, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The following post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

There’s a saying about the “embarrassment of riches,” but in racing, and especially in breeding the racehorse, there is no embarrassment. When success comes, grab all that you can because it may not stick around long.

A couple of stakes winners over the weekend illustrate the twisted tale of two broodmares’ bounty over the generations.

The weekend’s obvious star on pedigree was Changing Skies, a 6-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Sadler’s Wells and the outstanding broodmare Magnificient Style (by Silver Hawk). Winner of the Grade 3 La Prevoyante at Calder on Sunday, Changing Skies is one of six stakes winners from the first seven foals out of her dam.

The others include G2 winners Echoes in Eternity (Park Hill Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes) and Percussionist (Yorkshire Cup), as well as listed winners Stylelistick and Petara Bay. But the star of the group is G1 winner Playful Act, a full sister to Changing Skies and Percussionist. As the co-highweight filly in England at 2, Playful Act was a classy athlete, as well as a striking individual, and she sold for $10.5 million at the 2007 Keeneland November sale.

Changing Skies was one of a handful of horses in training retained by Swettenham Stud after its bloodstock dispersal in 2007. And the full sister to Playful Act has done her part to justify that decision. Changing Skies placed in the G3 Prix de Psyche in 2008, and last season Changing Skies won the G3 The Very One Stakes and also ran second in the G1 Flower Bowl at Belmont.

Sunday’s second graded success confirmed Changing Skies as an outstanding broodmare prospect to represent this family when she goes to stud.

Changing Skies traces back in the female line to a couple of broodmares whose production records are similar to that of Magnificient Style. The fourth dam of Changing Skies is Broodmare of the Year Delta.

The dark brown daughter of Nasrullah and Bourtai was a firecracker at 2, setting a track record at Churchill Downs and becoming one of the best juvenile fillies of her crop.

Delta proved to be one of five stakes winners out of her dam, and Delta was an excellent producer, foaling five stakes winners, including Dike (Breeders’ Futurity, Wood Memorial, and third in the 1969 Kentucky Derby) and Okavango (1975 San Pasqual Handicap and third in the Santa Anita Handicap).

Delta’s dam also produced the outstanding racehorses and broodmares Levee and Bayou. Both Delta and Bayou were retained by breeder Claiborne Farm, where this family has produced such outstanding stock as champions Slew o’ Gold and War Pass, classic winner Coastal, and the outstanding producer Dokki, dam of two G1 winners for Juddmonte Farms.

In contrast to the viral success of Magnificient Style and Delta, Sunday’s G3 Monrovia Stakes went to the City Zip mare Unzip Me, the only stakes winner out of her dam, the winning Arazi mare Escape With Me.

In turn, Escape With Me is out of Soviet Problem, one of the fastest race mares of the last 20 years and second in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. A winner in 15 of 20 starts, Soviet Problem has produced one stakes winner and is the only stakes winner of her dam, the Dimaggio mare Nopro Blama.

Despite the excellence of some of the horses in this family, it illustrates the difficulty of generating highly successful racehorses year after year. The tale of this tribe goes back generation after generation in similar fashion, with one notable performer. That is the norm for most good-class producing lines.

This is the case with this family till we reach Unzip Me’s seventh dam, Just-a-Minute. The cleverly named daughter of Can’t Wait produced three stakes winners: Del Mar Futurity winner Patch, La Jolla Handicap winner Threesome, and Las Flores Handicap winner On the Move, who became the sixth dam of Unzip Me.

One might have expected this family to fall into obscurity with a blank generation or two. Just-a-Minute, however, is the year-older half-sister to Grey Flight. Both are out of the Ariel mare Planetoid, and all three were gray mares.

More importantly, all were also darned good producers. But where Just-a-Minute produced three solid stakes winners, Grey Flight bloomed as the dam of nine stakes winners, including champion filly Misty Morn and leading sire What a Pleasure (winner of the Hopeful Stakes at 2).

Grey Flight became one of the most important broodmares in breeding history, and her half-sister did well. Just-a-Minute’s branch of the Planetoid family has remained alive and took another spin in the limelight with Unzip Me’s victory at Santa Anita.