It has been a tradition here at A New York State of Racing to kick off my Saratoga coverage with a ride in the Saratoga Time Machine. Let’s take a trip back to another stellar meeting at the Spa, but not too far back this time. Let’s travel to 2006, when three future stallions in Scat Daddy, War Front, and Bernardini had big wins at the Spa; along with the Horse of the Year, a noteworthy broodmare of the future, and a Champion Filly.
In 2006, the second George Bush was President, Pluto was no longer considered a planet, but a dwarf planet, and Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones broke the 12,000 barrier for the first time ever and ended the year at 12,463.15. In the world of sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL, the St. Louis Cardinals took the World Series, and the Miami Heat were the NBA Champions. Roger Federer won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. The ill-fated Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby.
Scat Daddy, a Todd Pletcher trainee and a son of Johannesburg, burst onto the scene as a two-year-old winning three of his first four starts including the 2006 Sanford at Saratoga as the odds-on favorite. He won the Champagne and as a three-year-old the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby. He retired after finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby with $1,334,300 in earnings from nine career starts. His talent on the track was surpassed by his success in the breeding shed. He entered stud in 2008 at Ashford Stud in Kentucky and also shuttled to Chile. He sired stakes winners in the USA and in Europe. This year at Royal Ascot the speedy turf stars Lady Aurelia and Carravagio both won. He died suddenly in December of 2016 and he was expected to stand for a $100,000 fee. At the time of his death he had sired 69 stakes winners.
War Front had the biggest win of his career in the 2006 Vanderbilt at Saratoga. Trained by Allen Jerkens, he far exceeded his racing record in the stallion barn. In 2016, War Front was leading sire in North America. In 2017, he stood at Claiborne Farm for a $250,000 fee. It is common to see million-dollar War Front yearlings at the major auctions around the world. To date War Front has 61 blacktype runners and his progeny have earned over $45 million.
Bernardini burst onto the scene with a brilliant one-year racing career as a three-year-old. He put together a remarkable five-race win streak of the Withers, Preakness, the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. In his final start, he finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He won $3,060,480 in his eight-race career and was named Champion Three-Year-Old. As a son of A.P. Indy he went right to stud at Darley, where since he has sired 1 champion and 32 graded stakes winners. He stood for a $100,000 fee in 2017.
The horse that defeated Bernardini in the Breeders’ Cup and was subsequently named Horse of the Year was Invasor. Admitted to the Hall of Fame in 2013, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee had a perfect record on American soil. He earned his Eclipse honors with four wins in 2006, that included: the Pimlico Special, the Suburban, the Whitney at Saratoga, and the Classic. In the Whitney, he stumbled after the break, saved ground, and fought courageously to win by a nose.
The only grade one victory in the career of Appealing Zophie came in her third start in the Spinaway at Saratoga. She won the Spinaway in gate to wire fashion drawing off to a 5 ¼ length victory. She would win only one more time in her racing career. As a broodmare, she became a star when Tapwrit, her 2014 foal by Tapit, won the Belmont Stakes.
Wait a While was a versatile daughter of Maria’s Mon who came to Saratoga after a rigorous dirt campaign in the Spring where she finished second in the Ashland and third in the Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Todd Pletcher switched her to the grass and she quickly reeled off four straight graded stakes victories including the Lake Placid at the Spa. That streak and her prior dirt form was enough to give Wait a While the award as the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. In her career, she would win 12 out of 24 starts and earn over $2,000,000.
The year of 2006 had the kind of racing that fans get to see so frequently at Saratoga and that involves the highest quality thoroughbreds in the land. Every summer stars are born at the iconic Upstate New York track and future champions build their racing resumes. Sometimes, as in 2006, they are also the horses that produce the next generation of stars.
Enjoy these past trips in the Saratoga Time Machine:
1972 – The Golden Era of Racing
1982 – A Travers Upset
1985 – Lightning Strikes
1993 – Dehere Sweeps the Stakes