promises fulfilled in metropolitan handicap

When it comes to pure eye candy with hooves, it is not easy to surpass Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (by Forestry), and his Grade 1-winning son Promises Fulfilled might be even fancier.

Surely, when pulling away to win the Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont on July 6, Promises Fulfilled not only filled the eye but also appeared to be making a step forward to fulfill the considerable promise that the flashy chestnut colt has offered his fans and intimate connections.

Owned by Robert Barons and trained by Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled has been highly regarded since winning his first two starts, a debut maiden special at Churchill Downs and then a first-level allowance at Keeneland, as a 2-year-old.

A third in his only stakes start at 2 was a temporary chuckhole in the road to success, but the handsome chestnut looked like a potential classic contender in his 3-year-old debut victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth last year against the speedy Strike Power (second) and the previous year’s juvenile champion Good Magic (third).

Subsequent unplaced efforts in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, however, sent the glamorous colt a different direction, and he has since campaigned at distances at a mile or less. Following the Derby last year, Promises Fulfilled was third in the Woody Stephens, then won the Amsterdam and the H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, plus the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland. That sequence of sprint performances made Promises Fulfilled the third-favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year, where he finished fourth. The winner Roy H. had been the second choice, and race favorite Imperial Hint was third, with Whitmore putting in his typical tremendous finish to split the top choices.

Having squarely established himself at the top of the tree among 3-year-old sprinters, Promises Fulfilled took a trip to Dubai for the Golden Shaheen and tackled the leading older horses in the Metropolitan. He was disgraced in neither, with a pair of fourths. On returning to his preferred territory – seven furlongs in New York, the handsome colt has had his picture taken again in the winner’s circle.

If it seems surprising that a Preakness winner is the sire of a colt with such speed, Shackleford earned his credits with speed. He possessed the pace to place himself second in the Preakness of 2012, grabbed the lead in the stretch, and held off Animal Kingdom to win by a half-length; the following year, the handsome son of Forestry won the Metropolitan at a mile and the Clark Handicap at Churchill at nine furlongs, leading at every call in each race.

Bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs, Promises Fulfilled was a May 11 foal and didn’t set commercial buyers alight when presented as a yearling. Romans picked up the colt for only $37,000 at the Keeneland September sale, and Promises Fulfilled has since earned $1.4 million.

Promises Fulfilled is out of the Marquetry mare Marquee Delivery, who was stakes-placed four times, including a second in the G3 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park and a third in the G3 Arlington Oaks. A winner of $264,901, Marquee Delivery was quite nearly the same class as her dam, the multiple listed stakes winner Fast Delivery (Little Missouri), who won $263,835.

Fast Delivery produced only the single black-type winner in Marquee Delivery, but the latter has foaled a pair of stakes winners. In addition to Promises Fulfilled, Marquee Delivery has produced the multiple listed stakes winner Marquee Miss, as well as the stakes-placed Marquee Cal Gal (both by Cowboy Cal). The difference in production success may lie in the sire of Marquee Miss, which is the high-class and very fast performer Marquetry (Conquistador Cielo).

A horse of electric coloring and personality, Marquetry was a striking chestnut with bold white markings on his legs, as well as on his face and belly. He was the sort of horse you couldn’t miss on a dark night, and with his performances on the racetrack, nobody was missing the fast chestnut who raced for Juddmonte Farms, Dale Engelson, Morley Engelson, and trainer Bobby Frankel.

Frankel told me years ago that turning Marquetry into a top-tier American horse, after a moderate and rather brief career in England, was one of the simplest tasks he had faced. “We knew he had talent; he was a really nice horse. And once I quit trying to make him a turf horse here, he jumped up and won the Hollywood Gold Cup” and a good portion of the $2.8 million in earnings that the fancy chestnut earned.

In fairness to Frankel, Marquetry was also a smart turf horse, winning the G1 Eddie Read after he had shown his dirt capability, and Marquetry was a serious contender among the top older horses of the early 1990s on any surface.

Sent to stud in Kentucky, the great-looking chestnut made a few contributions to the breed and added speed to pedigrees, most notably through his high-class son Artax, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Vosburgh, and Carter and the Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter of 1999; Marquetry sired a second sprint champion in Squirtle Squirt, winner of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and King’s Bishop.

The plans for Promises Fulfilled include a trip to the BC Sprint after his victory in the Nerud.

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american pharoah has first sw and gsw with 2yo maven

Victory in the Group 3 Prix du Bois on June 29 at Chantilly made Maven the first stakes winner from the first crop of racers by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile). A champion at both 2 and 3, American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed (Exclusive Native) in 1978.

Affirmed was the last of a trio of Triple Crown winners in the 1970s that began with Secretariat (Bold Ruler) in 1973 and followed with Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning) in 1977. Triple Crown winners have tended to come in clusters. Four in the 1940s: Whirlaway (Blenheim), Count Fleet (Reigh Count), Assault (Bold Venture), and Citation (Bull Lea). And American Pharoah has heralded a pair of them in the second decade of the new century with Justify (Scat Daddy) following in 2018.

In the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, there were no Triple Crown winners, but the feat is no small accomplishment.

Furthermore, with the exception of Assault, who was essentially sterile, all the proven Triple Crown winners above became useful sires or better. Count Fleet, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat became leading sires; Citation and Affirmed sired champions; and Whirlaway sired 17 stakes winners (9 percent from 183 foals), including Scattered, winner of the 1948 Coaching Club American Oaks and also a half-sister to a nonwinner by Princequillo named Somethingroyal, who later became the dam of Secretariat and his high-class half-brother Sir Gaylord (Turn-to).

