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Strawberry Road -  Profile of a Champion
Bay Stallion Born 28th September, 1973
by Whiskey Road  out of Giftisa
by Jenny Barnes

Within a month he was on a plane bound for Europe with plans for him to make his racing debut in August. While in training at John Nicholls considered the metal bars closed over the top of the stable doors were upsetting Strawberry Road as he couldn’t put his head out to see what was happening outside. After removing the bars (a move which surprised locals) Strawberry Road settled in far better to his new environment.

On August 24th Strawberry debuted over 1600m in Germany. He charged home over the final stages to just miss victory in a head bobbing photo finish going down by a nose to Hoyer. A week later he stepped up to 2400m in the Grosser Preis Von Baden and ridden by Australian jockey Brent Thompson raced to victory from Esprit Du Nord. A month later he lined up in his target race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over 2400m at Longchamps in France. On a heavy track he was travelling well but shot to the lead on the turn for home. He was travelling strongly and looked to take a part in the finish but the long straight at Longchamps proved too challenging and Strawberry Road was run down in the final stages of the race to run fifth behind Sagace, Northern Trick, All ALong and Esprit Du Nord. Afterwards reports indicated that connections were unhappy with jockey Greville Starkey’s decision to go so early making it near impossible for Strawberry Road to be in front on the line.

strawberryroadstudbw300.jpg (19442 bytes)Rather than end his campaign when the horse was still going well it was decided to send Strawberry Road to America for the Washington International over 2400m. The Washington International is a race many top Australian racehorses sent to the US have run well and Strawberry Road was no exception. Ridden by G Moore he finished third as favourite behind Seattle Song beaten only 3 1/2 lengths. Next he progressed to the inaugural carnival where the best of the Northern Hemisphere horses compete - the Breeders’ Cup meeting. In the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 2400m he took on a field of eleven including horses such as Majesty’s Prince, All Along and Gato De Sol. He arrived at Charles Whittingham’s stable at Hollywood Park on the Tuesday before the race and champion US rider Willie Shoemaker was booked for the ride. Turning for home he was in front but in the shadows of the post he was run down by Lashkari and eventually finished fourth only 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Strawberry Road was selected to represent the United States in the 1984 Japan Cup run only two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup. Coming to the end of a campaign in which he had raced in four countries he finished seventh alongside one of his former rivals Australian representative Bounty Hawk.

At the end of 1984 Strawberry Road was voted Champion Older Horse in Germany and was awarded 136 on the International Free Handicap.

In 1985 he debuted with a four length win in the Prix D’Harcourt over Green Paradise and was then sold by his Australian owners for an undisclosed sum to Daniel Wildenstein and was sent to the French trainer Patrick Louis-Biancone. After winning the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud by a neck to Seismic Wave his new owner declared that Strawberry Road would scratched from the Prix Ganay (G1) and be sent to the US to race as he was inferior to Sagace who was also due to start in the race (also owned by Wildenstein). In Australia it was suggested that Strawberry Road may have been scratched not because he was inferior but to protect the reputation of Sagace. After an unplaced run in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in England Strawberry Road was sent to the US. His first US run was in the Belmont Turf Classic where he ran third to Noble Fighter.

admiralty.jpg (35166 bytes)His next racetrack appearance was in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November. Turning for home Strawberry Road was pocketed on the rails and was running out of time to put in his run as Pebbles was right behind him also waiting for a gap to appear. Seeing the chance to make a run out wide as the chance of a gap appearing diminished his jockey elected to pull out for the run. As Strawberry Road moved out wider a split appeared along the rails where Pebbles dived through to hit the front. Strawberry Road charged home out wide but Pebbles fought back strongly and on the line the mare held on by a neck from Strawberry Road with the saved ground making all the difference. He lost no admirers with his game effort but the long campaign showed when he could only finish sixth in the Washington International two weeks later behind Vanlandingham. During his US campaign Strawberry Road was sold to Allan Paulson with the thought for him to eventually stand at Brookside Farm in Kentucky.

Only a short spell followed and Strawberry Road lined up in the San Marcos Hcp at Santa Anita in late January 1986 beaten a neck by Silveyville. After a third to Talakeno in the San Luis Obispo Hcp, Strawberry Road then lined up in the Arcadia Hcp over 2000m. Run on March 9th 1986 Strawberry Road bounded away from his opposition to win convincingly from Hail Bold King. Three weeks later he was in front turning for home in the San Luis Rey Stakes but could not hold off the determined finish of Dahar beaten into second by 1 3/4 lengths on the line. Dahar was again too good in the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Hcp over 2800m where Strawberry faded to 7th. Strawberry Road final start of 1986 was in the Hollywood Invitational over 2400m in May where he finished 5th 4 1/4 lengths away from the winner Flying Pidgeon.

