Archive for the ‘Bloodstock’ Category

English 2000 Guineas Winner Kameko and the Kitten’s Joy Nicking Pattern

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

With Kameko’s win in the 2020 Group One 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in course record time, over much favored and previously unbeaten Pinatubo, one must say that the most under-appreciated sire in the world is Kitten’s Joy.

The leading turf sire in 2020 and perennially in the United States, Kitten’s Joy’s 2019 yearling sales average was a paltry $87,000, with his stud fee set at $75,000. One must wonder at the utter tenacity of Ramsay Farm to stand a turf sire in Kentucky, and at an out-of-the-way farm, and applaud Ramsay’s shifting of the stallion to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in the Bluegrass a couple of years ago, trying to make the stallion more viable and visible. Hill ‘n’ Dale turned Curlin’s career around similarly.

It remains clear that European bloodstock agents come to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale to cherry pick the best Kitten’s Joys of the crop, with David Redvers being the savant in this endeavor, having bought the previously mentioned Kameko for $90,000, and one of Kitten’s Joy’s top two runners, Roaring Lion, for $160,000. With dirt racing’s sullying of the sport with traumatic injuries and fatalities, one might hope that turf racing in North America will see a renaissance, but until then, it seems unlikely that Kitten’s Joy will get the respect he deserves.

To discover the magic in Kameko’s pedigree, it helps to examine the pedigrees of Kitten’s Joy’s top two runners, Hawkbill and Roaring Lion, both Champions, multiple Group One winners, multi-millionaires, and, of course, European runners. What Kitten’s Joy likes best in his mates is inbreeding to Northern Dancer and to Roberto (or other Hail to Reason lines). Hawkbill, standing the 2020 season at Darley Japan, reflects this, being 4 x 6 x 5 Northern Dancer, through sons Sadler’s Wells and Storm Bird, and daughter Fanfreluche, and 4 x 5 Roberto, with another dose of Hail to Reason added to the mix through Halo’s daughter Glorious Song. Hawkbill also boasts 5 x 5 doses of Prince John, a son of Princequillo, balanced by two doses, 6 x 5, of Secretariat’s and Sir Gaylord’s dam, the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal.

Roaring Lion, Kitten’s Joy’s second leading earner, has a less stellar but similar pedigree, being 4 x 5 Northern Dancer through Sadler’s Wells and Dixieland Band, and 5 x 6 x 6 Hail to Reason, through Roberto, Halo and Bold Reasoning’s dam, Reason to Earn. We find similar inbreeding to Princequillo, through Somethingroyal, of course, but also through My Charmer’s sire, Poker, a grandson of Princequillo, making Roaring Lion 6 x 6.

Kameko, however, wins the Northern Dancer derby, as he is 4 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 6, through Sadler’s Wells, Fanfreluche, Danzig, Be My Guest, El Gran Senor and Nijinsky II. It should be noted that Fanfreluche’s son, L’Enjoleur, and El Gran Senor are closely related, being reiterations of the Northern Dancer/Buckpasser cross, with Danehill representing yet another version of that cross, through Danzig and Razyana. The echoes of multiple doses of Hail to Reason also occur, as Kameko is 6 x 5 x 7 Hail to Reason, through Bold Reason, Roberto and Caerleon’s dam, Foreseer, who also brings a welcome addition of Princequillo, to add to Prince John’s appearances 5 x 6.

The most rapid perusal of Kitten’s Joy’s leading earners reveals that the extra crosses of Northern Dancer, Roberto and Hail to Reason appear in the majority of these stakes winners. As well, this stallion’s affinity for Storm Cat line mares was revealed thanks to the Ramsays themselves, who had one other stallion standing at their farm during Kitten’s Joy’s tenure there, Catienus, a son of Storm Cat. They bred daughters of Catienus to Kitten’s Joy with good results, adding that dose of Somethingroyal/Princequillo.

One can expect David Redvers to be visiting the Keeneland September Yearling Sale again this year. His knack for picking out the best Kitten’s Joy offspring should be applauded, as Kameko seems sure to score more victories in this young racing year. John Ferguson plucked Hawkbill from that same sale for Darley Stud, though Hawkbill was a rare Kitten’s Joy, fetching $350,000. Perhaps with Kameko’s record time win in the 2000 Guineas-G1, this will become Kitten’s Joy’s best year at the yearling sales.

— Roberta Smoodin

Street Sense’s Son Maxfield Impresses Upon His Return

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Is there a more exciting horse in training in North America than Maxfield? I think not. The son of Street Sense (pictured) is unbeaten, was brilliant at two before ankle chips sidelined him just before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile S.-G1, and is one of the handsomest horses you’ll ever see, big and both masculine and elegant.

But doubt always lingers when a precocious two-year-old becomes injured, requires surgery, and has what seems to be an over-lengthy lay-up. Will he come back? Will his form remain the same? Is it possible that he might be even better?

