The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
When Alpha ran to victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, the bay son of champion Bernardini was adding another notch to the growing list of scores for his sire, who is something of a Spa specialist.
The winner of the 2006 Jim Dandy and G1 Travers, Bernardini also sired Stay Thirsty, winner of the Jim Dandy and Travers last year. Now from his second crop of 3-year-olds, Bernardini has sired his second Jim Dandy winner, and Alpha will be one of the favorites for the Travers, too.
As a son of the Horse of the Year and great sire A.P. Indy, Bernardini is one of a growing band of stallions who are bidding to extend the legacy of A.P. Indy, his sire Seattle Slew, and the Bold Ruler line into the future at the top level of American racing.
In addition to Bernardini, A.P. Indy is represented by the high-class sires Pulpit, his son Tapit (at Gainesway); Spendthrift’s star sire Malibu Moon; the promising Horse of the Year Mineshaft at Lane’s End; as well as the full brothers Flatter and Congrats.
With Congrats, Flatter, and Pulpit all bred by Claiborne, the latter pair also stand there, and the sons of A.P. Indy are well dispersed among the major farms in Kentucky.
So it is equitable that Darley stands Bernardini at its Jonabell Farm stallion operation in Lexington, hardly a stone’s throw from Keeneland racecourse. When I last saw Bernardini at the Darley stallion show earlier this month at Jonabell, the champion racehorse was glowing with health. His sleek bay coat was gleaming, his large dark eyes were flashing with energy, and he showed the animation, yet corresponding poise, of a first-class stallion and racehorse.
And as a son of A.P. Indy, the most consistent source of classic ability in American breeding, Bernardini is getting a steady supply of high-end racing prospects with scope and quality and great vitality. Some have the edge of speed to allow them sprinting success, but seemingly all of them are better at a mile or more.
That was the case with Alpha, bred by Darley and racing in the blue silks of the Maktoum family’s Godolphin racing stable. The colt debuted at Saratoga last year, winning a seven-furlong maiden by six lengths. After that positive introduction to the game, Alpha made a tremendous leap in class to finish second in the G1 Champagne Stakes, five and a quarter lengths behind Union Rags.
Such good form indicated Alpha had a serious chance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he squandered the opportunity with a meltdown in the starting gate and finished far back.
Alpha returned to New York where he took the Count Fleet and Withers stakes early this year at Aqueduct over extended mile trips. Alpha confirmed the quality of his New York form with a neck second to then-undefeated Gemologist (Tiznow) in the G1 Wood Memorial, but both colts finished in the ruck behind I’ll Have Another in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
Alpha has rebounded to good form, he is one of Bernardini’s 11 graded winners, and Alpha is the fifth stakes horse for his dam, the Nijinsky mare Munnaya. He is notably the best. The 21-year-old Munnaya also produced Mystic Melody (Seattle Slew), who won the listed Prix Coronation, ran second in the G3 Prix Vanteaux, and was third in the G3 Prix des Reservoirs.
Munnaya has a trio of stakes-placed offspring, and the best of them is the Mt. Livermore mare Lavender Sky, who ran second in the San Gorgonio Handicap, third in the Santa Ana and Dahlia handicaps, all G2 races.
Among the first wave of Maktoum homebred stock, Munnaya showed ability as a racer, winning the Oaks Trial, and she is one of three listed stakes winner out of her dam, the Alydar mare Hiaam. The others are Sheer Reason (Danzig), who won the Criterium d’Evry and ran third in the G2 Prix Robert Papin, and Mall Queen (Sheikh Albadou), who won the Prix Yacowlef and ran third in the G3 Prix d’Arenberg.
When acquired at auction as a yearling, Hiaam (Alydar) cost Darley Stud Management $1.5 million at the 1985 Keeneland July sale and was sold by Three Chimneys Farm, acting as agent for Albert Clay, Robert Clay, and Warner Jones. Hiaam was a lovely yearling, full of quality, and she made up into a very attractive and quite lengthy filly who showed her best form at 2, winning the G3 Princess Margaret Stakes.
Bringing the sixth-highest price among sales fillies of 1985, Hiaam was the fourth foal of her dam Kamar (Key to the Mint), who was champion 3-year-old filly in Canada. Kamar’s first foal was Key to the Moon (Wajima), who proved a champion 3-year-old colt in 1984 and winner of the Queen’s Plate.
Kamar wasn’t done producing stars. The mare’s sixth foal was G1 winner Gorgeous (Slew o’ Gold), and her seventh was Seaside Attraction (Seattle Slew), winner of the Kentucky Oaks and dam of champion Golden Attraction (Mr. Prospector), G1 winner and good sire Cape Town (Seeking the Gold), and the useful stakes winner and stallion Cape Canaveral (Mr. Prospector).
If Alpha follows in the footsteps of Stay Thirsty to win the Travers, this will make the colt a G1 winner and a significant stallion prospect from a deep family.
Currently, Munnaya has a 2-year-old full brother to Alpha. The mare was barren to Street Sense in 2011, and she produced a Desert Party colt this year.