(Originally from the February 16, 2013 issue of The Blood-Horse)
by John P. Sparkman
In the summer of 1976, a bright-red chestnut colt rocketed across the Parisian turf of the Champ de Mars, utilizing a brilliant change of pace to become only the second horse in the history of French racing to sweep their four biggest juvenile races. Blushing Groom confirmed those juvenile victories in the Prix Robert Papin, Prix Morny, Prix de la Salamandre, and Grand Criterium (all Fr-I) with a classic triumph in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas, Fr-I) at 3 and soon joined the roster of French-trained champions who dominated European sire lists in the 1980s while standing in Kentucky.
Though he lives inside a burnished gun-barrel hide instead of rebellious red, Blushing Groom’s fourth-generation descendant Revolutionary evoked memories of his tail-male line founder with his dramatic turn of finishing speed Feb. 2 in the Withers Stakes (gr. III). Revolutionary is the most recent of a long line of classic prospects and classic winners produced by the Blushing Groom tribe, a history capsulated in the accompanying chart of sires of grade/group I-winning male-line descendants of the French champion.
Revolutionary is from the first of only two North American crops of War Pass, the champion 2-year-old male of 2007, who died in 2010 the day after returning from serving his second shuttle season in Australia. Revolutionary is the third, and so far best, stakes winner from War Pass’ first American crop, following 2012 Sunday Silence Stakes winner Java's War (out of Java, by Rainbow Quest), and 2013 Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes winner Ore Pass (Wisconsin Lady, by Stephen Got Even).
Bred by Seth Hancock’s Cherry Valley Farm and sold to Robert LaPenta for $180,000 at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale, War Pass swept undefeated through four exhibitions of speed at 2 for trainer Nick Zito. Bad luck and injury prevented War Pass from confirming his juvenile victories in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) as a 3-year-old. After winning an allowance easily in his first start, he was bumped at the start of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), rallied briefly then faded.
War Pass led most of the way in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) but succumbed to Tale of Ekati late and came out of the race with a fractured left front ankle. Retired to Lane’s End at a fee of $30,000, he sired 65 registered foals in his first Northern Hemisphere crop.
War Pass was the best of 52 stakes winners sired by Cherokee Run, a much more versatile racehorse than his title of champion sprinter of 1994 implies. That Eclipse Award came after his 4-year-old season culminated with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), but Cherokee Run possessed sufficient stamina to win the previous year’s Dwyer Stakes at 11⁄8 miles and run second to champion Prairie Bayou in the classic 13⁄16-mile Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
In essence, Cherokee Run was a brilliant miler entirely typical of the Blushing Groom male line, with the speed to win at shorter distances and the courage to run a bit farther. His best offspring usually conformed to that template, including Chilukki (Song of Syria, by Damascus). Winner of the first six of her seven starts as a juvenile, Chilukki had earned champion 2-year-old filly honors of 1999 before succumbing at the wire to Cash Run’s upset in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
Cherokee Run never sired a graded stakes winner at 10 furlongs or beyond, and his second best son at stud, 2000 Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) winner Yonaguska, has sired 24 stakes winners, but no North American grade I winners (has one, Tough Win, in Korea). Yonaguska’s best son, 2009 Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Musket Man, finished third in the ’09 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and BlackBerry Preakness Stakes and stands in Louisiana.
Cherokee Run’s sire, Runaway Groom, won not only at 11⁄4 miles but at 11⁄2 miles. Runaway Groom earned Canadian champion 3-year-old male honors by winning two-thirds of Canada’s Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes and Breeders’ Stakes, but scored his most famous and important victory over American classic winners Aloma's Ruler and Conquistador Cielo in the 1982 Travers Stakes (gr. I).
As the accompanying table illustrates, despite a unfashionable female family that limited his commercial appeal, Runaway Groom was, at worst, the third-best son of Blushing Groom to stand in North America. Only Rahy (94 stakes winners) and Mt. Livermore, with six champions among his 77 stakes winners, can claim superiority.
Blushing Groom himself spread his genes across the Thoroughbred globe through his sons, most notably Rainbow Quest, Candy Stripes, and Rahy. Sire of 92 stakes winners from 522 foals (17.8%), Blushing Groom led the English sire list in 1989 when his best racing son Nashwan captured the Ever Ready Epsom Derby, General Accident Two Thousand Guineas, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (all Eng-I).
Bred by William S. Farish, Revolutionary is the eighth foal and first stakes winner out of Runup the Colors, a high-class A.P. Indy filly from the epochal family of La Troienne. Winner of the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I) in 1997, Runup the Colors is half sister to six stakes winners, including highweight Flagbird, by Nureyev; and 2003 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Prospectors Delite, by Mr. Prospector, out of grade II winner Up the Flagpole, by Hoist the Flag.
Revolutionary is inbred 4x3 to Hoist the Flag, which augurs well for his chances of staying classic distances and adding to the legacy of Blushing Groom.
See Brushing Groom's full line chart in the magazine feature.