As a son of leading sire Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg) and a half-brother to multiple leading sire Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), great things were expected of Mendelssohn when he retired to stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud outside of Versailles, Ky., and covered his first book of mares in 2019.
As a half-brother to champion Beholder (Hennessy) and a grand-looking yearling, Coolmore had paid $3 million for Mendelssohn as a yearling when presented at the 2016 September sale by breeder Clarkland Farm.
Then the handsome bay won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2017, as well as placing second in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. The following season, Mendelssohn won the G2 UAE Derby, then placed second in the G1 Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
When Mendelssohn went to stud at four, breeders responded like he’d won the Derby and the Arc. They smothered him with mares.
As a result, the horse has a first crop of 175 foals, per Equineline. Of those, 138 went to yearling sales, 109 sold for an average price of $145,456 and a median of $100,000. From the second crop of 172 foals, 130 were offered for sale as yearlings, 105 sold for an average of $91,968 and a median price of $75,000.
Nearly everyone thought the gold mine was open for business.
Then, the 2-year-olds were a little slower to come to hand than expected in 2022, and the rumbling started. And in truth, Mendelssohn didn’t have a black-type horse until Sept. 23, when the filly Miracle was second in the restricted Joseph A. Gemma. A second followed a week later, with the colt Congo River in the Legacy Stakes at Dundalk.
All those holding their breath for the young stallion’s success, as well as those holding foals of 2022 and mares in foal for 2023, were waiting for something serious to happen.
And in the last 100 days, it certainly has. Mendelssohn has accrued numerous more winners, three more stakes-placed horses for a total of five, and three stakes winners. The first of those came on Oct. 7 at Keeneland, when Delight won the G2 Jessamine Stakes.
The latter pair came in the last two weeks. Classical Cat won the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 30, and Opus Forty Two won the Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay on Jan. 14. By the end of the year, the sire’s year-ending flurry of good results had moved him up the list of first-crop sires to seventh place.
Bred in Kentucky by Rose Hill Farm and John Trumbulovic, Opus Forty Two sold at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale for $185,000 to Ben Gowans, agent, and is owned by Mark Grier. This filly is the second foal from the winning Lemon Drop Kid mare Laquesta and was winning for the second time in four starts with her victory in the Gasparilla.
Opus Forty Two had debuted going five furlongs on turf, finished second; came back at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, was second; was sent six furlongs on dirt at Tampa Bay and won; and then made her stakes success going seven furlongs on dirt.
This brings up an interesting point about Mendelssohn. Among the top 12 freshmen sires of 2022, only one, Oscar Performance (Kitten’s Joy), has a longer average winning distance among his offspring. This may explain why the racers by Mendelssohn have taken a bit longer to get under way. The longer distance a racer needs to show its proper form, the longer it typically needs to be in training, and the longer the juveniles have to wait for those races to be written and to fill.
The results appear to have been worth the wait, as more of Mendelssohn’s racers win and earn black type. This is a joyous sound for breeders and buyers who have supported the horse, and the sounds of beauty are not just in the eyes and ears of the stallion’s supporters.
Opus Forty Two is named after the musical composition of Felix Mendelssohn that he labeled number 42. In it, the composer set Martin Luther’s German translation of Psalm 42 to music and voice. Mendelssohn premiered the work in January 1838 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, of which he was the conductor until his death in 1847.
Mendelssohn’s works are generally ranked among the very best classical compositions of the 19th century, and now his equine namesake is making a joyous noise as well.