The following post was first published last week at Paulick Report.
“I can’t use a turf horse” is probably the most perplexing and commonplace remark from stallion managers, who took another tumble over that directive, as turf champion Kitten’s Joy rang up yet another Grade 1 winner with Kitten’s Dumplings in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Saturday.
There is, however, at least a dram of truth in every breeding nostrum. For instance, “pure sprinters don’t make stallions” has been well known for decades, especially among breeders with an eye for European form, and one of the reasons that Irish and English breeders fought shy of such sprinters for so long was the breeders’ sore experiences with sires like the high-weighted European sprinter Double Form (by high-weight miler and great sire Habitat).
In Double Form, here was a most likeable individual, with a game but easygoing temperament, who improved from a useful Timeform rating of 123 at 3 to a high-class 130 at 4. Twice G1-placed as a 3-year-old, Double Form graduated into the premier league with a vengeance the next season.
Double Form retired to stud at one of the Airlie Stud satellite farms in Ireland, where he received good-sized books of promising mares due to his racing class and the very high esteem held for his sire, Habitat, who stood at Airlie’s Grangewilliam Stud in Kildare.
The results were more than disappointing.
The stallion’s offspring were not precocious, nor especially talented. One who persevered and succeeded was Double Schwartz, winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp at 5. The outstanding exception to the norm among Double Form’s progeny was Huntingdale, who won the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at 2 in 1985 and was his sire’s highest-rated offspring by Timeform (132 at 2). Huntingdale never won again, but his best subsequent effort was third in the 1986 2,000 Guineas behind Dancing Brave and Green Desert.
In complete contrast to his own racing and breeding career, Double Form’s full sister Belle Époque became the third dam of Kitten’s Dumplings.
A foal of 1980 and five years younger than her famous brother, Belle Époque was a non-winner in 15 starts over two seasons of racing at 3 and 4. Then at stud, she proved notably better, getting four winners, including G3 winner Aminata, by the modestly successful Northern Dancer stallion Glenstal.
One of the least of Belle Epoque’s offspring was the Sadler’s Wells mare Franziska, who couldn’t have caught a cold and never finished on the board in seven outings.
Like her dam, she proved better as a producer. Although not the dam of a black-type performer, Franziska’s biggest earner was Kanesu Espoir (Kris S.), who won $208,325 in Japan, and her best winner and money earner at home was Granny Franny, a bay daughter of Grand Slam who ran out $68,137 in earnings from three victories in 10 starts.
A $120,000 2-year-old in training at the OBS February sale in 2006, Granny Franny sold to Dogwood Stable. In Granny Franny’s fifth start, the stable lost Granny Franny when they dropped her in for $45,000 maiden claiming, and Ramsey Farm claimed her for $40,000 in the filly’s next start.
Given one more race in New York, Granny Franny then won three straight at Turfway in northern Kentucky in maiden special and allowance company, which repaid Ramsey for the acquisition costs of the filly.
Claimed primarily for the Ramsey Farm broodmare band, Granny Franny has been married to farm stallion Kitten’s Joy, and Kitten’s Dumplings is the mare’s second foal by that stallion. All of Granny Franny’s three foals to race by Kitten’s Joy are winners, and in addition to the Queen Elizabeth winner, the mare’s 2-year-old, a full sister named Granny Mc’s Kitten, is the winner of the P.G. Johnson Stakes.
Granny Franny has a yearling colt by Kitten’s Joy and has shown her value as a producer already. By doing that, Granny Franny took the measure of the breeding prescription “not to breed to mares with a blank dam.” Another one bites the dust.