the effect of sadler’s wells is felt in top-class racing around the world

The European supersire Sadler’s Wells had a great weekend, both in Europe and in the States. Much of that success comes through the grand old stallion’s most influential son Galileo. Galileo’s son Gustav Klimt and daughter Clemmie won the Group 2 Superlative and G2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. Both are 2-year-olds with promise for greater accomplishments this season and the next. At the Curragh, the strongly inbred G1 English Oaks winner Enable added the G1 Irish Oaks to her list of successes this year.

The best middle-distance 3-year-old filly in England and Ireland, Enable is by Galileo’s G1-winning son Nathaniel, whose first crop are 3-year-olds, and is out of stakes winner Concentric, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells himself. Therefore, Enable is inbred to Sadler’s Wells 3×2.

The degree of inbreeding, the closeness of Sadler’s Wells, would be objectionable to many breeders or pedigree theorists. So why is she so good?
One reason is that Sadler’s Wells was the best English- or Irish-based stallion since his ancestors Nearco and Hyperion. Further, the conduits for Sadler’s Wells are both high-class animals. Galileo was a classic winner on the racetrack and is a stallion of such magnitude that only his fabled sire stands beside him in the European firmament.

One of Galileo’s very high-class sons proved to be Nathaniel, a G1 winner at 10 furlongs (Eclipse Stakes) and 12 furlongs (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes). As Enable suggests through her own accomplishments on the racecourse, her sire Nathaniel is a strong factor for middle-distance performance.

The stallion has sired only two stakes winners to date, but two others have been highly tried and done well. Enjoy Vijay ran second in the G1 German Derby, and Back on Board was second in the G2 Italian Derby. Both those jurisdictions have a racing program that places emphasis on stamina, particularly in their classics. And Nathaniel appears very well-suited to sharing that quality with his offspring.

Enable, the best-performing Nathaniel to date, has plenty of classic stamina in the rest of her pedigree. In addition to her broodmare sire Sadler’s Wells, the Irish Oaks winner is out of stakes winner Concentric, who won her debut as a 3-year-old over 10 furlongs and progressed to win twice more that season, both victories coming at 10 furlongs and including the listed Prix Charles Laffitte at Chantilly.

Concentric is a full sister to Dance Routine, who did her best racing at 2,000 and 2,100 meters, which is approximately 10 furlongs. At 3, Dance Routine won the G3 Prix de Royaumont in her third start, then ran a good second in the G1 Prix de Diane of 2002 behind Bright Sky. Then later that season, Dance Routine won the G2 Prix de Royallieu. At stud, Dance Routine has produced Flintshire, Eclipse Award winner as leading turf horse and now at stud in Kentucky at Hill ‘n’ Dale.

Concentric and Dance Routine, as well as their stakes-winning siblings Apsis (Barathea) and Space Quest (Rainbow Quest), are out of the exceptional producer Apogee, a daughter of classic winner Shirley Heights (Mill Reef).

Winner of the 1978 English Derby and Irish Derby, Shirley Heights proved the best stallion son of his sire, 1971 English Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Mill Reef. In addition to all this classic concentration, Apogee is out of the Ile de Bourbon (Nijinsky) mare Bourbon Girl, who was second in both the English Oaks and Irish Oaks, as well as third in the Yorkshire Oaks, all G1.

A half-sister to Apogee, the winning Rainbow Quest mare Shining Bright, produced two stakes winners: Spanish Moon (G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud) and Spanish Sun (G2 Ribblesdale Stakes). Both are by El Prado.

This son of Sadler’s Wells was a G1 winner in Ireland at 2, then came to stand at stud in Kentucky. El Prado was also the first major indicator that sons of Sadler’s Wells might become world powers because the early sons sent to stud in Europe bred right off the charts for stamina, even by European standards.

But El Prado became a leading sire in America over all surfaces, all distances, and allied with all pedigree types. And his sons, principally Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy, are carrying on admirably.

Their positive results for El Prado showed up again over the weekend, both in Europe and the States. At Newmarket, Hawkbill (Kitten’s Joy) won the G2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes. At Saint-Cloud in France, Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro) won the G2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil, and at Delaware Park, champion Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) won the G1 Delaware Handicap.

Rated second only behind Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra among the offspring of Medaglia d’Oro, Songbird was champion of her division at 2 and 3, and she now has won 13 of her 14 starts, including 9 G1 races.

For speed, versatility, consistency, and the ability to produce her form time after time, Songbird gets high marks, and these same traits apply also to this sire line, which has engendered champions and leading sires, outstanding performers on the turf and in the paddocks.

In Songbird and Enable, we have two outstanding performers, and their connections to Sadler’s Wells and his sire Northern Dancer allow the legacy of those great horses to live on with us today.

cairo prince takes a stand among first-season sires with yearlings that are drawing superb reviews

The hot item at the yearling sales each year is the premium stock by each season’s first-crop or freshmen sires. Aside from the novel appeal of having one of the first racers by a former star of the racetrack, there is also the potential to catch lightning in a bottle by finding a star before anyone knows how good a sire is going to be.

For instance, Horse of the Year Zenyatta came from the first crop by the international Grade 1 winner Street Cry, and unlike the future leading sire’s first-crop homebred champion Street Sense, Zenyatta sold as a yearling, then progressed to become a champion and star of the sport.

Who wouldn’t want to buy a horse with that sort of potential?

