“Volatile is fast, very fast.” was the cry from the race callers booth at Churchill Downs as the dashing grey dominated the field in the Aristides stakes.
How fast was it? Enough to give the son of Violence the best Beyer figure of any horse on any surface in 2020 and post notice of his raw ability.
Those who failed to take that hint didn’t have to wait long for further proof as the co-owned Phoenix Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys colt captured his Grade One in the Vanderbilt stakes beating a field of top-class performers. Although that run would ultimately be his last due to injury, he’d done enough to earn his spot on the Three Chimney’s stallion roster. It’s there, at their Kentucky base, where the rising five-year-old has spent the last few months, settling in ahead of his 2021 schedule.
“He’s been overwhelmingly popular with the breeders,” Three Chimneys’ Tom Hamm told TDN. “We think he’s got that wow factor and that he’s going to do really well.”
Even before he was producing lightning-quick times on the track, he was bred for a job as a stallion. His Stakes winning dam Lady Melody brought a host of top bloodlines to the table. She is out of Grade One winner Lady Tak while Volatile’s full sister, Buy Sell Hold, quickly became the sire’s first winner and quickly his inaugural Stakes success.
By this time though, the colt himself had already cut an impressive figure at the Keeneland September Sale. Enough for the Phoenix Thoroughbreds/Three Chimney’s partnership to part with $850,000.
“He was a really good-looking horse with plenty of scope and length,” Hamm recalls. “One of his great attributes that the team really liked was the way he moved. He was very impressive and athletic-looking. He had a lot of power and leverage behind.”
Those attributes in the ring soon turned themselves into ability on the race track with the newcomer making an immediate impression on Hall Of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
“Once Steve got his hands on him he realized that he was really fast,” Hamm said.
A win on debut confirm to the team of owners they might be on to a wise investment and if they needed it, further affirmation came when he made light work of an Allowance field at Churchill Downs.
“Even with a bit of a troubled trip, he ran some impressive numbers and an impressive time,” Hamm said. “That was kind of the beginning of his breakout.”
Offers came for the exciting sprinter, but the partnership knew they had a gem on their hands. Even they, perhaps, didn’t quite expect the demolition job that he produced when stepping into Stakes class for the first time.
“Volatile’s win in the Aristides was a very visually-impressive race,” Hamm said. “His 112 Beyer was the highest in 2020 for any horse at any distance on any surface. If you watched the race, it was one of the most impressive things because he was actually geared down on the stretch. I think he proved in that race that he was a very special horse.”
A ‘very special’ horse needs a Grade One title and that came in July when the Vanderbilt was added to his resume.
“Winning the Vanderbilt just verified what we already believed–that he could compete at the Grade I level,” Hamm said. “His performance in that race, coupled with the performance in the Aristides solidified him as one of the most talented horses out there in 2020.”
He remained that despite the Saratoga showpiece being his last appearance on the track as dreams of further top-table glory and a Breeders’ Cup tilt where dashed by injury.
“Volatile was training excellent leading up to the Vosburgh,” Hamm said. “We were going to use that race as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup, and then, unfortunately, he came up with an injury. He had already done enough at that point, and we thought it was time to bring him to the farm and get him ready for his stallion career.”
Despite his success over the shorter distances, Volatile was anything but a one-dimensional sprinter. Speed and stamina, the lethal double-threat, was definitely within his compass, according to Hamm.
“Volatile was obviously very fast and a good sprinter, but honestly, he’s built like a miler. He’s got a lot of stretch and length to him. Actually Steve thought he could be a good one-turn mile horse, but when the Aristides was right in front of us and he was running so well, there was really no reason to change at that point and unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance down the road, but we think he could have been a good miler as well.”
Volatile Stands at Three Chimney’s Farm for $17,500.