So now American Pharoah needs only 16 more stakes winners to match the lifetime stakes winners sired by Whirlaway, and if the bay son of Pioneerof the Nile can duplicate the percentage of stakes winners to foals that Whirlaway produced, then American Pharoah ought to get very nearly that many from his first crop, which numbers 163, according to Jockey Club data.
One of the difficulties of contemporary Thoroughbred breeding is the degree to which practices have changed over the past 25 years with the vast increases in book sizes for more popular stallions, accompanied by the shuttle programs to use stallions in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres year-round. This is a challenge for anyone wanting to evaluate the success of stallions of different eras because the volume of foals is so greatly different.

For instance, the 163 foals of 2017 are the progeny from American Pharoah’s Kentucky book of 208 mares in 2016 that resulted in 178 mares being reported back in foal. That’s only 20 fewer foals than Whirlaway sired in his entire stud career. The extremely long-lived Count Fleet, on the other hand, sired 432 foals and 38 stakes winners (9 percent) from 22 crops.

As a result of this vast difference in scale, the only effective comparison for young stallions in the big-book era is with other young stallions of near quality. With American Pharoah, Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) is probably the most effective comparable sire. Both stand at Ashford Stud outside of Versailles, Ky., for Coolmore, both were champion juveniles, and both have similar physiques with very good size and scope more associated with performance at a mile or more rather than sprinting.

Statistically, Uncle Mo had 157 named foals in his first crop, 126 starters (80 percent), 97 winners (62 percent), and 25 stakes winners (16 percent). Those are excellent statistics, exceeding nearly every other stallion put to stud since 1995, and if American Pharoah can approach those numbers, he will have done very well indeed.

In that first crop, Uncle Mo exceeded the breed norms by about 20 percent each for starters and winners, by 13 percent for stakes winners. Those stats pose very high benchmarks for any first-crop stallion, and we can watch with great interest as the first crop by American Pharoah come to the races in the coming months.

To date, American Pharoah has had 11 starters, 4 winners, 1 stakes winner (and group stakes winner), plus a second in the G2 Railway Stakes, also over the weekend, with Monarch of Egypt.

Maven’s victory in the Prix du Bois was his second in two career starts. The chestnut colt had been entered in the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot but was withdrawn due to the soft going. Earlier that week, Maven went through the ring at the Goffs London sale and was bought back at 725,000 pounds.

Now the colt is a group winner.

Bred in Kentucky by trainer Wesley Ward, Maven is owned by Richard Ravin and is out of the stakes winner Richies Party Girl (Any Given Saturday). Born on May 24, Maven is the first foal out of the mare, who is one of two stakes winners out of the Majestic Light mare Very Special Lite. Very Special Lite won the G3 Vineland Handicap, plus the Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland. She was the last foal out of Very Special Lady (Buckpasser), who was twice second in stakes and ran third in the G1 Fantasy Stakes at 3.

Overall, this is a family with some noticeable leanings toward turf racing and distances of at least a mile. Maven’s dam is the primary exception to this, and the young juvenile colt’s effectiveness over sprint distances may indicate that he will find a different focus when trained to race over longer distances.

But even if the 1,000 meters of the Prix du Bois is the limit of Maven’s racing effectiveness, he has taken a position in history as the first stakes winner for his famous sire.

round table’s male line is not entirely gone, as monongahela wins iselin

Have you wondered whatever happened to Round Table in pedigrees, especially in the male line? He all but disappeared; so it is all the more interesting to note that the winner of the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth on June 22 was won by Monongahela, a male-line heir of Round Table.

The near-disappearance of Round Table in the sire line is remarkable because here was a wonderfully talented racehorse of iron constitution, who was a top-class winner every season on the track from 2 through 5. He won 43 of 66 starts, earning $1.7 million, and was the third Thoroughbred to pass $1 million in earnings, following Citation and Nashua.

Round Table won the Breeders’ Futurity at 2; the Blue Grass, American Derby, United Nations Handicap, and Hollywood Gold Cup at 3; the Strub and Santa Anita Handicap, plus major handicaps at Gulfstream, Agua Caliente, Arlington, and elsewhere at 4, when he was elected Horse of the Year; and then a further spate of handicaps at 5, when he was champion older horse and turf horse.

Round Table galloping at Santa Anita in 1958 in preparation for the Strub series

At stud, Round Table was the leading sire in North America in 1972, and among his best offspring were English 2,000 Guineas winner Baldric, the top-class and highweighted European 2-year-old Apalachee, and G1 winners Artaius (Eclipse Stakes, Sussex Stakes), Flirting Around (King’s Stand Stakes), Royal Glint (Santa Anita Handicap, Haskell, United Nations), King Pellinore (Oak Tree Invitational), Banquet Table (Hopeful), Cellini (Dewhurst), and Upper Case (Florida Derby and Wood Memorial before there was a graded stakes program).

Those are not the only high-class sons of Round Table, but only Royal Glint (gelding) and Cellini (sterile) had a reason to leave nothing behind as a sire. A handful of sons had a handful of high-class winners, but only one came close to emulating the stallion success of his famous father.

