When Mongolian Groom overturned the applecart in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, the dark bay gelding produced a proper upset. The son of Hightail (by Mineshaft) started at odds of 25.4-1, the second-longest in the field, and longershot Isotherm finished last.
Mongolian Groom, in contrast, finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of McKinzie (Street Sense), who was being talked about and written about as a champion pro tem and was heavily favored in the wagering at 3-10. In fact, with the exception of Mongolian Groom, the bettors correctly ranked the field in order from second through sixth.
Nor was the form of Mongolian Groom bad. The gelding had won a maiden special at Santa Anita last year as a late-developing 3-year-old, and he made his first start in stakes company in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, finishing third. All of Mongolian Groom’s six subsequent starts before the Awesome Again were also in graded stakes.
He hadn’t won any but had finished second in the G2 San Diego Handicap, third in the G1 Pacific Classic, and fourth in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
The gelding’s success has made a change in how both his sire and dam are perceived and how they will be in demand for the future.
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Mongolian Groom is by the Calumet stallion Hightail, who won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint but who wasn’t seen as a “Kentucky” stallion and had been standing in Arkansas at Trophy Club Training Center for $2,500 live foal earlier this year.
That is about to change.
Hightail is already back in Kentucky and is munching in the fields at Calumet Farm, where the bluegrass is as parched as the rest of the forage across the region. No decision has been made about the horse’s stud fee for 2020, but it’s a reasonable guess to expect that it will be higher. How much higher will probably depend on how Mongolian Groom does for the rest of the season.
With four very small crops of racing age, Hightail has two stakes winners from nine starters. From the horse’s first crop came Dynatail, a four-time stakes winner, and she is from the Dynaformer mare Southern Dynamo.
Likewise, Mongolian Groom was foaled by a Dynaformer mare. The Awesome Again winner is out of Bourbonesque, a foal of 2009 who produced Mongolian Groom as her second foal. The mare’s first foal was an unnamed filly by Eye of the Leopard (A.P. Indy) who died as a yearling, and her third foal is an English Channel (Smart Strike) filly who is also unnamed, and there is no evidence that she is in training.
Bourbonesque produced a 2018 colt by the Calumet stallion Raison d’Etat (A.P. Indy), and both were sold at the 2018 Keeneland November sale. The weanling brought $1,200 from James B. Hancock, has since been named Bourbon Treaty, and Mongolian Groom’s dam, in foal to G1 winner Keen Ice (Curlin) on a May 1 cover, brought $4,500 from Jerry Cummins of Equus Farm.
Cummins said, “I think Keen Ice is a grand-looking horse, and I bought three mares in foal to him at the November sale last year. [Bourbonesque was one of those, and] Mongolian Groom was already on the page” as a maiden winner of $40,290, but there wasn’t any evidence that he was going to get black type, nor yet win a G1. “She’s a good-sized, good-looking mare, and I just got lucky,” Cummins said.
“I was cheering for Mongolian Groom all through the stretch” of the Awesome Again, Cummins said, “and after the race, I went out and gave Bourbonesque a pat on the head and told her, ‘You done good, girl.’”
In addition, Bourbonesque produced a “really good-looking colt by Keen Ice on May 26,” and Cummins sent her to first-year stallion Cloud Computing (Mclean’s Music), winner of the 2017 Preakness Stakes. Cummins said that “she didn’t get back in foal, but I suppose I should look at this as an opportunity to get her in foal early next year.”
Bred in Kentucky by the owner of Calumet Farm, Bourbonesque is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Rhineland, a half-sister to G1 winner George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator) and to G2 Remsen Stakes winner and G1 Metropolitan Handicap second Saarland (Unbridled). Their dam is the multiple G1 winner Versailles Treaty (Danzig), a four-time G1 winner, and this branch of the Exclusive female line was cultivated by the Phipps family to produce such graded performers as For Kicks (Topsider; G3 Columbiana), Arabian Dancer (Damascus; 2nd G1 Matron), Lead Kindly Light (Majestic Light; G3 Athenia), Out of Place (Cox’s Ridge; G3 Clark Handicap), Gold Fever (Forty Niner; G1 NYRA Mile), and Boisterous (Distorted Humor; G1 Man o’ War).
Now there’s another high-class performer in the family: Mongolian Groom.