, Tough Tiz’s Sis, and Well Armed, as well as the grade
one-winning steeplechaser Mr. Hot Stuff.
Tragically, eleven days after foaling Strong Mandate, the
colt’s dam – the multiple grade one-winning millionaire Clear Mandate – died. A
half-sister to the graded stakes-winning Dream Scheme and the stakes winners A
Diehl, Clear Mandate also produced the multiple graded stakes-winning
Newfoundland, the stakes-winning Full Mandate – who is the sire of the multiple
grade one-winning Ron the Greek –
and the group stakes-placed The Mighty Tiger.
Stemming from a tremendously strong female family, Strong
Mandate’s granddam, also a grade one winner, is a daughter of the grade one-winning blue
hen Likely Exchange, who begat Crème Fraiche – an earner of $4,024,727 who captured
seven grade ones. She is one of many Reine De Course mares in Strong Mandate’s
tail female line, with the next being the stakes-winning Strange Device – the dam
of the multiple stakes-winning Abstract. Strange Device is a daughter of the
Alabama Stakes (GI) victress Escutcheon, who yielded fourteen winners, including Bourtai, who produced six black-type runners –including two Broodmare
of the Years and the champion Bayou. Escutcheon’s own dam, Affection, is also a
Reine De Course mare and, in addition to Escutcheon, the French import begat the
black-type winners Flat Iron and Sanford. The next Reine De Course mare in Strong
Mandate’s tail female line is The Apple, the foundation mare of a strong female
family that produced the likes of the champions Bold Forbes, Forego, Mar-Kell,
Nellie Flag, and Nellie Morse. The earliest Reine De Course mare in Strong
Mandate’s tail female line is Maid of Masham, a multiple stakes-winning mare.
Other descendants of the Likely Exchange branch of this family include the
group one winner To the Victory and the group stakes winner Headliner.
The maternal grandsire of Strong Mandate is the Canadian Hall
of Famer Deputy Minister. This is exceptionally favorable, as Deputy Minister
was the leading broodmare sire of 2007 and is the damsire of a multitude of
grade one winners, including Curlin,
Jazil, Magistretti, Redattore, Sarava, Tapizar, Telling, and To Honor and
Can Strong Mandate continue to reflect his stellar pedigree? No one can be completely certain about the answer to that question,
but the colt has – so far – proven to be one of the best juveniles in the
nation. Here's to hoping Strong Mandate can maintain his brilliance.