January 22, 2014
Things certainly appeared to be against GRASSHOPPER in the 2007 G1 Travers Stakes. The Lane’s End homebred showed enormous potential breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs and winning a 6-furlong allowance there in 1:09 3/5, then dominating a 9-furlong Saratoga allowance by 6 lengths. But the competition couldn’t be stiffer in his stakes debut. There was the Peter Pan winner Sightseeing and the Jim Dandy runner-up C P West, but the big gun, of course, was the reigning juvenile champion and recent Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
Then there was the distance—a mile and a quarter over a tiring Saratoga track.
As it turned out, GRASSHOPPER was more than up for the challenge. He jumped out to lead the field under an extremely confident Robby Albarado, who dared the field to catch them. When Street Sense finally took up the challenge in upper stretch, GRASSHOPPER dug in bravely and matched strides with his battled-hardened rival as they tore down the lane, opening a huge chasm back to the rest of the field. As the wire approached in the jewel of Saratoga racing, and with the crowd roaring, Street Sense just got the better of GRASSHOPPER. It was one of the most exciting Travers finishes in recent memory, and immediately earned GRASSHOPPER the respect of fans and horsemen.
GRASSHOPPER’s effort was no surprise to Albarado. “At every point, I thought I could beat [Street Sense],” Albarado told the New York Times, adding that the result ultimately came down to experience. “We had plenty to fight back. Street Sense has been in these battles. Mine hadn’t. It was all brand new to him.”
Indeed, at 2, 3 and 4, GRASSHOPPER was one of the bright lights of his generation. He was first or second in 10 of 14 races and earned $820,352 in that stretch. GRASSHOPPER’s victories included a facile score in the 2008 G3 Mineshaft H. at Fair Grounds, for which he received more rave reviews from Albarado. “That was awesome,” the jockey said after the race. “He has such a quick turn of foot. I was very patient; I knew it had to open up, and when it did, wow!”
In addition to the Travers, GRASSHOPPER also placed in the G1 Whitney H., G2 Super Derby, and G2 New Orleans H.
GRASSHOPPER was always meant to be a good one. His dam, the Mr. Prospector mare Grass Skirt, has produced three stakes winners to DIXIE UNION, and was herself produced by a Nijinsky II full-sister to Irish champion Mashaallah, U.S. Grade 1 winner Folk Art and the Classic sire Sportin’ Life. This is further the family of the Grade/Group 1 winners Mark of Esteem (Ire) and Local Talent, and ultimately traces back to the Triple Crown winner Omaha and the great champion Gallorette.
Before his untimely death in 2010, DIXIE UNION was proving to be the major torchbearer of the DIXIELAND BAND line of Northern Dancer. Represented by 47 stakes winners and 77 stakes horses, DIXIE UNION sired the likes of Classic winner UNION RAGS, and the Grade 1 winners Overanalyze, Dixie Chatter, and Hot Dixie Chick.
It’s early days yet for DIXIE UNION as a sire of sires, but with 12 sons at stud, things look promising. His sires with runners to race include Dixie Chatter, who had a juvenile stakes winner from his first crop of in 2013, while another son, High Cotton, has sired the G1 Hopeful S. and G2 Amsterdam S. winner Currency Swap and the G2 Saratoga Special winner Spurious Decision.
GRASSHOPPER’s first foals will be 2yos in 2014, and the early reviews from horsemen are extremely positive.
Call Lane’s End Texas today to discuss breeding plans!