Likewise, who wouldn’t want to breed to a stallion who could sire a champion older horse like Zenyatta or a juvenile champ and classic winner like Street Sense?

Their sire Street Cry, a big and robustly made son of English-based Machiavellian, was a top-class racehorse who became an international force as a sire, with the champions above, as well as current Australian star Winx.

Street Cry, like all the other stallions of note, was once a freshman, and that is the sort of story that owners and agents, advisers and sales companies hope to be part of.

As a result, a massive slice of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale of selected yearlings is made up of stock sired by first-crop stallions of 2017. This list includes such notables as champion Will Take Charge (by Unbridled’s Song), Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno), Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents (Into Mischief), Hopeful Stakes winner Strong Mandate (Tiznow), Wood Memorial winner Verrazano (More Than Ready), Flashback (Tapit), Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute), Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway), Cross Traffic (Unbridled’s Song), and other racers who won a place a stud.

Nor will it have gone unnoticed among the buyers and resellers that two years ago among the freshmen sires of 2015 were the first yearlings by Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and Maclean’s Music (Distorted Humor). And this year, those sires’ first-crop 3-year-olds Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

The classic results of this year, as well as the psychological incentives to be part of the great possibility of buying into a first-crop sire, make those horses the ones everyone is curious about. And they pay to play in this game.

The resale marketers will be vigorously employed in selecting stock from this segment of sires to take to the 2018 sales of juveniles in training, and their response to the individual stallions at the Fasig-Tipton auction, as well as the succeeding sales of yearlings, will have a great deal to do with which sires are hot for next year, and that is the freshman sires’ fourth season at stud and their most difficult from a marketing point of view.

Marketing a horse in his fourth season at stud is a challenge because no stallion farm wants to be stuck with a commercial horse that nobody wants to buy. The trick is finding the ones that everyone will want more in 12 to 18 months than they want today.

Any horseman will tell you that is a whole harder to do than it appears.

But after several days of looking at the yearlings by this season’s set of freshman sires and evaluating their growth, balance, muscularity, movement and mechanics, I’m getting an impression of those giving a positive snapshot at this sale in July.

A snapshot of a sire’s crop is all we see at this sale, but it’s an informative peek into the potential of some young stallions and their offspring. Tapit’s son Flashback has nice yearlings on display; likewise Strong Mandate, Mucho Macho Man, Goldencents, and Cross Traffic have some fancy offspring.

But just who expected Fed Biz or Shakin It Up to get such well-grown and quick-looking offspring? Well done. And one of the purely best specimens of the Thoroughbred on display is stalled in Barn 5 at the back corner of the Fasig-Tipton sales facility. This colt is by the first-crop stallion Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) and is Hip 73 in the Brandywine Farm consignment. One of two yearlings by the sire in this sale, Hip 73 is a peach.

Overall, however, the stallion who stands out in this sale for the consistency and quality of his stock, for their scope and fetching motion at a walk, for size and bone and positive presence is the Airdrie Farm stallion Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile).

From the freshman crop of his now-famous sire, Cairo Prince was a good-sized horse with all those attributes I’ve just praised in his offspring. Seeing how many of them have so many of his good qualities and seeing how they stack up for balance and overall athleticism makes me feel that this gray freshman stallion is going to set a trend for the future when these and other young horses from this crop get to the races.

The best of luck to them all.

The preceding was written before the Fasig-Tipton July sale on Tuesday, July 11. The results for Cairo Prince’s yearlings are below. Complete results are available at:



holy helena wins the queen’s plate, scotches notion that breed is dependent upon lasix

The once-beaten Holy Helena (by Ghostzapper) became the fourth winner of the Queen’s Plate for owner-breeder Frank Stronach, who breeds in the name of Adena Springs and races in the name of Stronach Stable. His filly Holy Helena is the eighth winner of the Woodbine Oaks to come back and win the Plate, and she has now won three of her four starts, all this year.

Holy Helena won the Woodbine Oaks on June 11 by a length, then succeeded in the presumably more difficult Plate by 3 ½ lengths. The difference might be the longer distance of the Plate at 10 furlongs (run in 2:02.87), compared to the Oaks at nine furlongs (run in 1:50.18), both over the all-weather surface at Woodbine.

One reason the bay filly ran back so successfully after a three-week interval is, no doubt, that she was unencumbered by Lasix. All the filly’s starts have been Lasix-free, and there is no question – whether one approves of the medication or not – that it taxes a racehorse’s system and apparently requires the horse to have a greater interval between races.

That is not an opinion when trainers plan on 8-, 12-, or 16-week spans between races for horses who have trained and raced with the medication.

The changes in training and racing have evolved over the last 35 years or so of widespread Lasix use, a period that includes the racing careers of Holy Helena’s immediate forebears. Her sire and grandsire raced on Lasix, but that has not impaired Holy Helena’s ability to race without the medication.

Ghostzapper, the sire of Holy Helena, stands at Adena Springs in Kentucky alongside his famous sire Awesome Again, and they are the two best proven stallions at Adena Springs. Awesome Again won the Queen’s Plate in 1997, and both sire and son won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Awesome Again won the race in 1998 at Churchill Downs, and Ghostzapper won the Classic at Lone Star in 2004.

Bred in Ontario, and therefore eligible to race for the Queen’s Plate (which is restricted to Canadian-breds), Holy Helena is out of the winning Holy Grace, a daughter of Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Stronach was one of the early believers in the potential of Holy Bull as a sire, and the breeder-sportsman has been well-rewarded for his confidence in the son of Great Above.

