Saints Fan Carving a Louisiana Route to Derby
By Casey Laughter
Earlier this month a promising 2-year-old colt named Saints Fan kept his undefeated record in tact by winning his second start. The colt is both owned and trained by Dallas Stewart, who is notorious for a lot of good things as a conditioner, but longshots finishing in the runner-up slots in Triple Crown races – Including Golden Soul, Commanding Curve and Tale of Verve – has perhaps become his most notable characteristic.
This year Saints Fan is being pointed toward the Triple Crown Trail and a much better showing after likely taking path through Louisiana. Saints Fan is a son of Tale of Ekati and out of the Sky Mesa mare Boy Crazy. He has never raced farther than six furlongs, but that is typical of young horses this time of year. Saints Fan broke his maiden at Churchill Downs before winning a Louisiana-breds stakes at Fair Grounds.
Saints Fan will likely start in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (GIII) on January 21 as his first start in 2017.
“He’s won every (in-company) workout all year long,” Stewart said. “He’s just been the best and I can’t say enough about him as a 2-year-old. He’s scary-good. We’ll point for the Lecomte.”
Saints Fan will have to answer distance questions likely sooner rather than later. Tale of Ekati was able to win races ranging from seven to nine furlongs, winning the Futurity Stakes (GII) at Belmont at age two and then the the Wood Memorial (GI), Cigar Mile (GI), and Jerome Stakes (GII), all as a 3-year-old. However, while Tale of Ekati was able to contest longer sprints to middle distances effectively, his offspring average a winning distance of only 6.79 furlongs. While Tale of Ekati hasn’t proven much in terms of being the best stallion in Kentucky, he has sired Tale of Verve, who was 2nd in the 2015 Preakness Stakes (GI) behind American Pharoah. Also, Verve’s Tale, a full sister to Tale of Verve, recently won the Comely Stakes (GIII).
The pedigree questions don’t stop with Tale of Ekati, however. Saints Fan’s dam, Boy Crazy, was a non-winner in one start, but is proving to be a decent producer. She is by Sky Mesa, a son of Pulpit. Sky Mesa won from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, taking the Hopeful Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Futurity (GII) at two. However, he did place at nine furlongs, finishing second in the Haskell Invitational (GI) to Peace Rules and defeating dual classic winner Funny Cide.
As a sire, Sky Mesa is represented by millionaires in General Quarters and Dynamic Sky and his offspring are only averaging a win distance of 6.81 furlongs. However, as a broodmare sire, Sky Mesa is proving to be useful. He is the sire of 140 dams with 217 named foals of racing age. Of those 217, there are 140 starters (65%), 90 winners (41%), and 35 2-year-old winners (16%). Sky Mesa’s leading earner in terms of being a broodmare sire is Harmonize (by Scat Daddy).
Throughout Sky Mesa’s pedigree, there are traces of both speed and stamina. Sky Mesa is out of a full sister to stallion Bernstein, who is the sire of top turf runners Karakontie (JPN) and Tepin. Tale of Ekati hails from the direct female line of Maplejinsky, who is the dam of Triple Tiara winner Sky Beauty. Saints Fan receives a double dose of Storm Cat through both sides of the pedigree and additionally, the female family represented by Tale of the Cat, Johannesburg, and many others can be found through the mares Yarn (dam of Tale of the Cat) and Preach (dam of Pulpit), as both are out of the Honest Pleasure mare Narrate. The two most prominent male lines in recent history can also be found in the pedigree of Saints Fan. There is inbreeding to Mr. Prospector in the fourth and fifth generation through Tale of Ekati and can be found in the fifth generation through the dam. Also, there is inbreeding to Northern Dancer in the fifth generation on both sides of the pedigree.
Overall, Saints Fan may not but cut out for Classic distances, but if any trainer is responsible for the most second place finishes in recent years, Dallas Stewart can get his colt there.