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Stray Cat Wins Graded Stakes

Storm Cat (TB)’s only American Quarter Horse progeny becomes a stakes winner.

By Andrea Caudill and Richard Chamberlain
Q-Racing Journal
May 14, 2013

stray cat

Stray Cat (inside) wins the Red Cell Remington Distance Challenge. PHOTO: Dustin Orona

The late, legendary sire of Thoroughbred racehorses Storm Cat (TB) has another feather in his cap – his one and only American Quarter Horse progeny is now a graded stakes winner.

Stray Cat on May 12 won the Red Cell Remington Distance Challenge (G3) by a narrow nose in a three-way photo for the win. Covering 870 yards in :46.124, he defeated Emperor Valerian and race favorite DM Streakn Thru Fire.

The 4-year-old stallion is also notable as he is the very last foal Storm Cat (TB) sired.

Stray Cat has now won or placed in seven of 15 career starts and earned $45,398. In his previous start, he was fourth in the Red Cell Sunland Distance Challenge (G3).

Stray Cat is a homebred racing for a partnership of Vessels Stallion farm and musician Lyle Lovett.

“Scoop and I met Lyle Lovett after one of his concerts in San Diego,” explains Bonnie Vessels. “We went backstage after the concert, where Lyle meets fans in kind of a reception line. We were all in line, and Lyle would meet each of us one by one, chat for a moment and then turn and meet the next person in line. I got to him, introduced myself, Lyle said nice to meet you, this and that. I stepped forward and Scoop stepped up, introduced himself and they shook hands, Lyle said nice to meet you, yada-yada. Then Scoop started to step away and Lyle turned to the next person, and all of a sudden he stopped, swung back around and said ‘What did you say your name was?’ Scoop said ‘Scoop Vessels.’ Lyle said ‘You have First Down Dash! Don’t go away, stick around, we need to talk!’ So later on, after the line was all finished we got together and talked, and we became really good friends.”

The friendship developed into the partnership.

Storm Cat (TB), who died in April, was a son of Storm Bird out of the Secretariat mare Terlingua. The stallion was a Grade I winner on the racetrack, and, when he retired, he would go on to one of the most famous sire careers in Thoroughbred racing history. Standing at Overbrook Farm, Storm Cat sired the earners of more than $127 million and, at his peak, stood for a stud fee of $500,000. While Stray Cat is the first and only American Quarter Horse by Storm Cat, the Thoroughbred stallion has had an influence on the breed through his sons. Among his leading sons at stud are Devon Lane (TB), sire of the earners of more than $1.8 million; Hennessy (TB), sire of Grade 1 winner Check Him Out ($418,528) and stakes winner Masters Call ($108,757); and Dome (TB), sire of champion High On Cat ($181,856).

In 2008, Storm Cat was pensioned due to declining fertility. A partnership of Vessels Stallion Farm and musician Lyle Lovett took advantage of a process known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to breed Stray Cat. They bred Storm Cat to the champion First Down Dash mare Your First Moon.

Your First Moon is a Vessels homebred, and was the sport’s champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly in 2001. The mare won seven of 19 starts, including the Los Alamitos Million Futurity (G1) and Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG1), and earned $750,726.

Your First Moon is by American Quarter Horse racing’s all-time sire, First Down Dash, who has sired the earners of more than $79.5 million. Her dam is the Beduino (TB) mare Moon Arisen, who has produced the earners of more than $1.4 million.

Your First Moon has produced six winners from nine starters, including stakes winner Jess My Moon (by Mr Jess Perry, $78,150) and Moonin The Chicks (by Looking For Chicks, $58,278).

“After Stray Cat was foaled, he was out in the central pasture with a bunch of other foals,” Bonnie says. “Scoop was always out there, checking on him almost every day. Pretty soon, everybody had heard about the Storm Cat colt, and so of course everybody wanted to see him. Scoop would take them out to see him, and it didn’t take Stray Cat long to figure out that he was the star. Scoop would set him up for people to look at him and take photos, but pretty quick he didn’t have to do that anymore. Stray Cat would set himself up. It was like he was saying, ‘OK, you can look at me, enjoy the view!’ ”

Look for a more in-depth story on Stray Cat in the July Q-Racing Journal.