Cream of the Crop

Supersonic Sebastian K heads first-crop yearling sires of 2018

story by Dean A. Hoffman

He was one of the most distinctive trotters ever to step foot on an American track.

With his neck bowed and his chin tucked, Sebastian K was impossible to miss. He was also almost impossible to catch in most of his races.

His rivals likely only saw the look in his eye when they were scoring down next to him. When the starter said “Go!,” Sebastian K was gone.

At times he seemed simply like a horse from another breed as he disdainfully left top trotters in his dust.

Now Sebastian K sends his first crop to the sales and on to the races in 2019. How will they fare at the sales? How will they fare at the races? We’ll know a lot more in a year.

In this article, we’ll briefly profile a few first-crop stallions with 25 or more registered foals of 2017. There are many other stallions with fewer yearlings that bear inspection by buyers, too.



p,3,1:47.4m ($1,628,762)

Over two seasons of slugging it out with the best in the breed, Artspeak was a model of consistency. In 27 career starts, he was in the top three 22 times. That’s a remarkable feat when you play hardball in the big leagues.

Winning is the name of the game, however, and Artspeak won 14 times, more than half his races.

He was developed by the expert hands and knowledge of Tony Alagna, and the son of Western Ideal demonstrated a powerful finishing kick early in his career.

After his first 2-year-old race, Artspeak ripped off a trio of wins with final panels in 26.4, 26.1 and 26.3. Yes, Artspeak knew where the finish line was and obviously wanted to get there first.

In his freshman season, he won the Governor’s Cup, the Metro and the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. Fittingly, he was voted juvenile champion of his class.

He was Mr. Consistent as a sophomore despite facing the likes of Wiggle It Jiggleit regularly. Artspeak won the Tattersalls in 1:47.4 and finished second in the Breeders Crown after coming from eighth in the final quarter. He was also second in the Cane Pace.

Artspeak was seemingly a horse that never went a bad race. He didn’t always win, but he was knocking heads with the best.

In his first season at stud, Artspeak served a book of 109 mares, and breeders must like what they’ve seen, since this year he served 130 mares. He stands at Winbak of Canada


Bolt The Duer

p,3,1:47.4f ($1,828,995)

When a colt can win a major stake in 1:47.4f at age 3 and return the next season to match that time in open competition, you’re looking at a fast dude.

Bolt The Duer was indeed a fast dude, and he competed with colts that fought like hell each time they took to the track.

He first recorded that 1:47.4f time in winning the final of the Adios in 2012 at The Meadows when he sat behind pacesetting A Rocknroll Dance and shot up the inside to score for Mark MacDonald by 1½ lengths at nearly 12-1 odds. It was a world record.

A month later, he won the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at Lexington in 1:48.2.

Two months after his Lexington win, Bolt The Duer took the Messenger at Yonkers in 1:51.2 over Pet Rock and Hillbilly Hanover.

In the summer of his 4-year-old season, Bolt The Duer again won in 1:47.4 on a Keystone State ⅝-mile track—this time at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. He again received a pocket trip in the Ben Franklin consolation and drew off to win by 2¾ lengths.

Bolt The Duer is a son of Ponder p,5,1:48.1, a winner of more than $1.5 million. Ponder is a son of The Panderosa, another sub-1:50 pacer and winner of more than $1.4 million.

Bolt The Duer’s dam is by the great stallion Artsplace and his second dam is by Jate Lobell, so the framework of his pedigree practically screams early speed.

Bolt The Duer stands at Winbak of New York.


He’s Watching

p,3,1:46.4m ($1,116,450)

In 2013, the smallish American Ideal colt He’s Watching was the king of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) as he was a perfect eight-for-eight in Empire State competition, taking a 1:50 mark in early August for trainer Dave Menary and driver Jim Morrill Jr. He got the rail for the $225,000 NYSS final at Yonkers and rolled down the pike to win by 6¼ lengths. That season he banked $291,722.

Being the best in the NYSS was good enough for him to win honors as the best juvenile pacing colt in North America.

In 2014, He’s Watching didn’t win as often when he stepped up to tackle the bearcats in open competition, but, most importantly, he made a lot more money racing in open competition and he sizzled to a world record.

His biggest payday came when he won the Meadowlands Pace with a sterling world record 1:46.4 effort. After the field reached the first quarter in 25.3, driver Tim Tetrick positioned He’s Watching perfectly second-over behind favored JK Endofanera and tracked him into contention.

