Real Quiet wins the 1999 Hollywood Gold Cup (Photos courtesy HorsePhotos.com).
If someone had asked Bob Baffert who he thought his top 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect would be in the summer of 1997, it’s doubtful he would have said Real Quiet.
The Quiet American son wasn’t lacking the family to make it to the Derby, his sire (father) was a Grade 1 winner and his maternal family was full of stakes winners. But the colt was so narrow, a trait that earned him the nickname “The Fish,” that Baffert picked him up for $17,000 at the 1996 Keeneland September yearling sale for owner Mike Pegram.
When Pegram looked at Real Quiet’s page in the catalog and saw his impressive breeding, he sarcastically asked, "What's he got, cancer?"
For most of Real Quiet’s 2-year-old year it looked like he would live up to his name and not make much noise on the track. It took the bay colt seven tries to earn his first career win, earning a breakthrough victory when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. He earned one more win that year in the Hollywood Futurity (G1) at the same distance.
While Real Quiet struggled to break his maiden, his stablemate Indian Charlie made headlines with three straight wins to start his career in 1997 and early 1998. The two finally met in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) with Baffert telling the press before the race that he believed Indian Charlie was the horse that could replicate his Triple Crown run with Silver Charm from the previous year. Baffert’s faith in the colt was solidified when he won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) by 2 ¼ lengths, tying the stakes record for the 1 1/8-mile distance. But flying under the radar was Real Quiet, who had slowly been gaining on the winner through the stretch.
1995 Bay Horse
Sire (Father): Quiet American
Dam (Mother): Really Blue, by Believe It
It was little surprise to see Indian Charlie go off as the 2.70-to-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Even Real Quiet’s owner Pegram had acknowledged the rival colt was the No. 1 horse in the Baffert barn, refusing to underestimate the talent of Indian Charlie.
“He's got a chance to be one of the greatest horses ever," Pegram said about Indian Charlie the week before the Kentucky Derby.
On the far turn at Churchill Downs, the two Baffert horses made their moves. For a moment, it looked like Indian Charlie could stick with his stablemate. But Real Quiet took the lead at the top of the stretch and opened a clear lead, leaving Indian Charlie to finish third. However a bigger loomed in Victory Gallop, who closed powerfully but came up a half-length short and finished second.
Real Quiet surged away from Victory Gallop to take the Preakness Stakes (G1), winning by 2 ¼ lengths to give Baffert his second straight Triple Crown attempt. But Victory Gallop turned the tide on the Derby winner, finally catching him in the Belmont Stakes (G1) to win by a nose.
The heartbreaking nose defeat was only the third time the margin had been so short in the Belmont and marked the 30th year racing had gone without a Triple Crown winner.
Much like the previous year with Silver Charm, Bob Baffert gave Real Quiet a break after his Triple Crown attempt to heal from a small injury. During his break, Real Quiet earned the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male due to his success in the Triple Crown
Real Quiet returned to the track almost exactly nine months to the day after the Belmont when he was entered in the New Orleans Handicap (G3). “The Fish” proved to be rusty off the layoff, finishing second by a half-length to Precocity. His connection shrugged off the loss since he had run well.
The connections of Real Quiet made a jockey switch for the Texas Mile Stakes (G3) with Gary Stevens picking up the mount. Real Quiet lost for the third time in a row in the race when he finished second by a neck to Littlebitlively.
Real Quiet returned to Pimlico Race Course, the site of his last victory, in the Pimlico Special Handicap (G1) for his next start. In an exciting stretch duel, Free House looked like e had the win until the last few jumps when Real Quiet stuck his neck in front to win his first race since the Preakness. Real Quiet made history 21 days later when he became the first Kentucky Derby winner since 1973 to run in the Massachusetts Handicap (G2). Unfortunately, Real Quiet tired in the race and finished third as the favorite.
Jerry Bailey picked up the mount for the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) when Gary Stevens moved to England and it proved to be a successful match as Real Quiet won the race by a half-length. However, the win wasn’t an easy one with Real Quiet having a troubled trip that included getting blocked multiple times. But in the end, it all worked out with Real Quiet giving Baffert his first Gold Cup win in the trainer’s first appearance in the race.
Real Quiet was pointed to the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) for his next start, but a cracked splint bone was discovered after a workout. The injury sidelined the colt for the rest of the year and ultimately led to his retirement when Baffert decided he wouldn’t be ready for the 2000 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1).
Real Quiet retired to Vinery Stud to stand for $25,000 in 2000 under a 3-year management agreement. The stallion moved to Taylor Made Farm in 2003 before relocating to Pennsylvania in 2006. Real Quiet moved around the state to different farms for a few years before settling in at Penn Ridge Farm in Pennsylvania in 2007 for the 2008 season as the first stallion to stand at the farm.
“He was extremely popular with breeders and there was a great amount of interest in him [at Penn Ridge Farm],” Penn Ridge representatives said. “He bred almost 90 mares his first year here, which is very impressive for [Pennsylvania], and every other year was just as good. People sent mares from all over to get bred to him and would send more than one and also come back year after year. This showed us they were pleased with their foals and helped cement what a talented sire we had.”
In the fall of 2010, Real Quiet died in a paddock accident at Penn Ridge.
From 11 crops, Real Quiet left behind 657 foals from which he had 441 starters and 281 winners through March 11. Champion sprinter Midnight Lute led the charge of Real Quiet’s 16 stakes winners, winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) twice, the only horse to do so.
Real Quiet also shuttled to Australia and Uruguay during four of his breeding seasons
Real Quiet made an impact on the Pennsylvania breeding world, leading the Pennsylvania general sire list in 2007 and ranking in the top 10 in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012. Three years after his last breeding season, Real Quiet ranks seventh on the Pennsylvania general sires list (through March 11) and his final crop will hit the track later this year.
In all, Real Quiet’s North American progeny have earned more than $22.2 million through March 11.
As a relatively young broodmare sire, Real Quiet has 274 foals of racing age on the ground with 73 winners and four stakes winners for $3,779,822 in earnings.
Real Quiet is represented by four sons at stud in North America with only three having foals old enough to race. His most successful son so far is Midnight Lute, who finished seventh on the leading freshman sire list in North America in 2012 and ranks third on the second-crop list through March 11.
“I remember him running and admired him very much as a racehorse,” said Chuck King, Penn Ridge’s Stallion Manager. “I thought it was a great opportunity years later when I got to stand a horse of that caliber. His death was a big loss but his legacy continues with Penn Ridge Farms and his babies.”
Even after his death, Penn Ridge Farm remembers Real Quiet daily.
The office is covered with pictures and other memorabilia of the stallion that helped put Penn Ridge on the map.
KENT DESORMEAUX CELEBRATES AFTER THE KENTUCKY DERBY