The Familiar Road Home For Honor A. P. At Lane’s End.

The floors of A.P. Indy’s stall had been bare since February, when Lane’s End lost its elder statesman and pensioned cornerstone sire at the age of 31. For an entire season, the residents of the stallion operation’s front barn passed by the empty stall on the way to the breeding shed.

Choose your cliche: both life and the show must go on at a stud farm, but Lane’s End’s “big stall” hadn’t had a vacancy in a long time. Whoever filled the spot, it was going to be a big deal.

Fitting then, that the horse who finally called for bedding in A.P. Indy’s stall for the first time in seven months would be one of the Hall of Famer’s own blood, and one named to be a living tribute to his career.

Grade 1 winner Honor A. P. arrived at Lane’s End on Tuesday around 11:30 a.m., and he checked in to the most high-profile suite in the place. A day earlier, his pending arrival was announced after the 3-year-old colt was found to have come out of his fourth-place effort in the Kentucky Derby with a strained front-left tendon.

It was a quick turnaround for Honor A. P., who had just returned from Churchill Downs to the barn of trainer John Shirreffs at Santa Anita Park before the injury was discovered – just over a week from wheels-up to wheels-down in Kentucky, where he will enter stud in 2021. Tendons can take a long time to get back to racing shape in a racehorse, if they ever do, so the decision to move him on to the next phase of his career was an easy one.

“It’s not visible, but it’s obviously there,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End. “It’s too bad that it came when it did, but timing-wise, the Derby’s not when it would have been. If it had been in May and this had happened, they probably would have brought him back. Now, it’s a six-month thing, and you’re going to be into missing the breeding season.”

Even before naming the horse, owners Lee and Susan Searing of C R K Stable clearly thought highly of A.P. Indy’s handiwork.

Honor A. P. is a son of fellow Lane’s End resident Honor Code, one of A.P. Indy’s most successful runners, one of his last notable sons to retire to stud, and the kind of horse that forces a person to believe in evolution. Many of the physical traits that defined both A.P. Indy and his sons – the alert, inquisitive look in his eye, the ebbs and flows of his withers and midsection into a solid rump, the general impression that the horse before you could run forever – are all present in Honor Code, but bigger and stronger than the generation before him.

The Searings bought Honor A. P. for $850,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale. He was practically a carbon copy of his flashy dark bay sire at the end of the shank.

Besides the uncanny resemblance to Honor Code, Honor A. P. had the page to merit the lofty price and the expectations that came with it. His dam is the multiple Grade 1-winning Wild Rush mare Hollywood Story, who had generated plenty of black type on her page before Honor A. P. set foot on the track.

Honor A. P. as a yearling at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale.

Just like Honor Code did for A.P. Indy, Honor A. P. developed into a generational update of his sire, keeping the classic A.P. Indy look and the strength of Honor Code, but adding a bit of scope to the equation. That combination of traits led Honor A. P. to become one of the top 3-year-olds of his generation, punctuated by a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Farish had been interested in Honor A. P. as a stallion prospect well before he was a fully-fledged classic contender. He’d flown out to California to watch him finish second in the G2 San Felipe Stakes in March. However, the talks with the Searings got more serious after the colt’s nose touched the finish line in the rescheduled Santa Anita Derby on June 6, and the announcement that Lane’s End had secured the breeding rights went out on June 26.

“It didn’t take long at all,” Farish said about the negotiation process. “Lee Searing was excited to have him come here. He named him after A.P. and everything else. Lucky for us, he genuinely wanted to have him here. We’d been following him since [the Saratoga sale], and David [Ingordo, Lane’s End’s bloodstock agent] bought him.”

A few hours after Honor A. P. arrived at Lane’s End, he was brought out for display to the media, and he was soon joined by Honor Code. The two stallions stood face-to-face as if they were looking into a mirror; each with four socks and a flashy white face punctuating their near-black coats. Keeping true to the theme of generational progress, Honor A. P’s socks were a little longer and his blaze was a little wider.

Honor A. P.’s long white socks also provided the optical illusion that he might be a little racier and longer-legged than his sire, though Farish said time might balance that out.

“I think he looks that way right now because he’s still tucked up and racing fit, but the resemblance is uncanny,” he said, “This guy’s running style was maybe a little more like A.P. Indy than it was Honor Code. He’s maybe a tick taller. They’re both definitely taller than A.P. was. He’s got more length and length of stride than Honor Code did, but they were both effective.”

These two horses looked similar, and they obviously come from similar blood. One would assume this would mean they might be drawing from a similar pool of mares come 2021 and beyond, perhaps cannibalizing each other’s books, but Farish said the stallion that breeders might gravitate toward will depend on the outcome they desire with the foal.

“Yes, in some ways you’re dealing with the same crosses, but you have one horse that does have runners and one that doesn’t, so they’re in very different points in their careers,” he said. “People that are looking for a more proven horse are going to go to Honor Code, and ones that want something sale-wise that’s unproven, they’ll go to Honor A. P. It gives people an interesting choice.

“I would think a lot of the American speed-type sires are going to work very well –Speightstown, lines like that could complement the A.P. Indy line,” Farish continued. “It’s worked, and we’ll keep trying what’s worked. In the beginning, with a stallion like this, you don’t like to try to over-manage it, because you really don’t know what’s going to work. You’d like to think you do, and a lot of times you’re right, but a lot of times you’re wrong. City Zip was going to be a six-furlong sire and he ended up getting stakes winners at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. You just try as many different things as you can.”

Honor A. P. not only inherited his grandsire’s stall when he arrived at Lane’s End, he also inherited his groom, Asa Haley.

Haley was paired with A.P. Indy for 14 years, and he stayed on with the stallion after he settled into life as a pensioner. He also tends to another of A.P. Indy’s sons at the farm: the 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft.

Haley and Honor A. P. only had a few hours to get acquainted before the two went through their paces before the cameras on Tuesday afternoon, but the horse obeyed his new handler well as they paraded around the courtyard of the stallion complex. It’s a first step compared with nearly a decade and a half together with A.P. Indy, but so far, so good.

“He seems to be pretty nice so far,” Haley said. “I think we should get along. I mostly get along with all my other horses, so I hope I can get along with him, too, so I guess time will tell.”

Arguably no one on the planet knew the makeup of A.P. Indy like Haley did, and what made the old horse tick. For a long time, Honor Code resided in the stall immediately next to his sire, so Haley had plenty of time to notice the patterns between father and son, and when he applied that knowledge to his latest charge, he could see back through the generations in Honor A. P.

“That white eye,” Haley said, noting the signature ring that the grandfather, father, and son each have around an eye. “It sticks out, just like like A.P.’s did. That white eye sticks out on Honor Code, and it’s sticking out on him, too.”

There is bedding again in A.P. Indy’s stall, and a nameplate on his door. It would be a lot to expect of the stall’s new resident to beckon a new set of “good old days” like his his famous grandsire, but with the letters “A. P.” on the the first door on the right in the Lane’s End stud barn, perhaps the rookie can at least provide a bit of normalcy. Every generational shift has to start somewhere.

The post The Familiar Road Home For Honor A. P. At Lane’s End. appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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