With an emphatic victory in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 3, Greenpointcrusader (by Bernardini) marked himself as one of the principal contenders for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The same afternoon at Keeneland, Brody’s Cause (Giant’s Causeway) won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and nominated himself for a serious role in the race most likely to decide champion 2-year-old colt with a close victory over favored Exaggerator (Curlin).
In addition to stepping forward as principals for the Juvenile, Greenpointcrusader and Brody’s Cause are also emblematic of the great international rivalry between the operations that stand their sires. Bernardini was bred in Kentucky by Darley and raced for Godolphin, and the bay son of A.P. Indy stands at Darley’s Jonabell stallion farm in Lexington. Giant’s Causeway was bred and raced by the titans of Coolmore, and the chestnut son of Storm Cat stands at Coolmore’s American satellite, Ashford.

Through the early years of the 2000s, Darley was the leading buyer of premium stallion prospects, and while they have gone relatively quiet the past half-dozen years, Coolmore has stepped up its pattern of acquisitions by purchasing successive juvenile champions in the U.S., from Lookin at Lucky to American Pharoah, and the 2015 Triple Crown winner will enter stud at Ashford in 2016.

Now Godolphin has parried Coolmore’s great stroke with the announcement last week that 2015 Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn will retire to their Dalham Hall stud in England.

So the two best and most acclaimed 3-year-old colts in the world this year will retire to the studs of the major newsmakers in international breeding.

And what does this matter to the pair of high-class colts mentioned in the first paragraph? One or both are good bets to be acquired by Coolmore or Darley sometime in the next year.

Greenpointcrusader, for instance, would be of special interest to Godolphin because they stand the sire, and the Champagne Stakes winner is the 13th G1 stakes winner for Bernardini. That is an exceptional statistic.

Even more than Bernardini’s percentages overall, his strike rate with the outstanding broodmare Ava Knowsthecode (Cryptoclearance) is amazing. From three foals, the pair have three winners and two graded stakes winners, G3 winner Algorithms and G1 winner Greenpointcrusader.

The only one of the three not a stakes winner is the one that Godolphin bought, Encode. A big, scopy, grand-looking colt, Encode sold at the 2011 Keeneland September sale for $625,000 to John Ferguson and won a maiden from two starts. So it would seem that he followed his siblings’ pattern in possessing talent.

Of the three, Algorithms came first as a foal of 2009 and sold for $170,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2010. Unbeaten in three starts, the scopy bay defeated champion Hansen in the G3 Holy Bull Stakes, then was injured and never raced again. Standing at Claiborne Farm, Algorithms has a legitimate shot to be a stallion, having a very active male line and being out of a great broodmare.

Ava Knowsthecode could not be better named because the mare apparently knows the code to genetic success, and from 14 foals, she has six stakes winners. Five are graded stakes winners. Greenpointcrusader and Justin Phillip (First Samurai) are G1 winners; Keyed Entry (Honour and Glory) was a G2 winner; Algorithms and Successful Mission (Successful Appeal) won at the G3 level; and that slacker Alex’s Allure (Sky Classic) was only a listed winner.

Ava Knowsthecode has a yearling colt by Giant’s Causeway, and that flashy chestnut went through the September sale last month for $300,000 to Rigney Racing.

Cathy Parke has foaled and raised the foals out of Ava Knowsthecode for breeder Oakbrook Farm, and she said that the mare has a weanling colt by Giant’s Causeway. Parke said, “Ava Knowsthecode had a very good colt in May, and we gave her the year off” because of the late delivery.

Greenpointcrusader was also a May foal when he came to the yearling sale 13 months ago, “but he didn’t look like a May foal,” Parke recalled, and J.J. Crupi, acting for the partnership that owns the Champagne winner, “loved him” and bought the colt for $575,000.

With five stakes winners already on the page, Greenpointcrusader proved a very good buy when he went through the ring, and Parke believes that a pair of prejudices sent buyers elsewhere, rather than homing in on the Champagne Stakes winner.

First is the preference for foals born earlier in the year and the dismissal of May foals as not being “early enough.” With a maiden victory in the summer and a G1 success on the first weekend of October, however, Greenpointcrusader seems to have slain that bogey man.

The second prejudice “is against older mares’ foals,” Parke said. “When a yearling looks like an ‘old mare’s foal’ with not much substance or vitality, I can understand passing that by. But when a yearling is strong, progressive, and very robust, I don’t understand that.”

Of course, Ava Knowsthecode isn’t your average mare.

Even at 21, Parke said, “She looks like a 12-year-old, carries her weight well, is sound and happy. Depending on how her owner feels about it, we might even breed her early next year.”

That would have to be even more tempting if the Champagne winner wheels back with a victory at Keeneland in the championship event. Whether Greenpointcrusader wins the Juvenile or not, doesn’t the mare have to be a lock for Broodmare of the Year?