The following post was first published at Paulick Report.
To win any stakes three times is a notable achievement, but for a horse to win a Grade 1 stakes three times is very special. Therefore, Joshua Tree is a horse with some special talents that he polished with his third victory in the G1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Sunday.
A 6-year-old son of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Montjeu, Joshua Tree is a stakes winner in each of his five seasons of racing. Since winning his maiden in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes in England at 2, Joshua Tree has won or placed in 15 stakes from 26 starts.
The majority of his racing (16 starts) has come the last two years, but the horse’s class has been evident all through his career. Of his 15 stakes credits, 14 are in group or graded races. All three of his G1 victories are in the Canadian International (plus a second in the 2011 running). So he clearly likes something about the track in Ontario.
This is not a horse who needs a specific track, however. Joshua Tree won the G2 Prix Kergorlay in France, and he has G1 thirds in England and Germany.
One thing that makes Joshua Tree even more interesting as an equine globetrotter is that his sire Montjeu was considered in some quarters as superior even to mighty Galileo, and both are generally acknowledged as the best racing and stallion sons of their sire Sadler’s Wells. The caveat to Montjeu’s excellence, and it is a telling one, is that the stallion’s stock were hot.
That could be translated as hot like a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, already lit.
According to a couple of knowledgeable observers in England and Ireland, more than a few Montjeus never developed their potential nor showed their true ability because their nervous systems let them down on the racecourse.
Nevertheless, Montjeu sired four winners of the English Derby (Authorized, Camelot, Motivator, and Pour Moi) and is generally accounted as the second-best son of the great Sadler’s Wells in Europe, where only Galileo stands in higher regard.
It is, therefore, a source of deep regret that Montjeu died young at age 16 in March of 2012 and that his most accomplished son, St Nicholas Abbey, was seriously injured on the gallops in July.
As expected for a sire of Montjeu’s quality, he was bred to large books of quality mares, and the dam of Joshua Tree, stakes winner Madeira Mist, is from a wonderful and very deep family that goes through Joshua Tree’s third dam Magic of Life (by Seattle Slew and winner of the G1 Coronation Stakes) to G2 winner Larida (Northern Dancer), G2 winner Kittiwake (Sea-Bird), and Ole Liz (Double Jay), a multiple stakes winner and great broodmare who predated the graded stakes program.
Likewise, the other North American G1 winner last weekend comes from a grand female family. The Irish-bred Tannery (Dylan Thomas) won the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine on the same card as the Canadian International.
Woodbine held a truly international day of racing, and the E.P. Taylor winner had already won at the G2 level at Belmont, as well as placing twice in G1 company.
Bred by Grange Stud and now owned by Richard Santulli, Tannery comes from the Sadler’s Wells mare Danse Grecque and is the mare’s first stakes winner from four foals. The second and third dams each produced a trio of stakes winners. And Danse Grecque is a half-sister to Gamut (Spectrum; G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Multicolored (Rainbow Quest; G2 Geoffrey Freer), and listed winner Athens Belle (Groom Dancer).
In addition to their fine female families, the tie among the two G1 winners at Woodbine is their connection to Sadler’s Wells, the preeminent source of classic performance around the globe, particularly on turf, where stamina and acceleration are paramount.
Less appreciated in the States, Sadler’s Wells has managed to make inroads hereabouts through his son El Prado, who has given us Kitten’s Joy (currently leading the general sire list for 2013); along with the major sire Medaglia d’Oro (sire of Preakness winner and champion Rachel Alexandra); Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, now a hot young sire; and such young prospects as Paddy O’Prado.