In just over six months, Cassandra Walker and her fiancé Dennis Stolz are set to become big players in the stallion business in Alberta. That wasn’t exactly their life plan when they met at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, but the couple are excited to present three stallions which they will stand at the famed Bar None Ranches in Dewinton.
The accomplished Medallist, a multiple graded stakes-winning son of Touch Gold, has already sired more than 23 stakes winners and was the first purchase for Walker and Stolz. That stallion was soon followed by Canadian champion Dynamic Sky, a leading second-crop sire in this country in 2021 and, in early February of 2022, Readyforprimetime was bought by the couple to enter his first year of stud this year.
“I guess you could say we kind of stumbled into [stallion ownership],” said Walker, a lifelong horseperson who has immersed herself in Thoroughbred pedigrees and successful breeding nicks. “We are super excited and I think other breeders in Alberta are excited about some of new blood we are bringing into the province.”
Walker fell in love with Thoroughbreds as a teenager growing up in Kamloops, BC, where she would visit nearby Sagebrush Downs. She already had her own horse and was riding before she discovered racing and picked up work paddocking horses and working as a pony rider at the track.
Riding show jumpers and re-training horses off the track was Walker’s focus for several years. She paid for her own horses by working in the auto industry in sales and service.
Stolz, born and raised in the Black Forest area of Germany, was not exposed to horses and in fact, played soccer and worked for a leading manufacturer of tunnel drilling machines. He travelled a lot and visited Calgary often, where he eventually accepted a job from Ward and Burke Microtunneling in 2019. The next year he met Walker.
“I am fairly sure he never would have thought he would have horses,” laughed Walker. “He had no horse experience at the time, but now he is very comfortable with them. He moves horses, puts blankets on them and has bought his own boots and saddle.”
And it was Stolz who encouraged Walker to bring the now-21-year-old Medallist to Alberta from Pennsylvania last year.
It was on a cross-country trip to Ontario, where Stolz was going to work for a year, when Walker and Stolz’s stallion operation began.
“We had dropped off one of my mares, Seattle Fire, at Maggie and Doug Northcott’s WorkWize Stables,” said Walker. The Northcotts were standing Dynamic Sky, a son of Sky Mesa who had recently relocated from Ontario. “Seattle Fire is my white mare from the Airdrie Apache line and I decided to breed her.”
Seattle Fire, a daughter of the Holy Bull stallion Flammabull, had never raced and was essentially a companion horse for Walker.
When Walker and Stolz saw Dynamic Sky and learned that he was for sale, they began to pursue the millionaire.
“We had been discussing buying Dyno since the spring of 2021 but hadn’t come to terms with them,” said Walker. “But buying a stallion was in the back of our minds.”
Walker had been seeking out another mare or two and was in contact with a woman who had acquired Medallist from Northview Stallion Station in Maryland (former home to the great Northern Dancer). The farm was closing down its Pennsylvania division and had been looking to relocate Medallist, who won the 2005 Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream Park in track record time, the 2004 Dwyer Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in stakes record time and the Grade 3 Withers Stakes.
“When we got the opportunity to own Medallist, Dennis was the one who said we had to do it,” said Walker. “It was about this time that I started doing more research into nicking as well, and we realized Medallist would be a good match with our couple of mares and we jumped on it.”
Soon after, Walker learned that Dynamic Sky, who was being leased by the Northcotts from Arika Everatt-Meeuse’s Shannondoe Farm in St. Thomas, ON, was available.
“The Northcotts had just retired their Tour de Force (Tiznow)[who they had purchased two years ago],” said Walker. “We weren’t in the market for a second stallion, but Dyno was back in Ontario and we had been talking to Arika all along about him. We decided to take him too.”
And in January 2022, Everatt Meeuse contacted Walker and Stolz to tell them that Robert Marzilli’s colt Readyforprimetime, a son of More Than Ready, had just been retired in Florida.
Now there were three.
Walker credits Bar None’s manager Shaun Rathy for guidance and support as their stallion acquisitions grew.
“I can’t say enough about her,” said Walker. “When we first got Medallist I knew about Bar None’s reputation and Shauna has been the biggest help to us.”
Medallist, who will stand for a $3,500 fee in 2022, is a half-brother to Grade 2 stakes winner Air Commander and graded stakes-placed Formidable, all produced from the Grade 1 placed mare Santaria, a daughter of champion sprinter Star de Naskra. Medallist entered stud in 2006 and has total progeny earnings to date of over $12 million including over 23 stakes winners and average earnings per starter of over $75,000. Medallist has sired the multiple graded stakes-placed runner Ibboyee ($701,822) and the multiple stakes winner Winning the Medal ($461,516).
“He is so special,” said Walker. “And Dennis is his main caretaker now. They are buddies.”
Dynamic Sky, represented by Woodbine stakes winner Jilli Marie from his first crop and promising two-year-old My Girl Sky in 2021, has been well received in western Canada. Walker and Stolz welcomed a feisty filly from Seattle Fire last year, the result of the breeding with Dynamic Sky. Now a yearling named Eviction Notice, the filly is a registered white colour and could be seen in the Ontario yearling sale this fall. Dynamic Sky stands for a $3,000 fee.
Readyforprimetime, a very quick multiple staked-placed, four-time winner, is the only son of successful Kentucky stallion More Than Ready to stand in Canada. From the Halo line, More Than Ready has sired over 212 black-type winners and over 30 graded stakes winners.
Readyforprimetime is from the Gone West mare Mana Pools, a winning half-sister to Grade 1 winner Power Broker and stakes winner Fierce Boots. Third dam Shopping has produced Grade 2 winner Trappe Shot, a successful sire, and Grade 1 winner Miss Shop.
“We are trying to offer bloodlines that are not prevalent in western Canada. With Medallist we are certainly doing that. Dynamic Sky is from the Pulpit line, which can be found here, but no other stallion is as accomplished as him.”
Walker carefully analyzes pedigree crosses and nicking patterns using spreadsheets and refers to True Nicks where mare owners can research crosses with the Stolz stallions.
And Walker and Stolz have seven mares of their own. In addition to Seattle Fire they have One for Nicki, a daughter of Canadian star runner and top US sire Langfuhr. One for Nicki is a half-sister to 2021 Woodbine stakes winner Secret Reserve. Other mares are Threemavises, by Saffir, Double Black Diamond (Sunriver), who is in foal to Medallist, Catalyze (Cateinus), Blindeyeforfashion (Cappuchino) and Quiet Request, dam of stakes placed Little Christy.
The couple are in the market for a farm to lease or buy so they can have their mares and young horses with them.
As daunting as this big step into stallion ownership may be, both Walker and Stolz are dedicated to help breeders produce quality horses for the track and for the sales ring.
“We couldn’t be more excited to see where this takes us,” said Walker. “We have already received some bookings and we will focus on quality versus quantity as far as mares for our stallions.”