Value Bloodline Showcase: Tony Wolfe On Charming Kitten

In “Value Bloodline Showcase,” we’ll look at stallions that offer value in regional marketplaces, with interviews from the operations that stand them.

In this edition, Tony Wolfe DVM of Wolfe Equine Services, discusses Charming Kitten, a graded stakes-winning son of Kitten’s Joy who stands at Breakway Farm in Dillsboro, Ind. Charming Kitten’s  first foals are yearlings of 2022.

Charming Kitten
Dk. b. or br. h., 2010, Kitten’s Joy x Iteration, by Wild Again
Race Record: 33-8-8-3; $1,018,701
Advertised Fee: $2,500

Question: Charming Kitten was Indiana’s most active stallion by mares bred in 2021. To what do you attribute that popularity?

Tony Wolfe, Breakway Farm: I think the simplest reason is that he’s the total package. He’s a gorgeous horse – correct conformation, built right, and very easy on the eyes. When you look at him, you don’t even have to know what you’re looking at, you just know you’re looking at a true athlete.

He has the pedigree to back it up: A direct son of Kitten’s Joy – if you don’t know about Kitten’s Joy, then COVID has had you isolated for too long. On top of the pedigree, he has a proven record. He earned over $1 million. He won the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight Handicap, and combined won or placed in 15 stakes races. He raced against tough fields and proved his worth.

He also crosses well with most pedigrees, so it opens him up to being versatile for breeders and trainers when looking where to go with their mares. For what he brings to the table, you’d be hard pressed to find a better value for your money.

If I’ve got a mare that could use help from a stallion physically, what can Charming Kitten best contribute to the equation?

Wolfe: The feedback we have received from the breeders of his first crop (now yearlings), is that he improved every mare – no joke. Large, correct foals with great minds. Strong foals with great bone from the start. And, to be fair, these are reports from owners that bred one or two mares to him – not just a single owner. He has 15 or so yearlings from just as many owners.

What would a breeder looking to harness the Kitten’s Joy sire line find familiar in Charming Kitten?

Wolfe: After seeing this first crop hit the ground, and mature into yearlings, all I can say is that a breeder will realize quite quickly that Charming Kitten will continue the legacy of producing winners. I have full confidence in that. His prowess and demeanor are immediately evident, but the real kicker is that he’s passing that on as a sire. He is most definitely producing athletes.

What makes Charming Kitten a good fit for the Indiana program?

Wolfe: He’s a great fit for the Indiana program because he’s a unique pedigree with a lot of class. Indiana is growing. Better class horses are coming to the state, as it should be, and he’s a perfect example of that. He brings athleticism that will be successful at long and short distance. He’s improving mares, and he’s going to produce horses that can win in conditioned or opened races. Why not have an Indiana-sired condition advantage on top of a horse that can win an open race?

Why should a breeder outside of Indiana consider Charming Kitten?

Wolfe: Similar concept to the last question. The horses produced by Charming Kitten will be versatile. Kitten’s Joy has shown us without a doubt the success that this pedigree brings to the table. Do you want to pay $50,000 for Kitten’s Joy in 2022, or do you want to produce a similar athlete for $2,500 by breeding to Charming Kitten?  Charming Kitten is worth way more, but we want people to feel safe and good about breeding to him – so, let’s do it.

Charming Kitten did his best work going over especially long routes of ground. How do you think that should inform the types of mares that breeders should send to him to best fit Indiana’s stakes program, where turf races top out at 1 1/16 miles?

Wolfe: We’re seeing a lot of “speedballs” in Indiana. Break fast, quick start, and then die out. We’re breeding too much speed and no endurance. These mare owners need to look at outcrosses that make sense to improve a mare’s produce record. Charming is versatile, and his pedigree is as well. It’s not restricted to just long routes, but he certainly can help improve that for mare’s when it comes to their offspring and it should be considered.

What are some of the common traits that you’ve seen among Charming Kitten’s first foals?

Wolfe: The breeders have all said the same thing: The foals are large, strong, great bone and correct conformation. Excellent demeanor and easy to work with. We didn’t get a single criticism from any breeders this year; just that they absolutely loved their foals (now yearlings).

Charming Kitten was Grade 1-placed over synthetic and ran respectably over dirt in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Do you see reasons for optimism that he might be able to sire successful runners on surfaces beyond turf?

Wolfe: Most definitely. His record shows his prowess over dirt and synthetic. He finished third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes over the synthetic at Keeeneland. He finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby on the dirt (outracing Palace Malice and Goldencents). He’s a versatile horse and we’re going to see that in his offspring.

What’s something about Charming Kitten that you think goes overlooked?

Wolfe: His demeanor. It may not be the “top of the list” for breeders, but it should be. This horse is nothing but class. You can handle him with ease, he’s respectful, listens, and knows his job. His foals have shown the same demeanor, so we have very trainable, correct athletes. Total package.

What else should breeders know about Charming Kitten before picking up the phone?

Wolfe: We’re here to ensure success. We’re a part of the team, and we’re all friends. When you breed to Charming Kitten, we’ll be here for you through it all.

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