They keep asking questions of Startac, and so far he's come up with all the right answers.
Being a son of champion Theatrical, who won multiple grade I stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr.IT), at 12 furlongs, Startac figured to have no problem with distance limitations. Just to prove the point, he broke his maiden at first asking in August at Del Mar going one mile on the turf. In five lifetime starts, he has never raced at less than that distance.
After a good third in a restricted stakes at Santa Anita, Startac captured his first graded stakes next out in the eight-furlong Generous S. (gr.IIIT) at Hollywood Park in November.
Startac boasts a distance-friendly dosage index of 2.30 and a center of distribution of +0.71. Startac is not a dual qualifier, as he was rated at 113 pounds on the Experimental Free Handicap, 13 pounds shy of top-weighted 2-year-old Macho Uno.
However, a look down the list of Theatrical's progeny shows there are few distance worries up top of Startac's pedigree. Theatrical has sired long-winded runners such as Zagreb, Royal Anthem, Geri, Duda, Vaudeville, and Auntie Mame.
Startac's dam, Tenga, by Mr. Prospector out of the Seattle Slew mare Royal Strait Flush, looks fine on pedigree, but so far short on experience. Startac is her third foal, but the first one to make it to the races. Tenga herself won but once in 15 starts, and her dosage index was 4.20.
As Startac embarked on his 3-year-old campaign, the next question loomed: Could he do on dirt what he'd been doing on turf? Following a good second in his 2001 debut in the grassy Hill Rise H., trainer Simon Bray shipped Startac to Phoenix and to the dirt to contest the Turf Paradise Derby Feb. 3. In his first start on the main track, Startac made the most impressive move anywhere thus far this year when he blasted off the turn to devour the field by 4 3/4 lengths in the 8 1/2-furlong contest. This was an eye-popping performance that set Startac front and center of the wide-open 3-year-old picture this year.
Startac is the product of a relatively rare breeding pattern known as Formula One. No, not the racecars. Startac's sire's female family and his dam's female family are the same. Startac is inbred to Pange 4x4. Pange is the third dam of Tenga as well as the third dam of Theatrical. This Formula One pattern is found in less than one out of 100 Thoroughbreds, but has produced quite a few runners of note, including Quiet American, Outofthebox, Sea Hero, Danehill, and Numbered Account. Startac, who was bred by the late Allen Paulson and races for the Allen Paulson Living Trust, is also inbred 5x4 to Native Dancer.
Tenga's dam, Royal Strait Flush, is a full sister to the brilliant Landaluce. Theatrical's dam, Tree of Knowledge, is also the dam of multiple stakes winner Taiki Blizzard, by Seattle Slew, and the dam of North of Eden, who in turn is the dam of champion Paradise Creek.
Encouraging for Startac among Theatrical's other progeny is the presence of Geri, who was adept on both grass and dirt. Geri, another Paulson homebred, won the Oaklawn H. (gr.I) and the Crème Fraiche H. (gr.III) on dirt, and also scored in the Citation H. (gr.IIT) and the Woodbine Mile S. on turf. In addition, Geri ran second in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr.IT), the Caesars International (gr.IT), and the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr.I). Such versatility bodes well for Startac.