The brave victory of Letruska (by Super Saver) in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 17 over champions Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) and Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) brought forward a couple of important issues. First, this result highlighted the excellent form the mare had shown in her early racing, which was in Mexico, and then her continued development here in the States.
A champion in Mexico and now the victor against a pair of champions at Oaklawn, Letruska has emphasized the quality of racing in Mexico, and she is not the only racer from Mexico to show her form in the more northerly part of North America.
Recently, Kukulkan (Point Determined) won 14 races on the trot before finishing unplaced in the 2019 Pegasus behind City of Light. In addition, Kulkulkan won a pair of black-type stakes in the U.S. and was second in a G3 stakes. Jala Jala, another champion in Mexico, ventured to Gulfstream to win the Caribbean Cup, and from two subsequent U.S. starts, was second in the G3 Royal Delta.
Both of those were owned by St. George Stable, which also owns and stands their sire, the Point Given horse Point Determined.
Although bred in Kentucky, Letruska was likewise bred by St. George Stable LLC. That is the nom de course of German Larrea, a man of vast wealth who lives in Mexico City, where he oversees operations of Mexico’s train service, as well as copper interests in Mexico and South America.
Larrea is also the leading breeder and owner in Mexico, where he races a stable of top horses. Letruska was one of these, winning each of her six starts at Hipodromo de las Americas. The last two of her races there were the G1 Clasico Esmeralda and Clasico Diamante.
Then the filly was shipped to the States, where she won her first start at Gulfstream in the Copa Invitacional del Caribe Stakes. In her 11 races since, Letruska has won six, including the G3 Shuvee at Saratoga and G3 Rampart at Gulfstream.
The Apple Blossom was the 5-year-old mare’s first Grade 1 that is recognized by the International Cataloging Standards, which is the sales industry standard for recognition and uniformity of black type in sales catalogs.
The Cataloguing Standards Committee was formed in 1981 to create a policy and designation for black type in sales cataloging that was implemented in parts over succeeding years. This also was very nearly the apex of the international Thoroughbred market, and the desire to compare racing form and stakes qualifications from country to country was intense because a great deal of money was dependent upon buyers feeling confident that a G1 winner from one country was comparable to a G1 winner from another country.
Representatives of the four member nations (England, France, Ireland, and the U.S.) have also been joined by a member from South America and from Asia, and this committee then makes recommendations to the Society for International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA), which publishes the “cat standards” that determine black-type recognition in catalogs.
The point of all this is to make black type and graded stakes accomplishments as consistent as possible, and the Part I countries that receive full recognition of their graded stakes programs include the four member nations and a dozen more such as Argentina, Australia, and South Africa.
For inclusion in sales catalogs, Part II countries get black-type designation for their graded or group stakes races but the grades are “for information only,” and black type does not apply to their other stakes events in countries such as India, Italy, and Korea. Part III countries do not receive black-type designation for any races, and among those designated Part III is Mexico.
Thoroughbred consultant Tom Thornbury said: “Cataloging is at the center of the industry. It is essential to the sales avenue, and there’s worldwide interest in it. This drives the valuation of racehorses and bloodstock, and in Letruska you’ve found a gem really, a small part of that population of racehorses from Part III countries that has shown she is able to race with the very best.”
In fact, as Frances J. Karon writes in the Who’s Hot, Who’s Not blog at Werk Thoroughbred Associates, “Letruska is the first Thoroughbred racehorse from Mexico — either bred there, which she wasn’t, or raced there — to win an internationally recognized G1 race.”
And there is no more disputing the form of Letruska’s victory than quibbling with the grade; it’s a supremely legitimate G1. Not only did the mare win the Apple Blossom against exceptional champions in Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver, but in Letruska’s most recent previous race, she finished second by head to Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil), winner of the 2020 Kentucky Oaks over no less than 2020 Eclipse champion filly sprinter Gamine and 2020 Eclipse champion 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver.
That’s serious form.
Letruska has now won 13 of her 18 starts and more than $1.1 million. That’s a handsome advance over the $100,000 that St. George Stable paid to acquire Magic Appeal, a stakes-placed daughter of Successful Appeal, at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. At the time, Magic Appeal was in foal to Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and carrying Letruska.
Foaled on May 9 the following year, Letruska was the fifth foal from her dam and the third earner of black type. At the time of sale, however, none of those horses were on the dam’s page. Her second foal, the Tiznow daughter American Doll, finished second in a stakes at Parx in 2016, and Magic Appeal’s fourth foal, a yearling at the time of her sale, was Trigger Warning (Candy Ride).
Trigger Warning won a pair of stakes and was third in both the G1 Pennsylvania Derby and the G3 Ohio Derby, earning more than a half-million.
Magic Appeal was the second-best racer by her dam, stakes winner Call Her Magic (Caller I.D.), and the best was full brother J.P.’s Gusto, winner of the G1 Del Mar Futurity and second in both the G1 Norfolk and Hollywood Futurity.
This family has plenty of quality, but Magic Appeal and her daughter Letruska have now added a footnote to history with their Grade 1 success at Oaklawn Park.