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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

always dreaming sets all irish eyes to smiling with his victory in the kentucky derby

When Always Dreaming pulled away from his opponents to win the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, two of the people cheering loudest for the elegant bay were Irishmen from different counties of the Emerald Isle.

Those two were Mike Ryan and Gerry Dilger. Operating under the name of Santa Rosa Partners, they are the breeders of Always Dreaming. They bred the colt from the stakes-winning mare Above Perfection (by In Excess), who lives at Dilger’s Dromoland Farm.

The breeders “first met in Kentucky in 1976 or 1977,” Mike Ryan recalled. “I was working at Windfields Farm in Canada, had come down to the Keeneland July sale for my vacation, and Gerry was working at Murty Farm, which was the name of the property next door to Keeneland at the time, [now the Keeneland Entertainment Center and Library complex]. We have been friends ever since.”

The years between have been prosperous for the friends, and Santa Rosa Partners bought G3 winner Above Perfection for $450,000 out of the ClassicStar dispersal at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s 2006 November sale. The In Excess mare was then 8, had three previous foals, and was carrying a filly by Dixie Union. Twenty-one months later, the resulting yearling sold out of the Dromoland Farm consignment for $340,000 to W.K. Warren Jr. at Fasig-Tipton’s 2008 Saratoga select yearling sale.

Returned to the sales at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale in 2009, the filly sold for $435,000 to Grace Stables. Named Hot Dixie Chick, she became the first graded stakes winner bred by the Santa Rosa Partners, and Hot Dixie Chick’s greatest success was a victory in the G1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.

Now Hot Dixie Chick’s half-brother, Always Dreaming, is the partnership’s first classic winner.

Like Hot Dixie Chick, Always Dreaming was born and raised at Dilger’s Dromoland Farm outside Lexington. Dilger said, “Since this colt was born, he was nice. Always was a nice young horse that we thought had class. He developed into a nice-sized, straightforward yearling with good angles. We followed our usual sale approach in preparing him, and they’re all treated the same. The big majority are raised here, and the staff here work with them all along, trying to keep them happy.”

Always Dreaming, on his day in the spotlight at the September sale, had developed into a robust and very appealing type of premium commercial yearling. He had the size, the muscular development, plus the look and attitude of a serious racing prospect.

 As a result, “we were very happy with what we sold him for. He showed himself well, took the sales experience very well. A number of people out there at the September sale were interested in him,” Dilger recalled. And that’s what made the colt sell so well.

The colt brought $350,000 from Steve Young, agent, and subsequently, a number of entities have purchased equity in the colt. The colt now races for MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm, and West Point.

At that price, Always Dreaming ranked 11th among the 80 yearlings by Bodemeister that sold in 2015, and he is the most accomplished by far, thanks to his classic victory.

Dromoland has sold the past two Kentucky Derby winners. At the 2013 Keeneland November mixed sale, Dilger, Ted Campion, and Pat Costello purchased a weanling colt by Uncle Mo for $180,000 that they returned to the sales at the 2014 Keeneland September auction, where they sold the progressive youngster for $230,000 to Mike Ryan and Niall Brennan, who pinhooked him through the 2-year-old sales the following season.

At the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of juveniles in training, that bay colt sold out of Brennan’s consignment to Dennis O’Neill, agent for Reddam Racing, for $400,000. Unbeaten at 2 and named Nyquist, that colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was 2-year-old champion colt, and took home the roses at last year’s Kentucky Derby.

After Nyquist’s successful first campaign, Darley purchased the stallion rights to the colt, and Nyquist is standing his first season at stud at Jonabell.

One of the mares scheduled to be bred to Nyquist this year is Above Perfection.

Ryan is optimistic about Nyquist’s prospects, and he believes the mare fits the freshman stallion well. “She’s a big, strong, deep mare,” Ryan said. “Great substance to her. Stands about 16.1 – 16.2. Was brilliantly fast on the racetrack and has a great rear end on her.”

Those physical assets have been significant contributions to the mare’s two fastest foals, and Ryan said, “Always Dreaming covers the ground so effortlessly I think his mechanics – the way he moves – help him.”

The motion of the Derby winner isn’t the only thing that is moving. For the partners, like all breeders, “the day he won the Florida Derby was special because winning a G1 is a great accomplishment,” Ryan said. “Winning our biggest race here in the States is past anything. Breeding a good horse is a great satisfaction, but at this level, it’s amazing.”

kentucky derby connections spice up the bewitching pedigree of quiet business

This Kentucky Derby week column won’t feature a Derby horse because there are no remaining preps to the Run for the Roses. So the question for an avid writer is how many references to the Kentucky classic can we come up with, anyway?

