Bernardini thriving at stud & 2016 looks extremely promising
BY DICK POWELL
BERNARDINI (A.P. Indy) was a wonderful racehorse that has gone on to be a wonderful stallion. This year, he has four Grade 1 stakes winners, only one behind leading sire TAPIT (Pulpit). Since going to stud in 2010, Bernardini has sired 13 individual Grade 1 stakes winners and based on what we saw last Sunday at Aqueduct, more could be on the way.
Despite all the turf racing in America, Bernardini’s offspring thrive on dirt, the longer the better. This year, you can throw out the prejudice that his offspring only get better with age. He sired RACHEL’S VALENTINA, winner of the Spinaway Stakes (G1) going seven furlongs at Saratoga, and GREENPOINTCRUSADER, winner of the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park going a mile in only his third career start.
Case in point was last Sunday at Aqueduct. There were split divisions of a 2YO maiden special weight event run as races four and six. In race four, Linda Rice sent out third-time starter SEYMOURDINI (Bernardini) off two close calls to begin his career. The ridgling ran well behind subsequent Nashua Stakes (G2) winner MOHAYMAN (Tapit) in his career debut and then caught a muddy track next time out.
Both of those races were at six furlongs and Seymourdini was now going to try a mile. Bettors were not deterred as he was bet down to the 1-to-2 favorite and there was never a moment of doubt. Seymourdini was in front every step of the way and in the last quarter-mile, drew off to win by nine lengths in 1:38.40. It was a very professional performance for the $900K 2YO-in-training purchase and the Iris Smith Stable colorbearer could head straight to stakes company since no allowance race for him will fill, at least not in New York.
Two races later, there was a lot of chatter regarding Chad Brown’s SHAFAG (Bernardini), who was making his career debut off a series of strong workouts. The Shadwell Farm homebred opened up as the 3-to-2 favorite and finally closed as the 26-to-10 chalk. He sat off a fast pace set by PARTY BARN (Bernardini) and made his move around the far turn as Irad Ortiz Jr. sat motionless in the irons.
Without much visible encouragement from Ortiz, Shafag cruised up five wide on the turn and blew by ITS ALL RELEVANT (Hard Spun) after straightening away for home. He was 2 ½ lengths ahead with a furlong to go and wound up six in front at the wire. His final time of 1:37.61 was faster than race four but his race had the faster pace.
Still, you have to give the edge to Shafag as the more impressive winner since he did it in his career debut and showed he can pass horses willingly. He still needs experience so Brown might be forced to run in one of the earlier 3YO stakes races at Gulfstream Park.
Considering that Bernardini was a homebred, he is one of the more successful stallions in recent times. He is the dream of every breeder – come up with a colt that is a champion/classic winner that then goes on to great success in the auction ring and racetracks while standing at your own farm. At a $100,000 stud fee, he generates well over $10 million in revenue each year.
The A.P. INDY (Seattle Slew) stallion line continues to thrive in America and Bernardini has been the rage in Australia where he has sired Group 1 stakes winners in each of his first three Australian crops. Down under, his offspring thrive on the turf and here in North America, more trainers are starting to try his offspring on it.
Besides being a Travers Stakes (G1) winner that sired Travers Stakes winners in his first two crops with STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) and ALPHA (Bernardini), what I find more impressive is that he sired back to back winners of the Cigar Mile (G1) with TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini) and Stay Thirsty.
Milers might make the best sires and sires that sire high-class milers are always in great demand. Bernardini is all that and then some.