by Avalyn Hunter
With her win over champion Indian Blessing in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 8, Proud Spell stamped herself as a leading contender on the trail to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Racing as a homebred for Brereton Jones, the filly actually clocked in faster for the distance than Pyro did later on the same card in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), running the 8.5 furlongs in 1:44.01 against 1:44.44 for the Triple Crown hopeful.
Having now captured two grade II events (she won the Matron Stakes last fall, as well as finishing second to Indian Blessing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, gr. I), Proud Spell is the leading runner to date for her sire, Proud Citizen , who stands at Jones’ Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky. The second-crop sire has three stakes winners from the 103 named foals of his first crop and more can reasonably be expected to emerge this year, given that Proud Citizen himself was a much better horse at 3 than at 2. A winner of one of four starts as a juvenile, Proud Citizen won the 2002 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and placed behind divisional champion War Emblem in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness (gr. I).
Proud Citizen is by Gone West, whose other sire sons include Zafonic (who died in 2002), Zamindar, Mr. Greeley, Grand Slam, and Elusive Quality . Whether Gone West will succeed in establishing a lasting branch of the Mr. Prospector sire line is anyone’s guess, but he and his sons are certainly getting the opportunities. Among the younger sons and grandsons of Gone West now at stud in North America are 2004 champion sprinter Speightstown , multiple grade I winner Johar, 2004 champion 3-year-old male Smarty Jones (by Elusive Quality), 2000 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) winner El Corredor (by Mr. Greeley), and 2002 Futurity Stakes (gr. I) winner Whywhywhy (by Mr. Greeley).
Proud Citizen was produced from Drums of Freedom (by Green Forest), a half-sister to 1989 Fayette Handicap (gr. II) winner Drapeau Tricolore (by Irish River (FR)) and to 1992 Prix Quincey (Fr-III) winner Dampierre (by Lear Fan). The dam of Drums of Freedom, Danseuse Etoile, is a winning full sister to 1972 Canadian Horse of the Year La Prevoyante and is by Buckpasser out of Arctic Dancer, a full sister to Northern Dancer.
Given his female lineage, many horsemen and pedigree analysts predicted that Proud Citizen would do very well with mares returning Northern Dancer. Proud Spell certainly fits this description as Northern Dancer appears twice in the pedigree of her dam (through Danzig and Nijinsky II), and Somerville Tattersall Stakes (Eng-III) winner River Proud was also produced from a mare returning Northern Dancer through Nijinsky II. All told, 47 (45.6%) of Proud Citizen’s first-crop foals were produced from mares with Northern Dancer in their pedigrees, and these foals account for 10 of the stallion’s 22 winners (45.5%) as well as two of his three stakes winners. Although both of the stallion’s graded/group stakes winners are from mares returning Northern Dancer, it is probably too early to say that Proud Citizen’s results when crossed to Northern Dancer are clearly superior to his results with mares free of Northern Dancer.
Proud Spell is out of Pacific Spell, a winning daughter of 1996 Canadian champion sprinter Langfuhr (by Danzig). A half-sister to listed stakes winner Call Her Magic (by Caller I. D.), Pacific Spell was produced from Malibu Magic, whose half-sister Imaginary Lady (by Marfa) won four graded stakes as a 3-year-old of 1989 including the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
Malibu Magic was sired by Nijinsky II’s son Encino, a graded stakes-placed full brother to Royal Academyand a half-brother to three other stakes winners including Terlingua, dam of Storm Cat. As might be expected with those credentials, Encino had a respectable stud career in Kentucky and California, getting 1992 American Derby (gr. IIT) winner The Name’s Jimmy and 1990 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) winner Down Again among his 19 stakes winners.
The dam of Malibu Magic, Dream Harder (by 1969 Breeders’ Futurity winner Hard Work), is a stakes-placed half sister to Puerto Rican stakes winner Ineabelle (by Times Roman) and is out of the winning Great Circle mare Great Squaw, whose dam Shawnee Squaw won the 1950 Arlington Lassie Stakes. Overall, the female line, while not exceptional, has a record of coming up with good runners from time to time, so Proud Spell’s emergence is not that surprising.
Proud Spell is inbred 5 x 5 x 6 to both Nearctic and Natalma through Arctic Dancer and Northern Dancer and carries an addition fifth-generation cross of Nearctic through Briartic, broodmare sire of Langfuhr. Her pedigree suggests that nine furlongs should be within her scope, and the manner in which she tackled the long Fair Grounds stretch bodes equally well for a run at the lilies May 2. Now, all she needs to do is get there to have a chance at working her own special magic in the stretch at Churchill Downs.