Among other good performers, the best stallion son of Holy Bull, the gray Macho Uno, was bred and raced by Stronach. Macho Uno was champion 2-year-old colt of his year, when he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he would rank behind only Awesome Again and Ghostzapper among the active proven sires at Adena Springs.

Racing at 2, 3, and 4, Holy Grace won twice from 14 starts, winning a maiden special at Calder and an allowance at Woodbine. She earned $103,626, and Holy Helena is the mare’s fourth foal.

The Queen’s Plate winner is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Holy Boss (Street Boss), who was the second foal out of their dam. Holy Boss won the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes earlier this year, and his best victory from three other stakes wins is the G2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga in 2015. That year he was also third in the G1 King’s Bishop, and last year, Holy Boss was second in the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes. He has earned $771,527.

Bought back for $175,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale while carrying Holy Helena, Holy Grace has a 2-year-old filly by Adena stallion Fort Larned named Holy Fort, and the mare has a yearling filly by Point of Entry and colt of 2017 by Silver Max.

Holy Grace is a half-sister to three stakes winners and one stakes-placed performer. The mare’s stakes-winning siblings are Daiwa Carson (Carson City), winner of the Keio Hai Sansai Stakes in Japan; Mark One (Alphabet Soup), winner of the G3 Woodbine Handicap and Eclipse Handicap; and Rookie Sensation (Unbridled’s Song), winner of the G2 Twilight Derby.

Their dam is the Stately Don mare My Marchesa, who won the restricted Gala Lil Stakes, was second in the Gold Digger Stakes and Navajo Princess Stakes, and ran third in the Carotene Handicap. My Marchesa is a half-sister to stakes winner Black Cash (Deposit Ticket; G2 Eclipse Handicap), and they are out of the stakes-placed Buckpasser mare Sooni, one of the many fine daughters of the great producer Missy Baba (My Babu).

Missy Baba produced seven stakes winners, including the leading sire Raja Baba and broodmare of the year Toll Booth. None of them raced on Lasix.

That, I believe, is important. In the discussion of Lasix and bloodstock, I have often been asked about how it has altered the breed. My answer is: I don’t believe that Lasix has altered the breed; it has altered how we train and race and manage the breed.

scat daddy riffing to his own strains with winners at the royal ascot meeting

There were four Kentucky-bred winners at Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes), Con Te Partiro (Sandringham Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes). All showed speed and class. Two of them, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, are among the most widely praised and highly touted speed horses of last year and this.

The stunning thing is that all four are by one sire: Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg).

That singular accomplishment is a double-edged sword of thrill and pain for breeders and stallion managers because we lost the sire 18 months ago, and his final crop are now yearlings. Naturally, the stallion’s stock has never been more highly valued.

When the 11-year-old Scat Daddy died unexpectedly in his paddock at Ashford Stud early on December 14, 2015, the loss of the striking dark bay stallion was a terrible blow for Coolmore, and with the passage of subsequent seasons, the realization of how great the loss has gotten worse.



Scat Daddy – son of international champion Johannesburg was the leading sire at the 2017 Royal Ascot meeting and is an increasingly prominent sire around the world. Coolmore / Ashford photo.


At the time of his death, Scat Daddy was at the pinnacle of his fame, at least to that point, and he was going to stand for a stud fee of $100,000 in 2016, upgraded from a very respectable $35,000 in 2015, with an already full book.

The stallion’s death blew a hole in those plans for the farm, as well as the plans for the 2016 matings of a large number of top-quality mares from around the world. To keep that ship of dreams from sinking, Coolmore made 2015 leading freshman sire Uncle Mo available to those breeders who were booked to Scat Daddy.

The only bright spot in an otherwise deep downer for breeders and for Coolmore was that Scat Daddy had sired 790 foals, according to industry stats, and there are 147 foals in his final crop, now yearlings, so the stallion has 937 lifetime foals from eight crops in the Northern Hemisphere alone.

Scat Daddy has produced 53 stakes winners to date from that same Northern Hemisphere pool of foals, about seven percent of the stallion’s 790 foals of racing age, which includes the 2-year-olds of 2017. A few of them have already started.

Scat Daddy was a big horse who sired big to good-sized horses, and they have speed, fairly early maturity, and good prospects to continue improving.

From the stallion’s juveniles of 2017 comes Sioux Nation, winner of the Norfolk Stakes last week at Royal Ascot. This is the same venue a year that showcased the flaming speed of Lady Aurelia, winner of the 2016 Queen Mary Stakes, and Caravaggio, winner of the Coventry Stakes.

Both the unbeaten Caravaggio, now six-for-six after his victory in the Commonwealth, and Sioux Nation race for Coolmore. The international operation also stands Scat Daddy’s highly regarded son No Nay Never, who won the Norfolk Stakes in 2013 for trainer Wesley Ward. No Nay Never added a further European prize, the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville, to his unbeaten juvenile record. Winner of the G3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland and second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, No Nay Never is owned by and stands for Coolmore in Ireland.

Like his offspring, Scat Daddy was a top 2-year-old and comes from a line of similar performers. A winner of the G1 Champagne Stakes at 2 and the G1 Florida Derby at 3, Scat Daddy was the most accomplished racer by international champion Johannesburg, notably the best son of the Storm Cat stallion Hennessy. The latter was part of the fine crop of horses that included future top sires Unbridled’s Song and Maria’s Mon.