On September 23, Maxfield came back in the Matt Winn S.-G3 at Churchill, creating sweaty palms and dread among his fans. And the G1 winner looked badly beaten as he was shuffled back into the no man’s land between mid-pack and underachievers, and seemed to be laboring. Then Jose Ortiz shook up the reins, steered the gorgeous colt outside, and Maxfield put on a clinic, passing rivals with an ease that made them look like they were standing still, to win convincingly.

This is a race horse. He became my Kentucky Derby-G1 pick last year, and despite the chaos surrounding the Triple Crown Races in 2020, he remains so, despite the front-running thrills of Charlatan and Nadal. Maxfield needs no specific track, distance, nor placing during the race: he simply wins.

Maxfield is by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who stands at Darley in Lexington, Kentucky, for $75,000, and is by Street Cry, who stood at the same stud until his untimely demise. A quick look at Street Sense’s best offspring makes it clear that there is an absolute blueprint for making a stakes winner with him, and makes it equally clear that Maxfield is built upon these same plans, only more so. Inbreeding to Mr. Prospector and to Northern Dancer are essential in the best mates for Street Sense, and a good, close dose of A.P. Indy or Seattle Slew seals the deal. The fact that Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew share the same, important tail female, Frizette, stamps this combination as significant in contemporary breeding.

Storm Cat is one of the preferred ways back to Northern Dancer, because his Secretariat dam, Terlingua, complements A.P. Indy’s Secretariat dam, Weekend Surprise. Street Sense may be one of the most straightforward stallions to breed to in the whole stud book, because of the similarity of mares that work well with him.

Maxfield’s dam is Velvety, by the upcoming, important broodmare sire Bernardini, out of the multiple graded stakes winner and dam of sire Sky Mesa, Caress. It’s worth noting here that this is a pedigree, top and bottom, that produces sires, as Street Sense’s third dam is Long Legend, the dam of the great Mr. Greeley. More than this, though, Maxfield is 4 x 6 Mr. Prospector, and 4 x 6 x 5 Northern Dancer, fitting the parameters for Street Sense perfectly.

Add in Bernardini’s sire, A.P. Indy, and the one dose of Mr. Prospector through the Fappiano line in Cara Rafaela, Bernardini’s dam, plus Velvety’s second dam, La Affirmed, by Affirmed, adding that rebel dose of Native Dancer, and this pedigree takes shape. Velvety’s third dam is La Mesa, by Round Table, who was by Princequillo, giving Maxfield Princequillo on the zig zag through the two great Secretariat mares, out of the Princequillo mare who was his dam, Somethingroyal, and through Princequillo’s most important son.

On the same day that Maxfield won the Matt Winn S.-G3, two other offspring of Bernardini mares won stakes races: Owendale, who won the Blame S., out of the Bernardini mare Aspen Light, and Dunbar Road, winner of the Shawnee S., out of the Bernardini mare Gift List. Anyone looking to collect a good young broodmare for his or her band should pay attention to this trend.

The pedigree of Maxfield plays one more fine magic trick. Busanda, the dam of Buckpasser, appears, of, course, through A.P. Indy in Bernardini. But Maxfield’s sixth dam is also Busanda, through her daughter Finance, adding Busanda on the zigzag to the pedigree, and making Maxfield tail female La Troienne, as she is his eighth dam. Did I mention this is a sire’s pedigree? The female family of Maxfield could not be stronger. Kudos to Godolphin (Kentucky) for creating this magnificent colt, who will one day stand with his sire, Street Sense, at the beautiful Darley stud farm.

— Roberta Smoodin


Charlatan and Nadal Make it Bob Baffert day in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

It was Bob Baffert day in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on the first Saturday in May, and he won everything but the key to the city. His brilliant colts, Charlatan and Nadal, both unbeaten, took both divisions of the Grade One Arkansas Derby, and his precocious filly Gamine remained unbeaten as well in allowance company.

Gamine is by Into Mischief: enough said. Nadal is bred on the proven Blame on A.P. Indy/Seattle Slew line cross, being out of a Pulpit mare. But Charlatan’s pedigree is a bit more of a puzzle. Clearly he looked the part even as a yearling, when he sold for $700,000 at Keeneland September 2018, and his ownership reads like a who’s who of big players.

By the grand old man, Speightstown (1998), who stands at Winstar in Versailles, Kentucky, for $70,000, his race record, pedigree and progeny speak for themselves. Being by Gone West, out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat, he is 3 x 4 Secretariat, via arguably the best daughters of Secretariat, Terlingua and Tamerett, with a second dam by Chieftain, echoing Secretariat’s breeding, and a clever 5 x 5 dose of Tom Fool, via Buckpasser on the dams’ side and Tim Tam on the sires’, against representing the best progeny Tom Fool produced.

