Sky Diva is at the crossroads of an improving sire and an improving family. Sky Mesa started slowly but now runners from his first crop have become graded stakes winners and his second crop of juveniles running this year already includes five stakes winners. At the top is grade I winner Sky Diva. The filly's family has also been improving over the past four years.
Speightstown is one of seven freshmen sires that have already been represented by a group/graded stakes winner so far this year. Lord Shanakill, winner of the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (Eng-I) is one of Speightstown's top runners and the second group winner sired by a son of Gone West out of a Theatrical mare.
Doremefasollatido is delivering on the great breeding and tremendous unfulfilled promise her sire, Bernstein, showed on the racetrack. Though a group stakes winner, Bernstein never became the promising racehorse he appeared to be at 2. He has made it up as a sire, quickly. Bernstein's first crop had 38 foals, 38 starters, and 31 winners (19 2-year-old winners).
Medaglia d'Oro only started once at 2 but his offspring are displaying plenty of early talent. Out of 10 winners through Sept. 16, he has four stakes horses and two stakes winners, including the graded stakes winner C.S. Silk.
Generally speaking, crossing the sire by a certain male line with a mare from the same male line produces below average results. But here is Vineyard Haven, the results of such a cross, who beat some rising stars in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I).
Spirit One's dam, Lavayssiere, retired from racing with scant credentials to be a top mare. She did not have one black type winner in her family as far back as six generations. And yet, here she is today the dam of three stakes winners including Spirit One, who recently took the Arlington Million (gr. I). You have to dig deep to find the source of Spirit One's genetic potential.
Black Mamba has grown from a promising young filly in New Zealand into a grade I winner in the U.S. who now may be headed to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in October. The daughter of Black Minnaloushe is the first black type winner out her dam Sneetch.
Prior to the weekend, Mistical Plan had tried for grade one glory on five occasions. On four of those she had failed to hit the board, and in the fifth, she had gained a third, but had been beaten nearly nine lengths. On Saturday, at the Summit of Speed, Mistical Plan cut back to six furlongs and produced the performance of her life to take the Princess Rooney Handicap.
Lion Heart, currently the freshman sire leader, and Friends Lake, who is ranked eighth, got big boosts from their recent graded stakes winners Azul Leon and Screen Your Friends, respectively. The talent both of these sires showed as juveniles appears to be passing along to their offspring.
The achievements of such Australian standouts as Choisir (AUS) and Takeover Target (AUS) have taught Royal Ascot regulars to have a healthy respect for the form down under. That lesson was underlined when Haradasun (AUS) captured the first race of the 2008 Royal Ascot carnival, the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-IT).
Okay, so no Triple Crown, again. But the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) still made racing history. Da' Tara became the first male-line descendant of Man o' War to win an American classic since War Admiral took the Triple Crown in 1937. Tiznow, the sire of Da' Tara, is an extension of the Man o' War line through Cee's Tizzy, a son of Relaunch.
Divine Park, recent winner of the Met Mile, continues to prove the great potential possessed by her sire Chester House. When the Juddmonte Farms stallion died of cancer, his oldest foals were yearlings. Each subsequent crop to race has improved with his third and final crop, now 4, including 11 stakes winners to date. One of them is Divine Park.
Danzig within the third generation and inbreeding to an influential dam is a pedigree pattern shared by Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown and international group I winner Jay Peg, a son of Camden Park. Jay Peg has won eight of 13 starts as a freshman and sophomore, including group I victories in his native Singapore, South Africa, and in Dubai.
Big Brown's victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Hard Spun's second in the Derby last year are the latest indicators that the Danzig line is asserting some authority in America's premier dirt races. Want more proof? How about last year's older male champion Lawyer Ron (a son of Danzig's son Langfuhr)and the emerging sire Exchange Rate, who got two grade I winners in his first crop.
Two years ago, Big Booster was a $35,000-$39,000 claimer running at Belmont Park. Today, he has the honor of being a grade II winner, having just taken the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita Park. The move west and several goes over the synthetic turf reinvigorated Big Booster's racing career.
Unlike his sire and champion sprinter Cherokee Run, Recapturetheglory seems to improve with distance. There is not a lot to predict stamina on either side of the Illinois Derby's winners pedigree, but on the dam's side there is a source of stamina that may manifest itself on Kentucky Derby day.
Where have we seen this before? A modestly-bred Danzig-line horse, after leading throughout to score a devastating win in a grade I classic trial on his second start of the year, becomes a favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The travails of War Emblem's stud career in Japan have been fairly well documented. Less realized, however, is that the results from his few representative runners have been extremely good, and that in 2008 he is already sire of three 3-year-old black type winners.
Even though he had Tale of Ekati in his barn, trainer Barclay Tagg suggested Big Truck might be his most promising juvenile. The potential Big Truck possessed finally turned into performance in the Tampa Bay Derby, which he won with a gutsy drive against Atoned. Tagg believes Big Truck can handle the Kentucky Derby distance of a 1 1/4 miles. His pedigree raises some doubt.
Silver Charm has not been as dazzling a sire as he was a racehorse. Still, the son of Silver Buck is proving he can produce top-notch runners, such as Rampart Handicap (gr. II) winner Spring Waltz. The 4-year-old filly is apparently drawing her racing prowess from the same genetic well as her sire -- inbreeding to the great mare La Troienne.
Only three months ago, 5-year-old Ever a Friend was claimed for $62,500 at Hollywood Park. Now Mike Mitchell's gelding by Crafty Friend looks like a bargain considering Ever a Friend just won the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. I). It was Ever a Friend's second stakes win since Dec. 31.
Another Triple Crown contender by a son of A.P. Indy is hot on the Derby trail. A couple of weeks ago it was Pyro, a son of Pulpit. Now it is Cool Coal Man, a colt by Mineshaft who recently won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) against a field of top challengers. He is extending the success already seen when A.P. Indy is crossed with Fappiano-line mares.
Many top stallions began their stud careers in the regional markets, like City Zip, whose national profile is improving because of runners like General George Handicap (gr. II) winner Bustin Stones. City Zip began at Contemporary Stallions in New York and now stands at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, KY. The son of Carson City has sired nine stakes winners and a total of 21 stakes horses from his first 141 starters.
Racing journalists and for that matter journalists in general are noted for their weakness for a bad pun, and the impressive Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) winner Pyro has already given rise to more than a few. Therefore, I must ask the reader's indulgence, or at least credit for having made nothing more than a Freudian Slip, when I say that my first thought on looking at Pyro's pedigree was that the family has been "on fire" in recent years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.