New stallion True Valour to get “a big chance”

True Valour
True Valour won the King T. Leatherbury Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Jim McCue.

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One of the most intriguing new stallions to arrive in the Mid-Atlantic in recent years has taken up residence at Maryland’s Northview Stallion Station.

True Valour (IRE) will stand for $3,000 for the 2023 mating season, and if he’s anything like his father, look for him to get off to a fast start. True Valour’s sire, Kodiac, stands in Ireland for $40,000 Euros and was Europe’s leading sire of two-year-olds for five consecutive years.

“Quite simply, a stallion phenomenon,” Tally-Ho Stud’s website enthuses about Kodiac, and while marketing departments aren’t necessarily the most reliable source of information, they may well be right on this one. Kodiac has had more than three dozen group or graded winners, including six Group 1 winners, and several of his sons are themselves enjoying productive careers at stud.

Larry Johnson is hoping True Valour will be among them.

“I bought him with the long-term idea that he would be a stallion once his racing career was over,” said Johnson, who paid $225,000 to acquire the then-six-year-old at Fasig-Tipton’s July 2020 Horses of Racing Age sale. “He was already sort of a made horse, and as we did our homework on him, at every juncture, he seemed to pass.”

True Valour is out of the winning Acclamation mare Sutton Veny. She is a half-sister to the stakes-winning Glorificamus, the dam of the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Fasnacloich, by Any Given Saturday.

True Valour in action. Photo courtesy of Northview Stallion Station.

As a racehorse, True Valour won seven times and earned more than $690,000. He won an Irish Group 3 stake, along with two graded stakes in the US, among them the 2019 Grade 2 City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita, when he zipped a mile on turf in 1:32.82.  

True Valour earned stakes wins in four different seasons, including last year, when he won the King T. Leatherbury Stakes as an eight-year-old. Making that even more remarkable: it was True Valour’s first start in more than a year.

True Valour had been injured in his prior start, in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint when beaten three lengths on Dubai World Cup day. Following the Leatherbury win upon his return to racing, he was next placed in the Grade 1 Jaipur, beaten just one length by multiple Grade 1 winner Casa Creed.

“He really gave me some thrills,” Johnson says.

Yet the biggest thrill he provided may have come in defeat. In last August’s Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga, True Valour faced off with Golden Pal, winner of the prior year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and, as a two-year-old, of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. True Valour surprised just about everyone by outquicking Golden Pal to the lead and then fought gamely with that rival all the way to the wire, finishing second just a head behind the winner in 1:00.92 for 5 ½ furlongs.

“I was excited. I mean, I was upset that he didn’t win,” Johnson says. “But looked at objectively, it was a terrific effort.”

Johnson believes his charge will offer much to like for breeders in the region, especially those breeding to race. For one thing, there’s that Kodiac precocity.

For another, there’s True Valour’s versatility. A graded stakes winner going a mile, he also won stakes as short as 5 ½ furlongs and very nearly won a graded event at that distance. And of course, his breeding and background.

“I’m kind of a fan of European breeding,” Johnson notes. “I think their turf horses are just superior to ours. He’s got decent size, and his conformation is good; he looks like he could be put back in training right now.”

Turf racing is increasingly popular in the Mid-Atlantic, with Colonial Downs expected to grow its meet to 50 days in the coming years and the announcement that Belmont will install a Tapeta surface for racing, that will mean even more opportunities. So True Valour’s timing may be just right.

Johnson’s certainly making a big bet. He says he’s planning to send 10 of his mares to True Valour, including some that are already stakes producers. 

“I’m committed to giving this horse a big chance,” he explains.