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Reflecting the upsurge in Maryland racing and breeding from slots revenue, Kentucky’s WinStar Farm and Maryland’s Country Life Farm (owned by Josh and Mike Pons) have announced a co-ownership agreement to stand WinStar’s homebred colt Cal Nation at the Pons’ Merryland Farm, in Hydes, Md., for the 2013 breeding season at the introductory fee of $3,500 live foal.  

The 4-year-old graded-stakes-placed son of Distorted Humor out of the A.P. Indy mare She’s a Winner will stand in the same stallion barn as 2009 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite Friesan Fire, who covered 94 mares last spring in his freshman season at Merryland.

                  “We’re excited about what’s going on in Maryland,” said WinStar president Elliott Walden.  “We intend to breed several mares to Cal Nation and to participate in the Maryland-bred program. He’s by our best stallion and out of our best mare.  We named him for University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and the UK fans.  This colt has been a favorite of ours from the time he was foaled here.”         

                  Trained by Todd Pletcher, Cal Nation broke his maiden by 7 ¾ lengths in his debut at Gulfstream Park in February of his 3-year-old year, going 7 furlongs in a sharp 1:22 after setting a 1:09 pace for 6 furlongs. 

                  “That was a very impressive debut,” Pletcher said.  “After that race, we decided to point him for the Kentucky Derby-G1.”

                  In his second start, Cal Nation stretched out to a mile, but lost by a nose after dueling with Pletcher stablemate Dance City.  In his third start, Cal Nation set the pace in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes-G2 in the slop at Aqueduct in April before tiring.   He returned in May at Belmont to win a 6-furlong allowance by 5 ½ lengths, before placing in the Carry Back Stakes-G2 and the Select Stakes.  He won a Monmouth Park allowance this year at 4, and retired with a record of three wins, two seconds, and a third from nine starts, and earnings of $127,884.  He recently arrived at Merryland from Belmont Park and is available for inspection.

                  “She’s a Winner is out of that great Phipps family of champion Numbered Account,” explained Country Life’s Mike Pons.  “It’s also the family of Maryland leading sires, Not for Love and Polish Numbers.  She’s a Winner’s full-sister, Supercharger, produced the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver for WinStar.  I think that this is perhaps the best family in America right now.”

                  The Pons brothers have started or stood several lightly-raced well-bred stallions, including current Kentucky star Malibu Moon and former six-time Maryland leading sire, Allen’s Prospect. 

                  “The one thing all our good sires have in common is a great dam,” said Josh Pons.  “That influence just seems to breed through.  And it doesn’t hurt that Cal Nation’s dad Distorted Humor has sired two classic winners, sired the sire (Flower Alley) of this year’s Derby and Preakness-G1 winner, and just had the highest average ($605,704) and the highest-priced yearling of 2012 ($1,650,000) at the select sessions of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.”

                   As an incentive, breeders whose mares produce a live foal at the advertised stud fee from Cal Nation’s first season at stud will be entitled to a complimentary nomination in the stallion’s fifth year at stud, after that first crop has raced as 2-year-olds. 

                  “Malibu Moon moved to Kentucky after his first crop raced, and his stud fee rose,” explained Mike Pons.  “We want to establish a reward system for folks who help us make Maryland stallions.”

                  For more information on Cal Nation, please visit www.countrylifefarm.com or contact Country Life Farm at 410-879-1952.

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