The second weekend in April saw a career high for veteran sire Exchange Rate. The son of Danzig was represented by Ball Dancing, who gained her first grade I triumph by taking Keeneland’s Jenny Wiley Stakes April 11. The following day at Keeneland, Exchange Rate’s daughter Miss Ella entered the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) picture with a win in the Adena Springs Beaumont Stakes (gr. II).
Ball Dancing already had very creditable form on both sides of the Atlantic. She had won the Prix de la Seine in France, was second in the Prix de Royaumont - Equidia Live (Fr-III), and was beaten only 1 3/4 lengths while fifth in last year’s Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks, Fr-I). In the U.S. last year she captured the Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIT), and was second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT). In her 2015 debut Ball Dancing ran second to the accomplished Stephanie's Kitten in the Hills-borough Stakes (gr. IIIT).
By way of contrast to the battle-hardened Ball Dancing, Miss Ella was making only the second start of her career, having led throughout to take a six-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park by three lengths.
There are contrasts in the pedigrees of Ball Dancing and Miss Ella. Ball Dancing’s dam, Ball Gown, has produced three other stakes horses including French listed winner Putyball, and Palomar, who ran third in the Prix de Lutece (Fr-III). Ball Gown is a half sister to stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Dance Account, but of greater import is the pedigree of their dam, Dancing Rags.
By Nijinsky II out of Glad Rags II, the champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland in 1965 and English One Thousand Guineas winner, Dancing Rags is a full sister to Laurent Perrier Champagne Stakes (Eng-II) winner Gorytus and to Terpsichorist, whose quintet of stakes triumphs included the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) and the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT). Terpsichorist subsequently became ancestress of several notable performers, including a pair of young Kentucky sires in Union Rags, who took the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at 2, and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at 3; and Declaration of War, highweighted older male in Europe in 2013. In addition to her notable full siblings, Dancing Rags is also a half sister to graded stakes winner Mirthful Flirt, the granddam of the 1993 Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair.
Ball Dancing is the seventh Northern Hemisphere grade/group I winner for Exchange Rate, following highweight French 2-year-old Reckless Abandon; Ermine, who took the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I); Swap Fliparoo, successful in the Darley Test Stakes (gr. I); last year’s Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I) winner, Sunset Glow; and Marianita (Puerto Rico) and Alnajim Almodeesa (Saudi Arabia). The 4-year-old Ball Dancing has similarities with two of these horses, as her broodmare sire is Silver Hawk, who also appears as the sire of the second dam of Reckless Abandon, and who is a son of Roberto, as is Dynaformer, the broodmare sire of Sunset Glow.
While Ball Dancing’s family has considerable name recognition in the U.S., the same can’t be said of Miss Ella, at least as far as the most recent generations. Miss Bella is the first black-type winner for either of her first two dams. Prior to her appearance, the only black-type performer her dam or granddam had produced was Panamanian group III stakes-placed Todo Esposible (by Divine Park) out of Miss Ella’s second dam, La Croisette. The granddam of Miss Ella was foaled in Chile, and was by the imported Vice Regent horse Great Regent. La Croisette earned black type in her native country, and is a half sister to two more notable performers in El Sombra, a Chilean grade II winner by Roy, and multiple group I winner Isola Piu Bella. A daughter of the Forty Niner stallion Rich Man’s Gold, Isola Piu Bella was a standout in Chile, earning honors as Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly. Brought to the U.S., Isola Piu Bella proved her worth with wins in the Sabin (gr. III) and Sixty Sails (gr. III) handicaps.
Miss Ella’s fourth dam, Segesta, is a sister to the Las Oaks victress Stelita II, and to Strong, who took the San Marino Handicap in 1976 while racing in the U.S. Segesta is ancestress of several other stakes winners, including the dam of 2003 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) winner Grand Hombre.
Miss Ella is out of a mare by Woodman, a horse closely related to Exchange Rate’s broodmare sire Seeking the Gold (both are by Mr. Prospector out of mares by Buckpasser). This pattern seems to be particularly effective, as Miss Ella is one of four stakes winners from seven starters for Exchange Rate out of Woodman mares.