The 10 days from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 were remarkable for first-crop stallions. Super Saver ’s Competitive Edge and I Spent It finished first and second in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I); Temple City ’s 2-year-old Startup Nation captured the With Anticipation Stakes (gr. IIT); Lucky Player’s surprise Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) score provided the first graded stakes winner for Lookin At Lucky ; and we also saw the first stakes winners for freshmen Midshipman and Concord Point.
Meanwhile, second-crop sire Pioneerof the Nile was represented by a trio of graded winners and recorded his first grade I winner when American Pharoah made virtually all the running in the Del Mar Futurity. Zayat Stables' colt would stay strong three weeks later, taking his second grade I victory in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita Park. American Pharoah led the whole way in the FrontRunner and finished 3 1/4 lenghts ahead of Calculator.
Coincidentally, in the TrueNicks corner of The Blood-Horse office, we have been having discussions regarding the difficulty in coming to conclusions about the prospects of emerging sires. A look back through the leading freshman sires of recent years shows they range anywhere from Tapit to the “Gone In 60 Seconds” variety. On the evidence so far, it appears premature to come to a verdict on any of the above-named horses.
Although too early for objective conclusions, we can say subjectively with some confidence that Pioneerof the Nile is well on his way to an important career as a stallion. Should this be so, he’ll be a welcome replacement for his too-soon exported sire, Empire Maker (who also has another young hopeful in Pioneerof the Nile’s stud-companion, Bodemeister ). Coincidentally, both Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister took the runner-up spot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum!
Brands (gr. I).
Pioneerof the Nile ran once after the Derby, finishing 11th in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) before retiring with a soft-tissue injury to a foreleg. Prior to that, however, Pioneerof the Nile had achieved more than enough to ensure he would be regarded as a stallion prospect. A winner on the turf at Saratoga in his second start, Pioneerof the Nile ran third in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) in his stakes debut. He was only fifth in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) but ended the year winning the CashCall Futurity (gr. I). That victory was the first in a four-race win streak as Pioneerof the Nile commenced his 3-year-old career with scores in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), and the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Pioneerof the Nile came through late toward the end of last year to take runner-up spot on the freshman sire list behind the now-exported Dunkirk. This year, however, that first crop has blossomed. Cairo Prince , successful in the Nashua Stakes (gr. II) at 2, added the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II), before being sidelined from the Triple Crown trail by injury; Vinceremos captured the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III); Jojo Warrior and Midnight Storm completed an Aug. 31 graded stakes double with wins in the Torrey Pines Stakes (gr. III) and Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT); and Social Inclusion won an allowance race with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, before going on to finish third in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) and Preakness. Pioneerof the Nile also has four other first-crop stakes horses, and American Pharoah is his first stakes horse from his second crop.
A $300,000 yearling, American Pharoah came into the Del Mar Futurity off a fifth-place finish in his debut. He is the second foal and second winner for his dam, Littleprincessemma, a daughter of Yankee Gentleman (by Storm Cat). Littleprincessemma ran unplaced in two starts at 2 but is a half sister to grade II winner Storm Wolf, and to Misty Rosette, who took the Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) and ran third in the Darley Test Stakes (gr. I). Littleprincessemma’s dam, Exclusive Rosette, is by the relatively obscure Exclusive Native son, Ecliptical. Exclusive Rosette was an accomplished speedster, winning the Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes and setting a course record for about five furlongs at Atlantic City. Exclusive Rosette is the only stakes winner under the third and fourth dams, but the family is a fast Fred Hooper one.
American Pharoah is the third grade I winner bred on the cross of Empire Maker and his sons with Storm Cat-line mares (TrueNicks B+), which has also been represented by Bodemeister and In Lingerie. The pedigree is also reminiscent of Half Ours —who fetched $6.1 million at the 2006 Keeneland November sale and who is by a son of Pioneerof the Nile’s grandsire, Unbridled, out of a sister to Yankee Gentleman.