Anyone who’s ever been relentlessly compared to an accomplished older sibling can relate to Destin.
His full brother, Creative Cause, set the bar pretty high by winning major races at two and three and competing honorably on the Triple Crown trail. He was fifth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Preakness (G1).
Once Creative Cause burst onto the scene, it made sense for his dam, the Grade 1-winning Dream of Summer, to go back and visit his sire, Giant’s Causeway, again at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.
Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Farm, co-breeders of Destin along with James C. Weigel, revealed how the renewed match came about.
“That year we actually traded an Unbridled’s Song season to Coolmore for a Giant’s Causeway season,” Taylor said.
“We’ve always had an extra affinity for Giant’s Causeway,” Taylor added, referring to the fact that they had sold his dam, Mariah’s Storm, while she was carrying him.
Coolmore’s John Magnier paid $2.6 million for Mariah’s Storm and her preborn baby who would become the great Giant’s Causeway – a champion in England and Ireland and now an internationally renowned sire.
Destin is the result of Giant’s Causeway’s second liaison with Dream of Summer. But precisely because he was a full sibling to Creative Cause, people kept judging the youngster with reference to his famous brother – and unfavorably at that.
“He kind of always lived in his brother’s shadow a little bit,” Taylor recalled.
“People would say, ‘I liked his brother better.’ They always compared them back and forth.”
But with the passage of time, a marvelous thing happened. The immature-looking baby brother began to develop as a yearling, as spring turned to summer (click through the gallery photos above).
“Probably about June of his yearling year was when he really started to blossom, come around, fill out, and put it all together,” Taylor said.
“He was a man by sales time.”
And the judges of horseflesh were quick to take notice, and not only revise, but reverse their previous opinions.
“Closer to the sale, people felt he might be better than Creative Cause. Before, they were saying he’s not as nice as his brother.”
Indeed, Destin actually ended up selling for substantially more than his older brother. Creative Cause brought only $135,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, while Destin commanded $400,000.
The strict comparison isn’t exactly fair to Creative Cause, though, as Taylor explained.
“We thought Creative Cause would have brought more, but the  sale was kind of weak and he was early in Book 1.”
Destin was purchased by Steve Davison and Randy Gullatt’s Twin Creeks Racing. There was a sense of déjà vu, for six years before, they had bought another gray colt from the Taylor Made consignment, also cataloged in Book 1 of Keeneland September. He turned out to be a Kentucky Derby runner too -- Mission Impazible, who won the 2010 Louisiana Derby (G2) en route to competing at Churchill Downs. Now a promising young stallion, Mission Impazible just celebrated his first winner as a sire.
But the enduring points of comparison lie between Destin and Creative Cause.
“Both were really classy horses,” Taylor said. “Nothing seemed to bother them. Very classy, laid back, not lackadaisical or lazy, but nothing seemed to bother them. Cool, calm, collected, took everything in stride.”
Since Destin’s had “pretty smooth sailing” throughout his upbringing, Taylor observed, “maybe his name is appropriate – not a straw in his path.
“A cool customer. He was unflappable at the sale, or with a change in routine, he always handled everything.”
Whether Destin ultimately outstrips Creative Cause on the racetrack or not, the dynamic duo have done their dam, Dream of Summer, and her owner, James C. Weigel, proud.
While Taylor Made is a giant in the world of Thoroughbred breeding and sales, Weigel is a small-time breeder who has been battling health issues. But it only takes one horse to fulfill a dream, and Dream of Summer has done just that for Weigel.
“He has one mare that has totally transformed his life,” Taylor said. “The little guy can make it.”
All photos courtesy of Laura Donnell.