That was Apalachee, a ruggedly made bay out of champion 2-year-old filly Moccasin. The latter was unbeaten as a 2-year-old and was so impressive in her eight victories that many careful judges thought she was even better than the champion juvenile colt of 1965, Buckpasser.

Well, they were wrong about that.

As events proved, Moccasin failed to train on at 3; her margin of superiority over her contemporaries faded but did not entirely disappear. She did become a major producer as the dam of seven stakes winners when retired to her birthplace at Claiborne Farm. The farm had bred and raced and then sold Round Table as a juvenile, returned him to the fold as a stallion and bred Apalachee also.

John Mulcahy acquired the colt and sent him to race in Europe, where Apalachee was unbeaten as a 2-year-old, won the Gladness Stakes on his reappearance at 3, then was third in the 2,000 Guineas behind Nonoalco and never raced again. Retired to stand at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Apalachee became the most prolific and noteworthy of the sons of Round Table.

His progeny earned $27 milliion, and Apalachee sired 56 stakes winners. Four won at the G1 level: Up the Apalachee (Alabama), Apalachee Honey (Sorority), High Counsel (Norfolk), and K One King (Oaklawn Handicap). Even better known than these were a trio of speeding fillies: Clocks Secret (11 wins, including two G3s), Lazer Show (14 wins, including the G2 Sorority), and Pine Tree Lane (19 wins, including four G2s such as the Carter against colts, along with a second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint).

K One King, foaled the year his sire died in 1996, was the last major winner by Apalachee and the big chestnut is still at stud in 2019, listed as “fee private” at Millennium Farms outside Lexington.

Monongahela is one of seven stakes winners by K One King, and the Iselin winner is the only graded stakes winner for the sire. Bred in Pennsylvania by Gunpowder Farms, Monogahela has been a steady performer, winning 6 of 24 starts and $381,043, with 11 seconds and 2 thirds.

The bay 5-year-old is one of two stakes winners out of Record High, a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) who earned $150,180 in her racing career. These two stakes winners are the only two black-type horses among the produce of the first four dams.

Isn’t horse breeding wonderful?

If our beloved steeds didn’t throw a puzzler like this at us, we’d come to think that breeding horses was easy or, worse, predictable.

There is, however, a good bit of ability hiding in the pedigree without showing black type. The first three dams each produced two horses who won more than $100,000, including one in each generation that earned more than $200,000. Money isn’t always an accurate measure of a horse, but to earn money, a horse has to race and win. And soundness counts.

Further, each mare in the first four generations is by a fairly serious stallion. The dam is by Touch Gold; the second dam is by North American leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector); the third dam is by Belmont Stakes winner and champion 3-year-old Stage Door Johnny (Prince John); the fourth dam is by champion juvenile and leading sire Hail to Reason (Turn-to).

Although I cannot tell you how the genetics of the dam Record High aligned to produce two stakes winners from three foals of racing age, the daughter of Touch Gold is doing her part and has a 2-year-old full sister to the Iselin winner who may add more to this story.

plenty of ‘mo’ mentum for 3yo contender king for a day

Uncle Mo’s offspring earned more headlines than money over the weekend with victories by Miss Mo Mentum in the Grade 3 Trillium Stakes at Woodbine and by King for a Day in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth. The latter race, in particular, made headlines across all media because a son from the fourth of former champion juvenile Uncle Mo named King for a Day defeated Maximum Security (by New Year’s Day), who had been first across the line in this year’s Kentucky Derby and had been hammered down as the 1-20 favorite in the race because he was some people’s notion of the leading colt of the crop.

So where does that leave King for a Day? Certainly, the king for the day. And also perhaps a colt for tomorrow because he is a lightly raced and progressive colt of substantial size who is obviously improving with time.

The Pegasus was the second consecutive stakes victory for King for a Day, who won a maiden and was fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes from his three starts last year at 2. The bay colt was off for nearly six months but is undefeated so far in 2019 from two starts.

Bred in Kentucky by Red Oak Stable, King for a Day is among the 50 stakes winners from five crops (including 2-year-olds of 2019) of racing age by Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie). The Pegasus winner is out of the French Deputy mare Ubetwereven, and King for a Day is the third stakes winner out of the mare from eight foals that are 3 or older. The mare’s other stakes winners are the full sisters Feel That Fire and Ima Jersey Girl (both by the Storm Cat stallion Lightnin N Thunder). All three stakes winners out of the mare won stakes at Monmouth Park.

The immediate female family goes back through several generations that were bred and raced by Martha Gerry, also breeder of the great champion Forego, to the 1979 Test Stakes winner Clef d’Argent (Key to the Mint), and thence back through generations of French-bred producers to the 1908 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Sauge Pourpree (Perth).

Sauge Pourpree was one of the excellent French-bred racers of the early 20th century and is a female-line ancestor of King for a Day

The latter was bred by Le Comte Jacques le Marois, for whom the G1 race in France is named, and Sauge Pourpree was one of the high-class French-bred performers of the first decade of racing in France. Racing and breeding in France had reached a level to challenge the top racers in England a generation prior to the Great War, and Saugre Pourpree won the fillies’ mile classic at 3, then France’s great stamina test, the Prix du Cadran, and the 51st Prix Biennal de Longchamp at 4 against colts.
The sire of Sauge Pourpree was the even greater French-bred racehorse Perth. At 3, he won the colts’ mile classic, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, plus the Prix du Jockey Club and Grand Prix de Paris, then the Prix du Cadran at 4.