A winner from five and a half to nine furlongs, Scat Daddy showed high class to win twice at the G1 level, and he has passed on the capacity for exceptional speed, as well as the frequent ability to carry the speed a mile or more.

These are the traits in demand with breeders and with the major buyers at auctions. As a result, a half-brother by Scat Daddy to champion Beholder sold for $3 million at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale. And the stallion’s final crop of yearlings are going to be strongly sought after at premium auctions.

In addition, the best sons of Scat Daddy are now on everyone’s wish list of stallion prospects. The kink there is that quite a few of them are already owned by Coolmore. At least one very good prospect, however, slipped the net and is in South America.

Scat Daddy shuttled to Haras Paso Nevado in Chile from 2009 to 2011, and his seasons there resulted in several G1 winners. The best of these appeared to be Chilean Derby winner Il Campione. The latter won eight of 11 starts, and the handsome bay is standing at Haras El Paraiso in Argentina.

A success in both hemispheres, Scat Daddy has 83 stakes winners from both NH and SH coverings.

claiborne stallion blame gets french classic winner from world-class family of northern dancer and machiavellian

On Sunday at Chantilly, the high-quality 3-year-old filly Senga (by Blame) became her sire’s first Group 1 winner with victory in the Prix de Diane over 2100 meters. This male line has a grand tradition of classic quality, and Blame has done his job to add another classic success with this filly who stayed on strongly to win the second French fillies classic.



Blame – champion older horse for 2010 when he won the G1 Stephen Foster, Whitney, and BC Classic – has sired his first G1 winner in French classic winner Senga. Claiborne photo.


Blame’s fourth-generation male-line ancestor Hail to Reason (Turn-to) was a champion 2-year-old in his only season of competition, but he sired winners of the Kentucky Derby (Proud Clarion), Preakness (Personality), and Belmont Stakes (Hail to All), plus champion turf horse Halo, who went on to become a major classic sire himself. In addition, Hail to Reason sired the top 2-year-old colt Roberto, who trained on the next season to win the 1972 English Derby at Epsom.

Like Hail to Reason, Roberto became a major international sire, with highweighted performers and classic stock who performed admirably. One of Roberto’s sons who was a useful performer here in the States became much more as a sire: Kris S. The stallion had five winners of Breeders’ Cup races, including champions Brocco and Hollywood Wildcat, and he also sired Kris Kin, winner of the English Derby. At stud, Kris S. had a couple of sons who became significant international influences. In Japan, Symboli Kris S. was a two-time Horse of the Year, then an important sire, and in the States, G1 winner Arch became a consistent and successful stallion at Claiborne Farm, where the stallion spent his entire career. Likewise, Claiborne, in partnership with Adele Dilschneider, bred and raced Blame to a championship and Breeders’ Cup victory, and the stallion stands at Claiborne for $25,000 live foal.

In addition to Eclipse Award winners Blame and Pine Island (Alabama), Arch sired top horses around the world like Arravale (Horse of the Year in Canada), Les Arcs (highweight sprinter in England, July Cup), Pomology (highweight older mare in England, Lancashire Oaks), and Overarching (three-time champion sprinter in South Africa).

There’s more than a hint of turf performance in the offspring by Arch and his forebears. They are confirmed switch-hitters for getting stock that performs well on dirt or turf.

Blame has continued this by getting his best offspring to date in France, racing on turf.

A promising 2-year-old, Senga appeared to have made the necessary progress for classic competition earlier this spring, and she started favorite for the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches in May. That race was a bust for the good-looking bay filly, and she finished 11th of 18. The soft going that day blunted the filly’s turn of foot, but such was not a problem in the Diane, where fast conditions prevailed, and Senga was allowed to go to post at about 22-1.

Both the trainer Pascal Bary and jockey Stephane Pesquier believed the bay daughter of Blame would do better over the longer distance, and they proved correct. Senga stayed on well to win by a length over Sistercharlie (Myboycharlie) and Terrakova (Galileo x Goldikova).

Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, Senga is out of the A.P. Indy mare Beta Leo, who is a daughter of the Storm Cat mare Denebola. This is one of the great Niarchos families, tracing back to Coup de Folie, a daughter of Halo out of Northern Dancer’s half-sister Raise the Standard (Hoist the Flag).

Stavros Niarchos bought Coup de Folie for $825,000 as a yearling, and she became a good racehorse, winning the G3 Prix d’Aumale and finishing third in the 1984 G1 Criterium des Pouliches, but as a broodmare, she became one of the best in the breed.

Coup de Folie’s first three foals were all group stakes winners. The first was Machiavellian (Mr. Prospector), who was the best French-trained juvenile colt of 1989 when he won the G1 Prix Morny and Prix de la Salamandre, and he became a successful stallion for Darley in England. The mare’s second foal was G1 winner Exit to Nowhere (Irish River), winner of the Prix Jacques le Marois, and her third foal was G2 winner Hydro Calido (Nureyev), who was also second in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.

Coup de Folie’s fifth foal was Coup de Genie, a full sister to Machiavellian. She was the highweight juvenile filly of her year, much like her older brother, and also won the G1 Prix Morny and Prix de la Salamandre of 1993.

As a broodmare, Coup de Genie was almost as good as her dam. She produced four stakes winners in a row, including G3 winners Snake Mountain (A.P. Indy) and Loving Kindness (Seattle Slew), plus G1 winner Denebola (Storm Cat).

