by Alan Porter
One of the pleasant surprises in this year’s freshman sires’ race has been Medaglia d'Oro . Currently sitting third by earnings, he has 10 winners, of which four are stakes horses and two are stakes winners — one of which, C. S. Silk, became his first graded scorer Sept. 6 when taking the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (gr. III). Not a bad effort for a horse whose sire started only once at 2!
Medaglia d’Oro was second in his sole juvenile outing — a six-furlong maiden special weight at Turfway Park in December 2001, but he wasted little time establishing himself as one of the leaders of his crop at 3. After winning a six-furlong Oaklawn Park maiden, he added the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) and missed by just a head to Buddha in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I). Going into the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with only four lifetime starts under his belt, Medaglia d’Oro — a horse who almost always raced on or very near the pace — was bumped at the start and could only retrieve enough ground to take fourth, behind War Emblem, Proud Citizen, and Perfect Drift. In all likelihood the effort he expended there explains his poor effort in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), where he faded rapidly after staying close to the pace at the first call. He ran a much better race in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), where he made the lead but was outdueled by the longshot Sarava, who beat him half a length.
Rested until Saratoga, Medaglia d’Oro returned as a far more formidable adversary. He turned the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) into a procession, leading throughout to score by 13 3/4 lengths. In the Travers Stakes (gr. I), Medaglia d’Oro made most of the running, and stayed on courageously to hold off the late challenge of Repent by a half-length. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), he again made the lead but had no answer for the surprising long-shot Volponi, although he did hold on to second and finished far ahead of six other 3-year-olds in the race.
By the end of the year — as his Breeders’ Cup finish suggests — Medaglia d’Oro was probably the best 3-year-old in training, and for much of the following year he appeared to be the dominant older horse. He started the 2003 campaign with a seven-length romp in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) then took the Oaklawn Park Handicap (gr. II) by 2 3/4 lengths. Away until Saratoga, he gained his revenge on Volponi — who had beaten him by 6 1/2 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Classic — defeating that rival by a length in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I). Odds-on favorite for the Pacific Classic (gr. I), Medaglia d’Oro ran into a buzz-saw called Candy Ride , and the unbeaten Argentina-bred set a new track record to defeat Medaglia d’Oro by 3 1/4 lengths. With Candy Ride on the sidelines, Medaglia d’Oro started as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic — Powered by Dodge but couldn’t handle Pleasantly Perfect, who beat him by 1 1/2 lengths. Kept in training at 5, Medaglia d’Oro captured the Donn Handicap (gr. II) by 4 3/4 lengths then ended his career with a 3/4-length defeat by his Breeders’ Cup nemesis, Pleasantly Perfect, in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
The following year, Medaglia d’Oro entered stud at Stonewall Stallions at a fee of $35,000 live foal. In addition to C. S. Silk, his winners from that first crop also include Renda, who took the Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth; the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) second Rachel Alexandra; and the Muskoka Stakes second Retraceable. A member of his second crop has already made headlines, a filly out of Amizette that fetched $1.1 million to top day four at Keeneland’s ongoing September yearling sale.
C.S. Silk also passed through Keeneland as a September sales yearling, realizing $120,000 in 2007. Even at the time, that price looked a rather reasonable one, considering her page, although it’s possible that the age of her dam, Remember the Day — who was 18 years old when she foaled C. S. Silk — might have counted against her in some potential buyers’ eyes. Remember the Day was a daughter of Settlement Day, a well-bred Buckpasser horse who was a successful sire in South America, and who subsequently shuttled between the U.S. and Australia. Remember the Day’s 1992 win in the Azalea Handicap at Remington Park made her one of a handful of U.S.-sired stakes winners for Settlement Day, whose best Northern Hemisphere-sired runner was the graded stakes-winning and grade I-placed Federal Funds. Given that she has spent most of her time being bred to relatively noncommercial stallions, Remember the Day has proved to be a very accomplished broodmare. To Sheikh Albadou (GB) she produced the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner Remember Sheikh, one of only five graded scorers for the sire. Her other eight winners include the listed winning Pleasant Tap filly Memory Tap; stakes-placed Remember the Party, a gelded son of Party Manners; and Rubiano’s daughter Since Time Began, dam of the Azalea Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) victress Victorina.
Remember the Day’s dam, Royal Recall, a stakes-placed daughter of Native Royalty, was also an over-achiever. In addition to Remember the Day, her 10 winners included If Memory Serves, a stakes-winning son of Youth, and Phantom Knight, a stakes-placed Fairway Phantom gelding. C. S. Silk’s third dam, Fast Call, produced stakes winners Georgies Doctor and Princesse Rapide (by Barachois and Majestic Prince, respectively). She was by Fleet Nasrullah, out of Call Card, an Alibhai mare who won the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and set a new track record for a mile at Arlington Park.
One of the reasons that Medaglia d’Oro is enjoying more early success than one might have anticipated from his race record is that he is a son of El Prado (IRE). That horse was an unusually speedy and precocious son of Sadler’s Wells, earning honors as champion in Ireland at 2, and winning group events at six, seven, and eight furlongs. Medaglia d’Oro’s dam, Cappucino Bay, was also a stakes winner at 2.
Based on the cross of El Prado and sons with Buckpasser-line mares, C. S. Silk is rated A++ by TrueNicks. El Prado has previously sired graded winner Dreaming of Liz and stakes winner McKinney out of mares by sons of Buckpasser. This cross automatically gives a double of Tom Fool, sire of both Buckpasser and of El Prado’s granddam, Cap and Bells. We can also note that El Prado’s grandsire, Northern Dancer, has something of similar genetic background to Royal Recall, the granddam of C. S. Silk. Northern Dancer is by a stallion bred on a Nearco (ITY)/Hyperion (GB) cross, out of a mare by Native Dancer. Royal Recall is by a grandson of Native Dancer, out of a mare bred on Nearco/Hyperion cross.