I was talking to trainer Dino Condilenios recently about POP ARTIST, a horse he knows intimately and who he still holds a significant stake in now that the stallion is carrying out covering duties at Emerald Acres in Aldergrove, BC.
“I’ve always believed in him,” Dino explained. “He had this amazing will to win and he seems to be passing that on.”
And how. Pop Artist has shot up the charts recently after he was represented by two winning three-year-olds at Hastings in the shape of KRISSY on opening weekend and, this past weekend, by the gorgeous-looking roan, MOLESLEY.
Both horses were impressive and similar winners, taking early leads and having matters decided by the time they approached the top of the lane. None of those chasing either horse landed a blow.
Who was the most impressive is unclear right now. Krissy seemed to have the tougher task on paper, and had shown definite promise as a juvenile, finishing third behind Dancin Shoes and Notice in the Sadie Diamond Futurity in September.
Molesley, however, was making his racetrack debut and, to this paddock observer at least, looked as though he would definitely come on for the race. To win in such eye-catching manner on a debut against more experienced rivals is no mean feat and it will be interesting to see where the pair rank by the end of the season.
Pop Artist is a son of recently pensioned SONGANDAPRAYER, a winner of the G1 Fountain Of Youth who is probably best known for costing basketball player Bobby Hurley a cool $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale back in the year 2000.
A $275,000 yearling purchase by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation, Pop Artist was, pedigree wise, an untypical purchase, but whatever they saw in him in the sales ring was repaid at the first time of asking when, despite being reluctant to load, he landed his debut, a $100,000 maiden claimer event, by six lengths.
An injury, which required ankle surgery, curtailed Pop Artist’s Darley career, but that turned out very much to the benefit of Swift Thoroughbreds, who purchased the horse privately. Under the guidance of Condilenios, the speedball won at the first time of asking at Hastings back in 2009, before going on to be something of a stable stalwart, winning a total of 11 races over five seasons and never finishing further back than fourth in 21 starts.
Much of Pop Artist’s speed as a racehorse – and, if his results from such few breeding opportunities are to be believed, this is a trait he can pass on in abundance to his stock – may come from a dam side that has produced some super quick runners down the years.
His dam, the Florida bred KIPPER QUILA was a solid allowance performer, winning seven races and finishing on the board 18 times in 29 events.
Kipper Quila was by the very quick Illinois-bred sprinter, KIPPER KELLY, who raced as a homebred to some effect (three Stakes places, including a third in the G3 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita) before a peripatetic stallion career saw stints in his home state, Louisiana and Florida, where he sired KELLY KIP, a horse described by the legendary trainer Allen Jerkens as the “fastest I have been around”.
Pop Artist was always going to have to do things the hard way as a stallion, but his results from such a relatively small sample size of mares, indicate that he is well worthy of consideration for BC breeders looking to inject some speed into their stock. And, given his racetrack tenacity and the toughness of his dam, some of that much needed durability, as well.
CTHS: Just a note to say that the semi-regular list of BC-bred winners I produced last season will now appear weekly on the CTHS website site as part of a regular round up. I was thrilled to be asked to contribute and hope that you might all give it a look if and when you have a moment.