Lane’s End’s Incoming Stallion Trio On Different Paths After Breeders’ Cup

The Lane’s End stallion operation held a strong hand heading into this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, with each of its three incoming stallions for 2019 being strong contenders in showcase races, and it exited the event with two winners.

In the days following the marquee card, the paths to the breeding shed for Classic winner Accelerate, seventh-place finisher West Coast, and Dirt Mile winner City of Light are unique to each horse.

Accelerate and West Coast vanned to the the Lane’s End stallion complex on Sunday, arriving that afternoon to be received by farm staff and media. The two horses, who will cover their first mares on-record in February, will be on display for prospective breeders during the farm’s open house days through the first week of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

From there, Accelerate will return to the barn of trainer John Sadler to prepare for a projected swan song in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes. Long-term plans were still to be decided for West Coast, pending a discussion between Lane’s End staff and owners Gary and Mary West. Meanwhile, City of Light remains with trainer Michael McCarthy, also on a path that ends at the Pegasus.

Sadler met Accelerate at Lane’s End, less than 24 hours after their biggest win together, greeting the Lookin at Lucky colt between the stallion barns after the horse calmly stepped off the trailer and walked up the hill from the loading area to his temporary residence. The horse was led from the trailer to his stall by Alex Escobar, Accelerate’s groom in Sadler’s stable, who will remain with the horse for the week he shows for breeders at Lane’s End, and will return with him to the track.

“We’re going to try to keep his routine as similar as we can to what it was like when he’s at the racetrack,” Bill Farish of Lane’s End said about Accelerate’s schedule for the coming days. “He’ll be done up and we’ll try to keep everything as normal as possible for him – keep him moving. We’ve got a free walker. We’ll be talking to John Sadler to see what he’d like us to do while he’s here. We’re sure he’d like to keep the time to a minimum, but both he and Bob Baffert [trainer of West Coast] were very amenable to this, so that does help.”

West Coast, a champion son of Flatter, arrived at Lane’s End about an hour and a half before Accelerate. He resides in the stall across the way from pensioner A.P. Indy, one of the farm’s cornerstone stallions.

Meanwhile, City of Light, by the fast-rising Lane’s End sire Quality Road, will take his first steps onto the property at a later date. First, plans call to contest the G1 Cigar Mile Handicap before also finishing his career in the Pegasus.

City of Light will be the second Dirt Mile winner to stand at Lane’s End, joining 2015 winner Liam’s Map. The race has gotten a significant bump this year as a stallion-making race, with 2012 winner Tapizar siring probable champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl and two-time winner Goldencents getting off to a fast start with his first crop of juveniles.

Farish, who is on the Breeders’ Cup board of directors, said setting up the Dirt Mile as a resume-maker for stallion prospects was one of the goals when the race was established.

“Mile races are so important to breeding that we thought it would [become an important stallion-making race],” Farish said. “It took a little time to catch on, but it’s certainly catching on in a big way. I’d like to see the purse bumped up. I think it now kind of stands out as being a little too low compared to some of the other races. I’d like to see it bumped, but so far, I haven’t been successful.”

The Pegasus World Cup will take place at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26, giving Accelerate and City of Light just weeks to prepare for their first seasons at stud, where others have potentially had months to learn the process. The first two editions of the multi-million dollar race have each featured high-profile stallion prospects that have made the quick turnaround – California Chrome, Arrogate, and Gun Runner to name a few – which Farish said helped provide a blueprint.

From the standpoint of getting mares to the stallion, Farish said strong performances leading up to and during the Breeders’ Cup can help drum up interest, even if the stallion is not there to show breeders in the flesh.

“I think it’s only a wrench when you don’t have the [caliber of] horse,” Farish said. “City of Light for instance, is going to go on that track, and when he ran so well in the Dirt Mile, I don’t think it’s a problem. People saw him in the paddock, and in his case, he’s such a beautiful horse, I don’t think we’re going to have any problem with him not being here.

“I think there are cases where it is a problem,” he continued. “Even in cases like the Cigar Mile when you don’t have a horse here during that crucial time, people want to see them before they breed to them, and they want to see them not just in the paddock, but critically see them at the farm. It can be a problem, but it’s something we all have to adapt to and deal with. If you have a horse that doesn’t run well in the Breeders’ Cup and needed that big performance, and he gets it in the Pegasus, a lot of mares are already taken. People are booking earlier and earlier, so it can hurt you that way.”

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