Connect, Unified on Parade at Lane’s End Event

Lane’s End introduced two of its new stallions, Connect (Curlin) and Unified (Candy Ride {Arg}), to a press-only function at the Versailles nursery Wednesday. The former represents a new partnership between Lane’s End and Three Chimneys Farm, which took an ownership interest in the Grade I winner.

“We bought into him when he was still on the race track, and being a Grade I-winning son of Curlin, and being as good looking as he is, we’re excited to have him,” said Lane’s End’s Bill Farish. Curlin previously stood at Lane’s End.

Connect is one of two sons of Curlin entering stud in Kentucky in 2018–Keen Ice is the other–and embarks upon his new career with smart credentials. Owned by Paul Pompa, Jr. and trained by Chad Brown, Connect won six of eight starts, including a breakout score in the GI Cigar Mile H. in 2016. He has been installed at an initial fee of $20,000, and Farish said that price point has resonated with breeders.

Doug Cauthen said Three Chimneys had pursued Connect as a stallion prospect, and came in as a partner after Lane’s End landed him.

“I loved the horse, and [Three Chimneys owner] Goncalo [Torrealba] takes a very collaborative view, whether it’s on breeding, racing or standing stallions,” said Cauthen, vice chairman at Three Chimneys. “I’ve been following Connect for a long time. Even back when Eddie Woods had him down in Ocala, he always touted the horse.”

It’s the first time Three Chimneys has joined with another farm in a stallion venture. Asked if that’s a trend he expects to become more common, Cauthen said, “There’s a joy to standing a horse [by yourself], but there are also other times where you don’t worry about that and just get involved.”

To which Farish cracked, “We’d be happy to get in on Gun Runner.”

Cauthen said that Three Chimneys took a sizable number of shares in Connect, and had tabbed several high-quality mares for him.

It could be argued that Connect’s most impressive win came not in the Cigar Mile, but in the 2016 GII Pennsylvania Derby, when he defeated a field that included Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), Nyquist (Uncle Mo), Exaggerator (Curlin) and Cupid (Tapit).

“They changed it to a Grade I the next year, but it was a Grade I [in quality],” said Cauthen. “He beat some pretty nice horses in there, and then went on and got the Grade I [in the Cigar Mile]. So in my mind he’s a multiple Grade I winner in terms of talent.”

Lane’s End’s David Ingordo and bloodstock agent Marette Farrell joined Farish and Cauthen for a panel discussion after a parade of the farm’s stallion roster. Ingordo noted that Connect’s female line is entirely free of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, opening the 5-year-old to a wide array of potential mates.

“Unless she’s by Curlin or Smart Strike, almost any mare you have will work,” Ingordo said.

Unified is Lane’s End’s other new gun. Owned by Centennial Farms and trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Unified was tabbed a TDN Rising Star on debut, and added the GIII Bay Shore S. and GII Peter Pan S. in successive starts. Unified kicked off 2017 with a win over Mind Your Biscuits (Posse) in the GIII Gulfstream Park Sprint S. and was just touched off a neck in the GI Carter H.

“He’s another horse we bought into at the racetrack, and he started off his career brilliantly with three wins,” said Farish.

Farish was plenty familiar with the colt. Unified was raised at Lane’s End on behalf of breeder Blue Devil Racing Stable, and, from the Lane’s End Sales draft, commanded $325,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling in 2014.

“As a yearling, he was one of the best-looking horses we had on the entire farm,” said Ingordo. “From my standpoint, good-looking begets good-looking. I’m expecting him to throw an athletic and commercial yearling that we hope translates into some runners.”

Unified joins Gun Runner and Mastery as Candy Ride (Arg) sons heading to stud in Kentucky in 2018, and at $10,000, is the lowest priced of the trio. (Pro-tem Horse of the Year Gun Runner will stand for $70,000; the undefeated Mastery goes to Claiborne at $25,000.)

“He just got beat in a Grade I, and there’s no question he’s a Grade I talent,” said Farish. “We would have loved for him to get a couple of those, but it didn’t work out that way, so we started him out at a lower stud fee.”

Lane’s End has a reputation for pricing its stallions fairly, and Farish said initial breeder response has been favorable.

“[Setting fees] is something we do by committee here,” he said. “Especially for a first-year horse, you’re trying to figure out what the market will bear, and you want to set a fee that hopefully you can maintain for the first three or four years. Sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you don’t. With these two, it seems we’ve gotten it least for this year.”