March 3, 2024

Dortmund retired; stud plans pending

Kaleem Shah's Dortmund scored his biggest win in the 2015 Santa Anita Derby (©Benoit Photo)

Kaleem Shah’s Dortmund, who will go down in history as American Pharoah’s stablemate on the 2015 Triple Crown trail, has been retired. His current trainer, Art Sherman, broke the news to Ed Golden in Santa Anita’s Sunday stable notes.

“He’s just not the Dortmund he used to be,” Sherman said.

Indeed, in his two starts since joining Sherman at the turn of the year, the massive chestnut had failed to hit the board. His last-of-six finish in the March 11 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) could have been excused as a misguided turf experiment, but his fading fourth in the April 1 Santana Mile – which ordinarily was right in his wheelhouse – was the sign that his best days had gone.

“It seemed like the right time now that’s he’s getting older,” Sherman observed.

Dortmund (right) outduels Firing Line in an epic Robert B. Lewis in 2015 (Benoit Photo)

Dortmund was trained in his heyday by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Beginning his career with a six-race winning spree, the son of Big Brown first came to prominence just as American Pharoah was sidelined by injury over the winter of 2014-15. Dortmund earned his stripes with hard-fought decisions over Firing Line in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and Robert B. Lewis (G3). When his archrival took a detour to Sunland, Dortmund moved forward off those wars to take the San Felipe (G2) handily and the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in a romp.

By that point, American Pharoah had returned triumphant in the Rebel (G2) and crushed the Arkansas Derby (G1). Hence Baffert headed to Churchill Downs with the top two contenders for the 2015 Kentucky Derby, and racing scribes peppered him with constant questions about which one was better, “Pharoah” or Dortmund.

“That’s like asking me which kid I love more,” Baffert would say.

While American Pharoah would go on to an historic Triple Crown sweep, and crown his career with a glittering performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland, Dortmund never quite regained the early luster he once had as an unbeaten Derby hopeful.

His misfortune started when he came down with a bout of colic a week before the Kentucky Derby. Although reportedly mild enough not to scrap his plans to ship and run, it had to take its toll on the colt, who set a solid pace in the Derby and tired to third. Firing Line, unable to outduel Dortmund in their California match-ups, had two lengths to spare over him at Churchill when runner-up to American Pharoah.

Dortmund wheeled right back for the Preakness (G1). But once the deluge came at Pimlico, the sea of slop was all against the big lumberer. Although he never really found his footing in a distant fourth, he was also worn down and losing weight from the Triple Crown grind.

Baffert gave him a five-month vacation, and Dortmund responded that fall with back-to-back scores over older horses in the Big Bear at Santa Anita and the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar. Just when it appeared that Dortmund would inherit the starring role from the retired American Pharoah, he was plagued by foot troubles that put him on the shelf again.

Ready to roll last summer, Dortmund found himself playing second fiddle to another celebrity in California Chrome. He ran his heart out in his comeback in the San Diego (G2), but “Chrome” finally subdued him by a half-length. The margin wasn’t nearly as close in the Pacific Classic (G1), where Dortmund finished more than seven lengths behind the fan favorite in third. Dortmund tried to take Chrome on again in the Awesome Again (G1), and once more had to settle for second best. After those three losing battles against California Chrome, Dortmund avoided him in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), but looked a weary soldier when fourth as the 3-5 favorite.

That turned out to be his final outing for Baffert. The Hall of Famer and Shah parted ways, and Dortmund was among the horses transferred to Sherman – trainer of California Chrome.

Bred by Emilie Gerlinde Fojan in Kentucky, Dortmund is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes winner Our Josephina, a Tale of the Cat mare. His third dam is champion Lakeville Miss, who produced Grade 1 victor and sire Mogambo.

Dortmund RNA’d for $85,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November. He fetched $90,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling, and bloodstock agent Donato Lanni went to $140,000 to snare the two-year-old in training at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic the following May.

Retired with a mark of 16-8-2-2, $1,987,505, the five-year-old Dortmund is now a marketable stallion prospect.

“We’re still in negotiations right now,” Sherman said of a potential stud home for Dortmund.