The following post, in a slightly different form, first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Bourbon Courage had not cantered back to the winner’s circle after his victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 Super Derby before one candid observer taking a break after looking at Keeneland September sales yearlings said: “They ought to send a ship to Turkey and bring a couple of those horses back.”
He was referring to the astute purchases that the Turkish Jockey Club has made on behalf of Thoroughbred breeders in that country. Funded by the government of Turkey through a levy on betting turnover at the country’s racetracks, the Jockey Club of Turkey has been a consistent buyer of quality stallions for 20-plus years. It also offers breeders’ significant incentives to purchase mares and import them to Turkey to breed and raise racing stock for the country’s sport.
The Jockey Club of Turkey or the country’s breeders have a penchant for Kentucky Derby winners and classic-quality stallions who have fallen out of favor in Kentucky. Among the earlier purchases of the Jockey Club of Turkey were the Kentucky Derby winners Sea Hero (by Polish Navy) and Strike the Gold (Alydar), who became a leading sire for their racing program.
Through their advisers, which included bloodstock consultant Ric Waldman, the Jockey Club of Turkey made their savviest purchase in January of 2010 with the package deal from Coolmore that secured G1 winner and Kentucky Derby second Lion Heart (Tale of the Cat), champion Dehere (Deputy Minister), and the multiple G1 winner Powerscourt (Sadler’s Wells).
The first two horses were the stars of that year’s stallion purchases, which also included Yonaguska (Cherokee Run) and Cuvee (Carson City), and events of the past couple of weeks have underscored how much American breeding has lost through the sale of Lion Heart and Dehere, in particular.
The latter is the broodmare sire of G1 Spinaway Stakes winner So Many Ways (Sightseeing), and Lion Heart is the sire of Bourbon Courage, as well as Uncaptured, a 2-year-old colt at Woodbine in Canada who is unbeaten in four starts and won the Swynford Stakes on Sunday by three and a quarter lengths.
Uncaptured is among the last crop of foals left by Lion Heart, a smallish but beautifully balanced horse who carried his speed past nine furlongs in top company. As an influence for soundness, consistency, quality, and speed, he was a very well-adapted horse for the North American breeding program.
Mike McMahon, who with Jamie Hill bought Bourbon Courage and put the colt into the Bourbon Lane Stable partnership, said that he “thought Lion Heart was a better sire than he was given credit for and possessed more stamina than most people seemed to expect.”
Now Lion Heart is gone, but the stallion clearly left some good sons, including Bourbon Courage, whose female family also largely has gone to Japan. The colt’s fourth dam is champion racemare Chris Evert (Swoon’s Son), and his third dam is her stakes-winning daughter Six Crowns (Secretariat).
Six Crowns was a much better producer than she was even as a racehorse. Her most famous foal was champion Chief’s Crown (Danzig), who was from the first crop by Danzig and won eight G1 stakes to emphasize his quality. The mare then produced a second multiple G1 winner in Classic Crown (Mr. Prospector), who the Frizette and Gazelle, was second in the Beldame and Ruffian, third in the Test, all at the premium level.
Classic Crown came around in the not so fine days of the late 1980s, when the tax-law revisions crushed investors in the Thoroughbred industry and several other areas. As a direct result, many high-profile Thoroughbreds were sold overseas, including Classic Crown and several of her siblings.
Ironically, only one daughter of Six Crowns produced a stakes winner anywhere in the world. Jeweled Crown (Seattle Slew) foaled Silk Phoenix (Adjudicating) in Japan, where she won the Empress Hai Stakes and placed in three others.
Although the stakes winners skipped a generation, at least five granddaughters of Six Crowns have produced stakes winners, including Bourbon Courage, who is out of the Carson City mare Shine Forth.