Gato Del Sol, the 1982 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up who died Aug. 7, not only boasted a Hall of Fame sire in Cougar II, but a female family from which many fine runners descend.
Cougar II, a Chilean import, earned a 1972 Eclipse Award as top turf runner, but also was a major winner on dirt during his career. He won such important events as the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and the ultra-lengthy San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap on grass.
Gato Del Sol, Spanish for "Sun Cat," was among 24 stakes winners by Cougar II, who stood at Arthur B. Hancock III's Stone Farm near Paris, Ky., when Gato Del Sol was conceived. Hancock bred and raced Gato Del Sol with Leone J. Peters.
Gato Del Sol was the second foal from the Jacinto mare Peacefully. Her first foal, Tasha Two, also was by Cougar II. Hancock was partial to sending a mare to the same stallion two consecutive years. Tasha Two ran unplaced in two starts but developed into a producer.
Several years later, Hancock sent Peacefully to Cougar II again. Her foal from that mating, Echoes of Eternity, won twice. As a broodmare, she produced Golden Arches, who won the San Gorgonio (gr. II) and Dahlia (gr. II) Handicaps and a French group event. She emulated her dam by becoming a stakes producer.
Midway through her broodmare career, Peacefully was bred to the great Mr. Prospector, and the resultant foal was French champion Tersa. Bred by Wichita Equine, Tersa was a group I winner in France at two in 1988, her championship season. As a broodmare, she produced millionaire Rock Hard Ten, who scored grade I wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and Malibu Stakes.
Gato Del Sol hails from the family of Silver Fog, who was bred by prominent owner C.V. Whitney. Silver Fog, the fourth dam of Gato Del Sol, is best known for producing Silver Spoon, the 1959 co-champion 3-year-old filly, Kentucky Derby starter, and Hall of Fame member. Other top runners descending from Silver Fog's female family include grade I winners Banquet Table, Catinca, Coined Silver, State Dinner, and Silver Buck.