Trainer Bob Baffert struck for the sixth time in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Saturday, December 17 with Liaison. The bay colt sat patiently on the rail behind vying leaders, swung three wide in the stretch and held off the late charge of Rousing Sermon by a neck, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.86. Liaison was third in his debut in September at Del Mar, but has now won his last three starts, including a victory in the Real Quiet Stakes.
The CashCall Futurity is the last graded stakes event of the year for aspiring two year olds. In the last thirty years, fourteen horses that have won or placed in this Grade 1 contest have won or placed in one or more of the Triple Crown Races. Previous winners include Real Quiet (Kentucky Derby & Preakness, Point Given (Preakness & Belmont), and Lookin At Lucky (Preakness). Incidentally, all three colts were trained by Bob Baffert.
Let’s take a look at Liaison’s pedigree, conformation and running style to determine if he can become the next legitimate Triple Crown contender for the Baffert stable.
With his Grade 1 victory in the CashCall Futurity, LIAISON(Indian Charlie - Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop) became the first posthumous stakes winner for his sire. Unfortunately, Indian Charlie lost his battle with cancer and was euthanized at the young age of 16 a few days previous to the CashCall.
On the racetrack, Indian Charlie was a lightly raced colt. After winning his debut in August of his two year old season, the brilliant but fragile son of In Excess was sidelined with injury. At three, Indian Charlie wowed in two allowance events, beating overmatched foes by a combined 12 ½ lengths. He then conquered his stablemate Real Quiet by 2 ¼ lengths in the Santa Anita Derby. Sent of as the favorite in the 1998 Kentucky Derby, Indian Charlie weakened in the final furlong and finished third behind his stable-mate, Real Quiet. Indian Charlie showed plenty of skill, winning four of five starts, but he was retired after the Kentucky Derby due to injury.
??Unfortunately, In Excess, Indian Charlie’s sire, is prone to getting swift but often fragile sprinter/miler types and Indian Charlie is passing these genes along to his progeny. Seven of Indian Charlie’s stakes wining progeny have won at 1 1/8 miles, but only Indian Charlie’s daughter, Fleet Indian, has been successful at 1 ¼ miles. She was victorious in a slowly run Personal Ensign (G-1) and a weak Delaware Handicap (G-2).
Liaison’s dam Galloping Gal spent her racing career competing over the dirt and turf in middle distance events. Although she placed in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G-2) at 1 1/16 miles over the dirt, Galloping Gal clearly preferred the turf, winning four events over the lawn. Besides her debut and an allowance win, the daughter of Victory Gallop recorded victories in the Jessamine County Stakes and Edgewood Stakes both contested at 1 1/16 miles. Galloping Gal raced for four years and retired with a 19-4-2-1 $348,269 record. Besides Liaison, who is her only colt and stakes winner, Galloping Gal bore two fillies, one of whom made it to the track. Liaison’s half sister One Last Dance, won an allowance race at Aqueduct the day before Liaison’s CashCall victory.
Galloping Gal is the best offspring produced by her unraced dam Indy Flash (by A.P. Indy). Galloping Gal’s half sister Khalila (by Elusive Quality) is a multiple stakes placed sprinter and another half sister produced the stakes winning miler Tensas Punch.
Ironically, Victory Gallop, the damsire of Liaison, snatched a Triple Crown victory from Indian Charlie’s stablemate Real Quiet by the barest of noses in the Belmont Stakes. He later earned Champion Older Male honors. Unfortunately, Victory Gallop’s offspring are late maturing endurance runners and aren’t as popular with racehorse owners in the US as many owners tend to overlook longwinded runners for their brilliant, early winning counterparts. Victory Gallop was shipped off to stand in Turkey after eight years at stud in the US. He is a young stallion, and in the US, has sired 42 stakes winners, five of whom have won at 1 ¼ miles or farther. Victory Gallop’s daughters are just starting to bear runners. Currently, they have produced only four stakes winners, all sprinter/milers. Liaison is Victory Gallop’s first Grade 1 winner as a broodmare sire.
Liaison’s second damsire A.P. Indy also won the Belmont Stakes and went on to become one of the best sires in the world. He was named an Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-race for imparting endurance to his offspring.
The Indian Charlie/ Victory Gallop bloodline cross has produced only one runner, Liaison. However, this cross has a good precedent; Indian Charlie has sired five foals from Cryptoclearance mares. Four have raced and all are winners. Additionally, Indian Charlie has five foals, four starters and three winners from A.P. Indy mares.
With all of the stamina in his female line, many feel Liaison could become the second of 542 Indian Charlie-sired offspring to handle 1 ¼ miles. The majority of Indian Charlie’s offspring are sprinter/miler types, best up to 1 1/16 miles. He has produced only six dirt stakes winners at 1 1/8 miles and one at 1 ¼ miles, the aforementioned Fleet Indian. Liaison and Fleet Indian are both out of mares from the Mr. Prospector sire line and both include the bloodlines of Raise A Native and Bold Ruler in their respective distaff lines. Not surprising, given how prolific and popular these bloodlines are in American breeding. There are many other sons and daughters of Indian Charlie with the same ancestry. However, Fleet Indian also had inbreeding to the Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-race Tom Fool, as well as being a descendant of one of the top distaff lines in history.
Indian Charlie is known for “stamping” his foals. The majority look like their sire. Liaison is no exception. He’s an averaged sized bay colt with a deep but slightly upright shoulder balanced by a long, strong hip and muscular hindquarters. Liaison has sat off the pace and shown professionalism in his last three races. He will no doubt make some noise in next year’s Triple Crown prep races, especially those up to 1 1/16 miles, but the farther they go, the less effective Liaison may become. It is questionable that he has the ability to travel 1 ¼ miles and may be slightly compromised running 1 1/8 miles against top competition.