Perth became France’s leading sire in 1907, 1908, and 1911. Unfortunately, the high-class racehorse and sire had died in 1907 from some form of kidney disease.

Among the contemporary relations of King for a Day, his half-sister Feel That Fire is the dam of G1 winner Mind Control (Stay Thirsty), victor in the 2018 Hopeful Stakes, as well as the Bay Shore and Jerome this year.

The day before King for a Day upset the race return of Maximum Security, Uncle Mo’s 4-year-old daughter Miss Mo Mentum won the third stakes of her career in the G3 Trillium. A stakes winner at 2 and 3, Miss Mo Mentum is the second stakes winner out of Somalia (Mineshaft) and is the mare’s third foal.

Somalia has also produced Lookin for Eight (Lookin for Lucky), winner of the G3 Durham Cup at Woodbine. Somalia’s second dam is the G3 winner Ziggy’s Act (Danzig), winner of the G3 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington, and Ziggy’s Act is out of stakes winner Comedy Act (Shecky Greene), winner of the G1 Santa Barbara Handicap.

Somalia has an unraced 3-year-old filly named Cosmic Link (Data Link), was barren for 2017, has a yearling colt by American Pharoah who sold for $300,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November sale, and foaled a colt of 2019 by last year’s Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

With good performers like King for a Day and Miss Mo Mentum representing him presently and large crops from even more highly pedigreed mares coming along, Uncle Mo is in a premium position to confirm a position as the major young sire in America.

sir winston provides another classic victory for “one of the great stallion resumes”

Sir Winston’s victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 8 was the second success in a Triple Crown race for a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and leading sire Awesome Again (by Deputy Minister). The other classic winner for Awesome Again here in the States was 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow, now a sire at Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky.

In addition to those two classic-winning colts, Awesome Again is also the sire of the champion filly Ginger Punch and of Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, who is a leading sire in his own right and stands at Adena Springs outside Paris, Ky., alongside his famed sire.

Ken Wilkins of Adena Springs said, “Awesome Again has put together one of the great stallion resumes, and we at Adena are privileged to have bred and raced his greatest champion, Ghostzapper. Looking forward, I would see Ghostzapper working to define this male line into the future, with good sons like Shaman Ghost as stud. Awesome Again’s influence is so pervasive that you can look up any stallion list, and there he is right in the thick of it.”

As one of the two top-tier sons of his famous sire Deputy Minister, along with Silver Deputy, Awesome Again is the sire of champions, Breeders’ Cup winners (4), $1 million winners (12), G1 winners (15), and stakes winners (66) at such a volume that the tidy bay stallion has consistently been among the leading sires with his own progeny, and now he is among the best broodmare sires.

In addition to getting some good 2-year-olds, Awesome Again has been a consistent force for classic quality and performance. Just last year in the Preakness, the stallion’s son Bravazo gave Justify the hardest race of his Triple Crown, finishing only a half-length behind the champion son of Scat Daddy.

Now Sir Winston has followed up to give his sire another piece of Triple Crown glory.
Bred in Kentucky by Tracy Farmer, Sir Winston is out of the Afleet Alex mare La Gran Bailadora, who won three stakes, including the G3 Kentucky Cup Distaff at Turfway Park, and was third in the G1 Spinster at Keeneland.

The Belmont winner is the third foal out of the dam. Her first foal is the unraced 5-year-old Blame mare Spanish Star, and she produced her first foal, a colt by Trappe Shot, earlier this year.

The mare’s second foal is an unnamed Artie Schiller gelding, and Sir Winston is the third.

La Gran Bailadora is one of 35 stakes winners and 13 graded stakes winners by her sire, 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex. He is the sire of the major winners Texas Red (G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Iotapa (G1 Vanity Stakes), Afleet Express (G1 Travers), Materiality (G1 Florida Derby), and others.

As a scopy horse of good size and with very good bone, Afleet Alex has been an influence for soundness (72 percent starters to foals, compared to the breed average of 60) and athleticism (50 percent winners, compared to the breed average of 42), and he seems to throw greater than average stamina in his stock, which can be a disadvantage in the marketplace and on the racetrack where opportunities to run are strongly skewed toward six furlongs.

La Gran Bailadora and nearly every one of Afleet Alex’s stakes winners showed its best form at a mile or more, and the average winning distance for the stallion’s progeny is 7.5 furlongs, which is very high for US racing.

As such, Sir Winston represents the classic quality, stamina, and soundness that breeders hope to produce in their best horses, and he has those qualities top and bottom in his pedigree.

In addition to a graded stakes-winning dam, Sir Winston has a second and third dam who each won stakes. His second dam, Affirmed Dancer (Affirmed), won the My Charmer Stakes at Turfway and was second in the G3 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico. Third dam Woolloomooloo (Regal Intention) was a champion older mare and champion turf mare in Canada, and she is a half-sister to a stakes winner and to three dams of stakes winners.

Sir Winston represents a step forward in classic success for this family that it hasn’t seen since the fifth dam produced Southern Arrow, winner of the G1 Premio Parioli (Italian 2,000 Guineas).

galileo in an overpowering classic season and proving the keystone to coolmore breeding for the future

Another day, another Galileo classic winner.

With 12 of the 13 racers in the 2019 Derby Stakes at Epsom tracing to Galileo as a son, grandson, or great-grandson, there was little doubt that more good news was brewing for the sire in the English classic.

