By Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing
A.P. Indy was seemingly born to greatness. He was sired by Seattle Slew, a Triple Crown winner. His successful dam (mother), Weekend Surprise, was no surprise because she was sired by Secretariat, another Triple Crown champion.
Ambitious owners will pay massive sums for such regal bloodlines, so it was no surprise that Japanese owner Tomonori Tsurumaki went to $2.9 million before the auctioneer’s hammer fell at Keeneland’s July yearling sale in 1990.
Sire (father): Seattle Slew
Trainer Neil Drysdale was thrilled when the top prospect was sent to his barn. He believed the youngster could be special, but only time would tell.
“You can never know,” Drysdale said. “But the ability the horse demonstrated was phenomenal and obviously he had the pedigree and the looks, so those are the three things you are looking for.”
A.P. Indy lacked one element that cost him dearly when ranking the best of the best – luck. After he capped his 2-year-old season by taking the Hollywood Futurity and rolled in the Santa Anita Derby early in his 3-year-old campaign, it appeared the 1992 Kentucky Derby would be his for the taking.
But Drysdale noticed that something was amiss. Furious efforts to tend to a quarter crack the night before the Derby were to no avail. The decision was made to scratch him the morning of the “Run for the Roses.”
“He was too valuable a horse to risk running when he was not quite right,” said Drysdale, adding, “On form, he would have won it quite easily.”
While the decision to scratch A.P. Indy hours before the most important start of his life had to be gut-wrenching for Drysdale and his staff, he took it in stride.
“There is not much you can do. You can’t second-guess yourself,” he said. “As a trainer, you’re trying to solve the problem and move on to the next race.”
After the decision was made to bypass the Preakness as well, A.P. Indy turned a victory in the Peter Pan Stakes into an ideal prep for a triumph in the Belmont Stakes. He sealed top 3-year-old and Horse of the Year honors by triumphing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
He was retired to Lane’s End Farm, near Versailles, Ky., at the close of his 3-year-old season with little left to prove. He took eight of 11 starts with one third-place finish for earnings of $2,979,815.
A.P. INDY THROUGH THE YEARS
As his bloodlines suggested, he would prove to be a fabulous sire, producing more than 150 stakes winners before he was pensioned in 2011 due to declining fertility. His top progeny include Mineshaft, 2003 Horse of the Year; Bernardini, Preakness victor and top 3-year-old in 2006; and Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in more than 100 years when she accomplished that in 2007.
Among the hundreds of Thoroughbreds to pass through Drysdale’s barn, A.P. Indy will never be forgotten.
“He was a gorgeous horse, a very exciting horse to be around,” the trainer said. “He knew he was the monster of the universe. He knew he was strong and powerful and he was a bit of a bully.”
Caretakers were on high alert around A.P. Indy, keenly aware of his imposing presence. They always made certain to give him the space he demanded.
“Lots of it,” Drysdale said.