by Avalyn HunterAn undefeated 2-year-old is the stuff of dreams, and at this time of year the dreams inspired often feature roses or lilies. Very few of these young horses ever turn out to have the real stuff required of potential Kentucky Derby (gr. I) or Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winners, of course, but the close of the year brings a new set of hopefuls and a new set of dreams.
One of the dream makers emerging in 2007 is Jay Em Ess Stable’s filly By the Light, who is undefeated in four starts including a dusting of males in the restricted New York Breeders’ Futurity over six furlongs. In her most recent victory, the listed Boyd Gaming’s Delta Princess Powered by Youbet.com Stakes, By the Light stretched her speed over a mile, winning easily by five and one-quarter lengths. Granted, a final quarter in :27.4 and a winning time of 1:40.21 are nothing to write home about, but the bottom line is that By the Light has done everything asked of her and has yet to be really tested.
Bred in New York by Paul Rothfuss, By the Light is from a family that has had moments of brilliance. Her fifth dam, Lady Dulcinea, by Nantallah, won the 1965 Adirondack Stakes and is one of four stakes winners produced by the fine broodmare Shy Dancer, by Bolero. Both of Lady Dulcinea’s stakes-winning half-sisters were producers of some importance: 1963 Spinaway Stakes winner Petite Rouge, by Ballydam, is the dam of multiple French group III winner Princess Arjumand and the granddam of the graded stakes winners French Cut, Smarten Up, and Purple Mountain, while Shy Dawn, also sired by Grey Dawn II, produced 1991 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) winner Opening Verse and 1986 Columbiana Handicap (gr. III) winner So She Sleeps.
Like Shy Dawn, Purple Mountain is also by Grey Dawn II, and in fact, this family proved to have a considerable affinity for the son of Herbager. Lady Dulcinea was no exception, for she produced Heavenly Cause to the cover of Grey Dawn II. A big, strong roan filly, Heavenly Cause earned the 1980 juvenile filly championship with wins in the Frizette (gr.1) and Selima Stakes (gr. I). The following year, she won three grade I races including the Kentucky Oaks. Her son Two Punch, by Mr. Prospector, won the listed Bachelor Stakes and has been a good regional sire in Maryland.
Lady Dulcinea also produced Heavenly Cause’s stakes-winning full brother Jacques Who and 1983 Monmouth Oaks (gr. II) winner Quixotic Lady, by Quadratic. Her 1971 daughter by the Prince John horse Jean-Pierre, La Basque, was not nearly so talented, scoring only three minor wins from 32 starts, but continued the family romance with Grey Dawn II by producing multiple grade I winner Bounding Basque to a 1979 cover by that sire. In addition, La Basque produced 1985 Withers Stakes (gr. II) winner El Basco to the cover of Grey Dawn II’s best son, multiple grade I winner Vigors, as well as the stakes-winning Danzig colt Muhayaa.
La Basque’s 1977 filly by Creme dela Creme, Basquette, never earned black type but proved a good allowance performer. She was not as good a producer as other members of her family, however, producing only one minor stakes winner in the Nostrum daughter No No Basquette from 10 foals. Her daughter Rampart Street, foaled in 1991 and sired by Dixieland Band, raced only once without distinction and likewise has produced one stakes winner, though a pretty good one – Queen of Wilshire, winner of the 2002 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III).
By the Light was produced from the mating of Rampart Street’s daughter Dixie Tempo (by the stakes-winning Roberto horse Major Impact) to Malibu Moon. A beautifully-bred son of A.P. Indy out of the 1994 Prix Marcel Boussac (Fr-I) winner Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector, Malibu Moon is closely related to 1990 Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) winner Septieme Ciel, who is by A.P. Indy’s sire Seattle Slew out of Macoumba’s group I-winning dam Maximova. As might be expected from such a heritage, Malibu Moon showed great promise, but he made only two starts, winning one and finishing second in the other, before injury ended his career.
Malibu Moon stood his first season in 2000 at Country Life Farm for $3,000 but moved to Castleton Lyons near Lexington in 2004 thanks to victories by his gelded son Perfect Moon in the 2003 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (gr. III). His 2004 stud fee of $10,000 jumped to $30,000 after his second-crop son Declan’s Moon was named 2004 U.S. champion 2-year-old male off wins in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) and Hollywood Futurity (gr. I). Following the death of Castleton Lyons owner Tony Ryan earlier this year, Malibu Moon moved to Spendthrift Farm, where he will stand the 2008 season for $40,000. He has been represented by 12 stakes winners in 2007, headed by Delaware Oaks (gr. II) winner Moon Catcher.
The mating of Malibu Moon to Dixie Tempo features the highly successful pairing of Mr. Prospector and Roberto, who appear 3 x 3 in By the Light’s pedigree. The progeny of the closely related mares Gold Digger and Bramalea (both by Nashua out of mares crossing the blood of Bull Dog and Blue Larkspur), Mr. Prospector, and Roberto have combined in the pedigrees of at least 41 grade/group I winners including champions Afleet Alex, Hollywood Wildcat, and Johar.
While By the Light has scored two stakes wins at six furlongs, her pedigree suggests that longer distances may be more to her taste. She still cannot be ranked with the top fillies of her crop off her performances to date, but she has answered every question so far, and no one can ask more than that.