Q-Racing Blog: Out of the Park

Q-Racing Blog: Out of the Park

The Thoroughbred mare Cluster Of Stars is shining as a Quarter Horse broodmare.

Valiant Stars is ponied before a race

text size

By Ty Wyant
 

It would be highly expected that an undefeated seven-for-seven Grade 2-winning Thoroughbred broodmare and her foal would be grazing on bluegrass in central Kentucky. There would be rolling pastures, manicured barns and lush grass for the mares to munch and the foals to romp on as they play.

Not so with Cluster Of Stars (TB), an undefeated race mare who has found an even better place with her owners, McColee Land and Livestock, which is based in Utah. We can be assured that the 13-year-old mare is happy and receives superb care along with all the other McColee broodmares and horses, and she is proving to be an influential Quarter Horse producer.

There is a rich history of Thoroughbred mares contributing to great Quarter Horse sprinters – for only a handful of examples, look no further than the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame to admire great mares such as Cherry Lake (TB), Lena’s Bar (TB), Maroon (TB), Esters Little Klu (TB) and, of course, Find A Buyer (TB), the dam of the great Dash For Cash

You can probably think of many more. 

To date, Cluster Of Stars has produced seven American Quarter Horse winners from 13 starters and the earners of $442,582. 

Among them is Conant Valley, who recently set the fastest qualifying mark to the $47,592 Adequan® Pocatello Derby Challenge on July 8. The One Famous Eagle gelding, who is owned by McColee Land and Livestock’s principal Keith Nellesen, covered the 400 yards in :19.877 in the second of three trials.

Conant Valley’s dam, while undefeated, did her best work on the racetrack as she aged. The same is true for Conant Valley, although it can be argued that he is facing easier competition this year than he did last year. A year ago, he made three starts: the trials to the Grade 1 Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities.

This year, he picked up his dam’s winning habits and is four-for-four. He easily won his BNB Maiden Frolic trial and then proved best by 1 length in the finals at Weber Downs.

The gelding then dominated his trial to the Renegade Open Derby by 1 1/2-lengths in an eye-catching :17.388 for the 350 yards. Unfortunately, the finals were not held, due to safety concerns, and could not be made up because it was the closing day of the Laurel Brown season.

That gave Conant Valley a little extra rest before the Adequan® Pocatello Derby Challenge and he responded with the top time.

Cluster Of Stars is also the dam of the Grade 1 stakes-placed Valiant Stars by Valiant Hero. That filly also is showing strong form as she ages. Last summer, she was second to Empressum in the Ruidoso Derby (G1). In her latest three outs, all at Remington this year, she was second in the Junos Request Stakes (G1), second in the Easy Date Stakes (G3) and third in the Decketta Stakes (G2).

Cluster Of Stars made each of her seven starts at Aqueduct Racetrack or Belmont Park in New York. As would be expected for a Thoroughbred mare selected to be bred to Quarter Horses, she was on or near the lead in each of her seven races. That held true in graded stakes company.

The Greeley’s Galaxy daughter made her fifth and sixth starts at the Grade 2 level.

In the $200,000 Distaff Handicap (G2) over 6 furlongs at Aqueduct, Cluster Of Stars held a 11-length lead after the first quarter mile and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths as the 1-5 favorite.

In the $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont, she again grabbed a 11-length lead within the first quarter mile and drew out to a 5-length win.

Cluster Of Stars had speed and class at a high level. She is now an outcross proving to be an elite Quarter Horse broodmare.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter and on Instagram, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.