A recent pedigree review of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) candidate Revolutionary noted that it was beginning to look as if the premature death of his sire, War Pass, might have been a significant loss. That feeling was intensified in mid-April when Java's War —another member of War Pass’s first crop—demonstrated he was also a legitimate Derby threat with a thrilling last-to-first victory in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Java’s War was War Pass’s first stakes winner, taking the Sunday Silence Stakes on turf at Louisiana Downs last September, after breaking his maiden over the same distance and surface at Ellis Park on his second outing. Third in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) over Keeneland’s all-weather track next out, Java’s War ended his first season with a sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) while making his initial start on dirt.
First time out this year, he confirmed that he could handle that surface when closing well from off the pace to take second, three lengths behind current Derby favorite, Verrazano , in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II). In the Blue Grass, Java’s War appeared to have forfeited his chance at the break, a hesitant beginning leaving him a detached last in the 14-horse field. Java War’s jockey, Julien Leparoux, shrewdly elected not to rush his mount to make up the lost ground too quickly, and the bay was still at the tail of the field after three-quarters of a mile. Java’s War unleashed a seven-wide move leaving the second turn, however, and by the time the field straightened up, he was fifth and closing strongly. Maintaining his momentum to the line, Java’s War hit the wire a neck to the good of Palace Malice .
Java’s War is a different sort of runner than his sire. War Pass went four-for-four at 2, including victories in the Champagne Stakes and Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (both gr. I). The juvenile champion resumed at 3 with a 7 1/2-length win in a mile allowance at Gulfstream Park. But in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) the colt, who previously had never been headed at any call, was bumped early and, after failing to make the lead, checked in seventh. Returning in the Wood Memorial, War Pass demonstrated that his Tampa effort was just a blip. Tackled early by a “rabbit,” he clung to his lead entering the final furlong but was caught late by Tale of Ekati , going down by a half-length.
The Wood Memorial proved to be War Pass’s last race, as he suffered a fracture to a near-fore sesamoid. Retired to Lane’s End, War Pass appeared to have many of the credentials to make him a candidate to extend the Blushing Groom line. In addition to his own exceptional race record, he was a son of champion sprinter Cherokee Run, one of the most successful North American Blushing Groom-line representatives, and out of the stakes-placed Mr. Prospector mare Vue, also dam of Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) victress Oath. Sadly, however, War Pass died on Christmas Eve 2010 upon his return from a shuttle trip to Australia. He apparently made the trip in good order and was turned out in his paddock at Lane's End, only to pass away several hours later. A necropsy failed to pinpoint the cause of death.
War Pass left 65 registered foals in his first Northern Hemisphere crop and 61 in his second. Twenty-four of that first crop—now 3-year-olds—have started, with 12 winning and three taking black-type events, including the classic contenders Java’s War and Revolutionary. He’s also already had a stakes winner and a graded stakes-placed horse from his first Australian crop, now 2.
The distaff side of Java’s War’s pedigree reveals the likely source of his stamina and his ability to handle all-weather and turf tracks as well as dirt. His dam, Java, who is by the Trusthouse Forte Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) victor Rainbow Quest, is a sister to champion turf mare Fiji. Java could not match the achievements of her sister, winning an 8 1/2-furlong maiden at 2 and a 10-furlong allowance contest at 3. Java began her broodmare career by producing a minor winner by Empire Maker, then the Mineshaft gelding Coffee Bar, a six-time winner who took second in the Toronto Cup at Woodbine. Java’s next three foals were Coffee Break, an A.P. Indy son who won five times and earned nearly $98,000; an unraced filly by Giant's Causeway ; and an unraced colt by A.P. Indy. She was a $675,000 RNA when offered carrying the A.P. Indy in the 2008 Keeneland November sale, but was purchased a year later for $350,000 by Java’s War’s breeder, Charles Fipke, with Java’s War in utero.
Java’s War’s granddam, the Explodent daughter Island Jamboree, was a tough and accomplished runner who won 10 of 37 starts. Effective on both dirt and turf, she was a four-time stakes winner and took second in the Gamely Handicap (gr. IT). In addition to Fiji and Java, Island Jamboree is dam of Capri, a European-raced son of Generous who took the Grand Prix de Chantilly (Fr-II) and Gardner Merchant Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Eng-III). The family has a Triple Crown connection going back to Java’s Gold’s 11th dam Gravitation, a close relative to Pitti, the granddam of 1928 Kentucky Derby hero Reigh Count. That horse subsequently sired Triple Crown laureate Count Fleet, who actually was linebred to this family.
Somewhat unusually, Java’s War is a Blushing Groom/Blushing Groom cross, but he is still TrueNicks-rated A++, Cherokee Run and his sons having sired three stakes winners and a stakes-placed horse from only 23 starters out of Blushing Groom-line mares. We can note, however, that Java’s War is the first group or grade I winner by a Blushing Groom-line stallion out of a Blushing Groom-line mare. Interestingly, War Pass is a Blushing Groom great-grandson whose dam is by Mr. Prospector, a Raise a Native/Nearco cross, while Rainbow Quest is by Blushing Groom and his granddam, Where You Lead, is also a Raise a Native/Nearco cross.
There is little doubt that Java’s War will get the Kentucky Derby trip, although his late-running style may leave him with traffic problems to overcome. We also won’t be surprised if he develops into a top-class 10-12 furlong turf performer as his career progresses.