The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is a day for celebration. But this year it also left pedigree lovers feeling a twinge of sadness. Of the nine winners on the day, four are by sires now deceased.
Asked at the Keeneland September yearling sale about how well the final crop by Unbridled was selling, a bloodstock agent remarked in part, "He's got the best juvenile filly and the best 3-year-old colt."
The filly he referred to is unbeaten Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Halfbridled, who will provide Unbridled yet another champion on his sire résumé. She is his third Breeders' Cup winner, joining juvenile colts Anees and Unbridled's Song. The colt referred to is Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker.
Winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), Unbridled, a son of Fappiano (by Mr. Prospector), died in 2001 at only 14.
How's this for a sire family? Half-brothers A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, and now Honor Grades have all sired Breeders' Cup winners. A.P. Indy is the sire of 2001 Juvenile Fillies winner Tempera, and Summer Squall sired 1996 Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Song.
This year's Distaff (gr. I) winner, Adoration, is by Honor Grades, a son of Danzig who died in 2002. Honor Grades was also 14.
Kris S., like Honor Grades, began his stallion duties in the Sunshine State and later was sent to Kentucky. With Action This Day's win in the Juvenile, Kris S. is the co-leading sire of individual Breeders' Cup winners with five.
A son of Roberto, Kris S. is also the sire of 1993 Juvenile (gr. I) winner Brocco, 1993 Distaff winner Hollywood Wildcat, 1989 Turf (gr. IT) winner Prized, and 1999 Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Soaring Softly.
Kris S. was euthanized in 2002 at age 25.
Kris S. is the sire of 76 stakes winners; just three behind is Pleasant Colony, who notched his second Breeders' Cup winner when Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic. He also sired 1991 Juvenile Fillies winner Pleasant Stage.
When Charlsie Cantey remarked on the NBC telecast that you didn't have to worry about Pleasantly Perfect getting a mile and a quarter because he is by the His Majesty stallion Pleasant Colony, she showed her knowledge of pedigrees. Pleasant Colony, who died last year at age 24, was an example of a sire breeders could go to in hopes of getting that classic, or Breeders' Cup Classic, horse.
There were several other notable breeding/breeder stories from this year's World Thoroughbred Championships:
-- Everyone knows Sadler's Wells is bred to a lot of mares. But in this day of large books, could anyone deserve it more? The son of Northern Dancer this year alone has 30 stakes winners. Breed the same mares to a $5,000 stallion and see if you come up with 30 stakes winners.
It is hard enough to be represented by two Breeders' Cup winners in one year. Sadler's Wells did that one better. His two 2003 winners, High Chaparral and Islington, are both out of Darshaan mares.
-- Windsharp, a 12-year-old daughter of Lear Fan, was nearly represented by two runners in Breeders' Cup races: her first foal, Johar, by Gone West, dead-heated with High Chaparral for the win in the Turf; her second offspring, Dessert, by Storm Cat, was pre-entered in the Filly & Mare Turf but did not run.
-- Last year the first three-generational female family win occurred--Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Flag Flying is out of Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag, who is out of Distaff winner Personal Ensign. This year's Mile winner, Six Perfections, is out of a half-sister to two-time Mile winner Miesque. Six Perfections, by Celtic Swing, was produced from the Riverman mare Yogya.
-- Besides being the longtime former head of Keeneland, Ted Bassett also served as the president of Breeders' Cup. His wife, Lucy, did her own thing, operating a modest breeding operation at their Lanark Farm. How fitting that she was represented as the breeder of a Breeders' Cup winner in Adoration.
-- John T.L. Jones Jr. of Walmac International is a well-known fixture in the industry. Nothing can heal the pain one feels after the loss of a spouse, but the Sprint (gr. I) victory by Cajun Beat, who was co-bred by Jones, left one with a special feeling.Dan Liebman is executive editor of The Blood-Horse.