The highweight juvenile filly in France of 2003, Denebola won the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac, was third in the G1 Prix Morny, and ran second in the G1 Prix de la Foret the next year.

Sent to stud, Denebola was initially mated to A.P. Indy, and her second foal was the winning filly Beta Leo, who is the dam of Senga.

Senga is the fifth generation of an illustrious family that has written a noteworthy portion of the history of the breed in Europe and the U.S. over the past half-century, and now this shapely daughter of Blame is adding her chapter to the tale for Flaxman and the Niarchos family.

tapit gets third belmont stakes winner in last four years, takes historic position as a leading classic sire

Only the great Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens had a more impressive string of success (five in a row) at the Belmont Stakes than America’s leading sire Tapit. After the most recent renewal of America’s longest classic, Tapit has sired three of the last four Belmont Stakes winners, and only 2015 Horse of the Year American Pharoah and his Triple Crown triumph over Frosted prevented the sequence from being four in a row.

The string of successes began in 2014 with Tonalist, then Frosted (2nd), with Creator and Tapwrit adding consecutive victories for the leading sire.

A son of the good racehorse and sire Pulpit, Tapit combines the classic influences of the A.P. Indy / Seattle Slew male line with the Fappiano branch of Mr. Prospector through Unbridled, who is the broodmare sire of Tapit. Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby, A.P. Indy won the Belmont, and Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown; so this set of sires knows “classic.”

They also sired classic stock, and they have been the dominating forces in American classic racing for a generation.


man o' war2

In addition to Tapit, only Man o’ War, his sire Fair Play, and their male-line ancestor Australian sired three winners of the Belmont Stakes. The only stallion to sire more was Lexington, the greatest American sire of the 19th century who sired four of the first 12 Belmont winners.


Historically, however, few stallions sire classic winners of any description, and for Tapit to get a trio of Belmont Stakes winners tells us something about why the gray is so effective as a stallion. Tapit gets speed, which is important for effective placement and maneuverability in longer races; the sire also gets stock that are undoubtedly high-spirited but are also very game and enthusiastic racehorses, and when they are looking down that long stretch at Belmont Park, a horse needs to lay it on the line willingly.

For a stallion to produce those good, solid racehorse qualities in foal after foal is the mark of a very important sire, and beyond the pedigree and conformation of Tapit, there is something deep in the character and genetics of the horse that produces racehorses year after year.

However we characterize it, this essence of the racing Thoroughbred is the most essential and most elusive quality in breeding.

And Tapit has this in spades. From my work evaluating racing prospects as yearlings and as 2-year-olds, I continue to find the stallion has a high percentage of youngsters who score above average for cardio, stride length and function, mechanical efficiency, as well as body balance and mass. Tapit generates that high proportion of quality prospects year after year, regardless of the mares he’s bred to.

As a result, Tapit has led the North American sire list by gross earnings each of the last three years, but he is almost certain to be finish no better than second this year for one reason: Arrogate.

In 2017, the best racehorse in the world, according to Longines Best Racehorse Rankings, has earned more money ($13 million) singlehandedly than any sire’s total progeny earnings. Arrogate’s earnings are nearly double the total earnings in 2017 for the progeny of Candy Ride, who is currently second to Unbridled’s Song.

With earnings of $1.1 million, Tapwrit is the year’s leading earner for Tapit, in third place among sires and who has total progeny earnings of more than $5.8 million in 2017.

That’s not chicken feed, and consistency of quality and athleticism are among the reasons for the Tapit’s dominant position among American stallions.

As a result, the gray son of Pulpit gets the pick of mares from owners willing to spend $300,000 for a live foal. These typically include mares who are stars of the racetrack and the producers of those stars.

This was the situation that resulted in the production of this year’s Belmont Stakes winner, who was conceived four years ago, before Tapit had led the national sire list.

Bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview Farm LLC, Tapwrit is out of the Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie, who won the 2006 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga when owned by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. At the 2007 Fasig-Tipton November sale, Leonard Riggio’s My Meadowview Farm bought the G1 winner for $1.1 million.

Appealing Zophie had sold twice previously: for $105,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September sale and for $150,000 at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds in training.

The quick dark bay filly made a fast turnaround and won her maiden at Keeneland on April 20, less than two months after her sale in Florida. She progressed briskly at 2, and in addition to winning the Spinaway, she was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. At 2 and 3, Appealing Zophie won three of 12 starts, earning $497,898.

As a broodmare, Appealing Zophie has seven foals of racing age, and Tapwrit is the sixth. The mare’s current 2-year-old is a colt by Candy Ride who sold to John Oxley for $375,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April auction of juveniles in training. The mare has a yearling colt by Speightstown and is in foal to 2016 Metropolitan Handicap winner Frosted (Tapit) on a Feb. 24 cover.

If that prospective foal by Frosted looks as splendid come his yearling season as Tapwrit did when presented at the Saratoga Select yearling sale two years ago, the result may be as spectacular. Tapwrit, an elegant and well-made young horse who looked special at the time, sold for $1.2 million to Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPenta.

I rather believe they feel he was worth every penny.

curlin’s classic combination is a key to stellar wind, champion and racecourse star

Curlin didn’t get to be Horse of the Year without delivering the goods. In the Preakness, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Dubai World Cup, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the handsome chestnut son of Smart Strike took the laurels of victory, and for these and other outstanding performances, he was elected Horse of the Year twice (2007 and 2008).

