Those who have been around the Thoroughbred breeding industry for some time know that the rapidity with which sire lines rise and fall is an everpresent cause for reflection.
Not long ago Blushing Groom, for example, was a juvenile sensation and a classic-winning miler; then a leading sire; and finally a sire of sires of international import with sons such as Rainbow Quest, Nashwan, and Groom Dancer in Europe; Nassipour in Australia; Shy Tom and Candy Stripes in South America; and Rahy, Mt. Livermore, and Runaway Groom and his son Cherokee Run in the U.S. Unfortunately, although these and several other Blushing Groom sons around the world were at least very useful, none had a lot of success as sires of sires, and thus the impact of the Blushing Groom line at the top level waned as fast as it waxed. In the U.S. the current best shot for a branch of Blushing Groom to endure is via champion turf horse Leroidesanimaux—now at stud in Florida—and possibly his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)-winning son Animal Kingdom, who will retire to start his stud career in Australia this summer, but who will almost certainly shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere for 2014.
Prior to 2011 champion 3-year-old Animal Kingdom the most recent Eclipse Award-winning male from the Blushing Groom line was War Pass, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2007. Nothing short of brilliant as a juvenile, War Pass was four-for-four that year, scoring from six to 8 1/2 furlongs on tracks labeled fast, good, and sloppy. The decisive victories for Eclipse honors were a 1 1/2-length victory over Pyro (who would go on to become a grade I winner and millionaire) in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I), and a 4 3/4-length tally over Pyro and subsequent champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
War Pass kicked off his 2008 campaign with a 7 1/2-length win in a mile allowance at Gulfstream Park, but in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) the colt, who had never previously been headed at any call, was bumped early and, after failing to make the lead, checked in seventh, beaten 23 lengths. War Pass returned in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and, although he didn’t win, emphatically demonstrated that his Tampa effort was just a blip. Tackled early by a “rabbit,” he sped through the first quarter of the nine-furlong contest in :22.46 and the half in :46.07. War Pass had opened up a 2 1/2-length margin at the three-quarters pole and still clung to his lead entering the final furlong. The early pace, however, had taken its inevitable toll, and close home, War Pass was caught by Tale of Ekati , going down by a half length.
The Wood proved to be War Pass’s final race, as he suffered a fracture to his near-fore sesamoid. Retired to Lane’s End Farm, War Pass appeared to have many of the credentials to extend the Blushing Groom line. In addition to his own exceptional race record, he was a son of champion sprinter Cherokee Run, one of the most successful North American-based Blushing Groom-line representatives, and out of the stakes-placed Mr. Prospector mare Vue, also dam of the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) victress Oath. Sadly, however, War Pass died Christmas Eve 2010 upon his return from a shuttle trip to Australia. He apparently made the trip in good order and was turned out in his paddock at Lane's End, only to pass away several hours later. A necropsy failed to pinpoint the cause of death.
War Pass left 65 registered foals in his first crop and 61 in his second. Twenty-one of that first crop—now 3-year-olds—have started, 11 winning and three taking black-type events. Of course it’s early days yet, but the first weekend of February did reveal a War Pass colt that may have at least the potential to extend the line. Making his 2013 debut, War Pass’s son Revolutionary produced a remarkable performance, weaving through traffic to score a last-to-first victory in the Withers Stakes (gr. III). Last year Revolutionary made four starts, finishing third in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden at Saratoga, second in a six-furlong maiden at Belmont, and third to the highly-rated Orb in a mile maiden at Aqueduct, before putting it all together in another eight-furlong Aqueduct maiden test where he graduated by 8 1/2 lengths.
An $80,000 Keeneland September yearling and a $235,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company select 2-year-old buy, Revolutionary is now owned by WinStar Farm and conditioned by Todd Pletcher, the owner/breeder combination that took the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver . Should Revolutionary’s subsequent performances earn him a place alongside Super Saver at WinStar, he will take plenty of pedigree to stud with him. A half brother to the Jerome Handicap (gr. II) second Tafaseel and the Ohio Derby (gr. II) third Ice Road, Revolutionary is out of the A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors. One of the better fillies of her crop, Runup the Colors won six races—a juvenile score and five consecutively as a sophomore—including the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Delaware Oaks, and also took seconds in the Ballerina Handicap and Three Chimneys Spinster Stakes (both gr. I).
Runup the Colors is as well-bred a mare as one could wish to find, as she is a half sister to no fewer than six other stakes winners. These include the Nureyev daughter Flagbird, whose principal victory came in the Premio Presidente della Rebubblica (Ity-I) and who was highweighted older mare on the European Free Handicap at 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 furlongs; the Acorn Stakes and Ashland Stakes (both gr. I) victress and subsequent Broodmare of the Year Prospectors Delite; and Top Acocunt, successful in the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. II).
A.P. Indy worked well over this family, as the cross has also produced Horse of the Year Mineshaft , his grade I-winning sister Tomisue’s Delite, and his stakes-winning brother Rock Slide (all out of Prospectors Delite), and the grade I Ashland Stakes scorer Little Belle and her stakes-winning sister Dubai Dancer (both out of a daughter of Flagbird). Revolutionary’s granddam, Up the Flagpole, won the Delaware Oaks (gr. II). She was by Hoist the Flag out of The Garden Club, a multiple graded-producing daughter of Herbager. The fourth dam, Fashion Verdict, took the Adirondak Stakes and is herself a granddaughter of Striking, one of the legion of important runners and producers sired by War Admiral out of daughters of La Troienne.
Revolutionary, who is TrueNicks-rated A++, is one of only two starters by War Pass out of an A.P. Indy-line mare. The other, Ore Pass (out of a mare by Stephen Got Even ), broke his maiden as a 2012 juvenile and captured the Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes at Laurel Park in January from only three lifetime starts. The success of the nick was presaged by the cross of Cherokee Run over A.P. Indy-line mares, which produced two stakes winners, including Zanjero, a graded stakes winner of more than $1.6 million. Also notable is that Runup the Colors is a product of an extended Bold Ruler/Hoist the Flag cross, and that union is reversed in the pedigree of War Pass’ granddam, Harbor Flag, who is by Hoist the Flag, out of a Bold Ruler mare. With regards to stamina, it’s worth noting that, even with a suicidal early pace, War Pass came close to taking the Wood Memorial, and with Runup the Colors owning top-class form at 10 furlongs, Revolutionary should have a good shot at lasting the Kentucky Derby trip—should he be good enough to contend for the classics.