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

Amid tears and lamentation, fans and professionals have read reports of too many of the starring 3-year-old colts from this year’s Triple Crown having been injured, and I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, and Union Rags have been retired.

While half of the top 10 members of the class seemingly have been sent to the sidelines, a few others asserted their growing importance to the game with victories this weekend. In addition to the exciting dead-heat by Alpha and Golden Ticket in the Grade 1 Travers, Dullahan took on the older generation in the G1 Pacific Classic over 10 furlongs at Del Mar and proved a noteworthy winner, setting a new course record in the process.

Dullahan’s performance was doubly important as a testament to the quality of this crop of 3-year-olds. Third in the Kentucky Derby, Dullahan has proven that the exertions of the Triple Crown did not lay waste to the entire generation, and the chestnut colt’s strong performance at Del Mar indicated that the level of ability among this year’s 3-year-olds is at least up to par.

One of the annual questions among breeders and owners and racing fans alike is how the next generation of racers compares to its predecessors. This is a question that is challenging to answer definitively but is best assessed with multiple lines of form from competition on the racetrack.

Even before the Pacific Classic, some informed observers had begun to lament the possibility that a crop that seemed to have several quite talented members might be reduced by injury to the point that it would have no adequate lines of comparison with the older horses.

Dullahan laid those fears to rest with a workmanlike but authoritative run through the stretch at Del Mar to capture his third G1 race against some of the best older horses in the country.

With 5-year-old Game On Dude second, 7-year-old Richard’s Kid third, and 7-year-old Rail Trip fourth, Dullahan had seasoned opposition who had shown their form at the game’s highest level. Game On Dude had won the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup last month, Richard’s Kid was second in that race and had won the G1 Pacific Classic and Goodwood Handicap two years ago, and Rail Trip was winner of the G2 San Diego Handicap over this course in his last start.

Divisional leaders Ron the Greek (Santa Anita Handicap and Stephen Foster) and Wise Dan (Clark Handicap) are racing in the East and will probably encounter Dullahan later in the season.

Bred in Kentucky by Phil and Judy Needham and Bena Halecky, Dullahan is the most successful racer yet by the Unbridled’s Song stallion Even the Score, who also has sired G1 winner Take the Points and the pro-tem 2-year-old champion filly in Puerto Rico, Score Classy.

Dullahan is also the younger half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird (Birdstone), who was second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes. A big, good-looking colt with a classic-winning sibling, Dullahan sold for $250,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale and is in the stable of Donegal Racing with trainer Dale Romans.

Dullahan has earnings of more than $1.7 million, with victories in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, Blue Grass Stakes, and Pacific Classic.

The dam of Dullahan and Mine That Bird is the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own, who was unraced but has done stellar work in producing a pair of G1 winners.

Repeated success at the top level sends breeders hunting for the source, and Mining My Own has a useful but not illustrious female family. Therefore, it is likely that a significant contribution to her success as a producer lies with her sire Smart Strike, who has fashioned himself into one of the most important sons of his sire, Mr. Prospector.

In addition to being a multiple leading sire, Smart Strike is the sire of Horse of the Year Curlin, champion Lookin at Lucky, and other major performers, and as a premier stallion, Smart Strike is likely to become an increasingly important broodmare sire as his better daughters get to stud and are given chances with comparable stallions.

Mining My Own has a 2-year-old filly named Mezah by leading sire Tapit, was barren in 2011, and foaled a colt by Giant’s Causeway in 2012.

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