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The following article appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.

Bodemeister’s victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on Saturday was the most eye-catching of the Kentucky Derby preps as the handsome bay son of Empire Maker strode away from his victims down the stretch at Oaklawn Park to win by nine and a half lengths.

The performance holds further interest for students of pedigree and bloodlines because the first and second (Secret Circle) home in the race are by sons of Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled. While the winner is a son of classic winner Empire Maker, Secret Circle is by Eddington, a G1 winner who also ran third in the Preakness Stakes.

Such racing class was the reason that Unbridled excelled as a sire of top-class athletes and is the reason that Unbridled rose to become one of the premier stallions in the world before his early death.

A rangy bay son of Fappiano out of the Le Fabuleux mare Gana Facil, Unbridled was an outstanding racehorse and sire, and he proved to possess the highest class among the several sons of Fappiano who became known more for their classic aptitudes than for the miler speed typically associated with the Mr. Prospector line.

Unbridled, in fact, sired a winner of each Triple Crown race. Grindstone won the Derby, Red Bullet the Preakness, and Empire Maker the Belmont. The big, mettlesome colt was widely expected to win the Derby also after his earlier successes in the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial, but he battled a bruised foot in the weeks between the Wood and the first Saturday in May.  Funny Cide won the first round, beating Empire Maker in the Derby, then lost the Triple Crown to his rival in the final leg of the classic series. Empire Maker did not contest the Preakness.

In addition to his high racing class, Empire Maker was one of four G1 winners out of the marvelous broodmare Toussaud. The mare’s other foals to win at the premium level were Chester House (Mr. Prospector; Arlington Million), Honest Lady (Seattle Slew; Santa Monica and second in the BC Sprint and Metropolitan Handicap against colts), and Chiselling (Woodman; Secretariat Stakes).

Chester House became a good stallion, siring Metropolitan Handicap winner Divine Park and Ventura, winner of the G1 Woodbine Mile and the BC Filly Sprint, as well as three additional G1 events. As these suggest, Chester House sired horses more in the fast miler mold of his sire, while Empire Maker was distinctly classic in outlook.

Empire Maker also went to stud with exceptionally high expectations. Standing at owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms in Lexington for $100,000 live foal, Empire Maker was consistently popular with breeders and with the sales market, when his best offspring could be found in the marketplace.

Homebreeders tended to get the best of them, with the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments racing champion Royal Delta, along with Stonerside (Country Star), Zayat Stable (Pioneerof the Nile), and Helen Alexander and Helen Groves (Acoma). The stallion has sired 29 stakes winners from six crops and has been among the leading sires.

Despite his successes, Empire Maker was sold toward the end of 2010 to the Japan Bloodstock Breeders’ Association, and he now stands at Shizunai Stallion Station on the island of Hokkaido.

Bodemeister is from the fifth crop by Empire Maker, who still has 2-year-olds and yearlings among his North American-sired stock.

Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm and racing for Zayat Stables, Bodemeister is the second colt by the stallion to win at the top level, following Pioneerof the Nile, who also raced for Zayat and won the Futurity at Hollywood and ran second in the Kentucky Derby.

Bodemeister is out of the Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent, an uncommonly attractive and quite talented mare. She found favor also in the sales ring, selling for $310,000 at Keeneland September in 2005, for $500,000 as a Barretts 2-year-old in training, for $850,000 as a stakes-winning 2-year-old at Fasig-Tipton November, and for $1.2 million as a broodmare carrying her first foal (by Unbridled’s Song) at Keeneland November in 2007.

That colt died without racing, and Bodemeister is his dam’s second foal. The mare did not have a foal of 2010, but she has a yearling filly by Smart Strike and a filly at her side by Tiznow.

Bodemeister’s classic ties do not cease in his female family, as his second dam is the G3 stakes winner Parade Queen, a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, and third dam is stakes winner Spanish Parade, by English Derby winner Roberto.

If ever a colt was bred for the classics, surely this is one.

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