The History of Desert Party
Early life of an inspirational colt:
In the late 1990’s Sinatra ventured into the arena of World Class breeding. He expanded his business to purchase interests in some broodmares, one of which was named Sage Cat. The Tabasco Cat sired mare had a solid reputation for producing impressive, well confirmed foals. Sinatra and his partner made the decision to risk the 2005 investment to breed Sage Cat to a quality stallion, finally deciding to go to Street Cry. http://www.americanclassicpedigrees.com/street-cry-ire.html
In early 2006, Sage Cat’s physically striking foal was born. He looked amazingly like his sire.
Even the grace, poise, and strength with which the colt walked was notable. It was decided to dub him Cry of the Cat, after his parentage.
What is also impressive is what Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock agent, John Ferguson, paid for Desert Party in February. Consigned by Scanlon Training Center– agent at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-olds in training sale– Desert Party fetched a final bid of $2.1 million. It was a pin hooking homerun for Paul Pompa Jr— co-owner of dual classic winner Big Brown– as he had purchased the son of Street Cry out of book 3 of the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2007 for $425,000. He made the buy through Hidden Brook, agent from the consignment of Sinatra Thoroughbreds and Wayward Wind Farms.
The future Sanford winner had been bred in Kentucky by Dr. Stephen Sinatra and bloodstock agent David Smith. He was raised on Kentucky bluegrass at Fergus Galvin’s Hunter Valley Farm near Versailles, KY. After obtaining interest from many of Kentucky’s leading farms, the reserve was met on the young colt when he first sold for in the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Eventually, Cry of the Cat was resold to Sheik Mohammed only a few months later for $2.1 million at the Calder Juvenile-in-training sale. The promising Cry of the Cat was renamed Desert Party– he was now a Godolphin Stable hopeful.
As a 2-year-old, Desert Party made an impressive debut, enjoying his victory in Saratoga’s Grade III Sanford Stakes in July 2008: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGDFvs0cVd4. The following is a commentary on that race:
“Trainer Eoin Harty helped Saratoga Racetrack get its party started July 24 2008 by unveiling Desert Party on the second day of the 36-day meet in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II). The $142,500 race for 2-year-olds was run over a track listed as “muddy” following heavy rains on the opening day card.
Desert Party, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable, was an easy winner of the Sanford despite being squeezed early on, drawing clear in deep stretch. In his lone start coming into his stakes debut, Desert Party made short work of a field of maiden special weight runners going 41/2 furlongs at Arlington Park June 22.”
In the words of his Darley trainer, Eron Harty:
“This colt’s biggest asset is his turn of foot,” Harty said. “I told (jockey) Edgar (Prado) not to hustle him away from there; to give him a chance (so when) you call on him, he can run for you.”
“I like the way he came back,” Prado said. “He wasn’t blowing too much. I like those kind of horses. He really acted like an old pro.” (Source E.I.H., 2008)
The Sinatra’s were there to watch Desert Party’s victory that day, and Eron Hardy kindly included them in the champagne celebration room upstairs at the clubhouse after the race.
Obviously impressed at the precocious 2-year-old’s victory, Godolphin shipped him off to Dubai where he competed as a 3-year-old in the UAE 2000 Guineas in February, 2009. You can watch that exciting Dubai win here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE89NYf52ZU. It was well known that the Sheik aspired to win a Kentucky Derby, so he set his sites on Louisville.