Speightstown loves mares that offer a Northern Dancer-line broodmare sire, such as El Prado, Sadler’s Wells and Medaglia d’Oro, and also likes an extra dose of Mr. Prospector. But a list of his best produce doesn’t feature any out of Quiet American mares, or any Fappiano-line mares, as Charlatan is. Charlatan’s second dam, Court of Appeal, is by Deputy Minister, just as millionaire and Grade One winner by Speightstown, Golden Ticket’s first dam, was by Deputy Minister, and the latter’s credentials as a broodmare sire can’t be questioned.

Charlatan’s dam, Authenticity, sold in 2013 for $1,200,000 at Fasig-Tipton November, and Charlatan proves her value. She was a winner of $883,362, and finished third to Beholder and Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff-G1, pretty distinguished company. Though the nick of Speightstown on Quiet American mares only offers us eight foals to examine, seven of those were winners, though none achieved at the level of Charlatan, so this cross has remained unpopular, until now. Quiet American is by Fappiano, of course, a son of Mr. Prospector, but note this with caution: Fappiano is considered his own sire line now, so although we have 3 x 4 inbreeding to Mr. P, the crosses Speightstown seems to prefer are from the non-Fappiano Mr. P sons and grandsons.

So where do we look, to understand the success of this cross in Charlatan? No further than Graded Stakes Winner and leading sire Munnings, easily Speightstown’s best son at stud, who’s having a stellar year with progeny winning, it seems, everything. The key here is Munning’s dam, La Comete, by Holy Bull, who is related to Quiet American through the In Reality/Dr. Fager family.

Charlatan is inbred to Dr. Fager 4 x 5 through Quiet American. Dr. Fager was by Rough ‘n Tumble, out of the Better Self mare Aspidistra, and is closely related to In Reality (by Intentionally, out of My Dear Girl by Rough ‘n Tumble), and to the grandsire of Holy Bull, Minnesota Mac, who was by Rough ‘n Tumble out of Ta Wee, by Intentionally and out of Aspidistra. This is one tough, winning, gritty family that excels on dirt, and was famous, back in the day when this mattered, for carrying weight and winning in handicaps. Holy Bull also adds Mahmoud and more La Troienne, through The Axe II and Grey Dawn, which the two doses of Northern Dancer in Authenticity, the aforementioned Deputy Minister and Lyphard, offer through Natalma/Almahmoud. Charlatan even resembles Munnings, being a smallish, bright chestnut horse, and may mature into the muscleman that his sire is.

One more important element of Authenticity’s pedigree must be pointed out. She has two great Princequillo mares, 5 x 6, via Cequillo and Quack’s dam Quillon. This is an exact twin of Speightstown’s two doses of a single Princequillo mare, 5 x 6, Secretariat’s dam, Somethingroyal, plus the addition, via Chieftain’s second dam, How, of another dose, making Charlatin 6 x 6 x 8 x 6 x 7 Princequillo mares. Princequillo may have been one of the greatest broodmare sires of all time, and this collection of his prized blood through so many mares, relatively close up in Charlatan’s pedigree, must account for some of his dazzling speed.

If you looked Charlatan up yesterday, before the first division of the Arkansas Derby-G1 was run, his pedigree was given a D grade on a major five-generation pedigree site. Today, after winning that race, his pedigree has risen to B level. This only serves to indicate how bogus the analyses are in these computer-generated services. Charlatan had the same pedigree yesterday as he does today. One needs to look further than the sire and broodmare sire to determine potential, and the group that paid $700,000 for this stunning colt certainly did their due diligence.

— Roberta Smoodin



Long Weekend: A Few of My Favorite Things

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

The most exciting race of Saturday, April 25 (not that there were a lot of contenders) was the Bachelor S. at Oaklawn, with Long Weekend and Echo Town battling all the way down the stretch. Long Weekend got his nose down on the wire, but it was one of those races that neither horse deserved to lose. Favorite Eight Rings remains the mystery of the century, following his brilliant two-year-old career with an utterly lackluster 2020 campaign, suggesting something out of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Joe Talamo, Long Weekend has a pedigree that features many of my favorite pedigree tricks; kudos to Woodford Thoroughbreds for breeding this colt. He furthers Harlan’s Holiday’s legacy, being by Majestic Perfection, who now stands in Uruguay, and is out of the Wavering Monarch mare Act So Noble. It’s the Buckpasser in Wavering Monarch that cements the pedigree, connecting with the Buckpasser on the dams’ side, via A.P. Indy, El Gran Senor, and Unbridled, plus the multiple doses of Buckpasser’s lauded female ancestor, La Troienne, through Seattle Slew’s dam, My Charmer. As usual, the magic of the pedigree is beyond the reach of the usual five ancestors pedigree offered online.

As well, Long Weekend features 7 x 6 x 7 x 6 inbreeding to Secretariat’s and Sir Gaylord’s great dam, Somethingroyal—these multiple appearances by La Troienne and Somethingroyal seem to mark many outstanding race horses, though they hail from the previous century. There is, as well, multiple ways back to Raise a Native, through Affirmed, Unbridled, and Alydar, and of course inbreeding to Northern Dancer via Storm Cat and El Gran Senor.

