On Breeding: Field Pass and the Maryland influence
Field Pass won the 2020 Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park. Photo by Coady Photography.
Not long before most racetracks in the country shut down because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, Maryland-bred Field Pass recorded his first graded victory in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park.
Bred by New Jersey resident Mark Brown Grier, Field Pass is a 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid out of Only Me, by Runaway Groom.
The gray or roan colt is owned by Three Diamonds Farm, and was sold to Owls Bloodstock for $37,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall yearling sale from the consignment of Becky Davis, agent.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks was the third win and the second stakes score by Field Pass, who won his 2020 debut on February 1 in the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park, contested on turf. Trained by Michael Maker, the colt showed promise from the beginning of his career as he broke his maiden going a route of ground on turf at Saratoga, and followed that up with a second-place finish in the Gr. 3 With Anticipation Stakes, also on grass at the Spa.
Most recently, he finished a fast-closing third in the War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs May 23, boosting his career record to three wins from nine starts, and $297,850.
Field Pass was foaled at Becky Davis’s Dance Forth Farm in Chestertown, Md., and Davis remembers the eventual graded stakes victor as being “a little bit scrawny and underdeveloped as a foal and weanling.”
“His mother was a sweet mare and he was reasonable to handle when he was by her side, but after weaning he became difficult to catch,” said Davis. “He was a little bit of a challenge through the early part of his yearling year, and I had to separate him from the herd to give him more one-on-one handling. In the early stages of prepping … he would bolt through gates and stalls and was not a pleasure to deal with.”
Davis said she would never tell an owner that their horse will or will not be a good racehorse, but felt fairly certain that Field Pass wasn’t going to live up to his pedigree in the sale ring.
“He just didn’t have the size and conformation that would bring a big bid,” said Davis. “The decision was made to go ahead and sell, and now given how he has turned out, I feel like he was the one that got away in more ways than one. I will say this about him as a young horse: he liked to run. We got to see that when we were trying to catch him on many occasions!”
Field Pass’s dam, Only Me, was raced by Grier and spent her entire 29-race career competing in the Mid-Atlantic region. Field Pass is one of only two named foals from Only Me, who never won beyond five furlongs; the other is You Must Chill, by regional stallion Winchill, who has earned $81,052.
Only Me’s sire, Runaway Groom (by Blushing Groom), was 1982 Canadian champion 3-year-old male based on a versatile campaign that saw him capture not only the Prince of Wales and Breeders’ Stakes in Canada, but also the Gr. 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, as well. Retired to stud, he sired 75 stakes winners (6.5 percent) and as a broodmare sire, his 395 daughters have produced 61 stakes winners (3 percent) of nearly $71 million to date.
There is a strong Maryland influence deeper in Field Pass’s bottom line, as his second dam, Rackliff Island, is by Polish Numbers, who stood his entire career at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.
Polish Numbers had a regal pedigree. He was sired by Danzig (a leading sire from 1991 to 1993) out of 1971 champion 2-year-old filly Numbered Account. He is a half-brother to another major Maryland sire who stood at Northview, Not For Love (by Mr. Prospector), as well as Grade 1 winner and important stallion Private Account (by Damascus).
Polish Numbers entered stud at Northview in 1992 and his first crop vaulted him to second on the American freshman sire list in 1995, the same year he was Maryland’s top freshman sire (which he would win again in 2003). He became Maryland’s leading sire in 1998, and was among the state’s top 10 sires from 1999 to 2006 (four years after his passing); he was known as a very good sire of fillies. Unfortunately, he was lost after a paddock accident in 2002 at age 15.
According to Equineline, Polish Numbers sired 366 winners (69 percent) from 527 named foals, as well as 49 blacktype winners (nine percent) from 527 named foals, with earnings of more than $33 million.
Mares by Polish Numbers produced 726 winners from 1,038 starters (53 percent) and 46 blacktype winners (three percent), with earnings to date of more than $61 million.
Polish Numbers is also the sire of Chase it Down, the second dam of dual classic winner and Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Though well bred, Rackliff Island, who was bred by Chris Nolan in Indiana, only won once – and that in a maiden special weight at Hoosier Park. As a broodmare, her best runner was Only Me.
Field Pass’s sire, Lemon Drop Kid, has sired 96 blacktype winners, of which 46 are graded. A champion and classic winner – and, like Runaway Groom, winner of the Gr. 1 Travers – Lemon Drop Kid is a son of champion Kingmambo out of the Seattle Slew mare Charming Lassie, who is a three-quarter sister to champion A.P. Indy.
Lemon Drop Kid’s graded winners have come on every surface, including Gr. 1 winners Beach Patrol ($2,532,945), a grass ace who won the Arlington Million XXXV Stakes and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes, and Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever ($648,940). Field Pass’s triumph in the Jeff Ruby Steaks was on Turfway’s all-weather track.
Lemon Drop Kid hails from the family of Grade 1 winners Gay Mecene, Wolfhound, Summer Squall, Duke of Marmalade (IRE), Ruler of the World (IRE), and Court Vision.
A leading sire, Lemon Drop Kid has sired four stakes winners from the Blushing Groom line, including Fountain of Youth (Gr. 2) winner Itsaknockout ($398,010), and multiple Grade 3 winner Middleburg ($429,760).
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