She's big. She's bold. She's beautiful. And she just may be the best distaff prospect for smelling Derby roses in years.
"She," of course, is Sweet Catomine, the juvenile filly champion of 2004 and unbeaten so far in two starts against her own sex in 2005. Clearly much the best of the West Coast 3-year-old fillies, she now has the boys in her sights as her next target is the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
The Santa Anita Oaks--Santa Anita Derby double was, of course, the springboard for the last filly to win the Derby, Winning Colors. Since then, two other top fillies--1992 champion juvenile filly Eliza and the brilliant Sharp Cat--have taken a crack at the Santa Anita Derby after winning the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), but neither were able to last out the trip against males, although Sharp Cat later proved she could stay nine furlongs against her own sex by winning the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II).
Whether Sweet Catomine can best the colts is still unproven, but on paper she should have no trouble getting the distance. Although her sire, the brilliant Storm Cat, is better known for getting precocious juveniles and miler speed, his dual classic-winning son Tabasco Cat demonstrated that with the right mare, Storm Cat can get distance runners as well. Sweet Life, dam of Sweet Catomine, looks to be the right kind of mare.
Winner of the restricted Providencia Stakes over nine furlongs, Sweet Life is a daughter of the late Kris S., a son of the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Roberto and a stamina influence in his own right. With such notables as 1999 champion turf female Soaring Softly, 1989 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Prized, and 1998 Super Derby (gr. I) winner Arch to his credit, Kris S. was one of the relatively few sources of quality stamina available in the American stallion market in the late 20th century. None of his sons has proved a great sire so far, but Kissin Kris built a solid reputation in Florida and is now in Kentucky, while Arch was represented by his first North American grade I winner on March 6 of this year when Prince Arch won the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. Sweet Life is a half-sister to 1995 Milady Handicap (gr. I) winner Pirate's Revenge and to two restricted stakes winners. Her dam, Symbolically, is a stakes-placed daughter of Flying Paster, arguably the second best colt of the 1976 crop behind Spectacular Bid and an excellent regional sire in California. A horse who clearly stayed 10 furlongs well (he finished second to the "Bid" in the grade I Strub Stakes and Santa Anita Handicap), Flying Paster sired horses all over the distance spectrum including the 1990 Strub Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Flying Continental.
Symbolically was the only black type runner produced from her dam, the Manta Handicap winner Hail to the Queen. The sire of Hail to the Queen, Native Royalty, was one of the soundest sons of Raise a Native, making 40 starts. Although he scored several major successes at sprint distances, Native Royalty also stretched out well enough to take the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap in 1971.
Hail to the Queen was out of Instinctively, whose half-brother Green Gambados (by Swaps) won three graded stakes in 1974 including the 1 3/16-mile Roamer Handicap (gr. II). Further back, the female line is not particularly distinguished, but in Sweet Catomine, the family appears to have hit the jackpot.
Sweet Catomine is inbred 5x4 to the great stamina influence Princequillo, who appears as the broodmare sire of Storm Cat's broodmare sire Secretariat and as the broodmare sire of Kris S.