This year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck is by Coolmore’s legendary bay son of Sadler’s Wells and Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea (by Miswaki). That makes four winners of the English classic for the Coolmore sire and places Galileo in a tie with Blandford, Cyllene, Montjeu, Sir Peter Teazle, and Waxy for siring the most winners of the Derby.

The previous day, Galileo’s great son Frankel the Unbeaten had his first European classic winner when his third-crop daughter Anapurna won the Oaks from the Coolmore fillies Pink Dogwood (Camelot) and Fleeting (Zoffany).

And on June 2 in France, the Prix du Jockey Club went to Sottsass (Siyouni). For the Galileo connection, the French Derby winner is out of a Galileo mare like 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia (Invincible Spirit).

Anthony Van Dyck, however, does represent one first for his sire. This year’s winner of the Derby is the sire’s first bay son to win the race. Galileo’s three other winners – Australia, New Approach, and Ruler of the World – are all chestnuts.

A more significant first in the pedigree of Anthony Van Dyck is his place as the first classic winner for this female line descending from third dam November Snow. The latter was no average daughter of Storm Cat (Storm Bird). November Snow was the first G1 winner for her sire and came from his first crop.
Ric Waldman was adviser to Overbrook Farm for most of Storm Cat’s breeding career, and regarding the crossing of Northern Dancer lines that produced the 2019 English Derby winner, Waldman observed that “Coolmore had immense regard for Storm Cat and likes crossing Galileo with his daughters. They have had a lot of success inbreeding back into Northern Dancer with Galileo. Pragmatically, with unlimited access to Galileo and a nearly unlimited broodmare band, they have a lot of room to explore and experiment” on what matings can produce the best racehorses and the most of them.

That sounds easy, almost. “In order to perform such an experiment,” Waldman said, “you need unlimited access to the best stallion in the world, or at least one of them. Otherwise, it’s difficult to make a judgment on the results of your foals because a breeder wouldn’t be able to quantify the influence of a lesser sire or an unproven sire for years.” With a stallion like Galileo, he’s imminently proven, and he’s much closer to a constant in the equation to produce top racers.

As a proven quantity, Storm Cat played a similar role with Overbrook’s breeding program, and one of the horses who got Storm Cat’s sire career off the ground was November Snow.

A winner of the G1 Test Stakes and the Alabama in 1992, November Snow was her sire’s first G1 winner and was out of Princess Alydar (Alydar). As a broodmare, November Snow was not nearly as successful as she had been on the racetrack; only one of the mare’s 15 foals earned black type, and that was G2-placed November Slew (Seattle Slew).

November Snow’s daughters have done notably better as producers, however. November Slew produced Hiraboku Wild (Wild Rush) in Japan, and November Slew’s daughter Eagle Island (Fusaichi Pegasus) foaled G3 Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh (Tizway). Also, November Snow’s unraced daughter Indian Snow (A.P. Indy) is the dam of G1 Carter Handicap winner Morning Line (Tiznow).

Although she didn’t produce a G1 winner, the most successful producing daughter of November Snow is the Gone West mare Arctic Drift, a $600,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2001, when she brought the second-highest price for any yearling by her sire.

Racing for Darley, Arctic Drift won a maiden special from six starts and was second three times. As a broodmare, Arctic Drift left that minimal assessment far behind and produced three stakes winners in Australia to the cover of the Danehill horse Exceed and Excel.

The two best were Kuroshio, winner of the G2 Ian McEwen Trophy and the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude, and Believe’n’succeed, also a winner of the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude.

Bred by Darley in Australia and sold for A$300,000 as a yearling, Believe’n’succeed has perpetuated the escalation of success with each generation since November Snow by producing the top New Zealand sprinter Bounding (Lohnro) as her first foal, then the 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck.

In between the two G1 winners, Believe’n’succeed came to auction in Australia and sold for A$1.1 million to Tom Magnier. The mare was then sent to Ireland, bred to Galileo, and foaled the Derby winner in 2016. Now a half-sister to an English Derby winner, G1 winner Bounding sold at the Magic Millions broodmare auction in 2016 for A$1.9 million to Stonestreet and produced her first foal in Kentucky, a 2018 colt by Curlin. She has a 2019 filly by War Front.

Bred in Ireland by the Coolmore entity Orpendale, Chelston, & Wynatt, Anthony Van Dyck races for Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

After the late foaling of Anthony Van Dyck in 2016, Believe’n’Succeed did not have another foal until January of this year, when she produced a filly by Galileo and was bred back to that stallion.

For what it’s worth, the lasting prejudice against May foals has received another sharp rebuke this classic season. The 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House (Lookin at Lucky) was foaled on May 8; first-place finisher Maximum Security was foaled May 14; and English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck was foaled May 18.

supersire galileo sets the tempo of classic success, but with a pivotal difference

This is not just another story about Galileo. After all, what more can be said to extol the virtues of the great son of Sadler’s Wells. Galileo is the most dominant stallion in Europe, the most potent influence for classic performance currently breeding, and the most important breeding animal in the entirety of the Thoroughbred.

Enough extolling.

