As far as sire lines are concerned, the throne doesn’t always go to the heir apparent. This holds true, stretching back to the very beginnings of the breed. All but a small percentage of Thoroughbreds trace back in male-line to the Darley Arabian, who arrived in England in 1704. The Darley Arabian’s son, “Flying” Childers is often held to be the first great racehorse, but the enduring male line goes not to him but to his unraced brother, Bartlett’s (or “Bleeding”) Childers. Similarly, more than 90% of all current Thoroughbreds trace to the Darley Arabian via Phalaris. He was a top-class sprinter, but given that his sire, Polymelus, was also represented by three classic-winning colts, Phalaris would scarcely have been considered the chosen son.
More than 300 years later we still witness the same phenomenon. The most recent Northern Hemisphere group or grade I winner from the Blushing Groom line is the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas, Fr-I) and Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks, Fr-I) captress Avenir Certain, and it would appear that either her sire, Le Havre (a leading European second-crop sire in 2014), or Animal Kingdom (by the Brazilian-bred Blushing Groom grandson, Leroidesanimaux) is the strongest candidate to extend Blushing Groom’s line. Le Havre did win the 2009 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Fr-I), but given he is by the Rahy horse Noverre—who was exported to India after a disappointing European stud career—it’s unlikely anyone would have selected him as a horse with a shot of continuing his male line.
Ironically enough, Marie Rheinberg, the dam of Le Havre, is a half sister to Polar Falcon, another horse who has outperformed some more likely paternal half brothers to become the most important extender of his male line. A top sprinter/miler, Polar Falcon took three group races, including the Ladbroke Sprint Cup Stakes (Eng-I). With his sire, Nureyev, being also represented by such colts as Theatrical, Stravinsky, Peintre Celebre, Spinning World, Wolfhound, and Fasliyev, Polar Falcon would have been some way down the ranks of “the horse most likely to…”
Polar Falcon died at 14 in 2001. At that stage he’d proved himself good if not exceptional, but ultimately, his record would show a creditable 41 stakes winners, including the main standard bearer for the Nureyev line in recent years, Pivotal.
Bred by Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket, England—where he has also stood throughout his stud career as did his sire—Pivotal is out of the Cozzene mare, Fearless Revival. Pivotal ran three times in the space of 19 days at 2, winning a six-furlong maiden at Newcastle and a five-furlong allowance event at Folkestone. The following year Pivotal reappeared to take the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot in his seasonal bow. Sent off as favorite for the six-furlong July Cup (Eng-I), Pivotal could never land a blow, 5 1/4 lengths back in sixth behind Anabaa. Back at five furlongs, Pivotal closed out his brief career with a short-head victory in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes (Eng-I).
Retired to stand the 1997 season at Cheveley Park Stud, at a fee of £6,000, Pivotal has enjoyed a level of success that could not have been predicted from his race-record and pedigree. Several times the leading sire standing in England, to date he has been represented by 120 stakes winners, among them champion U.S. turf female Golden Apples; champion European sprinter Somnus; Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) and Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) scorer Sariska; Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) winner African Story; and Immortal Verse. Of his sons, Kyllachy and Captain Rio (in New Zealand) have sired group/grade I winners, and Excellent Art, Falco, Windsor Knot, and Siyouni (a leading European freshman sire in 2014) have group winners to their credit. His dual group I-winning son, Farhh, completed his first season at stud this year.
While Pivotal has certainly been able to transmit sprinting speed to his offspring, his overall stud record is atypical of a racehorse who did his best work over five furlongs. That same versatility also seems to be apparent in Pivotal’s career as an emerging broodmare sire, as his first three group/grade I winners in that role are Mayson, who took the six-furlong July Cup; Winsili, successful in the 10-furlong Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes; and Main Sequence, who recently took the Sept. 27 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes. Main Sequence, who was scoring his third grade I win in three starts, and who looks likely to go in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), is doubly an enigma as far as distance and pedigree are concerned: Not only is he out of a mare by a five-furlong group I winner, but he’s the best runner for his sire, the Mr. Prospector stallion Aldebaran, who was voted champion U.S. sprinter of 2003 after scoring three grade I victories, two at seven furlongs and one at a mile.