The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Anyone could easily forgive the accomplished and successful stallion City Zip for having a Rodney Dangerfield complex. In the words of the famously downtrodden comedian, he “don’t get no respect.”
This attitude flies directly in the face of the facts, however, because the chunky chestnut son of Carson City currently ranks fourth among North American sires, has nine stakes winners this year, and among them is Dayatthespa, who won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Saturday.
Furthermore, City Zip stands for a reasonable-looking 2012 stud fee of $20,000 live foal at Lane’s End, and the horse had some two dozen stakes horses last season. In all, City Zip gets sound racers (78% starters), with lots of winners (60%) and enough stakes winners (7%) to rank as a sire comparable to Crafty Prospector.
City Zip’s current stud fee is higher than the one on which the 2012 crop of yearlings was bred. Conceived in 2010 on a fee of $12,500 live foal, the resulting yearlings this year have sold for an average price of $47,650 and a median figure of $44,000.
There are very few stallions whose sales numbers show a multiple of three times the stud fee or more, which is a multiple of the fee that generally allows breeders to have a fair chance to make a profit.
Part of the reason that City Zip flies beneath the radar of widespread acclaim is that his stock tend to be fast and they tend to be sprinters and milers, not classic-contending colts. Dayatthespa is among her sire’s most accomplished racers, and she scored her G1 victory at nine furlongs over the Keeneland turf course.
Another part of the mystery is that in spite of a clear bias from the commercial market in favor of dirt horses, City Zip has had unexpected success with his offspring racing on turf. City Zip himself was a premium performer on standard dirt tracks, with a special affection for Saratoga, where he won the Sanford, Saratoga Special, Amsterdam, and dead-heated for victory in the G1 Hopeful Stakes.
In the case of Dayatthespa, however, there does appear to be a reason for her preference for turf, in addition to her sire’s positive influence. The chestnut filly is out of the Doc’s Leader mare M’lady Doc, and Alfred Nuckols, who bred and stood Doc’s Leader (by Mr. Leader) at Hurstland Farm in Midway, Ky., said that “all the runners by Doc’s Leader tended to do well on turf, like Phi Beta Doc.”
Phi Beta Doc won the G2 Saranac Stakes and the listed Virginia Derby among his four stakes victories and ran in the money of a half-dozen more stakes on his preferred surface. In addition to being one of the best runners by Doc’s Leader, Phi Beta Doc is also a full brother to M’lady Doc, the dam of Dayatthespa. Nuckols noted that one of the four remaining Doc’s Leader mares that he owns is yet another full sister to the pair just mentioned.
These three full siblings are out of the non-winning mare Smart Queen. Her sire, King Pellinore, was a magnificently pedigreed son of Horse of the Year Round Table out of the tremendous broodmare Thong. A daughter of Rough Shod and a full sister to Moccasin, Thong produced leading European sire Thatch, her daughter Special produced Nureyev, and Special’s daughter Fairy Bridge produced Sadler’s Wells.
Winner of the G1 Champions Invitational at Santa Anita on dirt and second in the Irish Derby and St Leger on turf, King Pellinore was a top-class member of this family on the racetrack. But he was close to nothing at stud.
Part of the problem may have been temperament. Nuckols recalled that King Pellinore was “one mean son of a gun. He was the first horse to run me out of a paddock when I was a lot younger.”
King Pellinore’s attitude to the world did not prevent his daughter Smart Queen from becoming a good broodmare. The dam of two stakes winners and a stakes-placed horse, Smart Queen was 21 when she produced M’lady Doc, and this is not the only instance of “old-mare” production in this pedigree.
A foal of 1970, Clever Bird (Swoon’s Son) is the third dam of Dayatthespa and produced Smart Queen as a 7-year-old. Best known as the dam of Arkansas Derby and Louisiana Derby winner Clev Er Tell (Tell), Clever Bird was foaled when her dam, the Alibhai mare Sally Catbird, was 20.
Nuckols said that the family descending from Sally Catbird had been part of his family’s breeding tradition since the mare’s acquisition in the 1960s. He still owns Doc’s Leading Lady, a full sister to M’lady Doc, and the mare’s yearling filly by Smoke Glacken.