On May 26 at the Curragh, the 4-year-old Galileo filly Magical won the Gold Cup from the Galileo colt Flag of Honour, and the 3-year-old Galileo filly Hermosa won the Irish 1,000 Guineas. Earlier this month, Hermosa had won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

A mile is about the shortest distance that anyone will see the progeny of Galileo winning at the top level. There are faster horses around, and it is notable that each of the three mentioned above is out of a mare by top-class sprinter or miler. Flag of Honour is one of four stakes winners out of Hawala, a daughter of the top-class miler Warning (by Known Fact, winner of the 1980 2,000 Guineas on the disqualification of Nureyev).

The two fillies are out of mares by Pivotal, a top-class sprinter and a grandson of the disqualified “winner” of the 1980 2,000 Guineas, Nureyev. Of course, these are not just any mares by Pivotal. These are mighty fine mares to begin with, and they also are by Pivotal.
Magical’s dam is the 2008 Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Halfway to Heaven. Halfway to Heaven won half her eight starts, most notably a trio of G1s that included the classic at the Curragh, plus the Sun Chariot and the Nassau Stakes.

At stud, and mated to Galileo, Halfway to Heaven has been even better. All five of her foals to race are winners, all by Galileo, and three are group stakes winners: G3 winner Flying the Flag, Hydrangea (3-time winner at the G1 level in the Lockinge, Prix de l’Opera, and Fillies Mile, plus second in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks), and Magical (2-time winner at the G1 level in the Gold Cup and British Champions Fillies, plus second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf). Magical is unbeaten in three starts in 2019.

Likewise unbeaten in 2019, Hermosa has made the most of her racing this season with a pair of classic victories. She is out of G2 winner Beauty is Truth, whose four stakes winners all scored at group level. Hermosa is vying to rank as the best of these with her full sister Hydrangea, a two-time winner at the G1 level, just like her younger sibling.

The pair of premium winners out of his daughters was not the only good news for Pivotal, a 26-year-old chestnut who stands for a private fee at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket. His 3-year-old daughter Siyarafina became her sire’s 30th G1 winner with a victory in the Prix Saint Alary at Longchamp on May 26.

Siyarafina is the first stakes winner out of her dam, the listed stakes winner Siyenica (Azamour), who is one of four stakes winners out of the listed stakes winner Sichilla. By the top international sire Danehill, Sichilla is a half-sister to the top-class Slickly (Linamix), who won the Grand Prix de Paris and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.

Sichilla and her dam Slipstream Queen (Conquistador Cielo) were acquired by the Aga Khan as part of his purchase of Thoroughbred stock from the estate of Jean-Luc Lagardere. For the Aga Khan, Sichilla showed enough form to win at the listed level, and she has produced four stakes winners since her retirement, including the dam of Siyarafina, who races for the Aga Khan.

The other stakes winners from Sichilla are all group performers. Siyouma (Medicean) won the G1 Sun Chariot and E.P. Taylor Stakes; Sayana (Galileo) is a listed stakes winner and G3 placed; and Siyouni (Pivotal) won the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium at 2 and was second and third at that level the following season.

Siyouni’s greatest feat, however, is in becoming a top stallion. The leading freshman sire in France in 2014 and second-leading second-crop sire of 2015, Siyouni has 16 group stakes winners and 14 listed stakes winners to date. The stallion stands for 100,000 euros, payable Oct. 1, at Haras de Bonneval.

Siyouni’s most recent group success came with the 3-year-old Etoile, winner of the G3 Prix Cleopatre on May 20, and the stallion’s classic-winning daughter from 2018, Laurens, was recently second in the G1 Lockinge Stakes in England against colts.

Furthermore, Pivotal is still an active stallion at Cheveley Park, and with Siyouni, he has accomplished the most difficult feat for a sire: getting a son to carry on at the highest levels of the sport.

war of will had depth of family for preakness success

War Front could be pardoned for a bit of pride because the big bay horse from Claiborne Farm had a pretty good weekend.

War of Will won the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on Saturday; Etoile won the G3 Fillies Sprint at Naas in Ireland on Sunday, with Peace Charter second (both by War Front); and Dogtag won the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico on Friday.

So when Claiborne’s stallion manager, Bernie Sams, asked the stud grooms, “Have you guys given War Front any peppermints this morning?” the answer was the affirmative.

Life is good in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

The thick-bodied, big-jowled son of Danzig looks just like what you’d expect a son of Danzig (and his sire Northern Dancer) to look like. Lots of muscle, powerful hip, not overly tall.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad description of the Preakness winner, either. War of Will is also out of a mare by a son of Northern Dancer. The dam is by Northern Dancer’s best European-based stallion son, Sadler’s Wells.

Based at Coolmore in Ireland, Sadler’s Wells ruled racing in Europe for a generation, and he did that not because he sired a pack of sprinters. In fact, I don’t believe Sadler’s Wells ever sired a pure sprinter; instead, he sired classic horses. Bags of them.

The two best sons of Sadler’s Wells were Galileo and Montjeu, not necessarily in that order, but Galileo is still alive and is the stallion who has risen to replace his own sire as the most important breeding animal in Europe.
In addition to the great ones, Sadler’s Wells sired a large number of good and useful horses, and among the latter class was a bay filly born in 2000 who went on to win the listed Prix de Bagatelle. That was useful form, but Visions of Clarity went far beyond that in her producing career.

Today, Visions of Clarity is the dam of three stakes winners, including two at the G1 level: Preakness winner War of Will and the Irish highweighted juvenile colt Pathfork (Distorted Humor), who won the G1 National Stakes and is now a sire.

