May 4 saw first-class performances in classic races on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, Orb justified his status as favorite in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) by powering home through the slop in a wet renewal of the great American race. But Dawn Approach may have run a still more impressive race at Newmarket, coming in five lengths to the good in the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I). In doing so, the Godolphin colorbearer provided some salve for Sheikh Mohammed in the wake of the doping scandal surrounding trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, who had charge of some of the Godolphin horses.
Fortunately, Dawn Approach is trained by Jim Bolger, who is also his breeder. As if that were not enough, Bolger trained the colt's sire, New Approach, and his paternal granddam, Park Express. The last-named runner, a daughter of Ahonoora, was rated the co-champion Irish juvenile filly of 1985 and the champion English filly of 1986; her biggest win came in the 1986 Phoenix Park Champion Stakes (Ire-I).
New Approach, a son of Galileo, was even better than his dam, ranking as the best European male of his crop at both 2 and 3. A winner of the Bank of Scotland National Stakes (Ire-I) and the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) for Bolger as a juvenile of 2007, he stretched out to win the Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) at 3 in the colors of Princess Haya of Jordan. He added the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) and the Emirates Airlines Champion Stakes (Eng-I) to his resume before retiring to Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarket.
Galileo, of course, needs little introduction. A champion on the racecourse and the best sire son of the late Sadler's Wells, the Coolmore stallion had a spectacular year in 2012, when he was represented by 43 stakes winners. And he delivered not just quantity but quality, for among those runners was the brilliant Frankel, unbeaten in 14 starts and twice Europe's Horse of the Year. He is giving signs that he may become an important sire of sires as well; New Approach led the European general sire list last year thanks to Dawn Approach, while another Galileo son, 2006 European champion juvenile Teofilo, led the 2012 European second-crop sire list.
A member of his sire's first crop, Dawn Approach is the fourth named foal and fourth winner out of Hymn of the Dawn, a daughter of the brilliant sprinter Phone Trick. A son of the durable sprinter and useful sire Clever Trick (by Icecapade), Phone Trick sired 54 stakes winners including 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and 1993 champion juvenile filly Phone Chatter. Dawn Approach is by far the best of the 80 stakes winners produced from his daughters to date.
Hymn of the Dawn showed nothing of her sire's speed, failing to place in five starts, and her dam Colonial Debut was also a non-winner, placing three times in eight tries. Colonial Debut was quite well bred, though perhaps too stamina-oriented for American racing. She was sired by 1981 champion 3-year-old male Pleasant Colony, a reliable source of staying power, out of the winning Alydar mare Kittiwake Miss, a full sister to the high-class Miss Oceana. A member of Alydar's first crop, Miss Oceana won six grade I races at 2 and 3 and played no small role in making Alydar both the leading freshman sire and the leading juvenile sire of 1983.
Miss Oceana was one of four stakes winners produced by Kittiwake, a good runner in her own right whose eight stakes wins included the 1973 Columbiana Handicap (gr. IIT). A half sister to multiple grade III winner Oilfield (by Hail to Reason) and stakes winner Beaconaire (by Vaguely Noble), Kittiwake was sired by the great Sea-Bird, whose triumphs included the 1965 Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Her dam Ole Liz was not quite so distinguished but was still quite a useful race mare, winning three stakes races as a juvenile, and was a daughter of four-time leading broodmare sire Double Jay from black type winner and multiple stakes producer Islay Mist (by another leading broodmare sire, Roman).
Dawn Approach's female line traces back to Maggie B. B., one of the most distinguished American matrons of the post-Civil War era and a great taproot mare whose produce included Iroquois, winner of the 1881 Epsom Derby. Whether Dawn Approach can emulate the feat of his distant relative has yet to be seen. Nonetheless, he has already proven himself both a worthy heir to his sire and a proud addition to a family that has enjoyed substantial success on both sides of the Atlantic.