by Alan Porter
With the 25th Breeders’ Cup World Championships now in the books, we can have a look at the two days of action from a pedigree standpoint.
From a male-line aspect there was dominant performance for several branches of Mr. Prospector, which were responsible for eight of the 14 winners, scoring through Chester House (twice), Street Cry(IRE), Sahm, E Dubai , Unbridled's Song , Real Quiet, and Elusive Quality . The only other male line to be represented more than once was that of Northern Dancer, with both of his winners coming via Danzig sons (Belong to Me and Anabaa). The other lines that were represented by one apiece were Seattle Slew (through Tapit ), Ribot (through Albert the Great ), Mill Reef (through Dalakhani (IRE)), and Hyperion (GB)/Tudor Minstrel (through Cadeaux Genereux (GB)).
Ten of the 14 winners are inbred within five generations, while four were outcrosses. Closest duplications are those owned by Goldikova (IRE) (Northern Dancer 3 x 4), Maram (Raise a Native 3 x 4), Ventura (Northern Dancer 4 x 3), and Albertus Maximus (Mr. Prospector 4 x 3).
We’ll explore the backgrounds of four of the weekend’s big winners here — the victors of both Classics and of the juvenile dirt championships. Analysis of the remaining 10 winners’ pedigrees can be found on the TrueNicks Web site (www.TrueNicks.com) in an article dated Oct. 28.
In the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), America was ready to hail reigning Horse of Year Curlin as he hit the straight in front, following a breathtaking move on the turn. However, in the end it was the Europeans who prevailed, stretching out milers Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality – Ascutney, by Lord At War (ARG)) and Henrythenavigator, adapting to the all-weather and producing a devastating final kick. The pair has dueled all year, with Henrythenavigator having the upper hand early with three wins, but Raven’s Pass having now taken the last two encounters.
Raven’s Pass is from the sixth crop sired by the Gone West horse Elusive Quality, a high-class sprinter on the dirt, who set a world record for a mile when switched to turf. He retired to stud at only $10,000, but made an outstanding start with 11 stakes winners, including French juvenile champion Elusive City, in his first crop. Smarty Jones , and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) victress, Maryfield, underscored his solid start in his second crop. From that point on, he has, not surprisingly, received much better mates, and Raven’s Pass is from the mares he covered in 2004, when his first crop had just turned 4.
Raven’s Pass is out of the Lord at War mare Ascutney, winner of the Miesque Stakes (gr. III), and the dam of graded winner Gigawatt. Ascutney is a sister to the black type winner Words at War, herself the dam of Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) winner No Matter What, and of E Dubai (by Mr. Prospector), a close genetic relative to Raven’s Pass. E Dubai had his share of Breeders’ Cup glory earlier in the day as the sire of Turf Sprint winner Desert Code. Ascutney is also half-sister to the black type winner Word o’ Ransom, dam of this year’s Will Rogers Stakes (gr. III) winner Polonius. The fourth dam, Classicist, is also ancestress of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Danzig Connection and Widener Handicap (gr. I) victor Pine Circle.
Hero of the 1995 renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), Unbridled’s Song got his first winner of that race as sire when Midshipman (Unbridled’s Song – Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags) reversed Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) form with Street Hero . A half-brother to the graded stakes-winning Deputy Minister filly Fast Cookie, Midshipman is out of Fleet Lady, winner of the La Canada and El Encino Stakes (both gr. II). The granddam, Dear Mimi, is a Roberto half-sister to the group I-winning European seven-furlong specialist Salse. Midshipman and fellow 2008 grade I winner First Defence are the only stakes winners by Unbridled’s Song out of Seattle Slew-line mares. Given that Midshipman’s dam is a multiple graded stakes winner and multiple graded stakes producer, and that First Defence is out of the extremely talented Honest Lady, it’s likely we are looking at inherent class rather than an emerging nick (Midshipman and First Defence are the only stakes winners from 29 starters bred on the cross).
Oddly enough, a similar pedigree pattern is found in the bloodlines of Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) victress Stardom Bound (Tapit – My White Corvette, by Tarr Road). Her sire is inbred 3 x 4 to Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native out of a mare by a son of Nasrullah), and her third dam, Belles Native, is by Raise a Native out of a mare by a son of Nasrullah. Stardom Bound comes from the first crop of Tapit, a Laurel Futurity (gr. III) and Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner, who is the by emerging sire of sires Pulpit and out of a similarly-bred half-sister to Rubiano. Tapit’s first crop also includes Laragh, a stakes winner who took third in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Rated B by TrueNicks, Stardom Bound is out of My White Corvette, a daughter of the relatively obscure Grey Dawn II horse Tarr Road.
Of course in the end, Ladies Day belonged to the peerless Zenyatta (Street Cry – Vertigineux, by Kris S.) who followed Personal Ensign as the second undefeated winner of the Ladies’ Classic (gr. I). Personal Ensign won in 1988 when the race was called the Distaff. Zenyatta is a daughter of Street Cry, who has rapidly proved himself among the stallion world elite, siring exceptional performers over a wide range of distances and surfaces, among them — in addition to Zenyatta — champion 2-year-old and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victor Street Sense, current Australian sensation Whobegotyou (AUS), and other group and grade I winners Street Boss, Tomcito, Majestic Roi, Street Hero, and Cry and Catch Me. These are from just three crops, and one wonders what Street Cry might achieve with the better mares he has been covering in the last year or two.
Zenyatta’s dam, Vertigineux, has also been a pretty remarkable producer. Her first foal, a daughter of the Storm Cat horse Aljabr, realized just $4,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September sale, but racing as Where’s Baile, proved herself to be one of the best runners for her sire, with a win in the Remington Park Oaks. A year after Where’s Bailey, Vertigineux, produced a Thunder Gulch filly. Named Balance, she earned over $1 million with five stakes wins, including the Santa Anita Oaks, Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, and Las Virgenes Stakes (all gr. I). Zenyatta is Vertigineux’s third foal, third stakes winner, and second grade I winner. Vertigineux is half-sister to a trio of European black type winners. Vertigineux’s granddam is the well-bred In the Offing, a daughter of Hoist the Flag and the stakes winning Tom Fool mare Mrs. Peterkin. In the Offing was only a minor winner, but she produced the Vineland Handicap (gr. III) victress Helenska, and was also third dam of Canadian champion turf mare Sweetest Thing (whose dam was by a son of Roberto out of a daughter of In the Offing, and so bred on very similar lines to Vertigineux). In addition to In the Offing, Mrs. Peterkin produced three black type winners, among them Sweet Alliance, heroine of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. II), and subsequently dam of the Irish Sweeps Derby (Ire-I) winner Shareef Dancer.
For additional Breeders’ Cup pedigree analysis on the following winners, please visit the TrueNicks.com home page.
• Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf — Conduit (IRE)
• Breeders’ Cup Mile — Goldikova (IRE)
• Sentient Breeders’ Cup Sprint — Midnight Lute
• Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf — Forever Together
• TVG Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile — Albertus Maximus
• Sentient Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint — Ventura
• Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf — Donativum (GB)
• Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf — Maram
• Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint — Desert Code
• Breeders’ Cup Marathon — Muhannak (IRE)