Given a long spell Strawberry Road was prepared for a return to racing at the official age of eight (though he was still only a late 7yo in the Southern Hemisphere) in 1987. After a third to Zoffany in the San Marcos Hcp in his first up run it was felt he wasn’t racing with the same interest and Strawberry Road was officially retired to stud.

mudroute.jpg (28013 bytes)Given the late notice of his impending stud duties he was not expected to attract much interest in broodmare owners that season but as an afterthought Alan Paulson decided to advertise him for the 1987 season at a fee of $7,500 plus send 12 of his own mares. Meanwhile interest in Australia to import Strawberry Road for the 1987 spring was rising and initially it was agreed that he would return to stand at Balfour Stud in the Hunter Valley for $A12,000. However there was a surprising response for Strawberry Road in the US and his book totalled 45 mares in total as his Australian return date was pushed back to June then eventually cancelled. With a fertility of 90% Strawberry Road’s first runners were due to hit the track in 1990. The following year in 1988 plans were again made for Strawberry Road to return and stand at Carrington Stud but he reportedly contracted a cold causing his departure date to be delayed and finally cancelled as due to quarantine restrictions he would have arrived at the Southern Hemisphere stud after the start of the breeding season.

Strawberry Road’s first foals hit the racetrack in 1990. From this crop he produced five 2yo winners from his first eight starters. His first winner was Berry Road, at Northland’s Park in Canada, who was out of Positioned and recorded 4 wins from her first 6 starts. Other horses in the first crop were Dinard (8 starts 4 wins including the G1 Santa Anita Derby and G2 San Rafael Stakes), Fowda (winner of the Hollywood Oaks) and Fraise (winner of over $2.6 million in stakes including G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, G1 Hollywood Turf Cup, G1 Sword Dancer Hcp).

In total Strawberry Road sired 368 progeny to race for 233 winners and over 30 stakeswinners of over $24 million in stakes including Escena (winner of 11 races 4 at G1 level including the Breeder’s Cup Distaff and was placed at G1 level a further 6 times including 3rd Breeder’s Cup Distaff and was voted Champion Older Mare), Ajina (7 wins including Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Mother Goose Stakes and American Oaks all G1), Royal Chariot (G1 Hollywood Turf Cup). Strawberry Road is also the broodmare sire of stakes winners Strawberry Morn, Kimba, Loveshine and Moonlight Paradise.

Strawberry Road’s sire sons in the US include Bagdad Road (Remick Farms CA), Berry Honest (Crowthorne Farm MI), Huff (Bird Horse Farm LA), Magna (C&S Stables OK), On Blueberry Hill (Arrowhead Farm OH), Zede (Rancho Fresa LA) and Mud Route (Special T Thoroughbreds CA). Fraise stands at Lex Stud in Japan.

Mud Route is out of the stakesplaced Our Suzette and entered stud in 2000. He won 6 of 14 starts including the G2 Californian Stakes and G3 San Diego Hcp at Del Mar defeating Silver Charm.

Progeny although in limited numbers have also made their way to Australia. Strawberry Road now has four broodmares listed at stud Crimson Road, Milva, Strawberry Girl and Wheatland Lady. While he is represented by the sires former Australian sprinter Rocky Sprent at stud in Victoria and Admiralty at stud in Queensland.

Admiralty is from Savannah Slew (by Seattle Slew) and entered stud in 1999. The winner of 8 races he was successful in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes and was placed in the G2 Brooklyn Hcp, G3 Stuyvesant and Aquaduct Hcp. Admirality stands at Glen Avon Lodge in Queensland.

In April 1995 just as some of his best progeny were starting their careers Strawberry Road was found to have a bacterial infection. He was sent to the Kentucky Equine Medical Centre and underwent surgery twice to ease the internal pressure. He later scoured badly and lost over 150kg but fought the condition and began to pick up however the improvement was shortlived as he then contracted peritonitis and pneumonia. On June 1 1995 in his weakened condition he lost balance in his stall and the fall resulted in a broken femur in his right foreleg and vets had no choice but to end his life.

Photos - Rocky Sprent (J. Barnes) Admiralty (Glen Avon Lodge) Mud Route (D Bernsen) Strwaberry Road (unknown)

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