Likewise as a stallion, Curlin wouldn’t be standing for $150,000 live foal without delivering the goods. The imposing horse sired classic winner Palace Malice in his first crop, and the top sire at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm outside Lexington has continued to deliver the big horse year after year.

On Saturday, Curlin’s champion daughter Stellar Wind, who is from the sire’s third crop, added another Grade 1 victory to her impressive list of accomplishments with a neck success over Vale Dori (Arg) in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.

The 5-year-old is the winner of nine races from 14 starts to date and a bit more than $2 million in total earnings. The Beholder was the mare’s fifth G1 and her second this year, and Stellar Wind is positioned as the primary competitor for Songbird among the top older mares.

Stellar Wind has long been an outstanding prospect. Bred in Virginia by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet, Stellar Wind was selected for the prestigious Saratoga select auction held by Fasig-Tipton, and she went through the ring for $40,000 from the Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services consignment. With the stallion unproven and somewhat commercially cool at the time, there was not great demand for Stellar Wind.

Sandy Stuart from Bluegrass said Stellar Wind was the next-to-last filly that Miss Peggy Augustus bred, and the owners sent the filly through the ring with no reserve. At the barn, Stuart said, Stellar Wind “was a good, well-balanced physical and was really light on her feet, whether she was walking like a lady or going the other direction. Frankie Brothers really liked this filly, among several others, but the vet report showed an irregularity on a sesamoid.”

The combination of an unproven sire and questions about the vet report put a limit on how aggressively buyers went after the filly, great looking or not.

Vernan Lee Stables was the buyer, and when the filly was reconsigned by Marshall Silverman at the Fasig-Tipton Eastern fall yearling sale a few weeks later, she brought $86,000 from Barbara Houck. After winning a maiden impressively, Stellar Wind sold to Hronis Racing, which has enjoyed the continuing arc of success with the big mare.

In addition to Stellar Wind, Curlin has a 3-year-old colt with a very similar profile in Irish War Cry. Both progressed from maiden victories to graded stakes, then had things go awry in the Kentucky classics. A fourth in the Kentucky Oaks is one of only two unplaced finishes in Stellar Wind’s career, and Irish War Cry finished tenth in the Kentucky Derby after an eventful trip.

Stellar Wind regrouped after the Oaks and put her season back together so well that she was named champion 3-year-old filly of 2015. Last year, she split decisions with mighty Beholder, defeating the older mare twice. But Beholder’s dramatic victory over Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last season tipped the scales in favor of Beholder as divisional champion.

Now, Stellar Wind has won the race named after her great rival.

Irish War Cry, on the other hand, is at a much earlier point in his career. He will be one of the favorites for the Belmont Stakes, and a victory there would be a major step in the direction of continuing maturity and progression for a colt of this type.

A winner in four of his six starts, Irish War Cry was unbeaten as a 2-year-old, and he had advanced to win the G2 Holy Bull Stakes and Wood Memorial before his debacle in the Derby.

Both of these chestnut offspring are typical of their sire. They are good-sized, scopy horses with pace. They are not duffers who need extreme distances or uncommon circumstances to win a race. They have maneuverability and versatility, although best suited to racing at two turns. Their older brethren such as Palace Malice have shown similar qualities, and he won the Belmont at 3, then the Metropolitan Handicap over a mile at 4, and stands at Three Chimneys.

The combination of speed and stamina – the classic combination – is the gift of Curlin to his offspring and to breeders. It’s a heady mixture that keeps on giving.

appreciating the ‘horse in motion’ from muybridge to the present

Neither the victory of Lady Eli (by Divine Park) in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita nor that of Rey de Oro (King Kamehameha) in the G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) was quite a squeaker. Each won by three-quarters of a length, and both these top-class winners and all of racing are beneficiaries of work done by man and horse more than a century ago to produce photography that would stop action, freeze a moment in time.

The impetus for the work of capturing a photographic record of a horse’s stride was the money and curiosity of Leland Stanford. The technical skill and problem solving that produced the sequence of photos that both recorded a horse’s stride action and froze independent portions of it came from the English photographic professional and experimenter Eadweard Muybridge.

Both men are significant, both in their own time and for us today.

The least-known member of this operation was the horse. A Thoroughbred mare owned and raced by Stanford was the initial test subject for capturing stride motion, and her name was Sallie Gardner.

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Muybridge conducted his experiments with Sallie Gardner in 1878 at the Palo Alto track with the mare running at speed for a mile in 1:40, which translates into furlongs of :12 ½ seconds or quarters of :25. Sallie Gardner was described as “one of the fastest runners on the coast, and noted for her superb form and graceful gait.”

Bred in Tennessee (or Kentucky, depending on the source) by Arthur Towles, Sallie Gardner was a daughter of the distinguished stallion Vandal out of Charlotte Thompson.

Vandal was a son of English stallion Glencoe, winner of the 2,000 Guineas and a very important mid-century sire in America at R.A. Alexander’s Woodburn Stud. Foaled in 1850, Vandal was bred by Alexander and became an important sire in his own right, with his most important breeding son being Virgil. The latter sired three Kentucky Derby winners: Vagrant (1876), Hindoo (1881), and Ben Ali (1886).

Of that trio, Hindoo was the most important, both on the racetrack and at stud. His most famous son was Hanover, who was the key to one of the three eminent “American” lines at the end of the 19th century: those of Hanover/Hamburg, Hastings/Fair Play, and Domino/Commando.

