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The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.

When the dust settled after Saturday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, Godolphin’s English-bred filly Questing became the second G1 winner for second-crop sire Hard Spun (by Danzig) at the direct expense of her sire’s first G1 winner Zo Impressive, who won the Mother Goose last month and ran second in the nine-furlong CCA Oaks.

Overall, this was quite a good weekend for Hard Spun, whose daughter Filare l’Oro took second place in the Virginia Oaks. The sire of 11 stakes winners to date, Hard Spun was second among first-crop sires last year, and he ranks second among his contemporaries this season, too.

Winner of the G1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga, Hard Spun ran second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby behind juvenile champion Street Sense (Street Cry) and ahead of eventual divisional champion and Horse of the Year Curlin. In later encounters with his top contemporaries, Hard Spun was third to Curlin and Street Sense in the Preakness, second to Any Given Saturday in the Haskell, and second to Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Clearly, Hard Spun was a highly competitive member of a high-class group of colts in 2007.

This was also the year that Darley dived into the deep end of the American stallion market and sent three of the colts above (Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Any Given Saturday) to stud at their Jonabell stallion operation in 2008, along with the year-older Discreet Cat.

It was almost an embarrassment of riches, and as my associate Bob Fierro at the biomechanics and pedigree analysis firm DataTrack International noted, “This was a very closely matched group of horses, both on the racetrack and in their projections as stallion prospects.”

DataTrack takes the physical measurements of stallions and mares, runs the data through some computer models for analysis, and projects which are the most likely to produce successful offspring, both with one another and with the general population.

The star of the 2008 entering stallion crop on their raw numbers was Flashy Bull, but Fierro noted that “we rank our projections based on the quality and size of the stallions’ books, along with other factors, and with such a closely matched group, the ones with the early success had to be those who got the best mares, or the most compatible mares, and had their offspring placed in the right hands on the right surface.”

Questing rates as one of those who has traveled to find her best surface and form. Conceived in Kentucky and foaled in England, she raced there initially, running second in the Oh So Sharp and third in the Prestige Stakes, both G3s, when trained by John Gosden.

Imported to race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last season, where she finished a respectable but non-threatening fifth behind divisional champion My Miss Aurelia and G1 winner Grace Hall, Questing had not shown premium form in her two races on turf this season while trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Switched to racing on dirt in her previous start, however, the bay filly out of the Seeking the Gold mare Chercheuse won a salty-looking allowance for 3-year-olds and up at Belmont on June 24 and came into the CCA Oaks with a flashy speed figure rating off that victory.

Now Questing is a G1 winner, and along with her adversary Zo Impressive, they should give their sire a strong hand among fillies racing a mile or more the rest of the season.

Just as Questing has emerged as a premium member of this year’s two-turn fillies, her sire Hard Spun has proven himself among the best of his contemporaries at stud. Currently ranked second behind second-crop sire leader Scat Daddy, who stands at Ashford for Coolmore, Hard Spun is joined in the top five by the Darley pair of Street Sense and Discreet Cat, and by the Lane’s End stallion English Channel.

Airdrie’s Flashy Bull, the deceased stallions Lawyer Ron and Master Command, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Corinthian (Gainesway), and After Market (Lane’s End) fill out the top 10 leading second-crop sires.

Of the top 3-year-old colts of 2007, Curlin raced on another year, added a second Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year and champion older horse, and has his first foals coming to the races this season.

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