In 2009, Desert Party was entered into that first leg of the high-stakes Triple Crown along with his Godolphin stablemate Regal Ransom. Now that Dr Sinatra had an equine finally eligible for the auspicious Kentucky Derby, one of his greatest thoroughbred racing dreams was being realized! Though he no longer OWNED a Kentucky Derby contender, he had BRED one. Feel the excitement that he did in this pre-Kentucky Derby 2009 video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bLbNDlo7gk
And that was enough for his wife to dispel her husband’s personal “rule” that he be owner of a Derby entry before he could attend. Out of all the horses Sinatra had ever owned or bred hoping for a Derby experience, Cry of the Cat was the only one that had ever turned her head—the only one she predicted would ever get there. (In fact, she cried when the gavel went down at his first auction)
So, Jan Sinatra forged ahead and booked them box seats at Churchill Downs that first Saturday in May. They brought friends and family alike to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a horse running in the historic and infamous race. It was the 39th birthday of one of their daughters, so she joined in the journey from their homes in Connecticut. With the post position Desert Party drew that day—19—it was highly unlikely that he would fare well on that heavy, muddy track. Yet, he rallied up the to fourth position as the race progressed.
Sadly, Desert Party suffered an injury, chipping his fetlock at some point in the prestigious race. https://www.drf.com/news/desert-party-retired-soft-tissue-injury You can watch them load the gates and run that Kentucky Derby 135 right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is4q1L6JiSI
Recently, friend and Derby blogger for this site Tom Carley reminisced about that Derby Day he attended and Desert’s injury in this post to his Derby Details 2020 column: https://www.sinatrathoroughbredracingandbreeding.com/derby-details-2020/derby-details-2020-edition-11/
The PA Breeders Association found the story interesting enough to position their own edition of the article in the May 2020 PA Bred Report online: https://pabred.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/May-2020-Tbred.pdf
The colt would be sidelined after undergoing surgery for the removal of a bone chip he endured giving that Derby run his all. But Desert Party did recover from that injury. After taking time off to heal, the champion returned to training and went on to race again for Goldolphin, winning the Grade 3 Derrinstown Stud Elnadim Mahab Al Shimaal in March 2010, just ten months later: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huKc5CTJ9Qs
Desert Party capped his career victoriously at Philadelphia Park’s Levine Memorial Handicap in June 2010. We could not find a video of that race, but it was written up. Here are two press releases about his US return to racing:
With this final victory, the best thing for Desert Party was to go out a winner and pass his amazing physical attributes, athleticism and competitive on to his offspring.
Final Racing stats
At the end of his racing career, Desert Party finished with a solid record:
10 starts 6 Wins including a Grade II and two Grade III races
1 Place (to his stablemate Regal Ransom in Dubai)
Career Earnings of $928,467
History as a Sire
By 2010, Godolphin must have been cognizant of Desert Party’s value as a potential sure. His sire– Street Cry—commanded a fee of $100,000 in 2008. Street Cry fathered 19 stakes winners and five other added-money winners that year, including grade I winners Zenyatta and Street Boss, winner of the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar July 27. After his 2010 Mahab Al Shimaal victory,
Darley’s Jonabell Farm, Lexington, Kentucky 2011
“Desert Party’s appearance at the Fasig-Tipton February two-year-old sale was a prelude of things to come. His sales price of $2.1 million was the highest at any juvenile sale in 2008 and speaks volumes of his outstanding pedigree and conformation. Desert Party went on to capture the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in the summer of his two-year-old year and was also a Group 3 winner three and four. His first foals will be offered at the forthcoming weanling sales later this year.” (https://www.drf.com/news/leading-new-york-sires-desert-party)
Paulick Report article about Desert Party joining Jonabell roster: https://www.paulickreport.com/news/bloodstock/bloodstock-in-the-bluegrass-new-kentucky-stallion-desert-party/
The Sinatra’s were even able to enjoy a visit with Desert Party at Jonabell Farm, where Jan Sinatra took this video that so captures his personality: https://www.facebook.com/DPstallion/videos/299073814400261/
Becky Thomas’ Sequel Stallions, Hudson, New York 2013
Desert Party moved to Sequel in 2013 where his fee was $7500. Here is what Darley had to say about him in this promotional piece:
“It’s not too often that a horse merits both the pedigree and conformation to command an auction price in excess of seven figures ($2.1 million to be exact). It’s even less often that kind of horse goes on to achieve success on the track. Look no further than Street Cry’s son Desert Party for a stallion that ticks all those boxes and more.