In the final quarter, He’s Watching zoomed to the front and drew off to win by 2½ lengths in a final panel in :25.3.

He won the Empire Breeders Classic in 1:49.1 at Tioga and was second in the Cane Pace at the same track.

In his first season, He’s Watching bred 116 mares in Ontario at Tara Hills Stud and will surely have ample opportunity to make an impact on that program and likely on a broader scale.


Sebastian K S

t,8,1:49f ($2,973,252)

Sebastian K’s pedigree may cause some head scratching by horsemen in North America, as he is a blend of Franco-American blood that has proven so popular in Europe.

His sire is from a famous French line while his sire’s dam is inbred 3×3 to the great American stallion Star’s Pride.

Sebastian K’s female line is entirely American as his dam is by Probe, the son of Super Bowl who was the co-winner of the 1989 Hambletonian.

No stallion at Hanover Shoe Farms can complain about lack of the quality or quantity of his female consorts. Hanover keeps a large and resplendent broodmare band and each stallion there gets ample opportunity to prove his procreative powers. That will surely help Sebastian K.

But Hanover also maintains high standards: if a stallion fails to meet expectations, Hanover sends him down the road before you can say “Bob’s your uncle.”

Sebastian K served a book of 133 mares in his first season in Pennsylvania, and was patronized not only by Hanover, but also many other leading breeders. We’ll find out if he can make the grade soon enough.



Time To Roll

p,6,1:48.2m ($803,625)

This son of Rocknroll Hanover out of the superb stakes filly and producer Kikikatie (Real Artist) just missed winning the $1.47 million North America Cup in 2012 when he rolled three-wide off the final turn to miss catching Thinking Out Loud by a half-length. He was timed in 1:47.4.

Two weeks earlier he’d won the New Jersey Sire Stakes final in 1:50 for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Andy Miller.

Time To Roll kept on rolling over the racetracks of North America and hung up his hobbles with 92 starts and a slate of 32 wins with a dozen seconds. This demonstrates remarkable durability.

Time To Roll’s dam, Kikikatie, is the dam of five pacers with earnings in excess of $3.1 million, or an average of about $620,000 plus.

Time To Roll bred 141 mares in his first season at stud at Schwartz Boarding Farm in Indiana.


Wheeling N Dealin

t,5,1:54s ($913,975)

With such a superb pedigree—Cantab Hall from a high-speed female family—it’s not shocking that Wheeling N Dealin showed early speed.

Like his sire, Wheeling N Dealin was unbeaten as a freshman, taking all nine of his starts. (Cantab Hall was unbeaten in 10 starts as a freshman.) He ended his season as the winning favorite in the Breeders Crown when he wore down the leaders in the final half to defeat Royalty For Life (the Hambo winner the next year) by three-quarters of a length.

His time of 1:56 in the final was actually four ticks slower than his 1:55.1 win in the Breeders Crown elimination, again over Royalty For Life.

Wheeling N Dealin was trained by Dustin Jones and steered by Sylvain Filion.

Things weren’t quite so easy for him after his freshman season as he was winless in 10 tries at age 3. He dropped his mark to 1:54.2s at age 4 and to 1:54s at age 5 and retired with $913,975 in the bank.

He stands at Seelster Farm in Ontario and bred such top mares as that farm’s Gramola and mares from Hanover Shoe Farms, Steve Stewart, Daniel Plouffe and Bob McIntosh.


Whom Shall I Fear

t,3,1:52.4m ($162,492)

He is yet another young stallion by the remarkable Cantab Hall and his dam just happens to be Gala Dream. For breeders who value a stallion with a remarkable mama, consider that Whom Shall I Fear is a brother to Father Patrick ($2.5 million) and Pastor Stephen ($1 million).

He started his sophomore season gangbusters, winning his first four starts. He won in 1:53.3 from post eight at the Meadowlands and then won in 1:54.4 from post nine. He followed that with wins in 1:55 at Pocono and 1:54.1 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Whom Shall I Fear got his 1:52.4 mark winning the Townsend Ackerman at the Meadowlands by 2¾ lengths, going wire-to-wire as he did in most of his wins.

Whom Shall I Fear served 105 mares in his first season at stud. He stands at Victory Hill Farm in Indiana.

This is only a cursory look at some of the more prominent first crop stallions whose yearlings will be featured in 2018 auctions.


Dean A. Hoffman, a former executive editor of Hoof Beats, is currently serving as an editorial consultant for the magazine. To comment on this story, email us at

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