The Lieutenant’s First And Last Yearling At The Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Sale

Potential is the bedrock of the Thoroughbred industry, especially in the bloodstock game. The promise of what a horse could do is often as valuable as what he or she has already done, and that proves itself to be true every time horses are gathered for an auction.

That’s what makes it especially jarring when potential is snatched away suddenly, before the horse has the opportunity to live up to it. The fragile nature of the Thoroughbred has left many horses seemingly destined for stardom with incomplete resumes. When it’s taken away violently, the shattered potential goes from tragic to traumatic.

There’s no other way to describe the brief stallion career of The Lieutenant, a half-brother to Triple Crown winner Justify who stood one season in New York, shuttled to Haras Barlovento in Peru for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season, and was one of four stallions killed by marauders during a December 2019 raid on the Peruvian farm.

The attack left Haras Barlovento so devastated, it exited the breeding industry shortly afterward.

The Lieutenant, a Grade 3-winning son of Street Sense, left 34 Northern Hemisphere foals from his lone season at Sequel New York. From that group, one filly was cataloged in this year’s Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Yearling Sale, making her the first, last, and only foal by The Lieutenant to ever be offered in the Empire State’s signature sale.

New York has had a rough go of high-ceiling stallions departing too soon in recent years. Grade 1 winner Effinex died of an acute rupture of the pulmonary artery in 2017 after just one season at stud. Grade 2 winner Laoban was a revelation with his freshman crop in 2020, and he promptly left New York for WinStar Farm in Kentucky the following year, where he covered one book of mares before dying suddenly.

This all goes to say that New York’s buying bench is used to a limited edition.

The spotlight filly by The Lieutenant went through the ring on Monday as Hip 564, a flashy chestnut out of the winning Henny Hughes mare Sister Mimi. Bred in New York by Jacob West, the filly’s family includes Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and multiple Group 1 winner Declaration of War.

“She is very big, great bone, a lot of size and stretch,” said Jay Goodwin of consignor Eaton Sales. “It’s funny, if you thought about what a good Justify would look like, that’s sort of what she looks like – a chestnut, a lot of bone. She’s a big filly, but she doesn’t look that big until you step up to her, and then she looks big, because she’s so balanced.”

Becky Thomas of Sequel New York also noted the resemblance The Lieutenant’s foals had to Justify, even though the link between the two isn’t as obvious as it might seem.

“I have four, and they’re all chestnut, which I thought was interesting, because (The Lieutenant) was bay,” she said. “I like that if they’re going to follow a pattern, that they’d be like Justify.

“They have quite a bit of stretch to them,” Thomas continued. “You see more of the Street Sense, instead of the Ghostzapper on the dam’s side.”

Goodwin knew the story of how The Lieutenant met his end, and he said there was definitely a curiosity factor among the shoppers that asked to see the filly.

However, he said her scarcity in the catalog as the only yearling by the stallion was much more of a driving factor in the number of times her number was checked on the call card.

“Her being the only one in the sale has helped a bunch,” he said. “We had a lot of people just want to see what she looked like because she was the only one here. This is the only one I’ve seen, which is sad, because if they all looked like her, I’d love to see a bunch more.”

The filly went through the ring late in the auction’s closing session, and the hammer fell to Roger “Rocky” Rashall Jr.’s Respect The Valleys for $17,000.

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“We going to go end-use with her, so she’s going to race,” Rashall said. “We will place her in Kentucky for a couple months, and then she’ll end up over in the Maryland area, probably with Brittany Russell. She’ll probably be broken in Virginia, then start out in Maryland and see where it goes from there.”

Sarah Brown, who assists Rashall in the selection process, said the filly was helped by her resemblance to another stakes-placed Respect The Valleys runner.

“She actually reminds me of a Mizzen Mast filly that I bought off of Jay a few Septembers ago, Sailing Into the Wind, that’s done really well,” she said. “We got her for about the same price. I just liked the way she walks. She’s a bigger filly, but she’s light on her feet. She’s got good angles, good strength, so we’ll see what happens. We got the right price for her.”

Rashall said the “Respect The Valleys” nom de course was a nod to the many ups and downs of the Thoroughbred industry. You don’t have to love the valleys when you descend from the peaks, he said, but you have to respect them.

The end of The Lieutenant’s story is one of the ultimate valleys, but even in that, there is an epilogue. He has 34 chances to find the runner that will define his brief legacy at stud, and perhaps extend it into future generations.

Rashall hoped his new purchase would be up to the challenge.

“Hopefully, she can pick up in his footsteps and make a happy ending to a bad story.”

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