A foal of 1872, Sallie Gardner was a 6-year-old at the time of date with destiny, and it is this series of photographs for which the mare is remembered.

Although the winner of races and dam of seven reported foals, Sallie Gardner descends to us today not as a taproot producer but as an icon.

She is an icon because she proved a point and showed that a photograph is worth a thousand words. Especially a series of photographs in her case.

There had been considerable controversy among horse folk about a racehorse’s gait and especially about whether all four of a horse’s feet were all off the ground at the same time. Without slow-motion photography or cinematic captures of complete galloping or trotting actions, there was room to wonder how animals moved.

Stanford had the money to back the endeavor into finding out exactly how things worked, and Muybridge had the offbeat approach to put the experiment together practically.

The result was a series of photographs that definitively proved horses are airborne for a portion of each stride, and it proved that the most common illustrated form of the racing horse was wrong. Illustrators typically showed racing Thoroughbreds with both forefeet stretched before them, both hind feet stretched back. Typical of the bounding racing action of the greyhound, this is not correct for the horse.

Muybridge’s horse and the work he did in illustrating motion proved a spur to developing motion picture cinematography, and the photo-finish cameras that stop the action of horses at the wire to determine the winners and placed horses in races are heirs of this tradition of photographic development that began with horses.

Part of the horse’s iconography extends beyond racing or motion pictures. Recently, my daughter Holly Mitchell had a brief narrative poem, “Muybridge’s Horse in Motion,” selected as Poem of the Week and published in Narrative online. It is available here.

Whether we find Sallie Gardner in a photograph, a strip of pictures mimicking motion, or a poem, she proves that a Thoroughbred is poetry in motion.

cloud computing wins the preakness, becomes second classic winner of 2017 for a first-crop sire, third in two years

One of the signal facets of the contemporary commercial market is a fascination with first-crop sires. One prominent consignor even went so far as to declare that if sellers weren’t offering stock by first-crop sires or by proven sires, then potential buyers just walked on by.

As perplexing as this situation is for breeders, not to mention stallion managers, the recent results of the classics are rewarding that obsession with first-crop sires.

Two weekends ago, Always Dreaming (by Bodemeister) won the Kentucky Derby in convincing style, and the fleet bay is from his sire’s first crop of racers. This weekend, yet another sire with first-crop 3-year-olds, the Distorted Humor sire Maclean’s Music, was responsible for Cloud Computing, the rangy dark horse who upset the Derby winner in the Preakness.

Last year, the Kentucky Derby was won by Nyquist, a son of first-crop sire Uncle Mo, and in 2015, the Triple Crown was swept for the first time in 37 years by American Pharoah, who is from the second crop of Pioneerof the Nile.

Whereas both Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister were classic performers themselves (each was second in the Kentucky Derby), Maclean’s Music never got close to the roses. In fact, he had only a single race, which he won emphatically by 7 ¼ lengths in the near-record time of 1:07.44 for six furlongs.

The horse’s speed, good looks, and pedigree gave him a place at stud because he had the backing of serious breeders.

Among those was owner-breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, plus Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, where Maclean’s Music stands at stud, and the stallion is owned by Stonestreet and Hill ‘n’ Dale.

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Maclean’s Music – handsome son of Distorted Humor was a sensational winner of his only start, now is the sire of a classic winner from his first crop of racers. Hill ‘n’ Dale photo


Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc., is the co-breeder of Preakness winner Cloud Computing in partnership with Stretch Run Ventures LLC.

Their colt Cloud Computing is the direct result of serious breeders giving serious support to horses they believe in, regardless of whether they are first-crop or fifth-crop stallions. And the partners sent their good mare, the multiple graded stakes-placed producer Quick Temper to Maclean’s Music.

Not only was Quick Temper a talented racer who ran second in the G2 Silverbulletday Stakes, G3 Maple Leaf Stakes, and G3 Arlington Matron Handicap, but she also earned $259,722.

The breeders were soundly rewarded for their support.

When Hill ‘n’ Dale offered Cloud Computing at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, he was a grand specimen, and the dark brown colt sold for $200,000, the highest price among 45 yearlings by the sire that sold in 2015.

The agent who selected the striking colt for owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence was Mike Ryan, co-breeder of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. Ryan has stated his admiration for Maclean’s Music, who is an imposing individual, and for the prospects of the stallion’s better stock.

Both Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing share good size and scope, plus the muscling and positive attitude of a high-end athlete.

In the case of Cloud Computing, Maclean’s Music appears to have added body mass to the scope and elegance of the colt’s quality dam, who is a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, one of the most potent influences for classic performance in American breeding.

In addition to the stamina and quality of A.P. Indy, Quick Temper inherited some of the racing ability of her dam, G1 winner Halo America, the best racer by the hickory racehorse Waquoit. Halo America won 15 races from age 3 to 7, earning $1,460,992, and the big gray mare won her G1 in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn.

Her sire was the towering gray Waquoit, a son of the fast stallion Relaunch, who continues to be an important influence in pedigrees. Waquoit was out of a mare by the top French 2-year-old Grey Dawn, and backwards in regard to his pedigree as it may seem, Waquoit was best as he got older, more especially in races from 10 to 12 furlongs. Among his 13 stakes victories, the old warrior won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Brooklyn Handicap twice, and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Alysheba and Seeking the Gold.


Alcibiades – this chestnut daughter of the Domino-line stallion Supremus was a top racer and producer. The Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland is named in her honor, and the Preakness winner descends from her in the female line.


