A 17-year-old son of Storm Cat, Giant’s Causeway has long held the position as his sire’s most important son at stud, and he stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, which also stands Storm Cat’s other surviving son of considerable importance, the blazing fast Tale of the Cat.
Sons of Storm Cat, which once littered the landscape like so many overgrown tom cats, are becoming rather scarce nowadays. Of the surviving sons by Storm Cat, only Giant’s Causeway and Tale of the Cat have retained the confidence of the commercial markets.
Furthermore, a couple of quite good sons, Harlan and Forest Wildcat, died young. Hennessy died fairly young, and his best son, Johannesburg, went to Japan after some disappointment at Ashford. Those are the misfortunes that befall all stallion lines; nothing in them is new for the Storm Cat line.
And that situation underlines the tremendous difficulty of maintaining a male line at the top level.
Giant’s Causeway, however, would rate as a proper mainstay of any male line. He is one of the most popular sires internationally, and he is regularly represented by runners in top events around the globe. His stock show form on turf and on dirt, as well as synthetic, and they tend to train well and may race several years.
If events go as hoped, the stallion may gain another distinction that has yet eluded him. Giant’s Causeway has never had an Eclipse champion in the U.S.
That could change if his daughter Take Charge Brandi wins the Grade 1 Starlet (formerly Hollywood Starlet) this weekend (Ed. Note: which she did). The flashy chestnut 2-year-old won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last month in a mammoth upset, and in a year without a single dominating filly, she could earn the statuette for leading juvenile filly with a repeat success at Del Mar this weekend.
Three weeks after the Juvenile Fillies, Take Charge Brandi went to Delta Downs and took home the winner’s share of that track’s richly endowed G3 Delta Princess. Victory in the Starlet would give her three high-profile successes in a row at season’s end, against any who dared come forth, and Take Charge Brandi would pack a punch with Eclipse voters as a result.
But how different the situation looks than it did two months ago. In the G1 Alcibiades on Oct. 3, the filly was pounded into eighth, beaten 11 ½ lengths by Peace and War (by War Front) after setting fast fractions to the turn at Keeneland. Even worse, that was Take Charge Brandi’s fourth consecutive loss in graded company after winning her debut in a sprint at Churchill Downs on June 22.
Perhaps that impressed some that the filly was a sprinter, but such a limitation would be an anomaly for Giant’s Causeway. He frequently gets milers, but few are sprinters, and some are better over longer distances.
The stallion is sire of Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron, Italian champion Primary (Gran Premio d’Italia), the champion New Zealand stayer Showcause, and French Derby winner Shamardal, who has also been his sire’s most important son at stud.
In Take Charge Brandi, out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, Giant’s Causeway has sired a filly with speed, but when allowed to ration it somewhat, Take Charge Brandi carried her form to an altogether higher level.
In looking back at the form, Take Charge Brandi may well have been overmatched against fillies with greater strength and maturity until the Breeders’ Cup, where she also found a track that suited her running style, and Take Charge Brandi responded with a front-running success that catapulted her to national prominence.
Had she never won another race, cautious observers would have written her off, but a third victory in a row would mark her as a notably better filly than the one we saw in the summer at Saratoga and in the fall at Keeneland.
She is also noteworthy for toughness. The Starlet will be the eighth start in less than six months for Take Charge Brandi. From seven starts, she has won three so far, with earnings of $1.4 million.
Owned by Willis Horton and trained by Wayne Lukas, Take Charge Brandi is out of a half-sister to last year’s champion 3-year-old colt, Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song), who was owned and trained by the same people.
The dam of Charming and Will Take Charge, as well as G1 winner Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy), is the outstanding racemare and producer Take Charge Lady (Dehere). The lovely mare started off her production career with Charming, who was a good-looking and pricey yearling.
As a producer of quality, Take Charge Lady made her first mark on the track with Take Charge Indy, who won the Florida Derby and now stands at WinStar Farm. Will Take Charge enters stud next year at Three Chimneys Farm, and the big, flashy chestnut is apparently quite popular with breeders already.
This is a live family, and Take Charge Brandi is another glittering star in Take Charge Lady’s constellation.
*The preceding post was first published last week at Paulick Report.