Naturally, it’s a filly who allows me to get into the spirit of classic week here in Kentucky, and Quiet Business won the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland to provide the vehicle for this essay.

Her sire is the Grade 1 winner Quiet American (by Fappiano), who won the G1 NYRA Mile at 4 as part of a quartet of victories from 12 starts for earnings of $754,419. Bred in Florida by Tartan Farms, Quiet American sold as a yearling at the Tartan dispersal in September 1987 at Fasig-Tipton in Kentucky.

There, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum purchased the scopy colt for $300,000. At the same auction, a year-younger colt later named Unbridled sold to Frances Genter.

Three years later, Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby. That was the most visible popular success in a very good stallion career for Fappiano, the sire of both Unbridled and Quiet American. Fappiano, who died young at age 13, became the most important conduit of Mr. Prospector’s male line in America, largely due to these two sons.

While Unbridled gathered greater celebrity from his victory in the Derby, plus success in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Quiet American polished his credentials and went to stud at Gainsborough outside Versailles, Ky., then moved to Darley’s Jonabell facility near Keeneland when Sheikh Mohammed purchased that property as his American stallion station.

The sire of Eclipse Award winner Hidden Lake, Quiet American is also an important broodmare sire. His daughter Cara Rafaela – also winner of the G1 Hollywood Starlet and G2 Alcibiades Stakes – produced classic winner and champion Bernardini (A.P. Indy), and the Quiet American mare Quiet Dance foaled 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado).

To date, Quiet American has sired 55 stakes winners, and there are likely to be a few additions to the list. The stallion was pensioned in 2013 and died October 16, 2016.

But the most famous of all Quiet American’s offspring was a colt born in 1995 and later named Real Quiet. A tall, narrow yearling who fetched the pittance of $17,000 at auction, Real Quiet developed into a beautifully proportioned racer who matured late at 2 to win the G1 Hollywood Futurity, then grew into a classic performer who won both the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Real Quiet’s second dam, Meadow Blue, was a full sister to 1969 Kentucky Derby winner Majestic Prince (Raise a Native), and Meadow Blue is the fourth dam of Quiet Business. Real Quiet’s half-sister Mining My Business (Mining) is the second dam of Quiet Business. Mining My Business has produced G2 Fair Grounds Oaks winner Real Cozzy (Cozzene), also second in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, plus the unraced A.P. Indy mare Indy Business. The latter is the dam of Quiet Business, one of the numerous good horses out of A.P. Indy mares.

A.P. Indy is a living legend at Lane’s End Farm, where he was bred and raised and where he returned – after earning Horse of the Year in 1992 with victories in the Belmont, Santa Anita Derby, and Breeders’ Cup Classic – to begin a historic tenure at stud.

In his long career at stud, A.P. Indy has sired Horse of the Year Mineshaft (sire of Derby prospect J Boys Echo and grandsire of Gunnevera) and leading sire Pulpit (sire of three-time leading national sire Tapit). Both of those stallions are out of mares by Mr. Prospector, and A.P. Indy’s first-crop star Pulpit was in the vanguard that established this as the preferred pedigree cross for A.P. Indy, who was scratched out of the 1992 Kentucky Derby due to a foot problem that trainer Neil Drysdale was able to resolve quickly enough to put the dynamic colt into contention for the Belmont Stakes and a championship season that ended with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

In addition to the numerous classic performers that A.P. Indy sired, the bay son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew is a prominent broodmare sire, and A.P. Indy has two prospects for the Kentucky Derby out of his daughters: Hence, out of Floating Island, and Patch, out of Windyindy. Also, more than a half-dozen Derby prospects descend from A.P. Indy in the male line, with a nearly equal number coming from Mr. Prospector’s male line.

With all these different, but classic connections, the Bewitch winner has “Derby” written all over her pedigree.

shanghai bobby is generating profits and showing speed with his first crop of racers

When an unbeaten 2-year-old champion goes to stud, there is a certain amount of fanfare, and with the retirement of 2012 Eclipse Award champion Shanghai Bobby (by Harlan’s Holiday), who had gone undefeated in his five starts at 2, commercial breeders were queuing up immediately to breed to the quick and good-looking dark brown horse at Ashford Stud.

