Catching Up With A Crop Of New York’s Top Stallions

I admit that I wasn’t exactly fired up about going to the 2012 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. I know that sounds strange, considering that I have since co-authored a book about the race’s remarkable history, but that particular Midsummer Derby didn’t have a lot of buzz leading up to it. After all, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another was retired before the Belmont Stakes due to injury, and Union Rags, the Belmont winner, was retired shortly after his race. Without the big names in the three-year-old division in the mix, the 142nd edition of Saratoga’s signature race would need something unique to happen for it to have any historical relevance.

Enter Alpha and Golden Ticket, and a result for the ages.

That Travers Day, Golden Ticket, at odds of 33-1, took the lead about a half-mile into the race and was in a full drive as he came down to the wire, with Alpha, the 2-1 favorite, closing fast. When they hit the wire, they did so in lockstep, registering the first-ever official dead heat (i.e. tie) in Travers history and sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy.

Seven years later, both Alpha and Golden Ticket are New York State residents, along with several other stallions that racing fans are sure to have fond memories of from their days on the track. Let’s check in on some of the top stallions in New York State and see what those, um, studs have been up to.


10 Years Old
Sequel Stallions
Stud Fee:$5000

Prior to the Travers, Alpha won the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Earlier in 2012, the bay son of Bernardini won the Count Fleet Stakes and Withers Stakes and finished second in the Wood Memorial before a disappointing performance in the Derby. Alpha returned to Saratoga as a four-year-old in 2013, winning the Woodward Stakes. He finished his career with a record of 6-2-1 from 22 starts and earnings of $1.8 million. Alpha’s second crop of sons and daughters are making their way to the track this year.

Golden Ticket is standing stud at Questroyal Stud North in Stillwater. (Francesco D’Amico)

Golden Ticket

10 Years Old
Questroyal Stud North
Stud Fee: Private

With only one win in nine starts prior to the Travers, it was easy to see why Golden Ticket was overlooked when he arrived at Saratoga. But he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. Following the Travers, the dark bay son of Speightstown went on to win the Prairie Meadows Handicap and the Left Bank Stakes (defeating old nemesis Alpha in the latter) and proving competitive in numerous other starts en route to a career record of 6-8-4 from 33 starts and earnings of $1.3 million.

Big Brown

14 Years Old
Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions
Stud Fee: $5000

Big Brown made his career debut at Saratoga, winning a turf race on the final day of the 2007 meet. The following spring, he was the talk of the racing world with impressive victories in the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. A foot injury in the Belmont ended his bid for the Triple Crown, but Big Brown returned to win the Haskell Invitational and Monmouth Stakes before being retired with seven wins from eight starts and earnings of more than $3.6 million. Through August, Big Brown is the top stallion in the state by 2019 progeny earnings.

Bellamy Road is now 17 and stands stud in Stillwater, with a fee of $5000. (Francesco D’Amico)

Bellamy Road

17 Years Old
Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions
Stud Fee: $5000

Anyone who saw it will never forget Bellamy Road’s performance in the 2005 Wood Memorial. At the finish, the dark bay son of Concerto was 17½ lengths ahead of his closest foe. The victory generated a lot of excitement in New York, as Bellamy Road was owned by New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner through his Kinsman Stable. Bellamy Road, however, finished off the board in the Kentucky Derby. He later ran a good race in the Travers, but was bested by Flower Alley. Bellamy Road’s top offspring includes Diversify, winner of the 2018 Whitney Handicap.

Central Banker

9 Years Old
McMahon Of Saratoga Thoroughbreds
Saratoga Springs
Stud Fee: $7500

A two-time winner at Saratoga, including the Quick Call Stakes, Central Banker has established himself as one of the top stallions in New York. He was a top-ten North American first-crop yearling sire in 2017 by median and average, and is the top son of sire Speightstown. Central Banker’s top offspring include Newly Minted, who won the Fleet Indian Stakes at Saratoga in 2019.

Bustin Stones

15 Years Old
Waldorf Farm
Stud Fee: $5000

Undefeated in six career starts, Bustin Stones got his name from Owner and Troy native Roddy Valente, who founded a successful gravel business. Valente also campaigned the stallion’s top-earning daughter to date, the graded stakes-winning filly Hot Stones. Based on percentage of winners, Bustin Stones was ranked No.1 nationally in 2016.

It was a pleasure to watch each of these horses race during their careers. They, along with many others, have helped develop the New York breeding program into a powerhouse on the national scene. I’ll certainly continue to follow their progress as stallions. Maybe someday we’ll see the offspring of Alpha and Golden Ticket dueling it out in the stretch at Saratoga in a future edition of the Travers. Hey, you never know.

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