belmont park, breeding in kentucky, cape blanco, coolmore, european bloodstock, galileo, giant's causeway, john magnier, man o' war stakes, montjeu, nasrullah, nijinsky, prejudice against turf horses, ribot, sadler's wells, stallions in kentucky, tale of the cat, woodman
The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Seems to me that there is more to Cape Blanco’s trip to New York for the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes than “just” winning another good purse and giving the 4-year-old son of Galileo a tour of the place.
First of all, I believe Coolmore’s farsighted chief, John Magnier, is trying to decide which of Galileo’s sons would do best standing here in the States. Coolmore and its associates have, at last count, approximately 87 sons of Galileo that are worth standing at stud, and surely some of them are worth giving a shot at Ashford Stud, Coolmore’s breeding operation in the U.S.
Coolmore has never been shy about sending a promising horse to stand in Kentucky. At one time, this branch of the operation seemed more hospitable territory than Ireland or Australia, with greater demand and profits in the Bluegrass as the international center of breeding.
That has waned somewhat, and Coolmore, despite its successes with Giant’s Causeway, Woodman, Tale of the Cat, and others, has not had any corresponding success with sons of their cornerstone sire Sadler’s Wells in Kentucky.
It was not for wont of trying.
Ashford stood some of the quickest sons of Sadler’s Wells, and they flopped horribly. Even allowing that the horses were somewhat unfamiliar to Kentucky breeders and that there is a vicious antipathy against turf horses here, the sons of Sadler’s Wells just stunk up the place.
At the same time, however, the two best sons of Sadler’s Wells, Montjeu and Galileo, were gaining accolades on the racecourse and then building on that to become the most important stallions in Europe.
Montjeu and Galileo are both classic winners; both have sired classic winners, including victors in the English Derby. Almost overnight, they have turned that “long-distance classic” back into the most important racing test for bloodstock in the world.
And as a result of these mighty achievements, the pair might well be the two best stallions in the world.
Of the two sons of Sadler’s Wells, the Galileos have notable amounts of speed, and their pace generally allows them to be placed effectively throughout a race, to make a move when it is to their advantage, and to win if they are good enough.
That is what Cape Blanco did in the Man o’ War. And those are the qualities of great European-bred or -raced sires who have excelled in America, such as Nasrullah, Nijinsky, and Ribot.
And it stands to reason that an operation such as Coolmore, abounding with the blood of these two stallions, should look afar for opportunities to place the right horse with the right qualities in a spot to earn greater success.
That brings up the second reason for Cape Blanco to be in New York in the middle of the year, rather than the tail-end of the season. For a European-bred horse to earn a following among Kentucky breeders, the animal needs to develop a name, essentially to brand himself as a star of the American turf.
Part of that is to win the important stakes in front of many of the breeders who would use a high-end stallion and who would want to breed to a son of Galileo. Cape Blanco’s sire Galileo has not been a stranger to racing here in the States. He has sired important winners, such as Red Rocks, who won a pair of G1s in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Man o’ War.
With the known adaptability of the Galileo stock, it is possible that Coolmore is simply emulating the success of Red Rocks, with a warm-up in the summer race before a strike for the G1 Arlington Million or similar event, then the Breeders’ Cup.
But with the natural speed of the Galileo stock and with the sound enthusiasm that they take to their racing, I believe there is more afoot. The Galileos would make good racers here in the U.S. Cape Blanco, for instance, was unbeaten as a 2-year-old, won a G1 at 10 and at 12 furlongs at 3, and has now added his third at the premium level.
Cape Blanco may be on a solo mission, or he may be the forerunner of a Galileo invasion. Either way, racing and breeding are sure to be the better for the change.