Few Thoroughbred breeders normally care to breed a 2-year-old filly. Fewer still have gotten good results by doing so, probably because most fillies so bred tend to be from modest backgrounds. But Silvery Swan, a 1994 foal, beat the odds when she produced a dark bay or brown colt by Mr. Greeley in 1997. Named El Corredor, the fleet colt won the 2000 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) and three grade II races before retiring to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, where he has sired seven stakes winners to date. His best runners so far are grade I winners Adieu and Dominican.
Since that flying start to her broodmare career, Silvery Swan has moved from strength to strength. So far, she has produced grade III winner Silver Tornado and grade I winner Roman Ruler from just five more named foals of racing age, and the latest of those foals, Maimonides, looks like one of the more exciting prospects in recent years.
Although Silvery Swan never raced, she has the pedigree credentials to suggest that success in the paddocks should not have been completely unexpected. A descendant of the Sweep mare Dustwhirl, whose three stakes winners include 1941 Triple Crown winner Whirlaway, Silvery Swan is from a branch of Dustwhirl’s family that has been on the rise since Vassar Grad, a great-great-granddaughter of Dustwhirl, won the 1965 Orchid Stakes.
Vassar Grad produced two stakes-placed runners from six foals, all fillies. The only one of her daughters to become a stakes producer was Unsociable (by Never Bend), a winner whose best racetrack performance was a third in the 1972 Santa Ysabel Stakes. Bred to Raise a Native, Unsociable produced 1979 Lafayette Stakes winner Raised Socially, an indifferent sire, and his Quack half-sister Sociable Duck.
Sociable Duck never won a stakes, but her talent level was probably at least equal to Raised Socially’s as she ran second to the good filly Tiltalating in the 1984 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I). As a broodmare, she has produced the stakes-winning fillies Swift and Classy (by Clever Trick) and Seducer (by Housebuster), as well as two stakes-placed runners. Seducer, in turn, is the dam of two-time grade III winner Seducer’s Song, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song.
Silvery Swan is a far better producer than any other member of her immediate family, however, and part of the credit must go to her sire, Silver Deputy. A solid sire with seven champions to his credit, Silver Deputy is forging an equally solid reputation as a broodmare sire. He has thirty-six stakes winners as a maternal grandsire so far, headed by 2002 Canadian Horse of the Year Wake At Noon.
Three of those stakes winners are courtesy of Silvery Swan, whose next foal after El Corredor was the 1998 Maria’s Mon filly Silver Tornado. Unbeaten in two starts at two, Silver Tornado won her first two starts at three, including the Reeve Schley Jr. Stakes (gr. III), but tailed off afterwards. She was retired after running unplaced in her last four starts and has foals of racing age by Gone West, Elusive Quality , and Lemon Drop Kid , including the winner Elusive Value.
Silvery Swan produced a full brother to El Corredor in 1999; named Mr. Bigbird, he proved nowhere near as talented, winning just one of 17 starts. He was followed in 2000 by So Spirited, a daughter of Favorite Trick who never raced. Following in her dam’s hoof prints, So Spirited was first bred in 2002 as a juvenile. She slipped her 2003 foal but has since produced two foals by Mr. Greeley and one by Fusaichi Pegasus .
Fusaichi Pegasus is, of course, the sire of Roman Ruler, Silvery Swan’s 2002 foal (the mare did not produce a foal in 2001). Although hampered by foot problems during his career, Roman Ruler can legitimately be considered his sire’s most accomplished runner so far. He won the 2005 Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and three grade II events before retiring to stud at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms. His first crop will come to the races in 2009.
After slipping in 2003, Silvery Swan produced a 2004 Mr. Greeley filly whose main accomplishment to date has been fetching $2.7 million at the 2005 Keeneland September sale. Silvery Swan’s 2005 colt by Vindication was even more expensive, selling for $4.6 million to Ahmed Zayat at the 2006 Keeneland September sale, but if his performance earlier this month at Saratoga is any indication, he may have more potential than any of Silver Swan’s previous foals. Whether Maimonides will live up to that potential is a question for the future, of course, but he is certainly one to watch.
Silvery Swan has a 2006 colt by Grand Slam waiting in the wings, and at only 13 years old, she probably still has several productive years ahead. Whether Maimonides becomes a superstar, she has already accomplished much, and there is every reason to hope for more.