Long Weekend’s dam is the stakes placed mare Liza Too, a daughter of Olmodavor, whose own wealth of blood should make him a successful broodmare sire. Add to that a second dam, Seeking the Silver, by Grindstone, for that exacta of Fappiano on a granddaughter of Sir Gaylord (Somethingroyal), and it’s no wonder that this is the immediate family of G1 winning Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper).

But it’s the third dam of Long Weekend who provides the most fascinating, and undoubtedly critical, inbreeding in this pedigree. Long Weekend’s third dam is Apache Pines, by Pancho Villa (1982). Pancho Villa was by Secretariat, out of Crimson Saint, whose father, Crimson Satan, was one of those rare horses who had a genetic condition rendering him unable to sweat (anhidrosis). He had to be kept in an air-conditioned stall to preserve his life.

Does Pancho Villa’s pedigree seem all too familiar? It should. He is a full brother to the glorious Secretariat mare Terlingua, the dam of Storm Cat. So we have these full siblings 5 x 4 in this pedigree, on the coveted zig zag, getting the benefits of the male genetics on top, and the female on the bottom side of this pedigree. This rare occurrence embodies the brilliance of this pedigree design. We need to keep our eyes on Long Weekend, because his pedigree suggests he will go on to greater victories.

— Roberta Smoodin

The Connection Between G1 Apple Blossom Winner Ce Ce & 1993 Derby Winner Sea Hero

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The April 18 Apple Blossom H.-G1 ended thrillingly in a photo finish between Ce Ce and Ollie’s Candy, with Ce Ce winning by the shortest nose, while favored Serengeti Empress faded badly and finished out of the money. But Ce Ce demonstrated enough tenacity to make her the sport’s newest Grade One winner.

By the late, brilliant miler Elusive Quality, she represents one of his most powerful nicks, as almost 50% of his best graded stakes winners are 4 x 4 Northern Dancer, as she is, just as a majority of his best offspring offer inbreeding to Raise a Native, through another dose of Mr. Prospector, Affirmed, Exclusive Native, Native Charger, Alydar, and others, as Ce Ce does, too.

No surprise, either, that Elusive Quality on Belong to Me mares (he is Ce Ce’s broodmare sire), scores a 3.32 AEI (Average Earnings Index), as Belong to Me was by Danzig, by Northern Dancer, out of the Exclusive Native mare Belonging. It should be noted that Ce Ce is actually 4 x 4 x 5 Northern Dancer, with another dose on her dams’ side through Magesterial.

Ce Ce’s first two dams are also both Grade One winners, her dam Miss Houdini the winner of the Del Mar Debutante S. and her granddam Magical Maiden won the Hollywood Starlet S. Miss Houdini is also the dam of millionaire and MGSP Papa Clem, by Smart Strike, as well as the dam of MGSW Hot Springs (Uncle Mo). So this female side both runs and produces.

As a detour, we should examine the pedigree of 1993 Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Sea Hero, because Ce Ce is a close genetic relative of this wonderful Mellon-bred horse. Paul Mellon appreciated the great female families in the thoroughbred, and Sea Hero demonstrates this. He was inbred to La Troienne (1926) 5 x 5, an amazing feat for a horse foaled in 1990, through her daughter Businesslike (1939) on his sires’ side (the dam of Busanda, who would produce Buckpasser), and through her daughter Big Hurry (1936), tail female, making La Troienne Sea Hero’s fifth dam.

His third dam, Searching, was by War Admiral, just as Busanda was, making them very closely related, and making these doses of La Troienne even more powerful through these near-sisters. Sea Hero’s dam, Glowing Tribute (1973), became a true Blue Hen herself. By Graustark, surely the source of Sea Hero’s stamina, her dam, Admiring (1962), was by Hail to Reason, another source of stamina to be sure, as he was Seattle Slew’s sire’s broodmare sire. Sea Hero’s sire was Polish Navy, by Danzig, just as Ce Ce’s broodmare sire, Belong to Me, was by Danzig.

But back to Ce Ce. Elusive Quality’s broodmare sire is Hero’s Honor, by Northern Dancer, out of none other than Sea Hero’s dam, Glowing Tribute. Echoes of Glowing Tribute and Sea Hero abound, though—this is just round one. Belong to Me’s tail female line goes back to La Troienne, too, through La Troienne’s daughter Big Hurry (1936), who was also Glowing Tribute’s third dam, through Admiring and her dam, Searching.

