Stallion Spotlight: Walker Hancock And Bernie Sams Of Claiborne Farm On Lea - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Stallion Spotlight: Walker Hancock And Bernie Sams Of Claiborne Farm On Lea

Lea at Claiborne Farm

Stallion Spotlight offers stud farm representatives a chance to address breeders and answer questions as they finalize their mating decisions for the 2020 breeding season.

This time around, Claiborne Farm president Walker Hancock and stallion seasons and bloodstock manager Bernie Sams talk about Lea, a dual-surface star whose first foals are 3-year-olds of 2020.

Ch. h., 2009, First Samurai x Greenery, by Galileo
Notable Wins: G1 Donn Handicap, G3 Hal's Hope Stakes (Twice), G3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes
Advertised Fee: $7,500

1) What is Lea's strongest selling point as a stallion?

Hancock: Like his daddy First Samurai, it's probably his versatility. He placed in the Dubai World Cup going a mile and a quarter, and he broke his maiden in a one-turn race. He's got two stakes winners, and if it wasn't for him being in one of the best stallion crops in recent memory, he'd be in the top 10 of any other stallion grouping. It's bad luck for him that he's in such a tough group, but he's doing alright.

2) If I've got a mare that needs help from the stallion on a physical characteristic, what can Lea best contribute to the equation?

Sams: He's a lot like his father. He's a big, strong horse that gets sound offspring.

3) How does Lea compare and contrast to his sire, First Samurai who also stands at Claiborne Farm, from a physical standpoint?

Sams: Lea's probably not as heavy-made as First Samurai, but they'd be somewhat similar.

4) Now that we've got a few crops on the ground, what can a breeder expect from a Lea foal as a weanling? As a yearling?

Hancock: He can get you a really good-looking horse. A lot of them look like him, pretty chestnuts. I think you can expect a horse with a good body, an athletic build, and good quality and substance.

5) With his first runners being just 3-year-olds, a lot of Lea's resume at stud remains to be written. What makes you optimistic about the stallion from what you've seen so far?

Sams: It's probably as much from Lea himself and First Samurai, I think runners by both of these stallions will get better as they get older.

6) Lea was himself a graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf. Have the early returns from trainers indicated that Lea's foals have a surface preference, or are they similarly versatile?

Sams: He's got a stakes winner on turf, he's got a stakes winner on dirt, and and Muskoka Gold just missed a stakes win on all-weather, so I don't think surface will matter for him. You'll find that he'll have a few dirt horses and a few turf horses.

7) Unlike his sire First Samurai, who got off to a fast start at two, Lea got better with age. Do you expect Lea's foals to emulate their sire or grandsire in that regard?

Hancock: I think they'll be more like Lea, getting better with age. We've got some that we think will be okay, they're just bigger, stronger, slower-developing horses that might need a mile and an eighth on the grass. When things get going again, maybe we'll see some more winners.

Sams: He's had some winners this spring at Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, Fair Grounds that have run and been impressive, but they haven't had the chance to run back. Now that racing's on the slow crawl, that doesn't help a horse like that.

8) What's something about Lea that goes overlooked?

Hancock: That if he was in any other sire class, he'd be among the best in his crop. He's kind of buried down on the list.

9) What makes Lea a standout in his price range?

Sams: Potential for upside. If you want to take a shot on a horse that's got a chance to come with some runners this summer and fall (as 3-year-olds), he'd be one of them.

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