Stallion Spotlight offers stud farm representatives a chance to address breeders and answer questions as they plan their future matings.
In this edition, Erin Robinson of Rockridge Stud discusses Combatant, a Grade 1-winning son of Scat Daddy who enters stud at the Hudson, N.Y., farm in 2022.
B. h., Scat Daddy x Border Dispute, by Boundary
Race Record: 30-4-5-6; $1,062,915
Advertised Fee: $7,500
Question: What makes Combatant an attractive stallion for potential breeders?
Erin Robinson, Rockridge Stud: Certainly, sons of Scat Daddy are going to be well sought-after right now. With the success of Caravaggio and No Nay Never’s progeny, as well as the sales history for the first crop yearlings of Mendelssohn and Justify, there is a lot of potential. Not to mention a strong female family and good looks, to boot.
If I’ve got a mare that needs help with a stallion physically, what do you project Combatant will best contribute to that equation?
Robinson: He is big, with a strong athletic build. He should give some size to smaller mares and they should be well-balanced, as he is. He has good bone and a strong shoulder. It’s hard to knock him physically.
What do you see in Combatant that a breeder might find familiar from Scat Daddy?
Robinson: Both Scat Daddy and Combatant broke their maidens at two and both had stakes form at two (Combatant finished second in the Remington Springboard Mile in only his third start). Scat Daddy was obviously a lot more accomplished by the end of his juvenile year, having been tried in bigger races earlier in his career, but Combatant was running in big races at three – second in the G3 Southwest, third in the G2 Rebel, and fourth in the G1 Arkansas Derby by only a little over four lengths.
Both Scat Daddy and Combatant had troubled trips in the Kentucky Derby – both finishing 18th, interestingly. The year Combatant ran (against Justify), Scat Daddy had the record-tying most sons entered in the Derby, at four. Scat Daddy’s career unfortunately ended at the Derby, but Combatant was able to continue to run as a 4- and 5-year-old and run his best race in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap It’s clear to me that Combatant has a nice mixture of potential precocity from Scat Daddy, coupled with the soundness for longevity – I think all breeders, myself included, should love that.
What do you think makes Combatant a good fit for the New York program? What made him a stallion that Rockridge Stud wanted to target?
Robinson: Combatant is a perfect fit for the New York program. We all know that the well-bred Grade 1 winners at two and three are going to go to Kentucky to stand. Combatant got so close to big wins early on, but didn’t hit the big one until he turned five. That’s the only reason he’s a New York stallion and not in Kentucky. He had some bad luck on a few trips, I think; in essence, that alone kept him from being a Kentucky stallion.
Combatant is a Grade 1 winner on the main track and graded stakes-placed on the turf, and his dam is a black type producer on both surfaces. How do you think that kind of high-level versatility will serve him in his stallion career?
Robinson: For certain, it only helps. Turf racing in New York is becoming bigger and better every year, so our breeders are definitely looking for that versatility. Breeders shouldn’t have any qualms about breeding either a grass or a dirt mare to the horse to get what they want.
Combatant was able to maintain graded stakes-caliber form from two to five. How much bearing have you found that sustained on-track form can have on a stud career?
Robinson: Let’s be honest – breeders are looking for sound horses. Stallion farms get a lot of grief from breeders when these colts are retired “too early” and not given a chance to run at four, five, even six. The fact that Combatant continued to run later, and continued to be competitive, is a giant boon in his favor.
All of Combatant’s wins and black type have come at a mile or longer, including his G1 Santa Anita Handicap victory at 1 1/4 miles. Where does Combatant’s race record fit him in a breeding market that seems more and more focused on going around one turn?
Robinson: Breeders are often looking for the speed horses – early 2-year-old speed – the sprinters. Something that’s going to work a quarter-mile in :10 flat. The truth is, though, you don’t get classic winners from pure speed – those races are all over a mile. There’s certainly room in the market for five- and six-furlong speedballs, but if you want to breed something that is going to hit the big Saturday races, you almost have to look at milers. One of the great things about Scat Daddy is that he stretched out to two turns over his career, and his sons have been both sprinters, like Caravaggio, and milers, like Mendelssohn – who also broke his maiden at one mile.
What’s something about Combatant that you think goes overlooked?
Robinson: He’s a millionaire who was on the board in 20 of 30 starts. He was a tryer and was consistently competitive with the best at the time.
What makes Combatant a value in his price bracket?
Robinson: Again, this horse was so close to being a Kentucky stallion. New York breeders don’t have to ship interstate to breed to him, and they get those lovely double breeders’ awards for having a New York-sired New York-bred.
What else should someone considering Combatant know before making the call?
Robinson: We’re in the process of putting together a strong syndicate who will support this horse each and every year he stands. We are absolutely determined to keep his numbers stable, so that if that first crop hits, no one will have to wait out the “lean” years.