The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
In the tempestuous seas of Thoroughbred bloodlines, the recognition of quality in a family comes and goes like the change of tides. Champion 2-year-old My Miss Aurelia, for example, has proven that she is a racehorse of top quality and high courage. If any doubted that, her game victory over Alabama and CCA Oaks winner Questing (by Hard Spun) in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes is proof.
For in the absence of My Miss Aurelia, who had spent most of the season on the sidelines, Questing had established herself as the divisional leader, as a filly with great ability, and as a filly who stayed well and could either make her own pace or follow another’s.
So, My Miss Aurelia’s victory raises the big bay daughter of Smart Strike to an even higher level than before. And in much the same way that her ranking among her contemporaries has risen, ebbed, and risen again ever higher, the preceding generations of My Miss Aurelia’s female family have risen and fallen with their performances over the decades.
This family goes back a century to the imported English-bred Torpenhow, a daughter of Torpoint who founded an important family in America. One of the most notable branches comes through the mare’s granddaughter Apogee (Pharamond), a major winner for Hal Price Headley and a major producer for his Beaumont Farm too.
The 2-year-old filly who earned the most money in 1936, Apogee produced three stakes winners: Flood Town (Johnstown), who won a pair of stakes at 2, then the Carter at 4; Acoma (Johnstown), winner of the Debutante Stakes; and Sofarsogood (Revoked), winner of the Fashion Stakes. One of the signal qualities of this group is that they possessed early speed and maturity, all winning stakes at 2.
Headley had purchased the dam of Apogee, the Ultimus mare Summit, for $400 at the Keeneland fall sales. Among Summit’s previous foals was a mare four years older than Apogee named Firetop (Man o’ War). For John R. Macomber, she bred Columbiana, who won the Widener in 1937 against colts, and in 1941 Firetop produced the non-winning mare Flaming Top, by Triple Crown winner Omaha.
Between Flaming Top and My Miss Aurelia were some chumps, as well as champions like Claiborne’s Doubledogdare (Double Jay) and E.P. Taylor’s Flaming Page (Bull Page), winner of the Queen’s Plate and then dam of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky.
Quite possibly the low point of this line came with the Speak John mare Bright Merry, as the mare produced only the stakes-placed Pere Gedeon (Barachois). But one of his non-winning full sisters was Flight.
Flight’s first foal was the Cutlass filly Chaldea, the third dam of My Miss Aurelia. Chaldea, unlike so many in this line of racers and producers, showed her best form late, winning the G3 Bed o Roses and First Flight Handicaps as a 6-year-old in 1986 and running second in the G2 Columbiana (named for her illustrious kin) as a 7-year-old.
Flight did not produce any named foals between her first, Chaldea, in 1980 and 1985, but Chaldea was clearly a talented athlete, and the year that Chaldea became a graded stakes winner, her dam was bred to Kris S. and the following year foaled G1 winner Cheval Volant.
Winner of the G1 Hollywood Starlet and the following year’s Las Virgenes, Cheval Volant was full notice that this family had not lost its potential to produce top-quality racers.
Chaldea, naturally, produced almost nothing. Literally.
The mare had only two live foals, and the first was the Meadowlake mare Urmia, second dam of My Miss Aurelia. Urmia produced a pair of stakes winners: West Virginia Derby winner Soul Warrior (Lion Heart) and My Miss Storm Cat (Sea of Secrets, by Storm Cat).
My Miss Storm Cat had five victories from seven starts in three seasons of racing. Her best victory was the Desert Stormer Handicap, with a third in the G3 Landaluce Stakes.
Purchased in foal to Unbridled’s Song for $925,000, My Miss Storm Cat foaled stakes-placed Albergatti (Unbridled’s Song) in 2008, then champion My Miss Aurelia in 2009. The mare’s yearling, a colt by Distorted Humor, sold out of the Gainesway consignment for Stonestreet two weeks ago for $850,000, going to Shadwell.
Horses who’ve risen to this level never lack for enthusiastic buyers. And My Miss Aurelia is top class.
Just as her relations Apogee and Columbiana pummeled colts into submission, I believe that the first two home in the Cotillion are a match for any 3-year-old colt currently in training.