Going into the final weekend of June, Giant's Causeway looked to have an excellent chance of a grade I victory. His son Heatseeker (IRE), who has very good form on dirt and turf and has become particularly formidable on all-weather tracks, appeared to be the one to beat in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). Unfortunately, a swollen ankle saw Heatseeker scratched from the Gold Cup. But Giant’s Causeway was still represented by a weekend grade I winner, albeit a much less anticipated one.
Dismissed at odds of 40-1 for the Suburban Handicap (gr. I), Giant’s Causeway’s son Frost Giant prevailed with a determined effort that recalled the battling style of his sire. Like Heatseeker – and for that matter, Giant’s Causeway himself – Frost Giant has shown good form on more than one surface. A $600,000 yearling, Frost Giant began his career in England and Ireland. There he broke his maiden in the Killavullan Stakes (Ire-III) on his second start at 2. At 3, Frost Giant started just four times. Unplaced in the Stan James Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), he returned four months later to capture the 10- furlong Bruce Betting Kilternan Stakes (Ire-III) by a head. Frost Giant was shipped to the U.S., where he finished unplaced in a 12-furlong grade I turf event. Purchased after that race by IEAH Stables and partners and sent to the stable of Richard Dutrow, Frost Giant ran unplaced in his final 3-year-old start, the 10-furlong Hollywood Derby (gr. IT). Last year, he ran only once for a third in a Belmont Park turf allowance contest.
Frost Giant kicked off the 2008 campaign by finishing first in a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park, but lost the race in the stewards’ room. He returned to win a dirt allowance contest at the same venue in impressive style, and then took fourth in the Skip Away Handicap (gr. III), again on dirt. Frost Giant’s only two outings between the Skip Away and the Suburban Handicap saw him defeated in turf allowance races at Churchill Downs and Monmouth. Apparently, for much of his time with Dutrow, Frost Giant had been something of a “head case” but reportedly recently began to show a new attitude in his work.
Frost Giant is from the second crop of Giant’s Causeway, and follows First Samurai and Heatseeker, as the third U.S. grade I winner from that crop. Giant’s Causeway stood for $300,000 in 2006, was advertised as “private fee” for 2007, and commanded $125,000 for the most recent season. That reduction in stud fee has certainly not been mirrored by a decline in Giant’s Causeway’s performance: last year he finished fourth on the leading sires list and was represented by 16 Northern Hemisphere stakes winners, nine of them graded; and in 2008 he sits third on the same table, and has 10 stakes winners (behind only Forest Wildcat’s nine), six of them graded.
Bred by J.M.J. Stables, Frost Giant is the first foal of Takesmybreathaway, a mare bought by J.M.J. for $420,000. There were good pedigree and commercial reasons for the recommendation of Giant’s Causeway as Takesmybreathaway’s first mate, even though he was an unproven stallion at the time. Giant’s Causeway’s sire, Storm Cat, had done well over Mr. Prospector-line mares in general, and was responsible for Saudi Poetry, the first graded stakes winner out of a mare by Gone West. The mating also gave the attractive pattern of inbreeding to Northern Dancer through direct sire line and through a mare in the tail-female line (for good measure, it also doubled Secretariat, so giving inbreeding to both of Storm Cat’s grandsires). From a commercial standpoint, Giant’s Causeway was also one of a few horses that fit from a pedigree aspect, and offered the chance of “getting out” on the purchase price of the mare and the stallion stud fee with her first foal.
Of course subsequent events bore out Giant’s Causeway’s affinity for Mr. Prospector-line mares. In addition to Frost Giant – who is rated A++ by TrueNicks – there are at least other 20 stakes winners by Giant’s Causeway out of Mr. Prospector-line mares, including group and grade I winners Shamardal, Maid’s Causeway (IRE), My Typhoon (IRE), Heatseeker, and Aragorn (IRE), and group and graded winners Naissance Royale (IRE), Diamond Omi, Primary, Win McCool, Red Giant, Cowboy Cal, and Carriage Trail.
Giant’s Causeway’s only start on dirt resulted in a very close second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), but his background, coupled with the fact that his first crop were sired in Europe, has ensured that the majority of his best winners have scored on turf. However, the achievements of such as First Samurai, Frost Giant, Oonagh MacCool (IRE), Win McCool, Fairbanks, and Giant Gizmo, have underlined his ability to get quality runners on dirt.
Giant’s Causeway is one of the few top-class U.S. stallions who can be relied upon to consistently sire horses who stay the American classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, and that he is – relatively speaking – a source of stamina may explain why many of his best dirt runners are out of mares with speedy backgrounds. Takesmybreathaway finished unplaced in her two starts, but in addition to being a daughter of Gone West, she is half-sister to Mutakddim, also a grandson of Mr. Prospector, who was a stakes winner at seven furlongs and group-placed at seven furlongs and a mile in Europe. Takesmybreathaway is also half-sister to Shuvee Handicap (gr. I) runner-up Smooth Charmer, dam of last year’s Miesque Stakes (gr. III) victress Sea Chanter.
Frost Giant’s granddam, Oscillate (by Seattle Slew), is half-sister to champion 2-year-old and Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Rhythm (by Gone West’s sire, Mr. Prospector); to that horse’s brother Not For Love, an outstanding sire in Maryland; and to their sister, Get Lucky, winner of the Affectionately Handicap (gr. III). At stud, Get Lucky produced three stakes winners, including graded winners Daydreaming and Accelerator – both by Seattle Slew’s son A.P. Indy, and therefore similarly bred to Oscillate. Interestingly enough, when She’s a Winner, an unraced sister to Daydreaming and Accelerator, was bred to Storm Cat (grandsire of Frost Giant), the result was Bluegrass Cat – a very close relative to Frost Giant – and winner of the Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Returning to the theme of speed, Frost Giant’s third dam, the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) winner Dance Number, equaled track records at Belmont for 6 1/2 and 8 1/2 furlongs. An exceptionally well-bred mare, Dance Number was half-sister to Private Account, and was by Northern Dancer out of champion 2-year-old filly Numbered Account. From the Glamour/Striking branch of the La Troienne family, Numbered Account had La Troienne 4 x 5 through the similarly-bred half-sisters Busanda and Striking. Seattle Slew’s dam is also inbred to La Troienne -- through the sisters Striking and Busher -- so Frost Giant’s dam has four crosses of that great mare, all through full sisters and closely-related half-sisters.