As good as Pathfork proved himself as a juvenile, he did not train on at that level and went abroad for a stallion career. The good-looking horse stands at Highlands Stud in South Africa.

In sharp contrast, War of Will was a highly regarded juvenile, placed at the G1 level, and he has advanced in form and racing effectiveness so that he is now a classic winner.

Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited, War of Will comes from a family long held by the Niarchos family. The dam Visions of Clarity and granddam Imperfect Circle (Riverman) were both stakes winners in the Niarchos silks and have become significant producers.

Imperfect Circle produced only two stakes winners, but the “other” one was international star Spinning World (Nureyev), who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Prix Jacques le Marois at 3, along with the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the Prix Jacques le Marois a second time, and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at 4. The handsome chestnut was also second in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and in the Breeders’ Cup Mile as a 3-year-old.

Third dam Aviance (by Northern Dancer’s son Northfields) won a G1 at 2 in Ireland and became a foundation mare for Flaxman Holdings. Bred in Ireland by Ballydoyle Stud in 1982, Aviance was out of the Sir Ivor mare Minnie Hauk, a daughter of the exceptional broodmare Best in Show (Traffic Judge).

This immensely important family goes back to the Colin mare Herd Girl, bred by James Corrigan from the imported English mare Torpenhow.

Generations of racing and breeding excellence didn’t get War of Will across the finish line first in the Preakness; he did that on his own courage and athleticism. But the value in depth of family comes later at stud, when consistency in the genetic material of a horse’s ancestors helps breeding stock to reproduce their own better qualities more frequently.

global campaign wins peter pan; curlin racers still lurking in deep water

Cue the pulsing base rhythm. First one, then a second, golden lamp-like eye opens in the dark. Then the leviathan stretches itself in the darkness with a sound like the gentle rustling of a tide, and a soft and deep nicker fills the stall.

Wait, that’s not a shark sound. No, it’s far worse; it’s Curlin.

That, at least, is how I imagine the great, brawny son of Smart Strike in terms of his lethal influence on the competition.

As a racehorse, Curlin was a major talent from the first time he broke out of the starting gate. He went into the Kentucky Derby unbeaten in three starts in three successive months and finished third behind the previous season’s champion juvenile colt, Street Sense, and Hard Spun. After that, Curlin won three of his five remaining starts at 3, including the Preakness, but successive victories against older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic put the massively muscled chestnut over the top as the champion of his division and Horse of the Year in 2007.

The following season, Curlin ventured to Dubai and won their World Cup. Overall at 4, Curlin won five of his seven starts, losing an ambitious adventure onto the turf in the Man o’ War, but winning the Stephen Foster, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, then closing out his career on a dull note with a fourth on Santa Anita’s synthetic surface in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Retired to stud at Lane’s End Farm, Curlin went to stud the same year as Big Brown, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Both were popular with breeders and horsemen, but both also labored horribly under a malaise created by others.

The Great Recession was endeavoring to pull the entire breeding industry into the black hole of its red ink, and it produced great losses and greater handicaps for breeders and horses trying to prove themselves in an economic environment that was worse than adversarial.

That makes the success of Curlin’s stud career all the more exceptional. Few stallions succeed. Period. Even fewer succeed when the markets and breeders’ finances are in mutual free-fall and when most people have to juggle just to stay afloat.

From his first crop, however, Curlin sired a first winner at Saratoga in August, when a bay colt sped 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.48. The following June, Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes by 3 ½ lengths from Preakness winner Oxbow (by Awesome Again) and Kentucky Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon), and suddenly the young sire was the toast of his sire crop.

Now will eight crops of racing age, Curlin is the sire of 59 stakes winners, including champions Good Magic(2-year-old colt) and Stellar Wind (3-year-old filly). Now based at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, Curlin has maintained his early excellence and risen to the top of the stallion ranks. He regularly figures among the top sires of money earners annually, was 6th on that leading sires list in 2018, and is 7th among leading sires in 2019. This season, he covered for a fee of $175,000 live foal.
The stallion’s fee has climbed year after year, and those price increases guarantee a rise in the quality of broodmares sent to his book. The 3-year-olds of 2019 were produced from matings in 2015, when the stallion was already attracting an elite cadre of producers.

Among them was an A.P. Indy mare named Globe Trot. Bill Graves bought the mare for Gordon Stollery, and the good-looking daughter of the Horse of the Year and leading sire proved to be the second-best runner out of her dam, the multiple graded stakes winner Trip (Lord at War).

Nearly two years ago, in discussing one of the mare’s other foals, Graves told me that Stollery bought Globe Trot because she was “beautiful and really well-bred. He wanted to put her into his broodmare band and see if he could breed some more really good horses.”

Unfortunately, Stollery died while the filly was still racing, and on behalf of the family, Graves sold the filly to WinStar Farm.

For the WinStar breeding program, Globe Trot has been everything in terms of quality that Stollery and Graves dreamed she might be.

From three foals, she produced three stakes winners. The first was Sonic Mule (Distorted Humor), who has won two stakes and was third in the Saratoga Special at 2, the Swale Stakes at 3. The second was Bolt d’Oro(Medaglia d’Oro), who won the Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner Stakes at 2, was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 2, then won the San Felipe and was second in the Santa Anita Derby at 3.

Unraced at 2 like his sire, Global Campaign has won three of his four starts this season, and victory in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 11 was his first stakes.

