The following note was published on the second day of the Saratoga select yearling sale last week.
The Northern Dancer line in North America is much thinner than a generation ago. Although Danzig’s son War Front appears a bright star on the horizon, Storm Cat was the line’s great hope for a continued dominance here in the States through that stallion’s speed and versatility, but he is gone now, and only a couple of his sons, Giant’s Causeway and Tale of the Cat, are left to carry on at the top level.
How different is the story in Europe!
Northern Dancer is not just all the rage. He is all the breed.
Mighty Sadler’s Wells led the sires’ tables abroad for a generation, and other members of the Northern Dancer line filled the minor spots in the racing program and leader boards over the years to a rather alarming degree.
But instead of fading away, as is the norm with stallion lines, Sadler’s Wells sired a pair of sons who have emerged over the past several years as eminent successors to his legacy. While one of these, Arc de Triomphe winner Montjeu, is lamentably dead too soon, the other is Galileo.
The best sire in Europe, and very probably the best sire in the world, Galileo is moreover a genuine Northern Dancer type.
Racing men could argue about the type of horse sired by Storm Cat. The Storm Cat type tended to be heavier than that of his grandsire, as well as typically less suited to racing past eight or nine furlongs. The Montjeus were big classic types, even rangy, and possessed of an enthusiasm and inner character that sometimes exceeded the patience of their handlers.
But the Galileos are just right. They tend to be beautifully balanced, quick-actioned, and strong. They also frequently possess the willingness to rate and to use their ability to quicken when it will do them the most good. And win more races.
This year alone, Galileo has out three classic winners, including the winners of both the English Derby and its French equivalent, the Prix du Jockey Club.
Unfortunately, we see very few Galileos in the States. But a pair of fillies are in the Saratoga select yearling sale as Hips 44 and 129.
Both are Irish-bred fillies born early in the year and are out of élite mares. Hip 44 is a Jan. 15 foal out of the French classic winner Elusive Wave (Elusive City), and Hip 129 is a Feb. 15 foal out of a Storm Cat mare who has produced three stakes horses. The best of those is G1 winner Magnificent Song (Unbridled’s Song), and the two others are group stakes-placed.
Let’s hope these fillies encourage a trend of bringing over more and more of the offspring of this splendid sire so that our racing and breeding can be replenished with this excellent line of Thoroughbreds from Northern Dancer.
[Note: Both fillies were, by the standards of the super-select yearling market, rather immature. That may be fairly typical among the Galileos, since they make such good 3-year-olds. Hip 44 was unsold from the Paramount Sales consignment at $345,000, and Hip 192 sold out of Eaton Sales, agent, for $600,000 to Spendthrift Farm.]