Half-brothers Galileo (by Sadler’s Wells) and Sea the Stars (Cape Cross) sent out the first three home in the English Derby at Epsom on June 4, and for the first time, the younger sibling, Sea the Stars, had the winner in the striking dark brown colt Harzand.
It was, therefore, a signal triumph for Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea (Miswaki), who is the dam of both Galileo and Sea the Stars. Few broodmares produce a single champion or top-class racer, and far fewer produce two. Those who produce sires of this caliber are rarer than rubies.
Bred by HH the Aga Khan, a lifelong breeder and developer of racing rubies, Harzand galloped strongly up the rising ground toward the finish at Epsom to pass Idaho, whom Harzand had defeated in his last start, and held off the closing effort of the favored US Army Ranger. The second and third are both sons of Galileo and race for Coolmore partnerships.
Like most of the stock by his famous sire, Harzand is a strongly improving racehorse, and he has won three of his four starts, each successive one being a significant step up in class and form.
Unbeaten in three starts this season, Harzand won his maiden by 16 lengths at Cork on March 23, then stepped up to win the Ballysax Stakes over Idaho and earn a spot in the Derby.
The scope of the colt’s improvement lends hope that he will continue to develop over the summer and fall, which would make good sport for all concerned.
Bred in Ireland, Harzand is the fifth winner of the Derby for the present Aga Khan, whose grandfather likewise had five winners of the classic at Epsom. Harzand is the first English Derby winner for the Aga Khan since 2000, when he won with Sinndar (Grand Lodge). The Aga Khan’s winners of the Derby began with Shergar (Great Nephew; 1981), then Shahrastani (Nijinsky; 1986), and Kahyasi (Ile de Bourbon; 1988).
Some of those Derby winners proved the star performer by the sire, like Kahyasi, but others such as Shergar were “simply” superstars from a significant constellation emanating from premium sires like Nijinsky and Great Nephew.
It is looking more and more that this role will be Harzand’s significant part in the offspring by his sire Sea the Stars, one of the best racehorses in Europe and now looking to become one of the best sires of classic stock.
Winner of the English Derby like his famous half-brother, Sea the Stars sired the 2016 Derby winner in his third crop. From the stallion’s first crop came Taghrooda, winner of the Oaks at Epsom and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Sea the Moon, winner of the Deutches Derby in scintillating style and a hot favorite for the Arc de Triomphe at one point.
Sea the Moon is now at stud at Lanwades Stud in England. When the time comes, Harzand will doubtless take a place at the Aga Khan’s stud, but whether he will end up at Gilltown in Ireland or perchance in France is a matter of speculation. The principal reason to ponder the French option is that both the Derby winner’s sire and his half-brother, Irish Derby-placed Born to Sea (Invincible Spirit), are at Gilltown.
Sea the Stars stands at Gilltown for 125,000 Euros, and Born to Sea is priced at 10,000 Euros.
Would having Harzand there at Gilltown be too much of a good thing? Perhaps not, but if that were the decision, then the good-looking colt potentially could join high-class sires Siyouni (Pivotal), Makfi (Dubawi), and Dalakhani (Darshaan) at Haras de Bonneval.
Whatever the decision, Harzand will bring plenty of class to stud with him, and his dam, G3 winner Hazariya, had produced two stakes winners before Harzand, with G3 winner Harasiya (Pivotal) being the better. Second dam Hazaradjat (Darshaan) produced two stakes winners and two producers of stakes winners, including the dam of Humphrey Bogart, fifth behind Harzand on Saturday. Hazaradjat is also a half-sister to leading juvenile performer Hittite Glory (Habitat).
Hazariya, however, was sold out of the Aga Khan Studs in 2014. In foal to Fastnet Rock on a May 19 cover, the dam of two stakes winners at the time of sale brought 480,000 Euros at the Goffs November auction, selling to Oliver St. Lawrence.
Since then, the mare has produced a 2015 bay filly by Fastnet Rock, then a bay colt this year by leading sire Dansili, and Hazariya has been bred to Invincible Spirit.
Currently 14, Hazariya should have several good producing years ahead, and her appeal increased with every stride of her dark-coated son as he climbed the hill to the finish post at Epsom.