MAHUBAH'S CORNER Hope springs eternal in the Thoroughbred world. Just consider octogenarian Harry Aleo, whose brilliant Lost in the Fog tragically succumbed to cancer last year. This year, his Smokey Stover developed into a contender in the sprint division but struggled with the off going and a less than ideal trip in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), finishing ninth of 10. Smokey Stover will be back next year, however, and is half of a twosome that could make the spring an exciting time for Aleo. High Resolve is the other runner generating high hopes.
Porter on Pedigrees Several state-bred fillies have taken advantage of restricted programs to run up some impressive win streaks in recent years. Louisiana-bred Hallowed Dreams won her first 16 starts, 10 of which came in events contested only by state-breds. Another Louisiana-bred " Happy Ticket, foaled four years after Hallowed Dreams " took nine straight, the first seven against state-breds. Now we have Peppers Pride, who has taken her record to a perfect 13, so far.
One of the great charms of Thoroughbred racing is that it has always been possible for a good horse to emerge from almost anywhere. The diminishing gap between the best and rest, however, will probably make this an increasingly likely occurence. One example is Rolling Sea, who won the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. She is by a sire who stands for $2,500 and is out of mare who finished fourth in a $6,500 claimer in her final race.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) can be a big temptation for the owner of a promising colt that has not yet proven himself to rank with the best. Some yield; others, usually proving wiser, aim for lesser targets, allowing their youngsters to continue their development under less pressure. The latter strategy paid off nicely when Sierra Sunset picked up his third victory and second straight stakes score in the California Cup Juvenile Nov. 3.
To no one's great surprise, grade I winner Discreet Cat has been retired to Darley for stallion duty (at a $30,000 fee) following a 4-year-old season compromised by a throat abscess. But if the performance of its homebred Etched in the Nashua Stakes Oct. 28 is any indication of the future, Godolphin may well have already found a successor to Discreet Cat on the racing front.
At the end of a rain-soaked Breeders' Cup meeting, the Mr. Prospector line drowned all other sire lines, having be represented by six of the 11 winners. The Northern Dancer line scored twice, while three other lines tallied one apiece: Caro (IRE), Blushing Groom (FR), and Seattle Slew. Three of the winners were inbred within four generations to Northern Dancer (two of them) and Raise a Native, and four winners were inbred within five generations to Raise a Native.
The North American racing spotlight was recently on Woodbine, where the E. P. Taylor Stakes and the Pattison Canadian International (both gr. I) saw a pair of high-class fields compete Oct. 21 for a total of $3 million in purse money.
When Kelso took the fifth and last of his five consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cups (then at two miles) in 1964, many veteran horsemen believed they had seen a feat never to be equaled in American racing. They were wrong. Michael Moran's fabulous gelding McDynamo not only equaled Kelso's mark in a championship-level event by winning the Breeders' Cup Grand National Steeplechase (NSA-I) for the fifth consecutive time, but in some eyes went one better.
When Yes It's True retired to stud in 2001, it was with mixed prospects. By September 2004, he was at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, thanks to a freshman sire season that eventually saw him finish a solid second to Successful Appeal in the first-crop sire standings. Since then, he has quietly proceeded to add to his reputation as a stallion who offers consistent value for his stud fee.
With the Breeders' Cup only days away, the American racing front has been relatively quiet. Still, this does give us the opportunity to turn the spotlight on a filly that appears to be a rising star, and in doing so, pay tribute to her recently deceased sire, Maria's Mon.
Undefeated in three starts, including a solid win in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I), Wicked Style has now achieved prominence as one of the favorites for the upcoming Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the title of champion juvenile male. But his greater significance may lie in his importance to the stud career of his sire, Macho Uno. Now third on the freshman sire list, Macho Uno stands as the heir apparent not only to his own sire, Holy Bull, but to an old American line which has managed to stay alive against all odds for over a century.
The previous successes of Cherokee Run's progeny seem now to have been merely building momentum toward the weekend of Oct. 6-7 that arrived with almost tsunami force. Juvenile War Pass delivered a dominating performance to capture the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and 3-year-old Zanjero took his earnings past the $1 million mark.
With 11 stakes winners and over $7 million in earnings from his first crop, Darley's Street Cry is the proverbial country mile out in front as the leading sire among North American stallions that stood their first seasons in 2003. Too hot not to cool off? Maybe, but while Street Cry's second crop may or may not match up to the standards set by his first, it already contains at least one star.
