For most of his potential racing career, Scalding, winner of the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland on April 23, has looked like a hot mess.

Unraced at two and only placed second from a pair of starts at three, the dark bay son of champion and leading sire Nyquist (by Uncle Mo) had cost $400,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. Great things had been expected.

Now, they are being fulfilled.

Scalding is unbeaten from four starts this season at four, and he has won a pair of Grade 3 stakes. So far.

Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin and Cobalt Investments LLC, Scalding is from the first crop by champion juvenile Nyquist, who also included champion juvenile filly Vequist among his first-crop racers. Scalding didn’t even make it to the starting gate in his first season of training.

In fact, Scalding didn’t debut until November last year, finishing last of eight, but he made great headway in learning the task at hand and finished second the following month. Thenceforth, the colt has been spotless.

He won a nice maiden, then allowance, and accepted the jump to graded stakes company with the elan to draw praise from veteran trainer Shug McGaughey, who said, “It’s a big job going from an ‘allowance/other than’ condition to this spot” in the G3 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay.

“But we’ve always liked this horse,” McGaughey said in a Tampa Bay Downs news release. “He has been training forwardly and from what we saw” in the Challenger, “his future is definitely (bright).” The Challenger was the colt’s third start of 2022, and the Ben Ali was his fourth.

He is one of the hot prospects among the older horses this season, and the colt’s development is a hint that things could heat up further for this family.

The historical relations that produced Scalding have run hot and cold, though mostly hot, through the past century and a half. The first mare in the female line imported to the States was the English-bred chestnut Lady Lumley (1872 by Rataplan). William Travers, for whom the Travers Stakes is named, and John Hunter, who was the first president of the Jockey Club, imported the filly as a yearling in 1873.

Lady Lumley traveled in elite circles and traded to Erdenheim Stud, then Neponset Farm, where the mare died in May 1893 at age 21.

Her descendants included Elwood (Free Knight), winner of the 1904 Kentucky Derby; Sir Huon (Falsetto), winner of the 1906 Kentucky Derby; Borrow (Broomstick), winner of the Middle Park Stakes in England and the 1917 Brooklyn Handicap, in which he defeated Kentucky Derby winners Regret 1915, Old Rosebud 1914, and Omar Khayyam 1917; and Twenty Grand (St. Germans), winner of the 1931 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Twenty Grand’s dam Bonus (All Gold) was a half-sister to Memento and Wendy (both by the Whitney stallion Peter Pan (Commando), and this trio of mares from the Lady Lumley family provided quite a lot of success for the Whitneys’ Greentree stud and stable in the early through mid-20th century.

Although Bonus produced the best racehorse, Memento and Wendy both produced a trio of stakes winners each, and for this story, Wendy’s daughter Elf (Chicle) is of most importance.

Elf won the Hudson Stakes and Youthful as a 2-year-old and produced a pair of stakes winners, most notably Boojum (John P. Grier), winner of the 1929 Hopeful Stakes.

In addition to the stakes winners, Elf also foaled a daughter of St. Germans named Crauneen who produced Pukka Gin (Firethorn), winner of the 1943 Champagne Stakes. Exactly a decade later, Crauneen’s daughter Crawfish (Halcyon) produced the 1953 Champagne Stakes winner Fisherman (Phalanx), who won a major race every year he was in training, including the Washington DC International, Travers, and Gotham, among others.

A horse of exceptional soundness and racing character bred and raced by C.V. Whitney, Fisherman was one of the best horses ever produced by this family. He also finished second in the Belmont Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Whitney Stakes. And in 1956, he had the ambiguous honor of racing for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, along with stablemate Career Boy (Phalanx), who had won that year’s United Nations Handicap on turf and finished second in the Belmont.

Over the heavy going at Longchamp, Fisherman popped out of the gate and established a five-length lead by the half, and the dark brown horse continued to lead the race until just before entering the straight, when Ribot sneezed and catapulted into a length lead. The unbeaten champion’s lead extended thereafter, and Fisherman slogged on at one pace to finish ninth, although Career Boy picked up the pace to finish a good fourth over the extremely testing conditions.

Crawfish’s daughter Hukilau (Native Dancer) produced four stakes winners, including Wood Nymph, winner of the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs and the sixth dam of Scalding.

A couple of soft generations, from this family, brought us to the small, dark brown, nearly black filly by the little-known stallion Dixieland Heat. His daughter out of Begin (Hatchet Man) was despised at the sales, sold for a relative pittance, and yet went into the hands of a trainer who thought of her a pure racehorse.

Was he ever right.

Xtra Heat proceeded to win 26 of her 34 lifetime starts, including the G1 Prioress Stakes, earning $2.3 million and being named Eclipse champion 3-year-old filly.

As a broodmare, the blocky racing machine found some success as the dam of stakes winner Southwestern Heat (Gone West) and Elusive Heat (Elusive Quality). The latter is the second dam of Scalding, from her unraced Medaglia d’Oro daughter Hot Water.

From five foals to race, Hot Water has four winners, including the stakes winners Scalding and Tracksmith (Street Sense), as well as the stakes-placed Tortuga (Bodemeister).

Hot Water appears to have the temperature just right.