Widden Stud secures Portland Sky

5 min read
Already boasting nine Group 1-winning sprinters across their two-state stallion line-up, Widden Stud has secured another elite speedster for the 2022 breeding season.

Portland Sky, the first Group 1 winner for his outstanding sire Deep Field, has reached the end of a brief but blistering racetrack career and will take up stud duties at Widden next spring.

“It’s always a very exciting time when you secure a new stallion, and particularly when that stallion is a Group 1-winning sprinter,” Widden owner and proprietor Antony Thompson told TDN AusNZ on Thursday evening.

“That’s been a recipe for success at Widden for a number of years now, and Portland Sky is a horse that fits right in that sweet spot. He’s a very exciting horse who we think will be an outstanding addition to our roster in either the Hunter Valley or Victoria.

“It’s always a very exciting time when you secure a new stallion, and particularly when that stallion is a Group 1-winning sprinter” - Antony Thompson

“He’s from a sire line we have the utmost respect for and is the best colt by Northern Meteor’s top-class sire son Deep Field. He’s a masculine, good-looking horse with elite Group 1 sprinting form.

“He would fit very well into either of our two rosters. I think he’d be very, very popular in the Hunter, where Deep Field has such great popularity and a lot of breeders are always looking for a good-looking, fast horse.

“But, on the other hand, he’s a Victorian horse, and Victoria was the stage for his biggest racetrack successes, so we have no doubt that he would be very well received there as well. We will weigh up our options and make a decision in time as to where we think he’ll be best suited.

“We’ll also work through his stud fee in the early part of next year, but with Deep Field now standing for $88,000, we’re looking forward to offering breeders access to his fastest son at a very competitive price.”

Deep Field | Standing at Newgate Farm

Speedy and impressive career

Portland Sky recorded four impressive victories in a 10-start career, stepping up to the elite level in the second half of his 3-year-old season with a dead-heat victory in the G1 Oakleigh Plate alongside Celebrity Queen (Redoute’s Choice), followed by a gallant second to the super-talented Masked Crusader (Toronado {Ire}) in the William Reid S.

“Portland Sky had been on our radar from quite an early stage in his impressive racing career,” Thompson said. “We’ve really enjoyed getting to know Matt Laurie (trainer) and his team better throughout this whole process.

“After he won the Oakleigh Plate earlier in the year, we were very close to getting a deal done, but it didn’t quite work out at that stage. The owners wanted to continue to race on and really enjoy the experience that they were having with such a quality racehorse.

Portland Sky winning the G1 Oakleigh Plate | Image Courtesy of Widden Stud

“But we’ve kept in close contact ever since then, and as soon as the opportunity arose and Matt told us that the horse was available, we were delighted to jump at the opportunity.”

Portland Sky is one of only four 3-year-old colts to win the Oakleigh Plate in the 21st century, following on from star sires Fastnet Rock in 2005, Snitzel in 2006 and Starspangledbanner in 2010.

“A look at the honour roll tells you it takes an exceptional 3-year-old to win the Oakleigh Plate,” Thompson said.

“Furthermore, Portland Sky defeated Anders, Dirty Work and Hanseatic that day, all of which have proven to be extremely popular freshman stallions with breeders this season.”

Thompson was also highly impressed by Portland Sky’s runner-up finish in the William Reid S. at Moonee Valley, in which he finished 2.5l adrift of Masked Crusader but ahead of the likes of Libertini (I Am Invincible), September Run (Exceed And Excel), Flit (Medaglia D’Oro {USA}), Kementari (Lonhro), Brooklyn Hustle (Starspangledbanner), Swats That (Shamus Award) and Pippie (Written Tycoon).

“The William Reid was a crack field and tellingly, Portland Sky beat home fellow 3-year-olds September Run and Swats That, who ran the quinella in the Coolmore Stud S. at Flemington during the spring,” Thompson said.

Portland Sky running at Moonee Valley | Image Courtesy of Widden Stud

Portland Sky has also been a two-time winner at Group 3 level, capturing the Red Anchor S. at Moonee Valley last October before defeating Aysar (Deep Field) and Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in the Manfred S. at Caulfield in January.

“Interestingly, Widden sire Nicconi won the Manfred S. before his G1 Galaxy win as a 3-year-old against the older division,” Thompson said. “We’ve found that colts with the ability to beat open-age gallopers is a great recipe for stud success.”

A special horse for Laurie

Laurie paid $85,000 to secure Portland Sky from the draft of Alwyn Park Stud at the 2019 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale, and he believes the star sprinter – who followed on from Escado (Casino Prince) in the 2013 South Australian Derby to give him a second taste of Group 1 success in his training career – has the makings of a quality stallion.

“He is a particularly good-looking horse, a magnificent animal and he’s definitely got the right attitude,” Laurie said.

“He is a particularly good-looking horse, a magnificent animal and he’s definitely got the right attitude" - Matt Laurie

“I was offered big money early days as a young horse off his very first trial, but it wasn’t enough – it wasn’t anywhere near enough! We had a big opinion of this horse right from the beginning.

“Although there has been interest from a number of parties, I am thrilled that Portland Sky will become resident of a stud with Widden’s history and status as one of Australia’s most iconic farms.

“Portland Sky has been a special horse for myself, our team and of course, his owners. Not being breeders ourselves, our first goal was to ensure he went to a farm where he would be given every opportunity to excel in the breeding shed.”

Widden will be offering shares and lifetime breeding rights in Portland Sky. His fee will be announced next year.