One of the everlasting assets of racing in North America, both in the States and in Canada, is the extensive and fairly lucrative racing program restricted to fillies.
This allows breeders and owners to place their fillies in conditions that allow them to race effectively and win. Overall, the filly restricted races make owning fillies a sound financial decision, and the program allows breeders to evaluate the athletic potential of fillies, especially those who are a cut or two below the best, and then to use the racing test as a means for selecting good broodmare prospects.
In Europe, this is not so consistently the case. Not only is the purse structure quite meager for races that are not sponsorship events, but to a notably greater degree, fillies and mares have to compete against colts if they want a share of the rewards.
The upside of that situation is that fillies more often prove their ability to compete and win in open company, even at the Group 1 level. Over the past weekend, a pair of fillies did just that.
On July 9 at Newmarket, the 4-year-old filly Alcohol Free (by No Nay Never) showed speed in advance of her coltish comrades to win the Group 1 July Cup at six furlongs. This race was the fourth victory at the G1 level for the talented racer. Previously, she had won the Cheveley Park at two, the Sussex and Coronation Stakes last year at three, and the July Cup was her first success at the premier level this season from four starts that also include a third in a G2 and a fourth in the G1 Lockinge behind the top colt Baaeed.
The following day at Deauville, Tenebrism (Caravaggio) thumped the colts in the G1 Prix Jean Prat at seven furlongs. This was the third victory and second G1 from five lifetime starts for the highly talented filly. She won the G1 Cheveley Park last year as an unbeaten juvenile.
And a victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes is not the only point of similarity between these two talented fillies. Each is by a son of the late and much-lamented leading sire Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), and both sons are part of the Coolmore international circle of stallions.
No Nay Never, winner of the G1 Prix Morny at two, won four of his six starts and was second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Sent to stud at Coolmore in Ireland, No Nay Never is one of the most powerful horses imaginable, with tremendous muscular development, and he has been a roaring success from his first crop of racers. Alcohol Free was a member of her sire’s third crop, foals of 2018. No Nay Never stands in Ireland for a fee of 125,000 euros.
A gray son of Scat Daddy out of a Holy Bull mare, Caravaggio had an extraordinary reputation on the gallops and won seven of his 10 races, including the G1 Phoenix Stakes at two and the G1 Commonwealth Cup at three. Caravaggio entered stud at Coolmore in Ireland, then the horse was transferred to Coolmore’s Kentucky stud, Ashford, in 2020 and has proven popular there, as well as with Irish breeders.
Tenebrism is a member of her sire’s first crop and is one of his three group winners to date. Caravaggio stands at Ashford for $35,000 live foal.
Descending from the Scat Daddy male line branch of Storm Cat and possessing a high turn of speed and precocity have distinguished this pair of accomplished fillies. In addition, they have some distinguishing characteristics, notably in their female families.
Bred in Ireland by Churchtown House Stud, Alcohol Free is from a good family but not one of particular distinction of late. There isn’t a racer of G1 caliber in the female line until the fifth generation. There, Special Account (Buckpasser) is a full sister to champion and major producer Numbered Account. The recent relative quietness in the family was one reason the filly brought only 40,000 euros at the 2018 Goffs November foal sale. The filly’s top-tier racing performances have caused a major advance in that valuation.
Tenebrism, on the other hand, is out of multiple G1 winner Immortal Verse (Pivotal), who was the highweight filly at three in England over seven to 9.5 furlongs. Immortal Verse won the G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, then won the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and was third in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes against colts.
Bred in Kentucky by Merriebelle Stables and Orpendale/Chelston/Wynatt, Tenebrism is the best foal of her distinguished dam, and the second dam is a listed winner by Sadler’s Wells and a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Last Tycoon (Try My Best) and to German highweight Astronef (Be My Guest).
Tenebrism joined the party as highweight juvenile filly last year in England and Ireland, and both she and Alcohol Free are outstanding indicators for the continuing influence of Scat Daddy.