Vale Fort Wood
One of South Africa’s most successful sires of the past two decades, Fort Wood, has died.
The son of Sadler’s Wells was 25 and had been active at Mauritzfontein stud until his death.
A superbly bred horse, Fort Wood was one of four G1 winners produced by the great broodmare Fall Aspen, who was also dam of Preakness Stakes winner Timber Country, as well as the Colorado Dancer, dam of Dubai Millennium.
He lived up to his pedigree on the racetrack winning three of his six outings in Europe when racing in Sheikh Mohammed’s distinctive silks. Fort Wood’s victories included a memorable score in the 1993 G1 Grand Prix de Paris, where his victims included multiple Group 1 winner Bigstone and Miesque’s full brother Siam.
Retired to stud in South Africa in 1994, Fort Wood was quick to make an impression on local tracks. His first crop to race included 11 stakes horses – of which three were Grade 1 winners.
Fort Wood headed the general sires list in 1998, when his outstanding son Horse Chestnut carried all before him. One of three sons of Fort Wood named Horse Of The Year, Horse Chestnut, his sire’s very first winner, has strong claims to being the greatest racehorse ever bred in the country.
He not only won the South African Triple Crown, but Horse Chestnut made history when winning the prestigious J&B Met in a romp as 3yo. Sent to campaign in North America, Horse Chestnut made a winning debut when landing the Gr3 Broward Handicap in facile fashion, before injury forced his retirement to Claiborne. He was later returned to South Africa where he is currently standing at Drakenstein Stud. A winner of eight of his nine outings, Horse Chestnut is the broodmare sire of last year’s unbeaten US 2yo Ocho Ocho Ocho, as well as 2014 G3 Jimmy Durante winner Ol’ Fashion Gal.
Another outstanding son of Fort Wood was Dynasty – Horse Of The Year in 2002 and winner of the 2002 Vodacom Durban July.
Himself the sire of a pair of sons named Horse Of The Year (Legislate, Irish Flame), Dynasty was recently responsible for the most expensive horse ever sold at public auction in South Africa, when a colt by the sire fetched R5.2 million at the recent Cape Premier Yearling Sale. He is currently leading the general sires list and Dynasty, named Equus Outstanding Stallion last season, rates as one of the very best stallions bred in South Africa. His offspring dominate betting for next week’s major Grade 1 races in Cape Town and Dynasty and his progeny continue to run riot in South Africa.
Elusive Fort, who is currently standing at Klipdrif Stud, is another champion son of Dynasty to have made a promising start to his stud career. The former SA Derby winner and Equus Champion has already produced a pair of smart fillies, Elusive Stars and Siren’s Call, from his small first crop, while his second crop, now two, includes Ernie – a runner in Saturday’s Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes.
Fort Wood was also the sire of Celtic Grove (Horse Of The Year in 2000), and a total of 15 individual Grade 1 winners. He sired Grade 1 winning colts and fillies alike, with his offspring faring particularly well in the South African classics. Fort Wood, at the time of writing, has been represented by 76 individual stakes winners and 45 individual Grade 1 performers. His most recent Grade 1 scorer came in the form of Athina, who was victorious in last year’s SA Fillies Classic and who was an unlucky loser of the recent Gr1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes.
Up to the time of writing, Fort Wood sired runners have amassed over R112 million, with his current runners faring well on both grass and dirt (his son Iron Curtain winning SA’s richest sand race, the Gr2 Emerald Cup back in 2010).
His legacy, however, was not restricted to his own runners, with Fort Wood also heading South Africa’s Broodmare Sires list in 2012-2013.
His daughters have proved exceptional broodmares, with their offspring including Breeders Cup winner Pluck and his Gr3 winning half sister Three Hearts, as well as local Gr1 winners Bouquet-Garni, Capetown Noir, Contador, Forest Indigo, Mokaro, Thunder Dance and Equus Champion and Triple Tiara winning filly Cherry On The Top.
Fort Wood’s commercial appeal remained strong up until the time of his death – with a yearling colt by him fetching R1 million at the recent Cape Premier Yearling Sale. His son Wonder Lawn set a then new record for a horse sold at public auction when fetching R3.3 million at the 2005 National Yearling Sale.
The passing of this exceptional stallion marks the end of an era in the South African thoroughbred industry. However, Fort Wood’s legacy looks set to continue for many years yet to come.