Always Dreaming Derby winner’s half-sister sells to Saratoga in memory of Dilger – Horse Racing News
Hip 160, a Quality Road filly by Above Perfection for sale Fasig-Tipton Saratoga.
One of the lasting images of the Kentucky Derby 2017 did not come between the rails.
It was a cellphone video of inside McCarthy’s Irish Bar in Lexington, Ky., Where praise and cheers rained down on Gerry Dilger as he watched the colt he co-bred win the biggest race of his life.
Always Dreaming’s triumph at Churchill Downs was a career highlight for Dilger, who partnered up the colt with blood agent Mike Ryan under the nickname Santa Rosa Partners.
It was a powerful match, combining one of the best shippers in the industry, at Dilger’s Dromoland Farm, and one of the industry’s most attentive buyers, at Ryan; and the mare who made Always Dreaming, the 3rd year winner Above Perfection blue hen, was their ace in the hole.
Tuesday, when Hip 160 steps into the ring, it will be a reminder of the good times, but it will also be a reminder for those who couldn’t attend.
The Quality Road filly with the sticker “160” on her hip was the last foal from Above Perfection, whose mating was planned by Ryan and Dilger in tandem. Dilger passed away in March 2020, a month before the filly was born.
A year later, on April 20, Above Perfection had a Justify foal, but she developed laminitis in the weeks that followed and quickly died at the age of 23.
Whether the reasons are physical, economic or personal, every horse that comes through the ring at Saratoga Springs does so because it is special. Needless to say, this one carries a bit more weight for Ryan than the Garden Variety Special Horse.
“It’s very emotional,” Ryan said. “Gerry was my best friend. It’s tough.”
Above Perfection had been a revelation for Ryan and Dilger. They bought the mare for $ 450,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November 2006 sale, bearing a Dixie Union colt that would become the first year winner and Hot Dixie Chick producer.
Always Dreaming, by Bodemeister, was the seventh foal bred by Santa Rosa Partners. Two foals later the mare produced the filly Pioneerof the Nile Positive Spirit, who won the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes.
The mare’s last Justify foal was the 12th bred by Operation Santa Rosa, and her 14th overall. Ryan said he was aware that the mare’s age was catching up to her and that he had taken steps to ease her burden by putting his foals on nurse mares in recent seasons. The plan had been to retire Above Perfection after weaning her last foal, but she went from good health to laminitis without warning.
“She was one of those mares who put it all into her foals,” Ryan said. “She has always had good muscles and strength herself. She was a powerful and easy to breed mare. She took care of herself and she never disappointed us. She dropped a very good colt.
The age of the mare was also on Ryan and Dilger’s mind when planning the mating that produced the Quality Road filly on offer on Tuesday.
“He had a great year back then,” Ryan said. “We wanted a proven horse, and this is a horse that we bred early in his career. He is one of the best horses around. The mare was a certain age and Lane’s End was kind enough to take her.
[Story Continues Below]
The resulting foal matches the invoice from another successful filly on the page.
“This filly reminds me a lot of Hot Dixie Chick,” said Ryan. “She has a similar shape, a similar height and stature, a good length, a good depth for her. She has the same spirit. All of them have a good mind. Hot Dixie Chick had the most amazing temper – she was like a sheepdog, but when you dropped her on the rail she was extremely talented.
“I would say there are more mares in this filly than Quality Road,” he continued. “She’s bred to do two laps, but she gives me the feeling that she will have a lot of pace.
Fillies with such deep pages don’t often enter the commercial market, especially when the matriarch of such a strong family tree has recently passed away. Under normal circumstances, a filly like the one proposed on Tuesday would be selected to join the breeder’s broodmares group.
Ryan said entering the filly into the sale was part of the progression process.
“To finalize Gerry’s estate, that was the proper way to do it, to put it up for sale,” he said. “Obviously, a filly like this, you would like to keep her for the long term as a purebred mare and broodmare, because it is a pedigree that we know. These kinds of fillies are hard to find.
New to the Paulick report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to stay up to date with this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2021 Paulick Report.