Part of the reason for their interest is the horse’s pedigree. Shanghai Bobby is by the successful and highly popular stallion Harlan’s Holiday (Harlan), a grandson of leading sire Storm Cat and a factor for speed and early maturity in racing stock that made him quite popular with buyers and breeders.

When Shanghai Bobby went to stud in 2014, Harlan’s Holiday was receiving accolades as a sire of stallions because of the high-class performers resulting from the first crops by the young Harlan’s Holiday horse Into Mischief. Further, Shanghai Bobby is out of a good mare by champion sprinter Orientate (Mt. Livermore). So the champion juvenile colt unifies two of the fast and classy lines in America breeding: Storm Cat and Blushing Groom.

Breeders were anticipating that Shanghai Bobby would get attractive foals that became irresistible 2-year-olds, and the international breeding behemoth, Coolmore Stud, acquired Shanghai Bobby as a stallion for its Ashford Stud in Kentucky as part of their sequential acquisition of American 2-year-old champions that include Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike), Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), Hansen (Tapit), and American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile).

Of those, the undeniably most successful so far has been Uncle Mo, and Shanghai Bobby fit right in with the group as a fast, attractive horse who seems well-suited to the racing and sales program here in the States.

The fast-acting breeders got it right.

From his first-crop yearlings in 2016, 71 young prospects by Shanghai Bobby brought an average of $109,324 and a median price of $85,000. Those figures represent a very healthy 5x and 4x multiple over the horse’s 2014 initial stud fee of $20,000 live foal. The first-crop yearlings sold so well that Shanghai Bobby’s 2017 fee is listed as $25,000, a rise of 25 percent for a fourth-year horse over his entering fee.

That is virtually unheard of.

With the level of first-crop cash assessments that Shanghai Bobby’s yearlings achieved, observers would have expected to see the Shanghai Bobby stock go through the roof at the premium sales of 2-year-olds in training. That has not happened prior to last week’s OBS April sale (25-28), with only a half-dozen previously sold for an average price of $167,500 and a median of $117,500. That isn’t hamster feed; so we shouldn’t read too much into the initial figures.

With 22 consigned to the OBS April sale, we have learned a good deal more about how they have matured and how they stand in the assessment of racehorse buyers from around the world. Sixteen of the 2-year-olds worked (six were declared out), and four sped a furlong in :10 flat. Five more went down the lane in :10 1/5, and we can say the prospects will not fail for lack of speed. Sales results are below:

 

110 out C Shanghai Bobby Anabaa’s Fortune de Meric Sales, Agent III Withdrawn Out
168 10.1 F Shanghai Bobby Betty Spaghetti Scanlon Training & Sales, Agent Fergus Galvin, Agent for Marc Detampel 60,000
170 10.2 F Shanghai Bobby Billex Doux Julie Davies, Agent Bradley Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent 105,000
230 out F Shanghai Bobby Casino Glory SBM Training and Sales, Agent IV Withdrawn Out
290 10.0 C Shanghai Bobby Consider Thesource de Meric Sales, Agent VIII Eddie Kenneally, Agent 100,000
322 10.3 C Shanghai Bobby Deborah’s Moment Starting Point Thoroughbreds Edward J Smith 16,000
337 10.1 C Shanghai Bobby Diamond Corner Top Line Sales LLC, Agent for Kinsman Farm 220,000 Not Sold
448 10.3 C Shanghai Bobby Force de La Nature Timber Creek, Agent Barby Racing 3,500
462 out C Shanghai Bobby Fusaichi Lady Q Bar J Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent I Withdrawn Out
603 10.1 F Shanghai Bobby Izzie’s Gold Boutte Sales, Agent III Ruben Valdes 20,000
604 10.2 C Shanghai Bobby Jack’s Flame Top Line Sales LLC, Agent XXI Triton Thoroughbreds LLC 30,000
644 21.2 F Shanghai Bobby Kind Turn Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent Have Fun Racing 65,000
684 out C Shanghai Bobby Leave a Message Sescan LLC, Agent Withdrawn Out
698 10.0 C Shanghai Bobby Lily’s Hope Julie Davies, Agent Eddie Plesa, Agent 42,000
728 out F Shanghai Bobby Magnet King’s Equine, Agent XI Withdrawn Out
736 out C Shanghai Bobby Mama Tia Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent Withdrawn Out
847 10.1 C Shanghai Bobby Oelectra Randy Bradshaw, Agent VIII Happy Tenth Stable 100,000 PS
915 out F Shanghai Bobby Proud Dame Southern Chase Farm, Inc. (Greg & Karen Dodd), Agent Withdrawn Out
980 10.1 F Shanghai Bobby Ruby’s Prize RiceHorse (Brandon & Ali Rice), Agent 95,000 Not Sold
991 out C Shanghai Bobby Salut d’Amour (IRE) Scanlon Training & Sales, Agent VIII Withdrawn Out
1017 10.3 C Shanghai Bobby Seraphic Too Crupi’s New Castle Farm, Agent I Michael Langford 30,000
1134 10.3 F Shanghai Bobby Suroof Brick City Thoroughbreds, Agent Saud Saad 20,000

