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The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.

My Miss Aurelia and Millionreasonswhy staged one of the most exciting races at Saratoga this season when they raced head and head through the stretch of the historic racetrack. My Miss Aurelia won the Adirondack Stakes by a neck from Millionreasonswhy, and their nearest opponent was 14 ¾ lengths behind. My Miss Aurelia completed the 6½ furlongs in 1:17.01, and the two closely matched fillies are likely to race against each other in the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sept. 4.

As close as the two fillies finished is about how close their sires, Smart Strike (My Miss Aurelia) and Grand Slam (Millionreasonswhy), started in the great sires stakes that determines who becomes increasingly popular and who gets shunted to the side.

In the beginning, they were closely matched on pedigree, as well as being G1 winners on the race track.

Smart Strike is a son of grand old Mr. Prospector, one of the great names in breeding history and the sire of more good stallions than any sire since Northern Dancer. Grand Slam is by Mr. Prospector’s son Gone West, who for a time hinted that he was going to found one of the more dominant branches of the Mr. Prospector tree of success.

And overall, the sons of Gone West have fared well. Zafonic and his full brother Zamindar have had success in Europe; Speightstown is one of the best here in the States; and Grand Slam once ranked as the son of Gone West with the most in his favor for long-term success.

When his first two crops age 3 and up included 14 graded stakes wins and such important performers as Cajun Beat (Breeders’ Cup Sprint), Limehouse (Brooklyn), and Strong Hope (Jim Dandy), Grand Slam became one of the hottest sires in Kentucky, but after his six subsequent crops only managed to double that number of graded victories, his rapidly ascending balloon of fame had flattened out. Although far from friendless among discerning breeders or yearling buyers, Grand Slam has some limitations in the minds of many. And it takes a truly special yearling, like Millionreasonswhy, who sold for $115,000, to bring six figures. This year, Grand Slam stood for only $15,000 live foal at Ashford Stud.

In contrast to the rapid rise of the ruggedly handsome Grand Slam, Smart Strike was just a bit sluggish with his earliest racers, and his first two crops age 3 and up managed only seven graded stakes victories, exactly half as many as the offspring of Grand Slam. Now, in the larger scheme of things, most stallions would be just fine to get seven graded wins in their careers, but Smart Strike was supposed to be “one of the ones,” and that start was disappointing. But there the competition between the near-contemporaries ended. With his next crop-year, Smart Strike added 11 graded stakes wins, and his stock just kept piling more fuel on the fire. The bonfire is only blazing higher.

Now, Smart Strike has more than 90 graded victories for his runners, has total progeny earnings of more than $86 million, has 79 stakes winners, and his most famous offspring include Horse of the Year Curlin, as well as champions Lookin at Lucky and English Channel. And to add cream to the eclair, Smart Strike has two dozen racers who have earned more than $500,000.

The rangy bay son of Mr. Prospector stands at Lane’s End Farm for $75,000, which is a certain indicator of his position in the intensely competitive stallion market. With the success that Smart Strike has enjoyed the past several years with Curlin, English Channel, Lookin at Lucky, and so many others, the stream of good mares is not going to stop.

Major winners like My Miss Aurelia may even cause the tide to rise higher.

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