Courtesy Coolmore

Classic Combo: Galileo and Cape Cross

It is not surprising that the winner of this year's Epsom Derby should be by Galileo.

It’s rather rare for a mare in a major racing jurisdiction to throw Derby-winning brothers or half brothers. It’s probably even rarer for both siblings to go on to sire classic winners themselves, and it must be unusual indeed for the pair to get classic winners in the same season.

As far as the Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) and Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) are concerned, it appears that prior to the weekend of June 6-7, one has to go back to 1866. That's when Lord Lyon, by “The Emperor of Stallions” Stockwell, took the Derby on his way to becoming the third winner of the English Triple Crown, and Tormentor by Stockwell’s half brother King Tom, captured the Oaks.

As far as this year’s Epsom Derby is concerned, it is not surprising the winner should be by Galileo, who not only won the Derby in 2001, but who has already sired previous Derby winners New Approach and Ruler of The World. The identity of that winner, Australia, was no surprise either, given his connections had been quite open in identifying him as potentially the best to come out of Ballydoyle in the Aidan O’Brien era. The day before Australia’s triumph, another O’Brien-trained Galileo offspring, Marvellous, started as the favorite for the Oaks. She, however, could do no better than sixth as the lightly raced Taghrooda took her record to three wins in three starts with an impressive 3 3/4-length triumph.

Taghrooda is a member of the first crop of her sire, Sea The Stars, a half brother to Galileo, both out of Urban Sea (by Miswaki), winner of the 1993 Ciga Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and subsequently a remarkable producer. An exceptional runner—he reigned briefly as European “Horse of the Century” until Frankel came along two crops later—Sea The Stars finished fourth in his debut at 2 but was undefeated in eight subsequent starts, six of them in group I company.

Sea The Stars—who is by the Green Desert stallion, Cape Cross—made a relatively quiet start with his first 2-year-olds in 2013, although the “vibes” remained positive. In this case the rumors proved well-founded, and Sea The Stars is now represented by six stakes winners, Taghrooda, being joined as a group scorer by Vazira, My Titania, and Afternoon Sunlight.

Given that Sea The Stars is a half brother to Galileo, it’s no surprise he’s been tried quite frequently with mares by Galileo’s sire, Sadler’s Wells. There are 19 foals of racing age on the cross to date, seven of whom have started, with Taghrooda being the only black-type performer.

Taghrooda’s dam, Ezima, is also the product of an oft-tried, and in her case, highly successful cross, as she’s by Sadler’s Wells out of a mare by Darshaan. Ezima did her bit for the nick’s statistics by winning three Irish listed races. Ezima is closely related to an even better product of the Sadler’s Wells/Darshaan cross, in the Kildangan Stud Irish Oaks (Ire-I) and Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-I) victress Ebadiyla.

Australia is bred by the Stanley Estate and Stud Co., Stanley being the family name of the Earls of Derby, the 12th of whom gave the Epsom classic its name. The Earls of Derby have a long history on the turf, but the family has not been represented as breeder of a winner of the eponymous classic at Epsom since Hyperion scored in 1933 (although Watling Street took a War-time Derby in 1942 at Newmarket), both being bred by the 17th Earl, the grandfather of the current Earl, the 19th holder of the title.

Australia’s dam, Ouija Board, is in a sense the female counterpart to Sea The Stars, as she is also a world-class runner by Cape Cross. The globe-trotting mare captured seven group/grade I events, including the Epsom Oaks, Darley Irish Oaks, two renewals of the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase).

Ouija Board’s dam, Selection Board, is a sister to Teleprompter, who took the Budweiser Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT) and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-II). Selection Board is also a half sister to Rosia Bay, dam of Ibn Bey, a group winner in England, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy, with four group I events among his victories; and, of Roseate Tern, who took the Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I), and finished second in the Gold Seal Epsom Oaks and third in the St. Leger (Eng-I). Ouija Board’s fourth dam, Gradisca, is also dam of the French Oaks heroine Tahiti, and third dam of the great Australian runner, Kingston Town.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noted by now the remarkable similarity in the pedigrees of Taghrooda and Australia, one by Sea The Stars, a Cape Cross half brother to Galileo, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, and the other by Galileo, a Sadler’s Wells half brother to Sea The Stars, out of a daughter of Cape Cross.