Two stakes over the weekend signaled a coming and going within the Kentucky stallion ranks that bears attending to. On the positive side of the ledger, Animal Kingdom (by Leroidesanimaux), winner of the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup over his preferred 10 furlongs, was represented by his third stakes winner from his first crop of Kentucky-sired racers. On the negative side, the much-lamented Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) again reminded us how great a loss to the breed he was when the stallion’s son from his next-to-last crop won in fine fashion in England.

 

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Scat Daddy – showing buoyant spirits in his paddock at Ashford. (Coolmore pic)

 

The latter colt, now named Seahenge, won the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 16 and was one of his sire’s most popular yearlings in 2016 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. At that auction, Seahenge sold for $750,000 to M.V. Magnier. That sales price placed the good-looking bay second among the stallion’s Keeneland yearlings behind only the $3 million Mendelssohn, a half-brother to champion Beholder and G1 winner Into Mischief, a young sire of annually increasing importance. Mendelssohn won his maiden at the Curragh on Aug. 13 but trailed in last behind Seahenge at Doncaster and appeared to be eased as if not happy with the good to soft going.

On the other hand, Seahenge was thoroughly in command of the situation for the Coolmore partnership of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier, prevailing by a neck in the contentious finish. Seahenge had won his debut at Naas on July 8, then ran fifth in the G2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on Aug. 1. Beaten 8 lengths that day, 4 ½ by winner Expert Eye (Acclamation), Seahenge is likely to move up in class for his next start and before the season’s end may again encounter the pro-tem leader of the crop who trounced all opposition in the Vintage.

As much as Scat Daddy was already the proven article as a top-class sire when Seahenge and others went through the ring last year, Animal Kingdom has been a revelation this season in the States with his first-crop racers.

Currently ranked fifth by overall earnings for freshmen sires to date, Animal Kingdom is behind only Overanalyze (Dixie Union), Violence (Medaglia d’Oro), Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor), and Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday). The Kentucky Derby winner ranks just above A.P. Indy’s son Take Charge Indy, but the first striking thing about Animal Kingdom’s status at present is that he and Shanghai Bobby are the only ones in the leading cadre with fewer than 10 winners.

At present, Animal Kingdom has four winners, but the celebratory factor is that three of them are stakes winners. On Sunday at Woodbine, Untamed Domain became his sire’s first graded stakes winner with a dramatic fifth to first finish in the final strides of the G2 Summer Stakes over the turf at Woodbine.

Winner of a maiden special at Saratoga in his second start, Untamed Domain showed his natural ability with a July 22 victory going a mile and a sixteenth on turf. Then the handsome colt followed up with a third in the G3 With Anticipation Stakes at the Spa on Aug. 30.

The Summer Stakes proved the colt is improving and is likely to propel him into a start at the Breeders’ Cup for the BC Juvenile Turf. A year ago, Animal Kingdom was both an unproved commodity as a sire and was a horse who matured well but who won only a maiden special as a 2-year-old, in a nine-furlong race at Keeneland’s October meeting over the all-weather surface in 2010.

Most breeders and owners pegged the tall son of Leroidesanimaux as a fine prospect but one more likely to get 3-year-olds than juveniles of distinction. Overall, that is probably correct, but the evidence of this first crop is a source for hope that Animal Kingdom may be a lion in waiting, with greater things to come.

At the Keeneland September sale last year, Untamed Domain sold for $90,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds out of the Clearsky consignment. Clearsky bred the Summer Stakes winner from the stakes-winning Lear Fan mare Ciao. This family is strongly influenced by classic performances on turf. Lear Fan’s sire is English Derby winner Roberto, and Ciao is out of a mare by Nureyev, who finished first in the 1980 2,000 Guineas, and out of Smuggly (Caro), who won the G1 Prix Saint-Alary and was second in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).

Given the anticipated improvement among the Animal Kingdom stock at 3, there is much to hope for from that sire and his runners, while we are enjoying the long, brilliant sunset of the latter racers by Scat Daddy.

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