Slip Mahoney (inside) breaks his maiden narrowly Jan. 21, 2023 (NYRA/Coglianese)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— The regally-bred Slip Mahoney, who sports Grade 1 talent on both sides of his pedigree, will look to add to his family’s stellar resume for breeders Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Phillip Steinberg in Saturday’s Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Slip Mahoney, who finished a closing second in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 at the Big A, is in pursuit of the winner’s share of Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Wood Memorial, which awards 100-40-30-20-10 points to the top-five finishers, respectively.
Owned by Gold Square and trained by two-time Eclipse Award-winner Brad Cox, the grey son of Arrogate is a third-generation homebred for Steinberg and John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, produced from the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Got Lucky. While the colt’s breeding is impeccable, Sikura said there were last-minute changes in stallion plans that led to the breeding of Slip Mahoney, who was installed as the 6-1 co-third choice on the morning line in the Wood Memorial.
“We were going to breed to Justify, but he was busy, so we bred to Arrogate,” said Sikura. “With the Unbridled’s Song influence in the pedigree, hopefully there will be some speed, and the dam is a medium-sized mare. But ideally, as a commercial breeder you want to produce a horse with leg and length and a big, strong horse. We thought he had the chance physically to give that to her. She had the same type of foal she always has, which is medium-sized and not that big, imposing horse. It didn’t work in that respect, but it worked in the sense that we thought he would be a runner.”
Slip Mahoney’s story begins nearly two decades ago when his third dam, the Ogden Phipps homebred graded stakes winner Get Lucky, produced a Deputy Minister filly named Malka in 2005. Malka caught Sikura’s eye when she broke her maiden in late 2007, leading him to purchase a share in the filly from Ben Walden. She raced three more times before she was retired and subsequently bred to A.P. Indy in 2010. The resulting foal was Got Lucky, who Sikura aptly named after the unlikely circumstances of her conception.
“Malka was by Deputy Minister, who I had a feeling would be a great broodmare sire,” said Sikura. “After she broke her maiden, I called Ben Walden, who was a partner and I bought his interest in Malka with Phil Steinberg. We bred her to A.P. Indy in his last crop, so he wasn’t getting his mares in foal too well – therefore, the name Got Lucky. We got lucky that we managed to get one from his last crop.”
Got Lucky earned just shy of $1 million in her stellar career before retiring in 2015 and producing her first foal, an unraced son of War Front, in 2017. The following year, she produced the multiple graded stakes-placed Overtook and a filly in 2019 before delivering Slip Mahoney in 2020.
Sikura ultimately decided to sell Slip Mahoney at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and attracted the attention of Joe Hardoon, the agent for Gold Square, selling for $150,000.
Slip Mahoney was one of three subsequent graded performers by the late Arrogate to go through the ring, including dual Grade 1-winner Cave Rock [$550,000] and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks victress Affirmative Lady [$210,000].
“When we sold him as a yearling, he wasn’t the biggest horse,” said Sikura. “He had length but lacked a little bit of leg. Arrogate was cold as a sire. He wasn’t a horse that we were nine deep on at the sales ring. Time will only tell what Slip Mahoney’s true potential is, but he’s a magnificently bred horse and Arrogate is now a very good sire. It’s tragic we lost him early on.”
Slip Mahoney debuted for Cox in November at Aqueduct and graduated at third asking after a dramatic battle with returning Wood Memorial rival Crupi down the stretch to post a head victory on January 21 going a one-turn mile. He followed with his rallying runner-up finish in the Gotham where he closed from 13th-of-14 to secure place honors and 20 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Derby.
Sikura said it has been rewarding to see Slip Mahoney show promise on the racetrack.
“They [Gold Square] loved the horse and you’re just always hoping that anything you breed, sell and raise can go on to be successful for their new owners,” Sikura said. “He has emerged as a nice 3-year-old and now he has to step up and separate himself to see if he can get into that elite group.”
Should Slip Mahoney perform well in the Wood Memorial, he would have the chance to provide Sikura with his first Kentucky Derby winner as a breeder. Hill ‘n’ Dale was the co-breeder of 1997 Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing, but Sikura said an elusive Kentucky Derby score would be a particularly meaningful achievement.
“In this business, it’s very easy to get humbled. There will be lots of nice horses in the race and I just hope he runs his race without excuses,” said Sikura. “It would be a dream to have a horse run in the Derby. We bred a Preakness winner, a Belmont winner, but to have a horse win the Derby would be great. We’ll enjoy the race, see what happens and hope he runs well. We’re excited and wish all the best to the connections.”
Slip Mahoney will emerge from post 5 in rein to Dylan Davis, who was the pilot in his first three outings. The Wood Memorial is slated as the final race on Saturday’s 11-race card with a 6:16 p.m. Eastern post time.