The following article was first posted earlier this week at Paulick Report.
For the better part of two decades, Storm Cat and his offspring have been among the most commercial horses in the world. With racehorses like 1994 Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat, 1993 Hollywood Starlet and 1994 Kentucky Oaks winner Sardula, 1995 Hopeful winner Hennessy, and magnificent Sharp Cat, a Grade 1 winner at 2, 3, and 4, Storm Cat broke away as the premium commercial sire of top-class racehorses.
And before long, Storm Cat’s sons became the hottest prospects for stud in America. They began to show indications of ability as sires just as Giant’s Causeway won a G1 at 2 in 1999, then added five more victories at the top level the following year.
The early demand for sons of Storm Cat, added to the fine looks and high class of Giant’s Causeway, made him as attractive a stallion prospect as any who went to stud in Europe, and he was quickly whisked away to stand in Kentucky for 2002 after a single season in Ireland, where Giant’s Causeway sired three classic winners from his first crop.
Looking at the record with several years’ hindsight, however, the Storm Cat branch of Northern Dancer has had a rough time with the U.S. classics, and there had not been a Storm Cat classic winner here since Tabasco Cat’s twin successes in 1994 till last year’s Preakness, when Shackleford (by Forestry) held on gamely to win from Kentucky Derby victor Animal Kingdom.
Part of the reason for the line’s scarcity of success is purely the difficulty of winning a classic. But in addition to that, there is a serious dichotomy in the Storm Cat stock. Many of them want no part of 10 furlongs. Strong, fast, and game though they are, a sizable majority of the Storm Cats are truly milers, and the classics find them out.
And the most classic of the Storm Cats is clearly Giant’s Causeway, who has produced high-class winners on both sides of the Atlantic, on turf and dirt, and at distances up to 12 furlongs. As a result, Giant’s Causeway’s son Creative Cause now appears the best prospect to give the Storm Cat line a classic victory this year. Owner Heinz Steinmann’s impressive gray colt won the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita over the weekend, and he is the likely favorite for the G1 Santa Anita Derby.
Steinmann bought Creative Cause for $135,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale and has won $719,000 with the improving colt. A G1 winner in the Norfolk Stakes last year, Creative Cause was also second and third at that level in the Del Mar Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The latter race put him third behind divisional leaders Hansen and Union Rags. Now all three have shown good form this season and should help to make this a most competitive classic season.
One of the talented 3-year-olds who seems likely to focus his racing on distances up to a mile is another colt from the Storm Cat line. Trinniberg won the G3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday. The quick-moving bay set early fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 and motored home by six lengths in 1:21 3/5.
Trinniberg would be a danger to become the first $1,000 yearling from the recent bloodstock depression to win a G1, except that he sold for $1,500 at the Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale in 2010. The brawny colt also resold at last year’s OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training for $21,000.
Trinniberg is from the first crop of the Johannesburg stallion Teuflesberg, who now stands in Florida at Journeyman Stud. Second in the G1 Hopeful and the G2 Nashua last season, Trinniberg is the first graded stakes winner for his sire.
Teuflesberg and leading freshman sire Scat Daddy are both sires of graded winners, and both are sons of Johannesburg, who was an international champion at 2. Johannesburg was the best son of Hennessy, one of the best-looking and most precocious sons of Storm Cat. All showed their best form at distances up to a mile or a shadow beyond and are typically horses of great substance and power.
Their kinsman Giant’s Causeway differs by tending to sire horses with more stretch and sometimes a bit less body mass, and a fortuitous combination of those and other traits allow some of the better Giant’s Causeway racers to succeed at the classic distances.