Irish War Cry among Top Midlantic-breds in action

by | Sep 22, 2017 | Breaking, Breeding, Racing, Regionwide, Top Stories

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit dominated the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Photo by Chelsea Durand/NYRA.

Staff report

The latest Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll, released today, shows voters’ preference for older runners — a preference that could be modified based on the outcomes of races this coming weekend.

Pennsylvania-bred Mor Spirit and Virginia-bred Stellar Wind top the list of the top horses bred in the region, with voters finding virtually no daylight between them. Mor Spirit, winner of the Grade 12 Metropolitan Handicap in June, and Stellar Wind, who last won the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch in July, are just one point apart based on racing through mid-September.

Only two three-year-olds make the top seven, and one is in action this weekend. New Jersey-bred Irish War Cry is the 9-2 third choice in Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, a race in which West Coast is the 8-5 favorite. Irish War Cry has a pair of Grade 2 wins this season, in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull and in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He also was a tough-luck second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

Irish War Cry, trained by Graham Motion for breeder-owner Isabelle de Tomaso, was fourth in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last out. Saturday, he’ll have Feargal Lynch in the irons.

The other three-year-old among the top seven is the Pennsylvania-bred filly Unique Bella. A daughter of Tapit, Unique Bella, four-for-five in her brief career, last raced March 4 when she won the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel. But she resumed working in August towards returning to the races. She’s trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Don Alberto Stable, who paid $400,000 at auction for her when she was a yearling.

The other horse among the top seven in action this weekend is the veteran Page McKenney. The seven-year-old Eavesdropper gelding, a Pennsylvania-bred, was seventh on the list. He owns three stakes wins this year, most recently taking the Roanoke Stakes at Parx Racing. Page McKenney, trained by Mary Eppler for Adam Staple and Jalin Stable — the latter the racing operation for breeders Dr. Jim Bryant and his wife Linda Davis — is 6-1 on the morning line for the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes at Parx Racing. Matt King Coal is the 3-1 favorite in that race.

Two horses that were among those also receiving votes also are in action and will try to make a case for moving up the list. Those are American Dubai, a Virginia-bred who’s the 2-1 second choice for the $175,000 Governor’s Cup Stakes at Remington Park on Sunday; and Moonlit Song, the 3-1 favorite in Saturday’s $50,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares at Charles Town Races.

The poll is conducted monthly among a panel of industry participants and media members.

Of the seven horses on the list, four were bred in Pennsylvania. Two were bred in New Jersey, while there was also one Virginia-bred. Four are males, and three are females.

The monthly Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred is the only publication devoted to Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Racing Biz is the independent voice for mid-Atlantic racing and breeding and includes an online publication, a mobile application, and the weekly Off to the Races radio show.

The poll is restricted to horses that have run in 2017 and were bred in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Carolinas.


  1. (last month: 1st, older horses) Mor Spirit (PA) — 4yo ridgling by Eskendereya-Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union; bred by Elkstone Group LLC; trained by Bob Baffert for Michael Lund Peterson; won G1 Met Mile, G3 Steve Sexton Mile, second G2 San Antonio S., won Essex H.
  2. (2nd, older horses) Stellar Wind (VA) — 5yo mare by Curlin-Evening Star, by Malibu Moon; bred by Keswick Stables & Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC; trained by John Sadler for Hronis Racing LLC; won G1 Apple Blossom, G1 Beholder Mile, G1 Clement L. Hirsch
  3. (1st, 3yo) Irish War Cry (NJ) — by Curlin-Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers; trained by Graham Motion for owner-breeder Isabelle de Tomaso; won G2 Holy Bull, G2 Wood Memorial, 2nd G1 Belmont S.
  4. (3rd, older horses) Finest City (PA) — 5yo mare by City Zip-Be Envied, by Lemon Drop Kid; bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, LLC; trained by Ian Kruljac for Seltzer Thoroughbreds; won G2 Santa Monica, second G1 Santa Margarita, G1 Humana Distaff, 3rd G1 Beholder Mile, G2 Great Lady M S.
  5. (2nd, 3yo) Unique Bella (PA) — by Tapit-Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song; bred by Brushwood Stable; trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Don Alberto Stable; in 2017 won G2 Santa Ynez, G2 Las Virgenes, G3 Santa Ysable
  6. (4th, older horses) Green Gratto (NJ) — 7yo horse by Here’s Zealous-Starship Smokester, by Smokester; bred by Kaz Hill Farm; trained by Gaston Grant for himself and Anthony Grant; won G1 Carter H., G3 Toboggan S.
  7. (also receiving votes, older horses) Page McKenney (PA) — 7yo gelding by Eavesdropper-Winning Grace, by Yarrow Brae; bred by Dr. James Bryant and Linda Davis, owned by Adam Staple and Jalin Stable, trained by Mary Eppler; won Native Dancer S., Lyman S., Roanoke S.

Also receiving votes: American Dubai, Fast and Accurate, Irish Strait, Sunny Ridge, Pumpkin Rumble, Moonlit Song



  • Irish War Cry (NJ), 9-2 on the morning line for the G1 Pennsylvania Derby
  • Page McKenney (PA), 6-1 on the morning line for the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes

Participating Voters: Ted Black (freelance writer), Michael Campbell (Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey), Joe Clancy (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Cindy Deubler (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Linda Dougherty (freelance), Debbie Easter (Virginia Thoroughbred Association), Paul Espinosa (Charles Town Races), Anne Frederick (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Rich Glazier (Delaware Park), Cricket Goodall (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Jim Hague (freelance), Nick Hahn (freelance), Carol Holden (West Virginia Breeders Classics), Tom LaMarra (The Blood-Horse), Jeff Nations (freelance), Kate Painter (West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association), Vinnie Perrone (freelance), Frank Petramalo (Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association), Gary Quill (The Racing Biz), David Richardson (Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association), Brian Sanfratello (Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association), Sal Sinatra (Maryland Jockey Club), Chris Sobocinski (Delaware Park), Dan Tordjman (freelance), Frank Vespe (The Racing Biz), Bill Watson (freelance), Lydia Williams (freelance), Bobby Zen (freelance).

Note — Not all participating voters will vote in every poll.