Produced from the Tabasco Cat mare Sage Cat, Desert Party looks to follow in the footsteps of fellow Darley stallions and “half-brothers” Street Sense and Street Boss, two other sons of Street Cry who have quickly established themselves as successful sires of the day.
Desert Party graduated first time through the sales ring at Keeneland September in the fall of 2007 as a $475,000 yearling and then blossomed into a physical standout at two. He was ultimately purchased by Sheikh Mohammed at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida February sale of two-year-olds in training in 2008.
His first foals will be headed to the yearling sales this year and what physical specimens they are. The term “stamping his foals” is sometimes overused, but in this case, it really is the perfect term.” May 2013 press release https://www.darleyamerica.com/news/desert-party-and-girolamo-exciting-young-stallions-all-makings-sires-future
And, in 2015 he remained a top NY sire: https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/110936/sequel-new-york-releases-2015-fees
Irish Century Hill Farm, Stillwater, New York 2016
As small successes with his thoroughbred operation began to accumulate, Dr. Sinatra was approached with an offer by Godolphin to “buy back” Desert Party in 2016. The doctor had sent many of his best mares to breed to Desert over the years. Sinatra made the decision to reconnect with his favorite stallion and move him to nearby Irish Hill farm outside Saratoga NY where he boarded several mares. Under the guidance of Rick Burke, Dr. Sinatra reduced Desert Party’s stud fee to $2,500. He was also able to visit the stallion—as well as his mares and foals—whenever he was in the Saratoga area.
To see the Irish Hill ad page and list of some of Desert Party’s progeny: http://www.ihdvstallions.com/desert-party.html
Godstone Farm, Littlestown, Pennsylvania 2020
In January 2020, Desert Party moved to Pennsylvania’s Godstone Farm. He settled in nicely to his new surroundings and handlers to embrace his 2020 breeding season. Farm owner Judy Barrett has a long history in Pennsylvania racing and breeding. Cristina Holmes handles the stallion and directly oversees the breeding. In May 2020, Cristina took the reins of ownership of Godstone Farm, and Judy Barrett will continue to stay on and be involved. Congrats to you both!
Godstone Farm also stands Well Spelled (Spellbinder) the winner of the G3 Jersey Shore Stakes.
Thoroughbred Daily News on Desert Party Godstone move: https://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/desert-party-to-pennsylvania/
Blood Horse 2020 story on DP arriving in Pennsylvania: https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/238084/desert-party-moved-to-pennsylvanias-godstone-farm
Thinking of breeding to Desert Party?
For more details, view his updated Blood Horse Stallion Registry here: http://i.bloodhorse.com/stallion-register/pdfs/desertparty.pdf
See Desert Party on page 14 of PA Bred Stallion Directory:
For links to more stories about Desert Party and his racing offspring, Darley has a listing:
Desert Party Progeny:
Desert Party News
Owner Dr. Stephen Sinatra is drawn to the Pennsylvania-bred program. By Eric Mitchell January 22, 2020 Graded/group stakes winner and sire Desert Party is being
Desert Party Videos
1. Desert Party victorious in Saratoga’s Grade III Sanford Stakes in July 2008:
2. Desert Party wins UAE 2000 Guineas in February, 2009:
3. Desert Party upset to Regal Ransom UAE Derby March, 2009
4. Desert Party & Kentucky Derby Contenders, April 2009 videos:
5. Desert Party Workout video for Kentucky Derby, April 2009
6. Kentucky Derby 135 Gr 1, May 2009:
7. Desert Party triumphs at Derrinstown Stud Elnadim Mahab Al Shimaal Gr 3, March 2010:
8. Desert Party takes first place in Philadelphia Park’s LeVine Memorial Handicap, June 2010:
No videos available