Monitor Closely Adds to Dream Year for Sire

Group II winner guarantees Oasis Dream more respect in Europe and internationally.

By Alan Porter

In a discussion earlier this year about possibly sending a mare to Oasis Dream (GB), an English breeder conceded that he was good value but felt that his record with his first two crops just lacked a little luster. We took a contrary view, and while admitting that he might lack a star – although he had been represented by Naaqoos (GB), winner of last year’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-I) – his record of nine stakes winners in his first two crops (with seven of those being group winners) was the sort of consistency frequently shown by a stallion that is ready to take off.

Well, take off he has, and at a rate that neither we, nor we suspect even his strongest advocates, could have predicted. To date this year, he’s sired 15 stakes winners, eight of them group or graded, and is Europe’s third leading sire of black type winners behind only Galileo (IRE) and Danehill Dancer (IRE).

Of course, Oasis Dream’s performance and pedigree gave him all the credentials to become a leading sire. He is a son of Green Desert, a Danzig son who has long been one of Europe’s most reliable sires of high-quality sprinters and milers, and who has also been a very successful sire of sires. Oasis Dream’s dam, Hope (IRE), a daughter of Dancing Brave, finished unplaced on her only start, but is a sister to the Kildangan Stud Irish Oaks (Ire-I) victress Wemyss Bight (GB). Hope has proved to be an outstanding producer, and in addition to Oasis Dream is also dam of Zenda (GB), heroine of the 2002 renewal of the Gainsborough Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I), and of listed winner Hopeful Light (GB). As a racehorse, Oasis Dream proved himself a true son of his sire. He was rated top 2-year-old in Europe after capturing the Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I), England’s premier six-furlong event for juveniles, and the following year victories in the Darley July Cup and Victor Chandler Nunthorpe Stakes (both Eng-I) earned him a ranking as top 3-year-old sprinter in Europe.

Given that he is an outstanding source of quality speed, it is not surprising that Green Desert has been bred to numerous mares with stamina backgrounds. However, this tactic has rarely resulted in horses capable of showing top-class form beyond a mile. In the second generation, however, the story has been different. For example, Green Desert’s miler son Cape Cross (IRE) sired Ouija Board (GB), classic heroine in both England and Ireland and winner of two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) in his first crop, and is currently represented by Sea the Stars (IRE), winner this year of the Two Thousand Guineas, Investec Epsom Derby, Juddmonte International Stakes, and Coral Eclipse Stakes (all Eng-I). Another young son of Green Dancer, the sprinter Invincible Spirit (IRE), sired the 2007 Prix du Jockey Club Mitsubishi Motors (Fr-I) hero Lawman (FR) in his first crop.

Oasis Dream – who of course is out of a sister to a classic winner over a mile and a half – is demonstrating similar aptitudinal versatility as a sire. In fact he’s already been represented by group or graded winners at five, six, seven, eight, 10, 11 1/2, and 12 furlongs. Although he’s yet to match the achievement of Cape Cross and Invincible Spirit by siring a classic winner, he came close this year when his daughter, Midday (GB), went down by just a head in the Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I). Midday subsequently took third on heavy ground in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) and then defeated her elders to take the 10-furlong Blue Square Nassau Stakes (Eng-I).

For a further example of the wide range of distances over which Oasis Dream’s offspring are effective, and the rate at which he is adding stakes winners, one only has to consider the four-day period from August 16 to 19. On August 16 his daughters Mullein (GB) and Bouvardia (GB) – one 4 and the other 3 – ran first and second in the E.B.F. Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes over six furlongs at Pontefract in England. In France on the same day, the Oasis Dream colt Sri Putra (GB) landed the 10-furlong Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (Fr-II). Two days later, 3-year-old Monitor Closely (IRE) led virtually throughout to upset the Ladbrokes Great Voltigeur Stakes (Eng-II) over 12 furlongs at York. Finally, 2-year-old Showcasing (GB) captured the six-furlong Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes (Eng-II) August 19, again at York. This recent flurry of activity brought Oasis Dream’s total of stakes winners from his first three crops to 22, of which 14 are group or graded winners.

Monitor Closely has a particularly interesting pedigree. Out of the Peugeot Sun Chariot (Eng-II) and Trusted Partner Matron Stakes (Ire-III) winner Independence (GB), he is half-brother to Mount Nelson (GB) (by other Danzig-line stallion Rock of Gibraltar (IRE)), winner of the Criterium International (Fr-I) and English group I Eclipse Stakes. Monitor Closely is the third stakes winner by Oasis Dream out of a mare by Selkirk following group III winner Main Aim (GB) and listed scorer Field of Dream (GB). The cross (which is TrueNicks-rated A++) is a version of the frequently seen Danzig/Sharpen Up (GB) combination, a pairing that links the similarly-bred classic winners Steady Aim (third dam of Danzig) and Rockfel (dam of Sharpen Up’s broodmare sire, Rockafella (GB)).

It would appear that Independence has rescued her branch of her family from a rapid fall to obscurity. Her dam, the Forty Niner mare Yukon Hope, failed to win, and is out of Sahara Forest (GB), a mare who was unraced and who failed to produce a winner. Sahara Forest was, however, a well-bred filly, as she was a Green Desert half-sister to Reference Point (GB), the champion of his generation in England at 2 and 3 who numbered the Derby, Hosten Pils St. Leger, and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (all Eng-I) among his triumphs. Sahara Forest’s dam, Home on the Range (GB), a daughter of the outstanding sire Habitat, was also a group winner preceeding her great-grandaughter Independence as a Sun Chariot Stakes victress by 20 years.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that we mentioned that Sahara Forest is by Green Desert, meaning Monitor Closely is inbred 2 x 4 to that horse (and is the first stakes winner we can find with Green Desert duplicated). This, however, is only part of the intriguing structure of the pedigree. Oasis Dream himself is the product of a rather interesting pattern: his sire Green Desert is by a son of Northern Dancer out of a mare by Sir Ivor (by Sir Gaylord), with a second dam by Never Bend, and his dam, Hope, is by Dancing Brave – by a son of Northern Dancer, out of a mare by Drone (son of Sir Gaylord, and with a similar background to Sir Ivor), and out of a mare by a son of Never Bend. The inbreeding to Green Desert gives another Northern Dancer/Sir Gaylord cross, and to add to this, Monitor Closely’s third dam, Sahara Forest, is also a Northern Dancer/Sir Gaylord cross (by Green Desert, out of a mare by Sir Gaylord’s son Habitat). The background of Hope and Sahara Forest is particularly similar, combining Northern Dancer, Sir Gaylord, Never Bend, Busted (a European champion and a classic stamina influence) and Princequillo, and in fact of the 32 ancestors in the fifth generation of their pedigrees, more than half appear in both mares.

Perhaps the deeper line-breeding to some of these classic strains explains why a horse inbred closely to such a dominant speed influence as Green Desert was able to run his rivals into the ground over 1 1/2 miles.