Nick Fortuna, Wire to Wire
The eyes of Florida horsemen were all fixed on Chapel Royal’s impressive frame in February 2003, when he sold for a whopping $1.2 million at the OBS sale of selected 2-year-olds in training at Calder Race Course. And during his 2-year-old season, he looked like he was worth every penny.
Now, as the son of Ocala Stud Farm stallion Montbrook prepares for his fifth season in the breeding shed, he’s returned to his Florida roots to show local breeders why he was so popular as a sire in Kentucky. William Schettine recently purchased the 7-year-old stallion from Coolmore, which owned him as a racehorse and stood him at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. Schettine will stand the horse at his Signature Stallions farm in Reddick for a $10,000 stud fee.
“Bill Schettine is very behind breeding in Florida and racing out of Florida, and we feel that there’s no better place on Earth to raise a horse than Florida,” said Bill Bazzell, Signature Stallions’ farm manager. “Most of the horses that started here and really made it moved to Kentucky, and he wanted to go against the grain and bring a horse from Kentucky to here. He spent a lot of money on the horse because breeders in Florida need to have a nice horse like that to breed to.”
During his 2-year-old campaign, Chapel Royal was among the nicest horses in the country. He broke his maiden at first asking at Belmont Park in May 2003, winning by 9 ¼ lengths, then added victories in the Flash Stakes (G3) at Belmont and the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.
Chapel Royal finished in the money in all six of his starts as a juvenile. He ran second to Silver Wagon in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and was the runner-up behind Birdstone in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont. He concluded his 2003 season with a third-place finish behind Action This Day in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Chapel Royal failed to place in his two starts as a 3-year-old but finished his career with $495,571 in earnings, making him the sixth-richest horse ever sired by Montbrook. Chapel Royal was bred at Ocala Stud Farm out of the Cutlass mare Cut Class Leanne and sold at Calder to bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne.
Both of Chapel Royal’s parents were winners at the racetrack. Montbrook won five of his eight starts, including Grade 3 victories in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park and the Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park, and finished his career with $373,728 in earnings. Cut Class Leanne had nine wins from ages 2 to 5 for $108,385 in earnings.
As a stallion, Chapel Royal has been among the busiest horses around, covering 222 mares in 2005, 168 in 2006, 165 in 2007 and 194 this year. His 2-year-olds have sold for as much as $400,000 this year, and through November, 34 horses from that first crop had won at the racetrack, helping him reach the $1 million mark in progeny earnings.
His most notable horse so far has been Advice, who crossed the wire second behind Jose Adan in the $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) at Arlington Park in September. Adan and Advice were disqualified for interference during the stretch run, and Terrain was elevated from third place to the winner’s slot. Advice has earned $37,645 this year. Our Lady Chapel is the richest horse sired by Chapel Royal with $58,980 in earnings.
Though stallion operations obviously want their horses to be popular among breeders, such fame can come at a price. Bazzell said if a sire is bred to too many mares, the market can become flooded with his progeny, and the average sales price for those horses can suffer. To avoid that situation, Bazzell said he plans to breed Chapel Royal to only about 100 mares during the upcoming breeding season.
“We’ll keep his book limited,” Bazzell said. “We’d like to have a select bunch of mares, and that will be better for the breeders who are going to the sales ring – not to have such a huge supply out there. He was a great racehorse and was a precocious, early horse, so he has everything that a pinhooker would look for.”
Bazzell said that when he looks at the horse, it’s easy to see why he was a top-selling juvenile and why he was in such high demand in Kentucky.
“There’s nothing not to like about him,” Bazzell said. “He’s just got a great temperament. He’s a smart horse. His conformation is as close to flawless as you can get, he’s got good bone and good muscle, and he’ll work with any type of mare. He’s perfect. He’s just a great-looking horse, and he puts a beautiful baby on the ground. He really stamps them. Like him, they have a lot of presence and a great look to them.”