Already mentioned was that extra dose of Northern Dancer through Magesterial, and Magesterial’s dam was the Bold Lad mare Courting Days. She is in the fifth position in Ce Ce’s pedigree, where most pedigrees mistakenly end. But by going back one more generation, we find that Courting Days was out of Admiring, by Searching, by La Troienne. Ce Ce therefore has triple inbreeding to this powerful family, making her 7 x 7 x 8 La Troienne, and 5 x 6 Admiring. This is a huge collection of such valuable old blood in a four-year-old filly.

My other favorite twentieth century Blue Hen must also be mentioned, as Ce is 5 x 6 x 6 Somethingroyal, through her sons Secretariat and Sir Gaylord in Elusive Quality, and through another dose of Sir Gaylord, through his grandson Lord Avie, who also adds a huge bump of Mahmoud, to CeCe’s pedigree, complementing all of the Mahmoud in the doses of Northern Dancer, through his dam, Natalma.

Ce Ce’s breeder and owner, Bo Hirsch, is to be congratulated on this stunning pedigree with such a profound influence of twentieth century girl power. Certainly, Ollie’s Candy (Candy Ride) has a lovely pedigree as well, but for once, the photo finish was decided by the strength of pedigree and history rather than the whims of fashion.

— Roberta Smoodin

Mr. Big News and the Legacy of Giant’s Causeway

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The “big news” of the past racing weekend, Saturday, April 11, in particular, was that a 46-1 shot, Mr. Big News, won the Oaklawn S. and secured a guaranteed place in the Arkansas Derby and in the Preakness S., whenever that may be held. Trained by Bret Calhoun and ridden by Gabriel Saez, Mr. Big News has brought his sire, the late, great Giant’s Causeway, very near the magic number of having sired 200 stakes winners.

Though Giant’s Causeway died in April, 2018, unable to complete his final breeding season at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in the Bluegrass, his genetic force is still felt in the thoroughbred industry: 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar is proof of this, as is Mr. Big News. And this is before a further inspection of Giant’s Causeway’s sons’ and daughters’ achievements on April 11 leads one to count him as one of the most influential sires of the 20th and 21st centuries.

I am prejudiced, because the first time I laid eyes on the stallion, I fell in love. He was a beautiful, compact, perfectly conformed chestnut, both elegant and masculine, with that look of eagles. He dared you not to love him. A very successful trainer friend called him, “perfection. You can’t ask any more of a horse than that.” I visited him every year thereafter at Ashford’s annual open house for breeders, and his daunting beauty never diminished. I was lucky enough to breed clients’ mares to him twice, getting two outstanding foals. He will always be one of my all-time favorites.

Mr. Big News demonstrates Giant’s Causeway’s ability to sire stakes winners with anomalous crosses, as he is out of the Galileo mare Unappeased. Through Giant’s Causeway’s entire stud career, only seven Galileo mares have been bred to him, though multi-millionaire Eishin Apollon was out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. However, we must look to Galileo’s dam, Urban Sea, by Miswaki, to cement the possibilities in this mating, as Giant’s Causeway loved mares with Miswaki in their pedigrees: Canadian Champion Irish Mission, millionaire My Typhoon, and others were the results of such matings.

He also appreciated inbreeding to Northern Dancer, apparent in approximately half of his graded stakes winning runners. We mustn’t disregard the double breeding of both Northern Dancer and Halo, offering four doses, therefore, of Almahmoud through her daughters Natalma and Cosmah.

The real key to this pedigree, however, is the bringing together, top and bottom, of the full sisters Glorious Song, through her stellar son Rahy, and Angelic Song, the dam of Unappeased (hence the coveted zigzag), both by Halo and out of the Blue Hen Ballade (1972), offering massive doses of Mahmoud and his family, La Troienne, and Swaps (for whom Giant’s Causeway clearly has an affinity—his full sister will make a cameo later). Ballade was the dam of Devil’s Bag by Halo, a full brother to the sisters offered here, Saint Ballado, and Imperial Falcon.

The fact that this regally-bred colt only fetched $95,000 as a yearling perhaps points to the weakness of the Fasig Tipton October Yearling Sale at which he was offered, rather than to his quality, because he appears to be a big, strong serious runner. Why would a January 29 foal be offered in this sale in the first place? I can only imagine that he was small as a yearling, or that health issues kept him out of the more prestigious, earlier sales.

Given his pedigree, one of the commentators on TVG suggested that Bret Calhoun should transfer this colt to the turf as soon as possible. After the race, this commentator said, “shows what I know.” Devil’s Bag, from this family, was a killer on dirt. This colt’s Galileo dam may add stamina, and perhaps, eventually turf ability, but for now, Mr. Big News looks like a real Triple Crown contender and a bargain for Calhoun and Allied Racing Stable.

