Casamento Stakes Claim as Classic Favorite

Casamento Stakes Claim as Classic Favorite
Photo: Trevor Jones

By Alan Porter

Shamardal recently has stepped into the limelight. One juvenile son, Casamento, stamped himself as a leading classic prospect for 2011 with a victory October 23 in the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I), while another, Dubai Prince, made a considerable impression two days later with a stylish victory in the JRA Killavullan Stakes (Ire-III).

The Racing Post Trophy was Casamento’s third victory in four outings. Winner of a seven-furlong maiden at Tipperary on his debut, he went down by a head to the highly-rated Pathfork in the Boylesports.com Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Eng-I) second time out. On his only other start, Casamento prepped for the Racing Post Trophy with a four-lengths win in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes (Eng-II).

Shamardal himself earned a European championship at 2, when he went 3-for-3, taking a six-furlong maiden at Ayr by eight lengths, the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes (Eng-II) at Goodwood, and the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I). Sent to winter in Dubai, Shamardal suffered the only defeat of his career when failing to handle the Nad al Sheba dirt surface in the Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah U.A.E. Derby (UAE-II). This ended plans to run him in the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but Shamardal still gained a May classic success. Pointed at the Gainsborough Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Fr-I), Shamardal made all–as he had in his three juvenile triumphs–and despite tiring close home, held on gamely to score by a head. If that race gave the impression that a mile was the limit of Shamardal’s stamina, those misgivings were dismissed by his performance in the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I), run over 10½ furlongs. In front from the off once again, Shamardal kicked clear 1½ furlongs out, and again showing the resoluteness for which his sire, Giant's Causeway  , was famous, dug in to deny the previously undefeated Hurricane Run by a neck. Vanquished and victor both franked the form on their next appearance. Hurricane Run gained classic compensation by capturing the Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I). Meanwhile, Shamardal reverted to a mile for the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) (a highlight of the Royal Ascot meeting, which was actually run at York that year while Ascot underwent renovation). Shamardal clearly demonstrated that he was still improving, dominating throughout, and scoring by a comfortable three lengths after quickening clear of his field two furlongs out.

The St. James’s Palace Stakes proved to be Shamardal’s his final race, and as a result, he was able to begin his Australian stud career that summer. At the end of the year, Shamardal–Europe’s top 3-year-old miler–was officially rated by the International Classification with a figure of 125.

At the time he retired, Shamardal’s pedigree credentials looked illustrious enough–from the first crop of European Horse of the Year Giant’s Causeway, he is out of Helsinki, a sister to Street Cry–but they were soon to look even more impressive. Giant’s Causeway, transferred to the U.S., continued to sire a stream of high-class runners, and captured the U.S. sire title in 2009. Street Cry, whose first crop were yearlings when Shamardal retired,. crown, took the U.S. freshman sire crown and has since taken his place alongside Giant’s Causeway as one of the world’s leading sires.

In this case, the credentials were not misleading. The first crop Shamardal sired–Australian foals born in the 2006-2007 season–yielded seven stakes winners, including Faint Perfume, successful in the Crown VRC Oaks and Vinery Stud Storm Queen Stakes (both Aus-I); Captain Sonador, victorious in the Telstra T-Box Epsom Handicap (Aus-I); and graded scorers No Evidence Needed and Shamoline Warrior. His second crop, currently in the early stages of their 3-year-old season, has so far produced three stakes winners.

Shamardal’s first European crop, 3-year-olds of 2010, has also impressed. Eight of their number have won black-type races to date, including Lope de Vega (inbred 3x3 to Shamardal’s broodmare sire, Machiavellian), who emulated Sharmadal’s French Derby/French Two Thousand Guineas double; and the group winners Shakespearean, Zazou, Elle Shadow, and Arctic. His second Northern Hemisphere crop already features a quartet of group-winning juveniles: Casamento, the previously-mentioned Dubai Prince, the Prix des Chenes (Fr-III) victor French Navy, and Dunboyne Express, who took the Jebel Ali Stables & Racecourse Anglesey Stakes (Ire-III).

Casamento’s dam, Wedding Gift, won the listed Prix Saraca, and took third in the Prix Vanteaux and Prix du Calvados (both Fr-III). These efforts made her one of the better performers by her sire, Always Fair, a group-winning 2-year-old and miler by Danzig out of a Buckpasser mare, who sired 11 stakes winners, three of whom were group scorers. The second dam, Such Style, is a non-winning daughter of Sassafras (best-known for defeating Nijinsky II in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I)). Wedding Gift was Such Style’s only black-type winner, but her daughter Chehana, by Posse (by Forli) came in fourth in the Queen Charlotte Handicap (gr. II) and subsequently produced Italian listed winner Veri’s Game. Another Such Style daughter, Black Tokk (by Blakeney), made her way to Australia, where she became an outstanding producer with three of her foals winning stakes events, including the 1999 AWA Goodwood Handicap (Aus-I) scorer French Clock. She’s ancestress, as well, of the 2009 Cadbury Australian Guineas and Rokk Ebony Underwood Stakes (both Aus-I) hero Heart of Dreams.

The third dam, Regal Lady, was unremarkable as a runner, but owned a classic staying pedigree, as she was by Relko (winner of the French Two Thousand Guineas and St. Leger and of the Epsom Derby in 1963), and was half sister to one of the most outstanding winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Vaguely Noble. Regal Lady was a successful producer, her offspring including Regency, a group winner in France, and twice grade I-placed in North America, and the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) third, Britannia’s Rule (subsequently dam of four other stakes winners, including Saxon Maid, a highweighted older mare in England). This is a stout female line, but Casamento’s dam was a miler, so it will be interesting to see whether he can stretch out to the Epsom Derby distance. Our reading of the pedigree makes 10 furlongs a more likely optimum trip, so perhaps he’ll emulate his sire and paternal half brother Lope de Vega by heading for the French Derby.

Casamento (TrueNicks-rated A+) is one of four stakes winners–three of them group–from 32 starters (12.5% stakes winners to starters) sired by Shamardal out of Danzig-line mares. Other than the ensuing 5x4 duplication of Northern Dancer, the pedigree is an outcross at five generations.

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