News and STORIES

Calumet Back As Leading Breeder

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Tuesday January 07, 2020
In 2019, Calumet Farm became North America's leading breeder by money for the first time since 1961. 

Calumet is owned by a trust and leased to Thoroughbred operations, which has been owned by billionaire businessman Brad Kelley since 2012. Last year, the breeder was represented by 410 starters, which was more than any other breeder in North America. 

In total, they earned $12,576,242 in purses. In 2019 alone, the runners took 331 wins (14 percent of 2,408 starts) and finished in the top three 958 times (40 percent of all starts).

An Eclipse Finalist

Calumet was named a finalist for the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Breeder, joining George Strawbridge Jr. and Godolphin. Eddie Kane, Calumet's general manager, spoke about the importance of being an Eclipse finalist and what it means for the farm.

"While we did not set out with this as a goal, it is a welcome result of our strategy," Kane said. "Both achievements are important in their own right, with the Eclipse Award being the more tangible of the two."

In 2019, Calumet's best farm-bred runners included 15 black-type winners, and seven of those won nine graded stakes. Mongolian Groom, winner of the Awesome Again Stakes (G1), was the sole grade 1 winner. 

Mongolian Stable's son of Hightail also placed in the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) and the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1), and he is close to earning $533,891 for the year.

Calumet's Most Accomplished Runner

Zulu Alpha, the multiple graded stakes winner, was Calumet's most accomplished runner with his number of graded stakes victories and earnings. The then-6-year-old gelded son of Street Cry out of the A.P. Indy mare Zori took the MacDiarmida Stakes (G2T) and W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park. 

He also took the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (G3T) at Kentucky Downs. 

Zulu Alpha finished out 2019 with $1,131,940 in earnings for owner Michael Hui. He was claimed from Calumet for $80,000 in September 2018 at Churchill Downs. 

Channel Cat

Seven homebreds that raced in Calumet's colors were included in the 2019 stakes winners. Leading that group was grade 2 winner and multiple grade 1-placed Channel Cat, a son of Calumet stallion English Channel out of the Kitten's Joy mare Carnival Kitten. 

Channel Cat took the Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) and finished third in both the United Nations Stakes (G1T) and the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T).

Channel Cat is one of two Calumet-bred graded stakes winners that came from a Kitten's Joy mare. 

"(The cross) certainly looked good on paper. We are very gratified that it has proven itself on the track," Kane said. "We think this is just the beginning of that evidence. English Channel has continued to move his way up to the top. He was the No. 1 turf sire in 2019 by black-type stakes winners. 

"He has always bred well with the A.P. Indy line mares, and we had a strong feeling the progeny from the top two turf stallions would breed out, and fortunately, it has."

English Channel is an 18-year-old son of Smart Strike, and he led all other North American sires in 2019 with 13 black-type winners on the grass.

Calumet was founded by William Monroe Wright in 1924 as a Standardbred nursery. They became North America's leading breeder by money won in 1941, and they did the same in 1944. They also held that title between 1947-1957. The farm was eventually acquired by Kelley from Kennelot Stables.