It’s not every day you see a major winner with a Buckpasser third dam. A foal of 1963, Buckpasser died all too young at age 15 in 1978, making his last-crop fillies born in 1979, 38 years ago.
That’s fourth-generation territory because pedigrees average out to about 10 years per generation. So, typically, we would see Buckpasser in the fifth generation or further back, but Blue Grass Stakes winner Irap (by Tiznow) has some notable older influences closer up in his pedigree, which is fascinating at many levels.
For one thing, the Bluegrass Stakes winner is a half-brother to champion sprinter Speightstown (Gone West), also a leading sire. The 19-year-old Speightstown has sired just over a thousand foals, with 76 stakes winners to date and progeny earnings of more than $76 million.
For another, Speightstown and Irap are bookends to the 17-year producing career of their dam Silken Cat (Storm Cat). Speightstown was the mare’s first foal, and Irap was her last. Most of the reason for the compression of generations is Silken Cat, a stakes winner and champion 2-year-old filly in Canada, where she was unbeaten in all three of her starts at 2.
Silken Cat, who wasn’t bred the last two years of her life, died last year at age 23.
Many commercial advisers and buyers are intensely critical of the produce from older mares, even hypercritical. As a result, it is difficult to sell young prospects out of older mares, but Silken Cat had the last laugh.
Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, Irap was born when his dam was 21, and he was a very nice foal. The prejudice, however, against “old-mare foals” was evident when Irap went through the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was led out unsold at $140,000.
At the following year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales March auction of 2-year-olds in training, Irap left no questions unanswered. He whipped through his work with a stride length of nearly 24 feet and earned a BreezeFig of 66, which is quite good. Irap was one of the typically good-looking and well-prepared juveniles that Bobby Dodd brings to the premium auctions, and Irap sold like it.
Dennis O’Neill, among other astute judges, spotted the talent and secured the bay colt for the account of Reddam Racing for $300,000.
Prior to the feature at Keeneland, the major knock on Irap was that he came into the Blue Grass a maiden, but he was what the English would call “highly tried” because although Irap had not won, the good-looking colt had not been wasting his time thumping on maidens. Irap had been second in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity to Mastery, plus second in the Robert Lewis Stakes earlier this year.
While he was no Buckpasser, who won 15 races in a row at one point in his career, Irap was promising and came to the Blue Grass with a mission. Mission accomplished.
The Blue Grass winner shares the generational compression of his own female line with his famous ancestor, champion and Horse of the Year Buckpasser.
In Buckpasser’s case, the third dam was born 37 years earlier, and she is the great broodmare La Troienne (Teddy), foaled in 1926.
Irap’s third dam is even older; the Buckpasser mare Insilca was foaled in 1974, 40 years before Irap. Insilca foaled two stakes winners, and the most prominent was Turf Classic winner Turk Passer, one of two G1 winners by champion Turkoman (Alydar).
Insilca’s other stakes winner was Silken Doll, a quick and classy daughter of Chieftain (Bold Ruler), and Silken Doll’s stakes-producing daughters include champion Silken Cat, the dam of Irap and Speightstown.
Looking the other direction in Irap’s female line, Insilca is out of the stakes winner Copper Canyon, whose sire Bryan G. (Blenheim) was most famous for siring champion Cicada. Copper Canyon is out of First Flush, who also produced Sorority Stakes winner Bold Experience and Dade Metropolitan Handicap winner Virginia Delegate (both by Bold Ruler).
First Flush, a daughter of the little-known Mahmoud stallion Flushing, was a nonwinning half-sister to some pretty hot horses. Her siblings included champions First Landing (Turn-to) and Hill Prince (Princequillo), plus three other stakes winners.
They are all out of the great broodmare Hildene, one of the foundation mares of Christopher Chenery’s Meadow Stud. Copper Canyon was bred by Meadow Stud, then later acquired by Mrs. Charles Engelhard, who bred Insilca, and this family has continued to reward its owners with quality and class through the decades.