And you certainly couldn’t accuse Grand Adventure, a son of Grand Slam, of ducking the competition last year.
In a competitive turf division, the Kentucky-bred collected the most votes for the 2010 Sovereign Award for top turf male, beating out previous Sovereign winner Rahy’s Attorney.
“We always had faith in this horse,” said Rick Balaz, who owns and manages Sam-Son Farms along with Mark Samuel, son of the late Ernie Samuel. “Mark did a great job with him.”
A $75,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale, Grand Adventure landed on his preferred grass footing in his second race of 2010 on April 10, this time in the Grade III Shakertown at Keeneland, a 5 _-furlong sprint.
Leading late, Grand Adventure settled for second, just a neck behind the well-regarded Silver Timber, earning a 96 Beyer Figure in the process.
Then, it was back to familiar ground, as the dark bay looked to strut his best stuff on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course at Woodbine.
Dismissed at 9-2 in the Grade III Connaught Cup, Grand Adventure kept his one-length lead at the stretch and notched his first victory of the campaign, netting a career best 104 Beyer for the triumph.
That was followed by another trip to the winner’s circle in the Grade II King Edward Stakes then a runner-up effort to stablemate Windward Islands in the Grade II Nijinsky. Pressured throughout the Nijinsky, Grand Adventure went down fighting in the 1 1/8-mile event over a “yielding” E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Frostad was pleased with the performance.
“He didn’t give in,” offered Frostad. “He battled hard from start to finish. Right from the beginning, he was hounded. With him, you know you’ll always get an honest effort and that was a perfect example.”
Though he was eighth in the Grade I Woodbine Mile, Grand Adventure roared back and finished second in the Grade I Nearctic, before ending up ninth, just five lengths out of top spot, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI), his final race of 2010.
“He showed in his training that he had talent,” said Frostad, a three-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s top trainer. “He was very athletic and well put together.” And ready to roll from the outset. Blessed with speed and stamina, Grand Adventure won his career debut on August 30, 2008, in a seven-furlong turf dash. And while there have been a fair share of ups and downs throughout his time at the races, Grand Adventure’s reputation as a top turf performer has been well-earned.
“When he came here to us in Ocala as a two-year-old, you noticed right away he was a muscular type,” said Tom Zwiesler, farm manager for Sam-Son’s Florida operation. “He had a good attitude and never once gave us a problem. Every horse that comes here, we treat them as though they will be our next champion. And this guy gave all signs that he was going to be a good horse.”
Grand Adventure was bred by Gulf Coast Farms LLC and is out of the unraced Coronado’s Quest mare Val Marie, a half sister to Lakeway, a Grade 1 winner. Val Marie has one other foal of racing age, the winner Unbridled Fury.