The latest star to come out of the John and Katrina Price Winton stable Chicago Bull, is now doing a fantastic job in Western Australia for trainer Gary Hall.
The diminutive gelding was bred by Roger, Helen, John and Katrina Price from their Christian Cullen mare Chicago Blues which they bought off Aidan Johnstone for $40,000 at the 2008 Yearling Sales.
Chicago Blues is from the famed Black Watch family and her dam Bluejeanbabyqueen is by Jenna’s Beach Boy out of the nine win Vance Hanover mare Pacific Flight whose wins included the 1993 New Zealand Oaks. She then went on to have a successful racing career in America winning a further thirty eight races and recording a mile time of 1-51.2.
Bluejeanbabyqueen despite her international pedigree didn’t reach any great heights on the race track. She started her career in America in 2004 before she came to New Zealand where David and Catherine Butt took over her training. Her only win was at Wyndham in March 2016.
Chicago Blues is Bluejeanbabyqueen’s first foal and one of only two winners from her eight live foals.
“We were interested in her (Chicago Blues) but she was passed in. She wasn’t a big filly. It was Aidan Johnstone who sold her. He had a terrible sale that year. One other yearling that he had which was probably going to fetch a bit slipped over on the concrete and broke a pelvis. She (Chicago Blues) went early in the sale but after that I guess he was keen to sell because he hadn’t had a very lucky sale at all.” Katrina said.
Consequently Chicago Blues was bought by the Prices privately a week later.
“We always wanted something out of the Black Watch family and she was one that we targeted for that reason.”
Looking back into Chicago Blues pedigree; as well as leaving Bluejeansbabyqueen, Pacific Flight also left the unbeaten Sirius Flight (The Big Dog) which won five of its five starts in America.
Chicago Blues third dam is Significant which has made a major contribution to the New Zealand breeding scene. She’s left winners of 104 races with her biggest winners being Pacific Flight (47 wins) and The Unicorn (29).
Sirius Flight after her stint in America went to stud in New Zealand where she has left Malak Uswaad (9 wins) and Timeless Perfection (6 NZ wins). She’s owned by Cavalla Bloodstock and they continue to breed from her. They offered a colt foal by Raging Bull out of Lady Moonlight (Sands A Flyin – Sirius Flight) at last year’s Yearling Sales which was bought by Chrissie Dalgety for $27,000.
Commentator Mark McNamara and Cavalla Bloodstock are breeding from another one of Sirius Flight’s daughters Miss Moonlight Shadow (Christian Cullen). Her son Schweinsteiger by Falcon Seelster was purchased by the owners of Franco Ledger – the Whatever Syndicate,and Hamish Hunter for $16,000, also at last year’s sales.
But back to Chicago Blues.As a racehorse she showed potential.
“She had a lot of ability but she had a few problems as well. She used to lock on and hang very badly. As a four year old she used to tie up really badly. We only had her right a couple of times. One of those days she ran a super second to Malak Uswaad at Winton when those two cleared out from the field. She was hormonal and always in season so we had to make the decision to quit,” said Katrina.
“She showed a lot of speed when we first broke her in,” added John. It was just a matter of slowing her down.”
At the end of her racing career Chicago Blues was sent up to Cran Dalgetys.
“She just wouldn’t go for him because she just kept hanging so we brought her home,” said Katrina.
So twenty three starts yielded three wins, two seconds and a third. She was sent to Bettor’s Delight to begin her stud career.
Her first foal Chicago Bull was born on the 14th October 2014.
“He was small but nuggety so he go the nickname Bull straight away,” said Katrina. We castrated him early because Peter Williams said “I think you should cut him. It might help him grow,” said John.
He never did grow much and for a start there were reservations about him even making it as a racehorse.
“He wasn’t a natural at the start. He just wouldn’t pace at all. I was going to give up on him but John had another go and the day he started pacing he was just off.”
It was then that he started to show real potential.
“Up here at Winton one day be worked 2-04 one day, half in 56 in September and did it on his ear. The year before we’d had Democrat Party and we thought he was as good as her at the same stage,” stated John.
I’ve had other horses that have felt good until you hit top speed. Whereas he never felt good until you hit that top speed. The faster you went the bigger he felt,” said Katrina.
He won at Winton twice as a two year old and buyer interest began to heighten but his size was putting some off.
“They’d ring up and say they’d checked him and he was too small. The guy that wanted him originally from Perth said he wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up buying another horse that’s gone no good,” Katrina said.
Chicago Bull finished his two year old season by running seventh in the Two Year Old Emerald at Ashburton behind Lazarus. His time for the 1609 metres that day was 1-53.7 and he was less than five lengths from the winner. He was then sold to clients of Gary Hall Senior’s stable in West Australia.
“It was a strong crop that year with horses like Lazarus. He ran home in better than 25 that day when he came along the rails. That’s what sold him really. They bought him a week after that,” said John.
North Island bloodstock agent Peter Blanchard did the deal.
“He was a neat wee horse to work with. He was always on your side. As far as a two year old goes whatever we asked him to do at home he never ever stop trying and he was always hitting the line really strongly,” said Katrina. “At home I always thought we never got to the bottom of him. He always had his knockers because he was so small and you were always worried that he’d reach his limit quickly. He’s in the right spot at Gloucester Park. He just seems to like that track.”
His Australian record is impeccable – sixteen wins, two seconds and three thirds from nineteen starts.
His wins include the Group One West Australian Derby and Group One McInerney Ford Four Year Old Classic.
Chicago Blues continues to be bred from, producing a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Maliblu Beach and a two year old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven.
“He (Maliblu Beach) was just the complete opposite in every respect to Bull. He was huge, ugly, slow and dirty, said Katrina. We roped him so many times but he’d still kick you so he’s not around.” added John.
The two year old Rock N Roll Heaven filly appears to be better.
“She’s really big. She’s done a bit and is a nice filly but she’s in the paddock.”
And the good news is that Chicago Blues has just had a colt by Bettor’s Delight making him a full brother to Chicago Bull. And she’s returning to that sire.
“We want a colt. Don’t want fillies. We had a run where we had 23 foals and we had 21 fillies. We really want colts,” said John.
Although the Prices are having a quiet time on the training front there are plenty more foals to be broken in and tried and certainly some rich pedigrees to match up with the wide array of stallions available.
Chicago Bull still has plenty of racing ahead of him and the Prices will no doubt continue to watch a bit of late night Trackside as he tends to do most of his racing in Western Australia.
And despite his diminutive stature he’s proof that size doesn’t matter.