Whether Winning Cause is a good horse anywhere else is still to be tested, but he sure likes the Polytrack at Keeneland. Now 3-for-3 over the surface, his victory April 20 in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) put him on the bubble for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Ultimately, his owner Alto Racing decided not to enter him in the Derby, where trainer Todd Pletcher has five starters, the highly regarded Verrazano , Overanalyze , Revolutionary , Palace Malice , and Charming Kitten. But that doesn't mean that the son of Giant's Causeway may not appear later along the Triple Crown trail, or perhaps in some of the grass events coming up in the summer and fall.
Thoughts of the turf come naturally when considering the progeny of Giant's Causeway, although Ashford Stud's premier stallion has sired highly capable dirt performers as well. With three American sire titles (2009, 2010, and 2012) under his belt, Europe's "Iron Horse" appears to be on his way to establishing his own branch of the Storm Cat male line—at least in Europe, where his sons Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand are doing well. Currently seventh on the 2013 general sire list, Giant's Causeway has six stakes winners so far this year.
Winning Cause still has much to prove before he can be considered a top sire prospect, but when he does go to stud, he will offer a double dose of Storm Cat, for he is inbred 2x3 to the two-time leading sire. Bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock, he is out of the Kingmambo mare Raffishing Look, whose dam is the Storm Cat mare Touch of Truth.
Such close inbreeding is not commonly practiced by American breeders, but there is a lot of quality wrapped up in this pedigree, as well as an offbeat streak that may provide it with needed balance. Kingmambo, of course, needs little introduction: A high-class miler and classic winner on the race course, he became an equally classy sire. Given his bloodlines—by Mr. Prospector out of the magnificent multiple champion Miesque—this was hardly unexpected. His rise up the broodmare sire ranks has been equally predictable, given the number of good daughters with strong families that he sired prior to his pensioning in 2010. Ranked 19th on last year's list of maternal grandsires, he has been represented by 84 stakes winners from his daughters' progeny so far, headed by dual English classic winner Camelot.
Winning Cause is the first winner for Raffishing Look, whose other foals of racing age are the 2009 Giant's Causeway filly Great Look and an as yet unnamed juvenile filly, also by Giant's Causeway. In addition, she has a yearling filly by Tale of the Cat and a suckling colt by Scat Daddy . A winner of one race from seven tries, Raffishing Look is a half sister to 2007 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) winner Society Hostess (by Seeking the Gold).
Touch of Truth has not produced any stakes winners besides Society Hostess, but she is still in production and has some interesting youngsters in the pipeline in an unnamed juvenile colt by Arch and a 2013 colt by Tizway . She herself is a winning half sister to the classy Twilight Agenda (by Devil's Bag), winner of seven graded races including the 1991 Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. I), and this brings in the offbeat strain in Winning Cause's pedigree via Touch of Truth's dam Grenzen.
Grenzen was a nice racemare whose eight wins from 24 starts included three grade II races and another pair at the grade III level; she was also runner-up in the 1978 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). She was much the best runner sired by 1971 Gallinule Stakes winner Grenfall, a son of Graustark whose chief claim to fame was being the sibling of three graded/group stakes winners produced by 1962 champion handicap female and 1978 Broodmare of the Year Primonetta.
In addition to her own laurels, Primonetta was a full sister to 1963 champion 3-year-old male Chateaugay, so whatever Grenfall's failings as a sire, he was a well-bred horse. My Poly, Grenzen's dam, had less to recommend her. A winner of two races from 10 starts, she was sired by Cyclotron, a son of 1944 Derby and Preakness winner Pensive who won three stakes during a 57-start career but was nowhere near his sire's class. Her dam, Polywich, never raced and never produced a stakes winner, though she had a good pedigree: She was sired by 1945 Preakness winner and 1947 champion sprinter Polynesian out of Wichuraiana (War Admiral—Fleur, by Pennant), a similarly-bred half sister to Coquelicot (by War Admiral's sire Man o' War—Fleur), dam of 1944 champion juvenile male Pavot.
Even though Winning Cause will not be contesting the Derby, if he has inherited the determination and fire seen so often among the progeny of his duplicated ancestor Storm Cat, he should be fun to watch farther down the road.