Monday, October 24, 2016

Looking at Regally-Bred Keep Up

A regally-bred son of Unbridled’s Song, Keep Up’s career almost ended before it began when he broke his knee as a yearling. Three screws and seven months of stall rest later, he was cleared to enter training and the rest is history.

"When we brought him up that day, we had to wait three weeks because of all the inflammation just to x-ray him," said Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm, where the colt was raised. "Then when we x-rayed him and saw the severity of the fracture at that stage you’re just trying to save his life. That’s all you’re doing. I think the vet said he had 10 percent chance to make it, really and then the racing was just a far reaching dream that we had. But he continued to take every step and then we early trained him and he did that then we gave him time to mature and he would just continue going. Then it was like 'he’s done this and he’s done that, what the hell' and you keep on going down the road and see what happens."

Keep Up made his debut at Keeneland in October of his 3-year-old year for owner Mill Ridge Farm, finishing third and kicking off an 18 race career. Breaking his maiden in his third start by 3 ¼ lengths, the colt won or hit the board in his first six starts, including a win at Arlington Park in his return after a 15 month break.

Later that year he won his first stakes in the Grade 3 River City Handicap, beating a field that included a Canadian classic winner, a Grade 1 winner, three Grade 2 winners and four Grade 3 winners from a field of 12.

RIVER CITY HANDICAP

“We thought a lot of him. So every step, every hurdle, we went from hoping to thinking that he was a proper horse,” said Bell. “Once he got into Alex Clarkson’s hands, they were just totally in love with the horse and they gave him every chance and you would get those nice phone calls that said ‘this horse is promising.’ Then they gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his talents because they gave him the time.”

Winning the River City as a 5-year-old, Keep Up returned the following year to add seven more starts to his record at six. In June of that year, he earned another stakes win when winning the Swoon’s Song Stakes by three-quarter lengths over graded stakes winner Corporate Jungle at Arlington Park. Three starts later he was back in the winner’s circle, this time at Keeneland in an allowance. In typical Keeneland fashion the allowance played more like a stakes race with Grade 2 winner Utley, multiple graded stakes winners Rahystrada and Air Support, Grade 1-placed Tahoe Lake and Grade 3-placed Macho Bull all finishing behind Keep Up.

Another win In the River City wasn’t in the cards for Keep Up that year with the horse finishing off the board in the race before retiring to Mill Ridge Farm, where he stands for a fee of $5,000 for one breeding or $4,000 for Share the Upside.

Keep Up
“Our love of the horse, he’d been through so much [encouraged us to stand him]. Obviously from our foundation mare Keeper Hill who’d given us so much and this horse, he wasn’t supposed to be here and he jumps every hurdle he could jump to get where he was so it was like ‘Crazier things have happened and if the public’s willing to give him a chance, we’re certainly willing to give him a chance’ and that’s how we did it,” Bell said.

Bred by the partnership of Dr. John Chandler, Jamm LTD, Shug McGaughey and Mill Ridge Farm, Keep Up is out of Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Spinster winner Keeper Hill.

Keep Up was Keeper Hill’s best runner but the mare also has two other winners and comes from a nice family. Perhaps the most interesting part of Keep Up’s pedigree is his inbreeding to bluehen mare Killaloe. Keep Up’s fourth dam, Killaloe is the dam of influential sire Fappiano who was the sire of Unbridled. Unbridled sired horses like Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone in addition to Keep Up’s sire Unbridled’s Song, giving Keep Up a 4 x 4 cross to Killaloe in addition to a 4 x 5 cross to Northern Dancer through his damsire Deputy Minister and his second dam’s grandsire Lyphard.
Keeper Hill
Bell credits the Fappiano and Killaloe blood in Keep Up’s pedigree as a reason the stallion is throwing big, quality foals who looks like they’ll be runners when they hit the track in coming years.

“You see how physically imposing [Keep Up] is and his depth of quality, and that’s what he’s passing on,” he explained. “Everyone has had that quality about them. The mares that we’ve sent to him were good mares that we thought would breed a racehorse but he is even moving them up considerably. I’m not saying these are going to be 2-year-olds but he’s just providing you quality to give you a chance. You have Unbridled’s Song on the top, that’s not the best thing considering sires of sires but you also have Keeper Hill, who was an Oaks winner and a Spinster winner from the family of Fappiano. So are we seeing the Fappiano coming out of this on the dam side? I would say we are with a combination of things.”

Fasig-Tipton October Hip 488 - Keep Up x Sheza Runaway Star
Keep Up had 17 foals in his first crop with seven already going through the ring for an average of $18,533 from a $5,000 stud fee ($4,000 for those who have Share the Upside shares) with his most expensive being a $42,000 filly who sold to Gatewood Bell at Fasig-Tipton July and the second most expensive coming at the Keeneland September sale in the way of a $35,000 filly. The stallion has four going through the ring this week at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Yearling sale in Lexington with all four selling on the final two days of the sale.

The first yearlings to sell have gotten Keep Up more interest from prospective breeders with those at the sales seeing the yearlings then researching the stallion.

“He actually is building up a bit of a following. People saw our first yearling in July, she was a lovely filly. A beautiful, athletic, smooth filly with good size and quality, bought by a really good horseman in Gatewood Bell. Then the filly we sold in September was bought by Jeff Herbert and his wife,” Headley Bell said. “They were sitting on a bench between barns and kept seeing this filly come out. It wasn’t the pedigree where they were looking at it, they were drawn to the filly. And then people start talking about them a bit because of that.”

While Bell admits that it is a struggle to get breeders’ attention, especially with many of the stallion’s yearlings looking like they’ll skip the 2-year-old sales, he’s hoping that the talk generated from the yearling sales helps give Keep Up a boost in the shed.

“My hope is that the word trickles out enough that people will say ‘I’d like to be ahead of the curve on him,’” he said. “He’s reasonable, he has enough ingredients to give him a chance and crazier things have happened. If he’s moving up these kinds of mares the way he’s moving them up then he’s likely to move up [other] mares and when it’s all said and done you’re trying to breed a racehorse. You’ve got the commercial side but in the end, you’re trying to breed a racehorse.”
Keep Up's second most expensive filly at Keeneland September
Hopes are high that Keep Up will continue to prove himself as his runners hit the track next year but even if he doesn’t, he’ll has a home at the farm for as long as he wants for one important reason – the family’s attachment to him.

“Mom (Alice Chandler) still drives here to the office and Keep Up is the draw that brings her to drive the farm to check on him,” Bell said. “Every day she does that. She drives and sees how he’s doing then she comes here and she has her orange juice and her muffin. It’s her routine and it’s just terrific, it keeps her engaged and that alone is worth him being here.”

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