 

collected is another example of why his sire city zip continues to prosper in the bluegrass

Collected is snorting fire in his desire to become the leading son of sire City Zip (by Carson City). Collected would be within sniffing distance of the earnings leadership for sons of City Zip, except for a quintet of millionaires, and the glamorously good-looking Collected moved his earnings to $600,500 with victory in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes, his sixth success from nine lifetime starts.

Those pesky millionaires include champion sprinter Work All Week (G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, $1.5 million), Palace (G1 Forego, G1 Vanderbilt; $1.5 million), City Style (G3 Strensall Stakes; $1.3 million), plus Alert Bay and Get Serious, who are G2 and G3 winners with earnings of $1.1 million each.

It is exceptional for a stallion to get five winners of $1 million or more, but these are only City Zip’s seven-figure earners from the Y chromosome side of the street. He has three daughters who have earned more than a million: Dayatthespa (champion turf filly; Breeders’ Cup Filly Turf), Catch a Glimpse (Canadian Horse of the Year; BC Juvenile Fillies Turf), and Finest City (BC Filly Sprint).

Not bad for a little chestnut horse.

And in the best-son category, City Zip is hands-down the best stallion son of the celebrated Mr. Prospector sire Carson City. Best known as a broodmare sire, Carson City has had some good results with sons like Pollard’s Vision (Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck), Cuvee (G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner Noble’s Promise), and Hear No Evil (G1 Forego and Carter winner Jackson Bend). None of the Carson City sons, however, has shown the consistency and high quality in their racing stock that is a hallmark of City Zip.

Most of the stock by City Zip also have plenty of zip, and that is what he displayed in his own racing career.

From 23 starts at 2 and 3, City Zip won eight stakes and placed second or third in eight more. His most notable victory came in the G1 Hopeful, when he deadheated with Yonaguska for the prize. City Zip loved Saratoga, also winning the G2 Saratoga Special and Sanford there at 2 and adding the G2 Amsterdam Stakes at 3.

To date, 67 racers by City Zip have become stakes winners (6 percent from foals), and 70 more are stakes-placed. In addition to transmitting his own innate speed, City Zip sires horses with quite a bit more distance capacity than he showed on the racetrack, and many of them show high form on either dirt or turf. His stock mature well, stay sound, and appear to enjoy being racehorses.

Many of these qualities are also found in the stock by City Zip’s famous younger brother, Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, who is 17. They are out of the Broodmare of the Year Baby Zip, who died last week at age 26. She was the daughter of top sire Relaunch (In Reality).

Collected, bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Peter Callahan, is the third foal from his dam, the Johannesburg mare Helena Bay. Collected was such a good-looking yearling that he brought $150,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September sale, which was the fourth-highest price of 55 City Zip yearlings sold that year. In 2015, Collected sold for $170,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

In addition to his high class and good looks, one of the things of great interest about Collected is that he has three successive lines of Northern Dancer in his dam. Helena Bay is from the Storm Cat male line (Storm Bird); her dam, Josette, is by Danehill (Danzig); and the third dam is Loure (Lyphard). Those are three of the six most important sons of Northern Dancer, and City Zip adds a fourth son, Nijinsky, through Carson City.

So Collected’s pedigree is essentially a fascinating take on the most popular breeding cross of the past generation: Mr. Prospector crossed with Northern Dancer. And the element that makes this one special is the sequential layering of Northern Dancer lines, which are then crossed to Mr. Prospector’s grandson City Zip.

I doubt that we will see many mares bred this way because it takes years of planning to develop the male-line layering we see in Helena Bay and her son Collected, but Runnymede Farm followed the program with the mare to get a yearling colt by Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) for the Mr. Prospector cross.

Then last year, they sent the mare to the Danzig stallion Hard Spun. That resulted in a foal of 2017 with four successive male lines of Northern Dancer, and the mare produced a colt earlier this month.

If he grows up to match that pedigree, he will be a racehorse indeed.