In November of 2008, we were pleased to announce that Robert LaPenta’s talented three-year-old WAR PASS, undefeated winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2007 Champion Two-Year-Old Male, would stand stud at Lane’s End upon his retirement.
Our excitement about the chances of this immensely talented son of Cherokee Run grew even more, based in part on the fine mares WAR PASS attracted in his first season at stud. They included Java (GB), a sister to champion Fiji (GB) and dam of MINESHAFT’s good stakes performer Coffee Bar. The 10-year-old mare was sold by Lane’s End for $350,000 at Keeneland November, with Ryan Norton signing the ticket. Lane’s End also sold the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Souffle, in foal to WAR PASS, to agent Dr. Oscar Benevides for $150,000.
WAR PASS’s appeal as a sire prospect is well-deserved. He is arguably the best son of GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and champion Cherokee Run, who in turn was the best son of the versatile and very good sire Runaway Groom. Cherokee Run has thus far been represented by runners like champion Chilukki (G1), Yonaguska ( G1), Zanjero (G2), Kafwain (G2), Sir Cherokee (G2), etc. And his sire sons have gotten off to a fine start at stud. Yonaguska was a top 25 active sire in 2009 with horses like Musket Man (G2) and Cherokee Country (G3) to his credit, and in 2010 was represented by champion Tough Win. Kafwain, another Cherokee Run sire, has sired the graded winners Daisy Devine, Don’t Forget Gil, Massive Drama, and The Pamplemousse, and no fewer than eight other stakes winners.
WAR PASS has a serious female family, too. His first three dams are by some of the very best sires of the past half-century. His third dam Bayou Blue, who was produced by the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Bayou, is by the incomparable Bold Ruler, the eight-time leading North American stallion who sired a remarkable 22 percent stakes winners. Hoist the Flag, sire of WAR PASS’s second dam Harbor Flag, sired 20 percent stakes winners. WAR PASS’s first dam, meanwhile, is by Mr. Prospector–15 percent stakes winners–who helped change the face of American breeding with an infusion of class and speed few other sires can compare to.
That pedigree has shone through on the track for both WAR PASS and his relations. Graded winners like Great Intentions and Country Light can be found under his second dam, while his own dam Vue was a classy stakes runner who has now produced a pair of Grade 1 winners. Vue showed early on what kind of broodmare she was when her daughter Oath, by Known Fact, won the G1 Spinaway S. at two. Oath later sold as a broodmare for $2.7 million and is the dam of the progressive Honest Man, winner of the 2008 G3 Philip H. Iselin S. Another daughter of Vue, Vision of Beauty, by Danzig, was a Grade 2 performer.
Then came WAR PASS. In July of 2007, he burst onto the scene with a rousing 2 1/2-length score sprinting six furlongs at Saratoga. Knowing that Zito rarely gets them cranked up at first asking, horsemen knew well that WAR PASS was a horse to watch. The striking dark bay handled his next with ease, taking an allowance sprint at Saratoga by 5 1/2 lengths a month later, and it was time for a test in deeper waters. Stretched to a mile for his stakes debut, the G1 Champagne S. at Belmont Park, WAR PASS beat some of the best juveniles on the East Coast, cruising home to a clear-cut 1 1/2-length tally over the likes of Grade 1 winner Majestic Warrior and the highly regarded Pyro.
The victory earned WAR PASS favoritism in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and, with the Monmouth Park track a sloppy stew of mud and water, WAR PASS turned nary a hair. Put on the lead from the start, he ran grueling fractions of :22 3/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 3/5, but just kept on running under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, splashing home a 4 3/4-length winner with hardly any mud on LaPenta’s silks. Runner-up was Pyro, who subsequently flattered WAR PASS’s win with a trio of graded wins at three, with eventual Canadian Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and MG1SW Kodiak Kowboy back in third. WAR PASS was rewarded with a 113 Beyer, the highest ever given to a winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It was the second-highest winning Beyer of the day, behind Curlin’s 119, and ahead of Sprint winner Midnight Lute (108), Distaff winner Ginger Punch (104), Juvenile Fillies winner Indian Blessing (95), etc.
That meant tallying the votes for Champion Juvenile Male was, for all intents and purposes, a mere formality, and at the Eclipse Awards, WAR PASS became the first champion for the deserving LaPenta. WAR PASS received all but three of the 265 votes cast.
At three, WAR PASS opened his sophomore campaign with a facile victory against Gulfstream allowance horses on Feb. 24. In his final start, WAR PASS finished a close second in the G1 Wood Memorial S. He entered stud with five wins and a second in seven starts and earnings of over $1.5 million.
Five wins by a total margin of 22 lengths. Two wins sprinting, three wins routing, including two at a flat mile. A pair of Grade 1 victories. A record Beyer in the toughest race of the year for two-year-olds. A championship. By a tough-as-nails sire, a half to a Grade 1 winner, produced by a daughter of the great Mr. Prospector and a championship.
Very sadly, we lost WAR PASS shortly after he returned from his first shuttle breeding season in Australia. This sales season, look for his yearlings and you should see why we were so excited . . . about WAR PASS.