Trainer, Co-Breeder Brinkman Savoring Prioress Victory With Alva Starr

P. Dale Ladner’s Alva Starr, bred by Ladner and trainer Brett Brinkman, became the second winner of the Prioress (G2) produced from the Brinkman-trained and Ladner-owned Sittin At the Bar when she romped to an 8 3/4-length score under Jose Lezcano in Saturday’s six-furlong test for sophomore fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

“She’s a little tired. We took her back to Delaware last night and got there about 11 o’clock, but other than just being a little tired, she looks great,” said Brinkman. “I was tickled to death with her performance. She’s a temperamental filly to some extent, but she’s really professional once she hits the racetrack usually. She hasn’t missed a beat training and we thought she’d run a good race.”

The daughter of Lord Nelson followed her older half-sister Cilla [2021] in winning the historic sprint, but delivered the first graded stakes win of Brinkman’s career after Cilla was saddled by conditioner Charlton Baker when he did not take out a training license in New York that year.

“Cilla was a much rangier, scopier mare than this filly, and she was a lot more accommodating,” said Brinkman. “This filly here is kind of one of those that’s in your face and is just bold about stuff. They’re two different kind of types.”

Alva Starr’s wire-to-wire Prioress score came on the heels of a successful stakes debut in the six-furlong Dashing Beauty on July 8 at Delaware Park, where she posted a similar score against elders by 6 3/4 lengths over Cheetara. Alva Starr has never finished worse than second in five lifetime outings, which included a victory on debut going the Prioress distance last September at Delaware.

“I felt like her last race at Delaware got dismissed in the handicapping a little bit,” said Brinkman. “I thought it was an impressive race because she beat some solid, older mares who have won numerous stakes. That means something to have beat older mares who have won seven or eight races and then you go back to facing 3-year-olds who didn’t even have seven or eight races.”

Brinkman said breeding two winners of the same graded event at the Spa from his own mare is something he could have never imagined. Sittin At the Bar, who finished third in the 2012 Delta Downs Princess (G3), had a modest beginning to her broodmare career in 2014 when she was bred to graded stakes-winning Quarter Horse Heza Fast Dash, producing the twice-winning appendix mare Standing At the Bar.

“From a breeder’s standpoint, for Mr. Ladner and I to have two horses come from our mare win the Prioress is such a higher level than what we ever expected when we dove into this,” said Brinkman. “It’s just phenomenal and a dream come true. Her first foal was actually a Quarter Horse that was born to a surrogate mare. I wanted to get a foal out of her and see what the foal looked like and plan a career off of that. That’s what we did and wanted to get a line on her.”

The unconventional start to Sittin At the Bar’s broodmare career has paid handsome dividends, as the mare has now produced three graded stakes-placed or -winning foals. Alva Starr will look to add to her dam’s accolades and become her first multiple graded stakes-winner in the Raven Run (G2) sprinting seven furlongs on October 21 at Keeneland.

“That’s what we’re thinking and the timing is right,” said Brinkman. “I want to space her races out this year a little bit. We don’t have any grand idea of the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll try and run her once for sure, possibly twice before the end of the year.”

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