Repent's stakes winners are a mix of strong nicks and intriguing pedigree patterns, something that probably reflects the slightly unusual pedigree of Repent himself. One runner bearing a unique pedigree is Crown of Thorns, who just jumped into this year's Classic picture by winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
More than 20 years ago in Ken McLean's book "Tesio - Master of Matings" he predicted that the combination of Nijinsky II and the similarly bred Storm Bird would one day be a potent one. At the time, Storm Cat -- Storm Bird's most important stallion son -- had yet to cover a mare. McLean also predicted these sires would be most effective when they had receded to the third and fourth generations of a pedigree. What has come to pass is a cross that has produced 120 stakes winners, of which 60 are graded stakes winners and 20 are grade I winners.
Gibson County was a total outcross when mated to Young American, a mare inbred to In Reality and Rough'n Tumble. The result was the star runner American County, who won the Sunshine Millions Oaks on Jan. 26. She is the sixth foal and first stakes winner produced from Young American, a daughter of the late Florida-based sire Pentelicus.
Favorite Trick has proven not to be as strong a sire as he was a racehorse. But a strong pattern, which can be found in his grade III-winning daughter Trick's Pick, shows that the right mare can bring out the best of his pedigree. The pattern is so strong that it appears in six of Favorite Trick's 11 stakes winners.
Already a graded stakes winner and grade I-placed, Champs Elysees could become the fifth grade I winner for his dam Hasili (IRE). The star of the Juddmonte Farms broodmare band would then become the first Northern Hemisphere mare to accomplish this feat. No worries if Champs Elysees, who has already finished second in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT), does not earn grade I status. Hasili has a 3-year-old Sadler's Wells colt named Raise the Flag and a yearling Storm Cat filly yet to prove themselves.
Most veteran campaigners at the racetrack are geldings. So a mare that proves hardy enough to run in stakes company year after year is something truly special. Such is the case with Silmaril, who retired from racing Jan. 12 after winning the What a Summer Stakes at Laurel Park. The daughter of Diamond was a stakes winner for five consecutive years and retired as Maryland's 17th equine millionaire. Now, her future as a broodmare is wide open.
Were it not for Florida, there would now be no active male line tracing back to that most revered of American racehorses, Man o' War. The line had already begun to fade from prominence when Tartan Farms' colt In Reality came along in the stellar foal crop of 1964. Today, Bridlewood Farm's young stallion Put It Back, a son of Honour and Glory and a great-grandson of In Reality, is the latest young sire with the potential to keep this line alive. One of Put It Back's runners who is helping make this happen is grade I winner In Summation.
Giant Moon displayed a lot of heart in winning The Count Fleet Stakes over a stubborn Spanky Fischbein and shows he should be a key contender among the East Coast 3-year-olds this year. One thing that shouldn't be a question regarding Giant Moon is his potential to stay the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trip.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's latest star, U.S. Cavalry, showed maturity and grit when capturing the Turfway Prevue Stakes on Jan. 5. The gelded son of Officer has yet prove whether he can handle longer distances, but his pedigree suggests the potential is there.
The new synthetic surfaces at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita Park have created some remarkable transformations in racing form in some horses. One is Dearest Trickski, a $10,000 claimer only eight months ago who set a track record at Hollywood Park in November and then won a grade I stakes at Santa Anita. While the Cushion Track seems to be a contributing factor, it doesn't hurt that Dearest Trickski is inbred to both Nearctic, through three successful sons, and Hyperion, through his two most successful sons.
Harlan's Holiday, who currently ranks second on the leading freshman sires list, is one of several grandsons of Storm Cat who are proving themselves as sires. His top runner to date is Into Mischief, winner of the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22. Harlan's Holiday has also been represented by stakes winners Tasha's Miracle, Bear Holiday, P.S.U. Grad, and Harlan's Song.
When Fumie Takahashi's 4-year-old colt Matsurida Gogh swept across the finish line of the Arima Kinen (JPN-I), all Japan was once again reminded of the loss of Sunday Silence. A member of the stallion's last crop, Matsurida Gogh's upset victory, his first in a group I event, placed an exclamation point on the legacy of Japan's greatest sire.
If Empire Maker's career as a runner left his connections to speculate on what might have been trainer Bobby Frankel described him as the best he had trained, many lengths better than he was able to show his career as a stallion is rapidly beginning to shape as if to fulfill that unrealized potential through his offspring. One of his standouts is Country Star, who broker her maiden in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) on Oct. 5. Three weeks later, Country Star staked a claim to the juvenile filly championship with a track record-breaking win in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I).
Matching North American and South American bloodlines has always been a tricky business. Different racing conditions have helped to develop distinct Thoroughbred populations that do not always blend smoothly. One horse in whom north and south have met successfully is Argentine-bred Latency, champion miler and champion older male in Argentina in 2006 and the impressive winner of the prestigious Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-I) Dec. 15.
An undefeated 2-year-old is the stuff of dreams, and at this time of year the dreams inspired often feature roses or lilies. By the Light, though not really tested, is from a family that has shown moments of brillance and so is one undefeated filly worth watching.
Alan Porter has been intrigued for a long time by the potential upgrading effects of inbreeding through brothers, sisters, three-parts brothers and sisters, and other close relatives. Naturally, the top international group I winners Ramonti and Good Ba Ba attracted his attention because they are two interesting examples of inbreeding via siblings.
by Avalyn Hunter
Anak Nakal's win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) November 24 indicates that Four Roses Thoroughbreds does have a promising young racehorse with plenty of potential for improvement. That's a nice thing to have when looking forward to the 2008 Triple Crown trail. Any stamina transmitted to Anak Nakal by his sire Victory Gallop, winner of the 1998 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) is supplemented nicely by the distaff side of his pedigree. Anak Nakal's dam, Misk, was produced from Perlee (FR), who scored her biggest win in the 1982 Prix de Minerve (Fr-III) over 2,400 meters.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES
by Alan Porter
Following the Breeders' Cup World Championships each year, a major focus for race fans is the game of "spot the classic candidate," with bragging rights for the earliest identification of a future star. Colonel John was added to several lists when the youngster scored an impressive victory in a seven-furlong maiden at the Oak Tree-at-Santa Anita meet, and in all probability he has now moved several places up those lists following a decisive win in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park, an effort which may have earned him a tilt at the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
By Avalyn Hunter
To sire a national Derby winner in the first crop is always a notable feat for a young stallion. Getting a Derby winner in each of the first two crops is still more impressive, but getting that second Derby winner before the second crop has even turned 3? Tomcito, a 3-year-old on Southern Hemisphere time, accomplished this feat for his sire Street Cry by winning the Peruvian Derby (Per-I) on Nov. 17.
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.
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.