(The photo of Suddenbreakingnews obviously isn't from the crib, but it is a stunning one of him during morning training at Oaklawn Park back in March, courtesy of Coady Photography.)
Suddenbreakingnews was bred in the name of the Berger Family’s Branch Equine and raised at their Woodstock Farm near Lexington, Kentucky.
Ben Berger recalls that Suddenbreakingnews was a well-mannered, “happy-go-lucky” foal.
“Just straightforward, easy to raise, took everything very well,” Berger said. “Anything new, he accepted it and went right along with it.
“Very willing, did everything we’d ask him to do.”
In that respect, Suddenbreakingnews was the “complete opposite” of his dam Uchitel’s first foal, a filly named Virginia Hill.
“Big tough, mind of her own would be a nice way of putting it,” Berger said of Virginia Hill. “She still has her idiosyncrasies.”
Yet Suddenbreakingnews furnished a twist of his own – not behaviorally, but anatomically. A male foal’s testicles are supposed to descend from the abdomen to their proper location. Occasionally one might not descend, and the young male is thus described as a ridgling (or “rig”) rather than a colt.
In Suddenbreakingnews’ case, however, neither descended.
“He was a double, bilateral, rig,” Berger said. “His testicles never dropped.”
Suddenbreakingnews otherwise vetted well going into the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, according to Kitty Taylor of Warrendale Sales, which consigned him for the Bergers.
“Very correct, lot of bone,” Taylor said, adding that he was a “big, good-looking horse” but “didn’t jump out at people.”
Thus Suddenbreakingnews went for a bargain price of $72,000 to his current owner, S.F. “Sonny” Henderson.
His anatomical issue ultimately led to Suddenbreakingnews having both testicles removed – i.e., being gelded.
“When we found out that he was going to be a gelding, we couldn’t believe it,” Berger said. “He was such a big, strong horse.”
[Update to original story: At least so it appeared he'd been gelded, according to his official record. On May 27, there was "sudden breaking news" that he'd actually never been gelded. Thus he's still a ridgling, after all!]
Suddenbreakingnews was part of a banner consignment at that sale. Warrendale also offered fellow Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls Exaggerator and Mo Tom, Kentucky Oaks (G1) candidate Carina Mia, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Catch a Glimpse, who was recently honored as Canada’s Horse of the Year for 2015.
Like Suddenbreakingnews, Catch a Glimpse was also bred by Branch Equine and raised at Woodstock. The parallel extended to the Keeneland September Sale. They were stabled in the same Keeneland barn, both cataloged as part of Book 3 later in the sale.
But Catch a Glimpse was a “different kind of horse,” Berger described.
Partly that’s because Catch a Glimpse is by the speedy City Zip, while Suddenbreakingnews is by the classically bred Mineshaft.
Berger noted that the filly was also “out of an older mare” and “a little bit behind.”
But another salient difference was temperament: Taylor remembered Catch a Glimpse as “tough” – a “redhead.”
Taylor revealed that Catch a Glimpse “pitched such a fit” that they kept her on a shank at the end of the barn. That’s how Jeff Begg happened to notice her, liked her, and bought her for $75,000 in the name of his Windways Farm.
As Catch a Glimpse and Suddenbreakingnews illustrate, talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.