In that same hour that Mr. Big News cemented his place on the Triple Crown Trail, in the twelfth at Gulfstream, a $75,000 optional claimer, another Giant’s Causeway offspring, the four-year-old filly Princess Causeway, won in perhaps the most stunning race of the day. Dead last all the way around, she closed into very fast fractions down the stretch to dominate with a thrilling turn of foot. She has five wins from eleven starts, and has earned over $314,000 for Winchester Place Thoroughbreds and trainer Ian Wilkes, and seems certain to be a candidate for a stakes race in the near future. Unlike the anomalous nick demonstrated by Mr. Big News, Princess Causeway is a much more typically pedigreed offspring of Giant’s Causeway, being out of the A.P. Indy mare A.P. Investment, who was out of the Gone West mare Clear in the West.

Another generation back is the Allan Paulson-bred Danka, by Strawberry Road out of the Blushing Groom mare Paloma Blanca, offering the powerful cross of Nijinsky II and Blushing Groom, and calling out to the Blushing Groom, on the zig zag, through Rahy on the top side. Sires from the Storm Cat line love the addition of Nijinsky II to any pedigree, as Nijinsky II is a close genetic relative of Storm Bird, and the two complement each other beautifully.

While considering Princess Causeway, having a look at the pedigree of Grade One winner Imagining is essential. The Phipps-bred was by Giant’s Causeway, out of the A.P. Indy mare and G2 winner Daydreaming, with a second dam by Northern Dancer, with tons of La Troienne, as only the Phipps stable could do, in the dams’ side. What Calumet Farm did in breeding Princess Causeway is, though, just as strong. Giant’s Causeway’s best progeny are littered with inbreeding to Secretariat and his dam Somethingroyal, and this pedigree offers Secretariat 4 x 4 x 5, and Somethingroyal 5 x 5 x 6, through three of the most influential Blue Hen Secretariat mares in the stud book: Terlingua, Weekend Surprise, and Secrettame.

The appearance of Chieftain (1961) via the dam of Mariah’s Storm, Immense, in Giant’s Causeway’s pedigree only heightens the effect, as Chieftain was by Bold Ruler, like Secretariat, out of the Blue Hen Pocahontas, whose dam, How, was by Princequillo, just like Somethingroyal. As in Mr. Big News, there is a build-up of Hail to Reason, always a good thing, through various sources this time, such as Halo, Roberto, Seattle Slew’s granddam, Reason to Earn, and Hail to Reason’s close genetic relative, My Babu, through A.P. Indy. We must also mention a bit of Graustark, for stamina, in her tail female line.

But there’s more Giant’s Causeway news. The winner of the Oaklawn Mile, an hour earlier than the Oaklawn S., was the seven-year-old Tom’s D’Etat, a millionaire whose career has been wisely guided by Al Stall Jr., through 17 starts, with ten wins, two seconds, and one third. How does this son of Smart Strike fit into my paean to Giant’s Causeway? Because his dam, Julia Tuttle, is by Giant’s Causeway, whose career as a sire of sires is more than equaled by his career as a broodmare sire: he is currently the leading broodmare sire worldwide, and is the broodmare sire of G1 star Mucho Gusto.

In Tom’s D’Etat we see a collection of Turn-to/Hail to Reason blood just as we did in Mr. Big News and Princess Causeway, as Smart Strike’s Blue Hen Dam, Classy ‘n Smart, was a granddaughter of Turn-to. This twins with the Hail to Reason/Turn-to in Giant’s Causeway through Halo and Roberto, and as in Princess Causeway, we see another dose of Blushing Groom in Julia Tuttle’s dams’ side.

Further examination of Classy ‘n Smart’s pedigree, however, reveals that her granddam, Classy Quillo, was by Outing Class, whose dam was Track Medal. Remember the powerful dose of Swaps, in the sixth position, in Mr. Big News, tail female? In the sixth position in Tom’s D’Etat’s pedigree, in his dams’ side, is Track Medal, the full sister to Swaps. And Classy ‘n’ Smart’s third dam is Quillopoly, yet another powerful Princequillo mare, like Somethingroyal and How. As usual, ancient history rears its head, and Giant’s Causeway’s affinity for Swaps/Track Medal and Princequillo mares cannot be denied.

The death of Giant’s Causeway in 2018 was painful, as he was clearly one of the greats. In Europe, his son Shamardal is a leading sire (with extra Halo in his dams’ side), so his legacy lives on. But I sincerely hope this is not the last paean to the handsome chestnut I will write. On April 11, in one hour’s time, Giant’s Causeway ruled the world once again.

— Roberta Smoodin

Donna Veloce: Uncle Mo’s Latest Superstar

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Donna Veloce catapulted herself to the top of the ranks of Kentucky Oaks contenders with her brilliant win in the Santa Ysabel S.-G3 on March 8. Despite a stumbling start and being behind four other fillies, she made her move around the clubhouse turn and took off, leaving the others in her dust. Her record is now four starts, two wins and two seconds, for earnings of $490,000. The fact that she was a $450,000 Keeneland September 2018 yearling and a $800,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida March two-year-old attests to her promise and good looks, and she is drop dead gorgeous. She’s unusual for an Uncle Mo, as she is so elegant and feminine—he tends to throw big, butch offspring, as that’s what he is. But she is leggy and wasp-waisted, with a beautiful head, and an effortless stride.

