Fiber Sonde offspring could have big Race for the Ribbon day
by Ted Black
Although he never made a start and arrived at John McKee’s Beau Ridge Farm as a genuinely unproven commodity, Fiber Sonde has emerged as one of the state’s top stallions. His impact on the Mountain State’s breeding program should be felt throughout this weekend and well into the remaining stakes on West Virginia Breeders Classics night and beyond.
A half-brother to multiple stakes winner and Eclipse champion Speightstown, Fiber Sonde never made a start in his career after being purchased for a humble price of $8000. Speightstown, a son of Gone West, went for a hefty sum of $2 million as a yearling, eventually earning over $1.25 million, in part courtesy of his victory in the 2004 Breeders Cup Sprint and other stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Fiber Sonde never earned a dime on the track. Like Speightstown, the unraced son of Unbridled’s Song headed to stud, but unlike his better known and more successful sib, did so with only a family reputation for support.
But over the last four years Fiber Sonde’s impact on the West Virginia breeding program has been seen and felt through the efforts of some of the state’s more talented runners. These include Hidden Canyon, a winner of nine races from 15 starts and almost $320,000 for trainer Javier Contreras; his full-brother Bullets Fever, who is undefeated in eight starts for trainer Jeff Runco; and this year in talented sophomore fillies Moonlit Song, owned, bred and trained by Tim Grams, and Lies and Scandals, owned, bred and trained by McKee. His initial stud fee of $1000 has never been increased.
He’s been standing for $1000 since I had him and I’ve never raised the price,” McKee said Tuesday. “A lot of people that send me the mares even ask me why I haven’t charged more, but I would rather have a lot of his offspring running than charge more and have fewer.”
That seems to be working.
“He’s definitely been good to our farm and our entire racing operation,” McKee said. “We haven’t had a sire like him since Aye’s Turn. He’s been bred to as many as 94 mares in one season, and this year I think he was bred to 65-70 mares.”
Both Moonlit Song and Lies and Scandals have been perhaps the two best sophomore state-bred fillies this spring, running one-two in both the Sylvia Bishop Memorial Stakes and Its Binn Too Long Stakes. They will renew their rivalry Saturday in the seven-furlong Sadie Hawkins Stakes for older fillies and mares.
Moonlit Song, out of the Parker’s Storm Cat mare Malibu Kitten, has won six of eight starts this year and earned $142,500, including a recent victory in the $50,000 Sylvia Bishop Stakes for state-bred three-year-old fillies. Lies and Scandals, the runner-up in that event, is out of the Include mare, Hold, and sports a 4-2-1 slate and $81,840 banked this year from nine starts. Her efforts this year have pushed her to exactly $100,000 earned from 12 career outings.
“A few years ago when I saw what some of the two-year-olds by Fiber Sonde were doing I thought that I had to get in on that,” Grams, owner-trainer-breeder of Moonlit Song, said. “I think Hidden Canyon and Bullets Fever both impressed me and they’re full brothers. They were so fast and athletic like a lot of the Fiber Sondes. Moonlit Song is a big, strong fast mare by him and she’s definitely one of the best ones that I’ve ever trained. I’m glad that John has never raised the stud fee. It’s probably better for him to have more Fiber Sonde runners out there anyway. Moonlit Song may not be ready for the Charles Town Oaks, but I’m going to try her against those older mares in the Sadie Hawkins and see how she does in there before deciding what to do on the big night.”
Lies and Scandals has been one of the few local fillies to upset Moonlit Song this season, defeating her in a July allowance, and the McKee homebred will likely follow a similar path to Moonlit Song this fall and into the winter. McKee is certainly no stranger to talented homebred fillies of his own, having saddled Rachel’s Turn and the speedy Aye a Song.
“Those two fillies by Fiber Sonde are both really good,” McKee said. “I think they’re as good as the boys. I know Lies and Scandals is better than any of the boys that I have. The two-year-olds by him have looked pretty good so far this year. I have a good one, Ollie Figgins has one and Javier has the full-sister to Hidden Canyon and Bullets Fever [Ghost Fever]. The interest in him is still really high.”
Beyond the two top fillies, Fiber Sonde will be amply represented in the two-year-old races Saturday at Charles Town.
In the Henry Mercer Memorial, for two-year-olds, McKee will saddle two of Fiber Sonde’s offspring, Grand Fiber and Mr. Jacoby. Figgins will saddle a third, Dionysus’ Chalice. All three have at least a win to their credit.
Three more Fiber Sonde’s are scheduled to face the starter in the Rachel’s Turn Stakes, a 4 ½-furlong test for two-year-old fillies one race prior to the Mercer. Contreras sends out Ghost Fever, a troubled fourth in her career debut, in the Rachel’s Turn. McKee adds two of his own, I Am Furh Real, who has two third-place finishes from three starts, and Silken Belle, whose best finish in four starts was also a third-place effort.
“Hidden Canyon got the ball rolling for Fiber Sonde and then Bullets Fever had two really good years,” McKee said. “The three-year-old full-sister that Jeff Runco bought from me never made it to the track, so I bought her back from him. Javier has another full-sister [Ghost Fever] and the yearling full-sister died. I have a weanling full-brother to Hidden Canyon and Bullets Fever on the farm now. He’s doing really good, and this time next year he’ll be in one of the yearling sales.”
Fiber Sonde is currently third among the West Virginia stallions in 2017 earnings with just shy of $1 million from 54 starters who have recorded 31 victories. Progeny of Windsor Castle, who stands at James W. Casey’s Taylor Mountain Farm, have earned nearly $1.4 million from 93 starters posting 57 wins and Limehouse, who stands at O’Sullivan Farms, is second on the stallion list with progeny earning $1.265 million from 79 starters notching 37 victories. Both Charitable Man and Bop, who sit fourth and fifth on the list of top WV stallions in terms of 2017 earnings, are among the leaders posthumously.