Country Life Farm, Antony Beck’s Gainesway Farm, and Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables have formed a partnership to stand the Jacksons’ homebred Divining Rod at the Bel Air, Md., farm in 2018. The 5-year-old dark bay son of Tapit will stand for $5,000. Gainesway Farm, where the legendary Tapit stands, will be sending 10 mares to Divining Rod for each of the stallion’s first four years at stud. Country Life is breeding a dozen mares, and the Jacksons have pledged their support both in the stud and in the sales ring for his offspring.
From one of the most dynamic female lines in the world, Divining Rod is out of Grade 1 winner and $1,912,543-earner Precious Kitten, a half-sister to champion and leading sire Kitten’s Joy. The first runner for his dam, who won six graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Matriarch, John C. Mabee and Gamely, Divining Rod finished in the money in 14 of 17 starts and earned $882,604. A winner first-time out at 2, he got his first stakes win in Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes-G3 at 3 after two graded placings in his first two stakes starts. He then contested the Preakness-G1 and finished third behind American Pharoah. In seven starts at 3, all stakes, he finished in the top three six times.
At 4, Divining Rod missed winning the $500,000 Grade 1 Cigar Mile by a head to Connect. Among his other stakes placings was a second this fall to eventual Cigar Mile-G1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1 runner-up Sharp Azteca in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at one mile.
Divining Rod’s second dam, Kitten’s First, not only produced champion grass horse and $2,075,791-earner Kitten’s Joy, but also stakes winner Justenuffheart, dam of Eclipse Champion 2-year-old filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies-G1 winner Dreaming of Anna, and graded stakes winners and sires Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor. Kitten’s First is a half-sister to United Nations Handicap-G1 winner Down the Aisle. Others in the family include graded winners Cassatt, Dreamologist and Fast Anna, the latter now at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. Kitten’s Joy, the nation’s leading sire in 2013, is the sire of 82 black-type winners, 39 graded, including the likes of champion Big Blue Kitten and Breeders’ Cup winners Stephanie’s Kitten, Oscar Performance and Bobby’s Kitten.
“This is a top recruit for the vibrant Maryland breeding scene,” Country Life’s Josh Pons said in a release. “He lost a Grade 1 by a head-bob. He placed in a classic to a Triple Crown winner. He ran a 105 Beyer and a 1 Ragozin in the Cigar, huge numbers, in a stallion-making mile race. All the partners are supporting him at stud, and we are breeding at least a dozen of our own. And he’s modestly priced for access for our regional breeders.”