Clearly, Global Campaign has made considerable progress through his brief career, and hopes of greater things to come lurk in the plans of owners Sagamore Farm and WinStar Farm.

derby and oaks were big successes for breeders who believed in their horses

Classic successes are an unqualified boon to stallion owners and managers, and this weekend’s winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby have shined the spotlight on their sires, Alternation (by Distorted Humor and sire of Serengeti Empress) and Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike; Country House).

The latter is much more of a household name because the bay son of the Mr. Prospector sire Smart Strike was champion juvenile in 2009, even though he didn’t look like a stereotypical early-maturing colt. Instead, Lookin at Lucky was leggy and just a bit lean for trainer Bob Baffert, but the colt sold well as a 2-year-old in training out of the 2009 Keeneland April Sale of juveniles for $475,000 and progressed superbly to win five of six starts at 2 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman.

From his juvenile racing, Lookin at Lucky won three Grade 1 races: the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita, plus the Futurities at Del Mar and at Hollywood Park. His only loss was an inexplicable second to Vale of York in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but the good-looking bay had shown such ability that Eclipse voters selected him as divisional champion.

At 3, Lookin at Lucky won four of seven starts, but only a pair of G1s, the Preakness and Haskell. Nonetheless, he was named champion for his consistent performances. At the end of his second season came the surprise announcement that Coolmore had purchased the colt for a stallion and that he would be sent to stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

The acquisition of Lookin at Lucky marked a dramatic change of approach for Coolmore in America. Prior to Lookin at Lucky, the operation had stood only two American juvenile champions at their Kentucky stud: Johannesburg (2001) and Dehere (1993). Beginning with Lookin at Lucky in 2009, Ashford purchased and stood five of the next six Eclipse Award winners as champion 2-year-old colt: Uncle Mo (2010), Hansen (2011), Shanghai Bobby (2012), and American Pharoah (2014), and they added a sixth with Classic Empire (2016).

Although Uncle Mo has been the standout success from the four proven horses in this program of acquiring early maturity and success, Lookin at Lucky has proven himself the odd horse because he has thrown consistently to the traits of his own physique and pedigree that show the ruggedness and scope of the classic horse and the development of top form at 3 and later, rather than the speed and early development of his own early career.
It is therefore no surprise the stallion’s best racer to date was last year’s champion older horse Accelerate, winner of five G1 races, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and $6.6 million. Prior to Country House, the stallion’s only other classic winner was Breaking Lucky, winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes in Canada, but in 2017, the stallion had Lookin at Lee finish second in the Kentucky Derby behind Always Dreaming.

Breaking Lucky is out of a mare by champion turf horse Sky Classic (Nijinsky), and Country House is inbred 4×4 to No Class, the dam of Sky Classic (the sire of Country House’s second dam) and of stakes winner Classy ‘n Smart, the dam of Smart Strike, a leading sire for Lane’s End Farm and sire of Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin, as well as Lookin at Lucky.

Sky Classic stood at Mrs. Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Farm outside Versailles, Ky., for the stallion’s entire career, and he proved a good sire of stout and competitive racehorses with size, stamina, and quality.

Pin Oak also stood the juvenile champion Maria’s Mon (Wavering Monarch), who sired Kentucky Derby winners Monarchos and Super Saver. The farm still stands the good sire Broken Vow, by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, and the young stallion Alternation, from the same family as Broken Vow and by the Forty Niner stallion Distorted Humor, who sired Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide in his first crop.

From his second crop, Alternation has sired Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Pin Oak’s general manager Clifford Barry said that “Mrs. Abercrombie has had several generations of this family. She bred and raced the horse, had faith in him as a stallion, and brought him home to stand at stud,” even though the commercial market is very difficult for stallions like Alternation that stand for less than $15,000.

Not surprisingly, after the young sire got Super Derby winner Limation in his first crop and Serengeti Empress in his second, “Mrs. Abercrombie naturally feels vindicated in her decision about the horse,” Barry said, “and is rightly proud of the horse’s accomplishments.”

Both Alternation and the farm’s proven sire Broken Vow feature the Iron Ruler mare Strike a Pose as their third dam, and Strike a Pose has been a foundation mare for Pin Oak. “Mrs. Abercrombie gets a lot of credit for her patience and foresight in working to develop this family,” Barry said.

From the stakes-placed Strike a Pose, Abercrombie bred the Green Dancer mare Strike a Balance, who produced two-time G1 winner Peaks and Valleys (Mt. Livermore), who became a sire at Pin Oak, and his stakes-winning half-sister Alternate (Seattle Slew), the dam of Alternation.

One of two stakes winners out of the dam, Alternation won nine races, including the G2 Peter Pan Stakes at 3 and then five successes in seven starts at 4, including the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, G3 Pimlico Special, and G3 Razorback Handicap.

The proof is in the racing with young sires like these, and Barry noted that “when Serengeti Empress hit the scene last fall with victories in the Ellis Park Debutante and the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, there was an immediate response from breeders,” seeking seasons to the horse “because people thought she was going to get better.”

They were right, and Serengeti Empress looked like a potential champion in her first victory of the season, the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, before she bled and was eased in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

The filly’s return to form in the Kentucky Oaks “has been a real source of joy here at Pin Oak,” Barry said. “From the stud grooms and yearling staff to the people in the office and those out mowing the grounds, we have a higher step today because of that lovely filly and all that she has done. It just makes you proud to be associated with that sort of a horse.”