by Alan Porter, Courtesy of BloodHorse.com
Despite having run favored Dialed In to a head in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Shackleford was dismissed at odds of 23.1-1 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Clearly the bettors had concluded it was unlikely a front-running son of Forestry could still be ahead at the end of a mile-and-a-quarter contest that appeared to be loaded with speed. In the event, they were proved right, but only just. Having been allowed to set surprisingly soft fractions, Shackleford surged clear in the stretch. After briefly appearing as if he might cause an upset, he was headed by eventual winner Animal Kingdom at the furlong marker, then faded to finish a gallant fourth.
For the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Shackleford was still relatively friendless before the race at odds of 12.6-1. His bid appeared doomed when he and the speedy Flashpoint zipped through an opening quarter in 22.69, but the pair then steadied the pace considerably. When Flashpoint compounded just after three-quarters of a mile, Shackleford was left clear, and after shrugging off some early challengers, he had just enough left to hold the hard-charging Animal Kingdom by ½-length.
Shackleford’s sire, Forestry, didn’t run in any of the Triple Crown races. Unraced at 2, he took a seven-furlong maiden at Santa Anita at the end of January on his second start at 3. Third in an allowance event—with that year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Charismatic, in second—he took the 6½-furlong San Pedro Stakes on his next outing. That commenced a string of five straight victories: allowance events over 6½ furlongs and a mile at Churchill Downs, an 8½ furlong handicap at the same venue, and the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, in which he accounted for Doneraile Court and Successful Appeal . Stretching out to nine furlongs for the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Forestry led most of the way but weakened late to take third behind Menifee and Cat Thief , beaten just a length. His final two starts came in sprints, the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I), which he captured by 1½ lengths, and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), in which he was a creditable fourth, beaten 3¾ lengths, after bobbling at the start.
Retired to Taylor Made Stallions, Forestry appeared to have all the credentials for a successful career as a stallion. One of the best-performed sons of Storm Cat, he was out of the grade I-winning Pleasant Colony mare Shared Interest (also the dam of 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) victress Cash Run), and his granddam was a multiple grade I producer out of a close relative to Mr. Prospector. In actuality, Forestry has had a rather strange career as a sire, at least commercially, having oscillated from red hot to ice cold and traversed most points in between. He kicked off with 12 stakes winners from 54 starters in his first crop. Forestry’s stud fee reached $125,000 in 2007, after a year in which his son Discreet Cat showed himself to be a genuine phenomenon, and another son, The Green Monkey , broke a world record for a Thoroughbred at auction, fetching $16 million at the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-old in training sale. Unfortunately, 2008 and the succeeding years did not prove particularly fruitful for Forestry’s offspring, and he dropped by stages to the $12,500 fee for which he was advertised in 2011. His crops sired at six figures have yet to turn into prolific sources of stakes winners, but in addition to the 2011 Preakness winner, this year they’ve also featured the 4-year-old filly Separate Forest, heroine of the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT).
A broad perspective shows that, while he may not be a sire superstar, Forestry is also a significantly better stallion than a typical $12,500 stud. In addition to Shackleford and Discreet Cat, he’s been represented by other grade I winners Forest Danger and Diplomat Lady, and grade II winners Etched, Smokey Glacken, Carolyn's Cat, and Teton Forest.
One of the impediments to Forestry’s career was the almost universal perception that he would be a good cross for Mr. Prospector-line mares. After all, his sire, Storm Cat, had enjoyed considerable success with Mr. Prospector; Forestry’s grade I-winning half sister, Cash Run, was by Seeking the Gold, a son of Mr. Prospector; and Forestry’s third dam was a similarly-bred half sister to the dam of Mr. Prospector. In fact the cross turned out to be something of a dead-end. Lifetime, Forestry has sired 7.75% stakes winners to runners. From all Mr. Prospector-line mares, he sired 5.3% stakes winners, and his strike rate with Mr. Prospector-line mares other than Fappiano (the broodmare sire line of Shackleford) falls to just more than 3%. With the Fappiano line, the story has been rather different: five stakes winners from 48 starters (10.4%). Forestry has six stakes winners from 59 starters out of mares with Fappiano in the first four generations. Perhaps the preference for Fappiano is that Forestry’s second dam, Surgery, is by Dr. Fager out of Bold Sequence (a close relative to Mr. Prospector’s dam, Gold Digger), where Fappiano is by Mr. Prospector out of a Dr. Fager mare. Within Shackleford’s lineage is not only the double of Dr. Fager, but in the pedigree of his dam, Oatsee, a double of In Reality (out of champion My Dear Girl, a daughter of Dr. Fager’s sire, Rough ‘n Tumble).