Love’s abounding for Cupid (by Tapit) after his sharp-looking victory in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19. The good-looking gray won his second race and first stakes from four starts and now has earned $587,500.
This effort will be enough to propel Cupid into the talk about the Kentucky Derby, but even coming out of the Bob Baffert training barn, Cupid is clearly less experienced and less tested than many of his competitors, including class leaders Nyquist (Uncle Mo) and Mohaymen (also by Tapit).
In addition, Cupid is yet another May foal in the leading tier of this crop, along with Mohaymen, who was foaled May 2. Cupid was born on May 19 and was bred in Kentucky by JKG Thoroughbreds LLC. Consigned to the Keeneland September sale in 2014 through Van Meter Sales, agent, the colt sold for $900,000 to M.V. Magnier and races for Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith.
In addition to the colt’s good looks and marquee sire, he was a legitimate candidate to return a major sale because he is a half-brother to three other stakes winners: G3 stakes winners Ashley’s Kitty and Heart Ashley (by Tale of the Cat and his son Lion Heart), plus stakes winner Indianapolis (Medaglia d’Oro).
Their dam is the Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, who ran third in the G2 Railbird Stakes in 2001. As a racer, Pretty ‘n Smart was considerably better than an empty stall, but as a broodmare, she has been much more. From eight foals to race, all are winners, and half are stakes winners, three at graded level.
That’s what breeders hope for when they bring home a new mare.
Pretty ‘n Smart is a half-sister to multiple G3 winner Hostess (Chester House), whose most impressive race was probably the G3 Glens Falls Handicap, in which she set a new course record for 11 furlongs at Saratoga. Till Pretty ‘n Smart and Hostess showed up, this family had gone quiet for a generation when the third dam, the Secretariat mare Office Affair, had not produced a black-type horse among her seven winners in two hemispheres.
Office Affair’s dam, however, was a much different proposition. She is Mlle. Liebe, a daughter of Buckpasser’s half-brother Bupers (Double Jay), who produced two stakes winners and two daughters who produced stakes winners.
So, Cupid has an interesting family with some good relations. Looking at the big picture of his ancestors, Cupid counts 10 winners of the English Triple Crown in his pedigree and six winners of the American. The English Triple Crown winners in Cupid’s pedigree are West Australian (won in 1853), Gladiateur (1865), Lord Lyon (1866), Ormonde (1886), Isinglass (1893), Flying Fox (1899), Rock Sand (1903), Gay Crusader (1917), Gainsborough (1918), and Nijinsky (1970). The American Triple Crown winners in Cupid’s ancestry are Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Count Fleet (1943), Secretariat (1973), and Seattle Slew (1977).
In working up these snippets of information, I also discovered that there have been at least 18 previous Cupids, and almost certainly others that I didn’t find.
The earliest recorded Cupid was one by the Darley Arabian back in the early 18th century when the breeders of Thoroughbreds were largely gentlemen looking for sport, and the breed was not a canonized emblem of pedigree and certified lineage.
The Rebel Stakes winner is the youngest Cupid, although there was another one (bay filly by Fastnet Rock) foaled in 2012 in Australia.
Prior to the current Cupid, one of the most accomplished was a colt by Generous out of the Foolish Pleasure mare Idyllic who won the Ballysax Stakes in 1999 as a 3-year-old and had been third in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud the previous year. In addition to France and Ireland, Cupid (1996) also raced in Australia and Hong Kong and made 98 starts.
The other highly accomplished Cupid was a Vertex gelding out of Nymph (Sun Again), who was foaled in 1961. A chestnut gelding, Cupid (1961) improved greatly with age and won the Paumonok Handicap at 4, then the San Carlos Handicap at 5, when he also finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap.
As these and other Cupids will teach us, amid the slings and arrows of outrageous racing fortune, love of the horse is the one glorious certainty.