Giant's Causeway goes from Horse of Year to leading freshman sire.

Giant's Causeway goes from Horse of Year to leading freshman sire.


Pedigree Profile: Noble Causeway

Giant's Causeway, Europe's Horse of the Year in 2000, did the expected and reigned as Europe's leading freshman sire of 2004. His four stakes winners included European champion male Shamardal and two other group winners. However, Giant's Causeway  has yet to sire a stakes winner on the dirt in North America, leading to questions regarding his suitability as a sire for American racing conditions.

Noble Causeway shows promise of becoming the first of his sire's progeny to break through on the main track, having hung up a nice allowance win at Gulfstream on the same card as the grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes (won by his stablemate High Fly). His next start will almost certainly be in a stakes, probably either the Florida Derby (gr. I) or the Wood Memorial (gr. I), and he has already proven his ability to stay the nine-furlong distance of these traditional Kentucky Derby preps.

Whether he can handle the 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) itself--assuming he shows he belongs in the field--is another question, but there is certainly nothing wrong with his credentials for the trip on the sire's side of the pedigree. A first-class miler, Giant's Causeway won three European group I races at 10 furlongs or longer and proved able to make the transition to dirt with a thrilling second to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Giant's Causeway is the latest hot young sire by Storm Cat and is out of Mariah's Storm, a multiple graded stakes winner at up to nine furlongs. The sire of Mariah's Storm, Rahy (by Blushing Groom), has been a versatile stallion whose progeny have ranged from speedy types to top 1 1/2-mile horses, and in the mating that produced Mariah's Storm, the stamina was buttressed by the maternal grandsire Roberto, winner of the 1972 Epsom Derby (Eng-I).

Although Giant's Causeway has the genetic background to sire a 10-furlong horse, there are plenty of speed elements in his pedigree, and Noble Causeway is pioneering new territory for his sire's offspring in more ways than one. Not only have the Giant's Causeways not yet earned black type on dirt, but they have not yet proved the ability to stay more than seven furlongs in graded or group company. This is hardly unusual for the progeny of a sire whose oldest foals are still early in their 3-year-old season, but it does leave the question open as to whether stamina will in fact be a part of Giant's Causeway's legacy.

The dam of Noble Causeway, Mimi's Golden Girl, showed a distinct preference for sprinting during her racing career. This is somewhat surprising given that she is a half-sister to the Mr. Prospector horse Placerville, winner of the 10-furlong Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-II) in 1993. Her sire, Seeking the Gold, proved himself to be one of Mr. Prospector's better-staying sons by winning the 10-furlong Super Derby (gr. I) in 1988, while her dam Classy Cathy proved equally adept at the American classic distance in winning the 1986 Alabama Stakes (gr. I). As if this were not enough in the way of credentials for routing ability, Classy Cathy was sired by Private Account, a two-time grade I winner over 10 furlongs, out of a daughter of Preakness (gr. I) winner Tom Rolfe.

Further back than Classy Cathy, the female line appears more speed-oriented. Her dam Trestle did not race, but her granddam Ponte Vecchio (by Round Table) scored her biggest win in the one-mile Maskette Stakes (gr. II) and was out of a miler of roughly similar class in the Bold Ruler mare Terentia. Terentia, in turn, was out of 1956 co-champion juvenile filly Romanita, by the speed influence Roman.

Noble Causeway still has to prove he belongs in the Derby, but his most recent races suggest that he has inherited both the stamina to get a distance and the turn of foot to be tactically dangerous. If these traits prove to be accompanied by the class suggested by his pedigree, he should be a real contender.