Smart Strike's pedigree indicates he was born to greatness. And though he didn't have greatness thrust upon him as a racehorse, he has certainly achieved greatness as a sire. As evidence is the rare feat he enjoyed Sept. 30 when he had three grade I winners in one day.
Going Ballistic was a bargain more in more ways than one, for his sire, Lite the Fuse, stood for a modest $7,500 when the colt was conceived in 2003. Now in Pennsylvania, where he stands for $3,500, Lite the Fuse has been the state's leading sire for three consecutive years. So far, he has sired 222 winners and 22 stakes winners in his first seven -- a quite respectable 62% and 6.1% of foals, respectively -- but Going Ballistic is his first graded stakes winner.
Until recently, Bear Now seems ideally suited for racing and Canada and only a marginally successful runner in the United States. Well, the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) changed everything. At Philadelphia Park in the Cotillion, Bear Now took command from the start, turned back a challenge from Octave " arguably the leading active member of the division in the absence of her stable companion Rags to Riches " and drew away again for a two lengths tally. As it turns out, this filly's family is full of surprises.
Storm Cat, the leader of American commercial sires for most of the last decade, is still strong commercially and is slated to continue in stud service in 2008. But for the second consecutive year, Storm Cat finished second rather than first among leading sires by average at the Keeneland September select yearling sale, and this year, Storm Cat averaged less than half what he did in 2006 ($559,773 vs. $1,270,208). As a result, speculation as to who will assume the old king's mantle is off and running.
Juvenile racing in New York treated us to Tale of Ekati and Proud Spell, a pair of 2-year-old stakes winners Sept. 15, with intriguing, and somewhat linked, pedigrees.
We frequently find that horses that outrun their pedigrees have clever pedigree patterns. We were reminded again of that fact when Georgie Boy a son of rising California stallion star, Tribal Rule captured the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) on Sept. 5. The race marked an advance in form for the youngster, who broke his maiden in the restricted Graduation Stakes on his third outing, and then took second to the Futurity runner-up, Salute the Sarge, in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II).
Modern breeding in North America and Europe is dominated by just three major male lines: Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector, and Seattle Slew. Other male lines still exist but they range from the relatively healthy Hail to Reason and In Reality lines, which encompass a sizable number of stallions, down to lines with just one or two major representatives remaining, such as those of Domino and Plaudit. The male line of Sharpen Up (GB) is one of those lesser sire lines that has managed to survive the 20th Century
Saoirse Abu has become a legitimate contender for a Cartier Award as European champion juvenile filly with victories in the Independent Waterford Wedgwood Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) and the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I).
The Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) wasn't the most prestigious race run in the U.S. on the Labor Day weekend in terms of graded standing, but with a $1 million purse, it certainly was the richest. In a close finish, the race went to Timber Reserve, who emerged as another notable from "second season" 3-year-olds by equaling the stakes record. The Pennsylvania Derby was only the sixth career start for Timber Reserve, who had broken his maiden in his third start at 2, and then ran fourth in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) on his only other juvenile outing.
If speed is the essence of a good racehorse, then there is little question that La Traviata is a good one. Undefeated in her three lifetime starts, the filly has demolished her hapless opponents by a combined 27 1/2 lengths and this after stumbling at the start of her last race, the Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III). One wonders what she might do with a completely clean trip. La Traviata comes by speed honestly with one major source courtesy of her sire, Johannesburg. Both Johannesburg's grandsire Storm Cat and his sire Hennessy have done quite well with mares returning Mr. Prospector.
Apart from the talent displayed in recent graded stakes, Street Sense and La Traviata have something else in common as they are both from the first crop of what appears to be a very promising group of second-season sires. Leading the ranks by earnings are Street Sense and Johannesburg, but the top 10 in this sire class are producing runners rich in class.
If the 2007 racing season ended right now, it would be hard to argue against Kodiak Kowboy as the champion 2-year-old male. With four straight wins under his girth, he is the most accomplished colt to emerge so far this season. Kodiak Kowboy is by Posse, who has has five stakes winners so far from 59 named foals of racing age, 29 of which have started and 13 have won. Three of Posse's stakes winners are out of mares from the Mr. Prospector sire line. Another pattern that has been frequently tried with Posse is inbreeding to Northern Dancer.
