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Sullivan Rewarded with $775000 Son of Empire Maker

September 13, 2019

Owner/breeder Mary Sullivan broke from her tradition with an Empire Maker ridgling

By Eric Mitchell (BloodHorse Daily)

Owner/breeder Mary Sullivan doesn't like to sell the horses she produces. By far, she prefers to race them. 

So Sept. 13 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale was a rare day, because Sullivan offered a strapping bay ridgling by Empire Maker out of the winning Bernardini mare Class Will Tell. The yearling (Hip 763) was the first one Suzi Shoemaker with Lantern Hill Farm has been able to sell for Sullivan in the eight years she has cared for Sullivan's broodmares. 

Sullivan's decision was rewareded in a big way when the ridgling named Classier, sold for $775,000 to the racing partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables. It was the sixth-highest-priced yearling during the first session of the September sale's Book 2 section.

"Over the years I have seen horses that would fit a sales program and tried to suggest it and not gotten anywhere. She never sells," Shoemaker said. "She already owns the colt's full brother who is in with Ian Wilkes, and like all breeders, we get too many horses on the training and boarding bills. I asked her to sell him, and she said, 'OK, let's give it a try."

Shoemaker and Sullivan originally entered the ridgling in last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, but the horse developed a small OCD lesion and had to be scratched. The extra time allowed him to blossom physically and his pedigree to build. Class Will Tell's half sister Chiquita Picosa (Congaree) is the dam of Homerique, a group 3 winner in France who was shipped to the United States this year and won the New York Stakes (G2T) and Beaugay Stakes (G3T) and was third in the Diana Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course in July.

"It was her decision to breed to Empire Maker, and everything fell into place. The colt was perfect in every way," Shoemaker said. "She really deserves all the credit. There are so many unsung heroes quietly doing their stuff, and she is one of them."

Sullivan is also the owner/breeder of Get Stormy, a seven-time graded stakes winner (three in grade 1 stakes) who retired with more than $1.6 million in earnings and now stands at Crestwood Farm near Lexington, Ky. The stallion is a top-12 fourth-crop sire who has been represented by four black-type winners this year, led by Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) winner Got Stormy.

"The whole year has been magical for Mary and been a great thrill for me professionally." Shoemaker said.

Tom Ryan with SF Racing said the ridgling was an obvious yearling to pursue.

"He's a beautiful horse. He is a balanced colt with a good shoulder and in the way his hind end ties in," he said. "We see Bernardini as a broodmare sire, and that definitely piques our attention. He comes from a very good farm in Lantern Hill, and he has a beautiful pedigree under him, so there is no reason not to get excited about him."