Her pedigree represents a classic Uncle Mo cross, with cherries on top (and bottom). She is out of the Montjeu mare Coin Broker, and her second dam is Cash Run, by Seeking the Gold. One need look no further than Uncle Mo’s best son and promising young sire, Nyquist, to find the same template. Nyquist is 6 x 6 x 4 Northern Dancer, out of a Forestry mare (note the extra dose of Myrtlewood present, tail female, in Forestry), with a Seeking the Gold second dam. Donna Veloce is 5 x 4 x 4 Northern Dancer, out of a Seeking the Gold second dam. Indeed, the presence of multiple doses of Northern Dancer, and sons of Mr. Prospector/Fappiano with Buckpasser on their dams’ side (Mining, Empire Maker, Unbridled) are everywhere in Uncle Mo’s best offspring, as are notes of In Reality/Dr. Fager, which Donna Veloce also offers as her fourth broodmare sire is Dr. Fager himself.

But back to Nyquist, and his double-dose of tail female Myrtlewood, through Forestry and Mr. Prospector. Myrtlewood (1932) is the tail female of both Seattle Slew and Mr. Prospector, as well as Forestry, part of what makes the Seattle Slew/Mr. P cross so potent. Missing entirely from Uncle Mo’s pedigree, single and double doses of Myrtlewood dot the pedigrees of Uncle Mo’s best offspring, through A.P. Indy and Bernardini as well as all of the Mr. P crosses. Donna Veloce herself is double-bred tail female Myrtlewood: through Mr. P, of course, but through her own female line, as she herself is tail female Myrtlewood, being double-bred Sequence, the dam of Gold Digger, Mr. P’s dam, who is also her fifth dam, making Donna Veloce 6 x 6 Sequence and therefore 8 x 8 Myrtlewood.

Another Blue Hen mare makes a twinned appearance in Donna Veloce’s pedigree: the great Grey Flight (1945), responsible for so much black type in the thoroughbred it would take pages to list it all, though it includes What a Pleasure, Bold Lad, and the only mare to give birth to two millionaire fillies, Pure Profit, the dam of both Educated Risk and Inside Information. Like Myrtlewood, the important tail female relative in Grey Flight is La Grisette (1915), the great grandmother of Grey Flight, and a profound influence on the thoroughbred breed. Donna Veloce is 7 x 8 Grey Flight, top and bottom, through Sovereign Dancer in Uncle Mo’s pedigree, as she is Sovereign Dancer’s second dam, and through Pleasant Colony’s dam, Sun Colony, on her dams’ side. Sun Colony was by Sunrise Flight, a grandson of Grey Flight through his dam, Misty Morn.

Lest we forget, another Blue Hen is featured in Uncle Mo’s pedigree, via his broodmare sire Arch, a great grandson of Courtly Dee (1968), through her granddaughter Aurora, by Danzig, making Aurora a close genetic relative to the breed-shaping sire in Europe, Green Desert. We also must not forget the strong dose of La Troienne (1926), via Buckpasser, and Special, the scion of another great female family, that of Rough Shod II (1944).

This pedigree is an encyclopedia of great female families, missing only that of Somethingroyal, Secretariat’s dam. Clearly, the more mare power you can add to Uncle Mo, the better. It’s amusing to note that one nicking service that shall not be named here gave this pedigree an F grade, a testament to some nicking services’ inattention to female families, and complete, doglike devotion to male lines only. Some pedigree experts believe that the strength of female families accounts for more than 50% of a race horse’s ability. Though this seems an oversimplification to me, given the roulette wheel of genetic diversity, to discount the importance of great female families demonstrates a complete lack of subtlety in pedigree analysis. Uncle Mo and Donna Veloce are proof of this, as their pedigrees are as subtly brilliant as any in the stud book.

— Roberta Smoodin


A.P. Indy’s Line Reigns Supreme

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Three of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks prep races on Saturday, February 1, featured remarkably similar results. The Forward Gal S.-G3 at Gulfstream was won by unbeaten Tonalist’s Shape, by Tonalist. The Withers S.-G3, at Aqueduct, was won by Max Player, by Honor Code. And the Holy Bull S.-G3, again at Gulfstream, was won by Tiz the Law, by Constitution. See the trend? Tonalist, standing at Lane’s End, is by Tapit, making him a great-grandson of A.P. Indy. Honor Code, also at Lane’s End, is by A.P. Indy himself. Constitution, the second leading first crop sire of 2019 by earnings, stands at Winstar Farm, and is, like Tonalist, by Tapit. The grand old man, A.P. Indy, continues to dominate the 2020 three-year-old picture, even as such great contemporary sires as Into Mischief, whose son Mischevious Alex, and Pioneer of the Nile, whose son Thousand Words, took the other two derby preps, continue to produce exciting colts.