Orientate offspring Lady Joanne has developed into one of the best fillies of her crop. Successful in the Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) in the spring, she narrowly lost out to Octave in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I), and then, after a prep in the restricted Banshee Breeze Stakes, returned to take a game victory over a tough field in the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
Ever since the days of Intentionally and his son In Reality, Florida has been a haven for the male line of Man o' War. The primary Florida branch since the death of In Reality in 1989 has been that of Valid Appeal (In Reality-Desert Trial), who was a perennial regional leader until he was pensioned in 1997. Valid Appeal was succeeded by two Florida-based U.S. leading freshman sires in Valid Expectations (2001) and Successful Appeal (2004). With the transfers of Valid Expectations to Texas and Successful Appeal to Kentucky, however, only 2000 Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) winner B L's Appeal and a few lesser sons of Valid Appeal remained as representatives of the In Reality male line in Florida. But another branch of In Reality, that of Relaunch, has enjoyed success in Kentucky and California, and it has now found a place in Florida through third-crop sire Put It Back
Silvery Swan, a 1994 foal, beat the odds when she produced a dark bay or brown colt by Mr. Greeley in 1997. Named El Corredor, the fleet colt won the 2000 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) and three grade II races before siring seven stakes winners to date. Since that flying start to her broodmare career, Silvery Swan has moved from strength to strength.
Hennessy had on Aug. 9 died of apparent heart failure at Haras La Mission in Argentina while preparing for the Southern Hemisphere season. The 14-year-old son of Storm Cat out of Island Kitty, by Hawaii, has so far sired 57 stakes winners from 1,057 foals of racing age, for earnings of nearly $54 million. While it is somewhat early to appraise his impact on the breed, one can at least recognize Hennessy as having what we might term an important "sociological" legacy. Hennessy was, in short, the first son of Storm Cat to show he had real potential as a sire of top-class horses.
Any Given Saturday has been threatening to break out at the highest level for some time now. That happened last Saturday, when he captured the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) by 4-1/2 lengths from Hard Spun and Curlin, while setting the best Beyer speed figure of the year by a 3-year-old at a distance longer than six furlongs.
Inbreeding to Mr. Prospector through champions Conquistador Cielo and Gold Beauty has been rare. But in recent A. G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) winner Diabolical, the cross has proven golden and may soon glitter all the more brightly if the colt can go on to grade I glory in the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) or Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Few horses live up to their name as well as Blush With Pride. Already one of Blushing Groom's best racing daughter with four graded stakes victories, the daughter of Best in Show has gone to excel as a producer, especially when crossed with the Northern Dancer line.
There is a school of thought that hold that the type of horse to look for as a potential broodmare sire is a good-sized, scopey kind of horse, one whose conformation suggests that he will get mares with plenty of room to carry their foals.
Salute the Sarge surged between horses nearing the eighth pole and defeated Leonides to win Wednesday's $114,900 Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) by a nose in an upset under leading jockey Michael Baze.
Delightful Kiss, the 24-1 upset winner of the June 2 Ohio Derby (gr. II), will be striving for his second big win in the June 29 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. The Iowa Derby, worth $250,000, is the richest of three stakes on the June 29 card.
Worldly remains undefeated in three U.S. starts after grabbing the lead nearing the sixteenth pole and keeping even-money favorite Golden Balls at bay with a one-length spread in Saturday's $113,500 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park.
Tempered Fate, a colt by Distorted Humor consigned by agent Sequel Bloodstock (Becky Thomas), was sold for $260,000 to Zayat Stables to top the second and final session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2007 June Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age.
Odds-on favorite Silver Swallow was perfectly positioned for her powerful late charge but there was no catching Tough Tiz's Sis, who kicked away to an easy 3 1/2-length victory in Sunday's $126,400 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies on the Cushion Track.
Former jockey Tracey Bartley was close to tears immediately following the running of the QTC Stradbroke Handicap (Aus-I) over seven furlongs at Eagle Farm racecourse in Australia on Saturday.
Zayat Stable's favored Marcavelly, who broke his maiden at first asking on Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course last summer, returned to the course Friday to win the $107,700 Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at a mile by 1 1/4 lengths over second choice Distorted Reality.
While Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin put in his final preparations for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Monday was a quiet day for other contenders for the $1-million classic.
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