We have stated repeatedly our agreement with the notion that proven stallions make the best choice for maiden mares in the breeding shed, and as such we are excited that the stakes-placed, quarter-million dollar-earner Ritzy Lass will have Midshipman as her first mate (pun intended!) in a Housatonic Recommended Mating.
Ritzy Lass won 13 of her 58 starts from 2YO through this year at 7YO (with at least one victory each year except her 3YO season), good for $279,766 in earnings, and was stakes-placed at 4 in the Winter Melody Stakes at Delaware. Her wins came from 6 furlongs through 1-1/16 miles, on dirt and all-weather, including at top-level tracks like Woodbine, Keeneland and Oaklawn. At various times she was in the barns of trainers Mark Casse, Kenny McPeek and Steve Asmussen.
As a hard-knocking mare with some tactical speed who was generally a miler, Ritzy Lass should fit Midshipman to a “T”.
After earning an Eclipse Award at 2YO off of wins in the Del Mar Futurity-G1 and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 (when both were held on all-weather surfaces), Midshipman was a winner at 6-1/2 and 7 furlongs on dirt as a 3YO and 4YO, and finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1 as a sophomore. So he also was basically a miler with tactical speed, and a dual surface winner — even if he was more precocious than Ritzy Lass herself.
And as a stallion, Midshipman certainly fits into the “hard-knocking” mold, and is a bargain at his advertised fee of $8,500, with some upside. So far he has 24 Northern Hemisphere stakes winners to his credit (good for 6.5% stakes winners/foals aged 3YO and up), five of those being Graded winners. His AEI of 1.31 is greater than his 1.23 CI, so he moves his mares up, too — which is something we always look for when doing our mating analysis.
As far as the upside that we referenced, Midshipman’s 2019 crop of 2YOs already features 19 winners, 10 of which have earned black-type (more than any other stallion in the country, as the Darley ads regularly remind us), including a pair of stakes winners (one of which is Leucothea, who runs next in the Grade 1 Starlet at Los Al). For a stallion who’s progeny have tended to improve with age, this bodes extremely well, as does the fact that next year he’ll have his biggest group of 2YOs ever (he’s covered more than 100 mares in 2018 and ’19, as well, so more big crops are in the pipeline).
Although TrueNicks rates this Unbridled’s Song/Forestry nick a “D”, we like this matchup on pedigree for a couple of reasons. First of all, Midshipman himself has sired just three runners out of mares by Forestry or one of his sons, and two of those are winners of over $100,000 apiece — which is a result that we would be ecstatic with for this foal. Midshipman has also had plenty of success with the Storm Cat sire-line more broadly, as his stakes winners Princess Warrior, Big Changes, Firstmate and Shipmate are all out of Storm Cat-line mares. So as we’ve said numerous times before, although nicks can be a useful tool, we do not put too much stock in the letter grades without plenty more context.
We also like the fact that Ritzy Lass’s dam is a daughter of Distorted Humor, who is the broodmare sire of Unbridled’s Song’s all-time leading earner (and the USA’s all-time leading earner), Arrogate.
Physically this is an excellent matchup, too. Midshipman is a strongly-made but medium-sized stallion who is not at all in the typical Unbridled’s Song monster mold, and he should be an excellent like-to-like pairing for the medium-sized, well-balanced Ritzy lass.
Midshipman wins the BC Juvenile-G1
Midshipman wins the Del Mar Futurity-G1