Tonalist could hardly have been expected to throw precocity with his first crop of 2019, as his one start at two yielded little, while his three-year-old campaign yielded a Belmont S.-G1 win and a Jockey Club Gold Cup S.-G1 win, with a repeat performance of that victory at four. Throw in his Pleasant Colony dam, and his Pleasant Colony looks (the very high withers, masculine head, and stout bone), marking him as different looking from other sons of Tapit, and the grass ability that should come with the Pleasant Colony influence, and you’d hardly expect him to pass dirt speed to his offspring. Yet Tonalist’s Shape has made her mark on the Oaks trail. The key is her terrifically outcrossed pedigree. There is no inbreeding through the fifth cross, and yet…lurking just beyond that is the powerful combination of Northern Dancer sons who are closely related, Nijinsky II and Storm Bird, plus a dose of Topsider. There is a wealth of Princequillo through male and female offspring. There is a doubling of Secretariat through his dam, Somethingroyal, top and bottom. Tapit loves both Deputy Minister and his sire, Vice Regent, as is evidenced by his many stakes performers featuring these, and lurking in the fifth position is Vice Regent himself, on Tonalist’s Shape’s dams’ side.

The real deciding factor in Tonalist’s Shape’s dirt ability, however, must be the presence of Meadowlake, through his son, Meadow Dancer, the filly’s second broodmare sire. Meadowlake, as a sire, embodied brilliance, toughness, precocity, and dirt ability, and during his tenure at Darby Dan epitomized North American dirt breeding, while being a wonderful outcross for most mares. The other strong dirt influence in the dams’ side of this filly is none other than Triple Crown Winner Affirmed, calling out to the Mr. Prospector and Fappiano in Tapit, and to the Raise a Native in Meadowlake.

Honor Code’s pedigree all but guarantees his success at stud. Out of the Storm Cat mare Serena’s Cat, his third dam is Champion and multi-millionaire Serena’s Song, by Rahy, creating therefore, in Serena’s Cat, a pedigree very similar to that of Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat on a Rahy mare). Honor Code features Secretariat top and bottom, through his daughter Weekend Surprise on top, and his daughter Terlingua, on bottom, arguably the best and most influential daughters of Secretariat who ever existed, as they gave us the breed-altering A.P. Indy and Storm Cat. Examining Max Player’s pedigree, patterns begin to materialize. As in Tonalist’s Shape, multiple doses of Northern Dancer appear, through Storm Cat, Northfields, Dance Number, Deputy Minister and daughter Cold Reply in this case, and Mr. Prospector is likewise doubled (4 x 3), top and bottom, as is Buckpasser (5 x 5). Halo appears twice (7 x 5), top and bottom, adding his own dam, Cosmah, a daughter of Almahmoud and half-sister of Natalma, Northern Dancer’s dam. There exists, because of this, an obvious wealth of Mahmoud in Max Player. Plus the shadow of Meadowlake, through his second dam’s sire, French Deputy, whose own dam, Mitterand, was by the same sire as Meadowlake, Hold Your Peace, almost lost in contemporary pedigrees.

Constitution was the surprise star of the freshman sires of 2019. The worst psychic in the world could have predicted that American Pharoah would be number one, but who would have thought that Constitution would be so close behind in the second position? His gorgeous son with the huge, dramatic blaze on his face, Tiz the Law, seems the most likely of this Indy-trio to get the distance of the Triple Crown races, as he is triple-bred Seattle Slew (5 x 6 x 5), quintuple-bred Northern Dancer through Nijinsky II, Danzig, Storm Bird, Lyphard and, as in Max Player, a female carrier of his genes, his granddaughter Lonely Dancer. It is, however, his second dam’s sire, Belmont S.-G1 winner Go for Gin, who cements his claim on stamina, as Go for Gin’s sire, Cormorant, is, like Pleasant Colony, by His Majesty, and out of a Stage Door Johnny mare: Tiz the Law should be able to run forever. Mitigating this stamina, however, is brilliance: the full siblings Moon Glitter and Relaunch appear top and bottom, 5 x 4, and add their own doses of In Reality and The Axe II (Mahmoud) to the extant In Reality in Unbridled on top, and Crafty Prospector on bottom, who are closely related, not to mention the other dose of the Axe II in Constitution, through his son Al Hattab. As well, La Troienne, the Blue Hen of Blue Hens, makes numerous appearances through doubled Buckpasser and tripled The Axe II.

After reviewing these three scions of the A.P. Indy line, it should come as no surprise that a perusal of the leading second crop sires list features Constitution at number one, Tonalist at number two, and Honor Code at number four, as close to a monopoly as you can get. Though he was foaled in 1989, A.P. Indy remains the most important influence in 21st century pedigrees, and his sons, grandsons and great grandsons seem poised to insure the continuation of this trend.

— Roberta Smoodin