Then, in addition to the speed of his sire Maclean’s Music and grandsire Distorted Humor, Cloud Computing traces back in his female line of descent to one of the great American mares, Alcibiades, who was both a top racer and producer. The top filly of her crop at 2 and 3, Alcibiades won the 1930 Kentucky Oaks and produced four stakes winners. The best of these was Menow (Pharamond II), winner of the Futurity at 2 and the Massachusetts Handicap at 3, and his three black-type siblings were the mares Sparta (St Germans; Latonia Oaks), Salaminia (Man o’ War; Alabama Stakes), and Lithe (Pharamond; Demoiselle Stakes).

Sparta is the branch of Alcibiades that is responsible for Cloud Computing and a classic victory 71 years after her daughter Pitcher (Shut Out) was foaled to become the next link in the line of descent.

That succession of quality through the generations has led to our 2017 Preakness winner, sired by a freshman stallion from a female family of deep quality. And in a look to the future, the classic winner’s dam has a yearling full brother to Cloud Computing. In 2017, Quick Temper was bred back to Maclean’s Music.

fastnet rock has made himself an international force in breeding and racing, like his sire danehill

The Irish-bred mare Zhukova turned the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park into a procession with her six-length victory on Saturday (May 13). Rating in front over the soft course, Zhukova kicked for home with an impressive turn of foot and won the day.

The 5-year-old mare’s sire, Australian champion Fastnet Rock, proved a top-end racer due to his speed, and his stallion career has been marked by the capacity to produce individuals who can race effectively and produce speed at some point in a race.

They are not, however, limited to sprints. Both Fastnet Rock and his sire Danehill (by Danzig) were rated “sprinters” because of their exceptional speed, and Fastnet Rock was an Australian highweight of that division.

Typically to become top sires, however, sprinters need to sire stock that does more than sprint, and in that both Fastnet Rock and Danehill, as well as the fabled Northern Dancer stallion Danzig, all excelled far outside the norms and expectations of breeders.

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Fastnet Rock – son of international star Danehill has followed a similar pattern on the racetrack and at stud. Coolmore photo


In the case of Fastnet Rock, he has 114 stakes winners to date, predominantly in Australia but increasingly around the world as those opportunities come to the horse.

In addition to G1 winners Down Under like Atlantic Jewel (Caulfield Guineas and three other G1s), Awesome Rock (Mackinnon Stakes), Catchy (Blue Diamond Stakes), Planet Rock (New Zealand Bloodstock 1,000 Guineas), and Mosheen (Australian Oaks, among four G1s), Fastnet Rock has spread his influence around the globe.

In South Africa, the robust dark bay stallion has been represented by G1 winners Driefontein (Sangster Stakes) and Lone Rock (Goodwood Handicap). The G1 winners for Fastnet Rock in Ireland are Intricately (Moyglare Stud Stakes), in England are Diamondsandrubies (Pretty Polly), Fascinating Rock (Champion Stakes), Qualify (Oaks), and Rivet (Racing Post Trophy, also third on Saturday in the French 2,000 Guineas); and in the States we have Zhukova.

It is also worth noting that every one of the stallion’s Northern Hemisphere G1 winners are out of mares by Northern Dancer line stallions, and Intricately, Qualify, Rivet, and Zhukova are out of mares by Galileo.

That is the way that Fastnet Rock himself is bred. He is a grandson of Northern Dancer’s son Danzig and is out of Piccadilly Circus, a mare who is a granddaughter of Northern Dancer’s son Nijinsky, the last winner of the English Triple Crown.

Piccadilly Circus is a G3 winner by Royal Academy (Nijinsky), winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Belmont and a good sire. The mare is a full sister to G3 winner Raheeb. Both are out of the Australian listed stakes winner Gatana (Marauding), who was also second in the G1 Newmarket Handicap.

This is not a “stallion” pedigree of the sort that stallion managers covet, but there are some useful animals past the first couple generations, and the female line traces to a half-sister of 1941 2,000 Guineas winner Lambert Simnel (Fair Trial).

More to the point, there is no getting around the fact that Fastnet Rock is a very good sire and continues to prove it.

A few hours prior to Zhukova’s G1 success on Saturday, the 4-year-old Fastnet Rock filly Turret Rocks won the G3 Blue Wind Stakes at the Currah, and she is out of a Galileo mare.

Already G1-placed, Turret Rocks is being aimed for the Yorkshire Oaks later this year, where she may have to contend with Zhukova.

The latter was bred in Ireland by Mrs. C.L. Weld, the mother of trainer Dermot Weld, and the late Mrs. Weld is also the breeder of Zhukova’s dam, Nightime. The latter is a daughter of Galileo and won the 2006 Irish 1,000 Guineas.

So highly was Zhukova regarded that the filly passed out of the ring unsold for 540,000 guineas (upwards of $1 million) as a yearling at the Tattersalls October sale in 2013.

Racing for owner John Murrell, Zhukova won the 2016 renewal of the Blue Wind Stakes for her first group success, then added the Kilternan Stakes later in the season. Now the winner of a G1 and 7 of 10 lifetime starts, Zhukova has total earnings of $479,310 and a value that stands considerably higher.

Nightime has a 2-year-old colt named Pitch Dark (Dubawi) who brought 1.1 million guineas as a weanling at Goffs November sale in 2015, and the mare has a yearling filly by Zoffany.