By Tanya Gunther
The first foals of 2017 have only just arrived when the process of creating the 2018 crop commences. The beginning of breeding season brings with it a sense of mild urgency to finalize mating selections, including deciding which new stallions to incorporate into these plans.
The new gun on my mind is Tamarkuz , who earned his spot on Shadwell's stallion roster after capturing the 2016 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Tamarkuz was bred and raised at my family's farm in Kentucky before being sold as a yearling, so it is an exciting prospect that one of his babies will enjoy a first play on Glennwood land as Tamarkuz did some years ago. Although I'm not impartial, I think the pedigree of Tamarkuz presents an interesting proposition to breeders.
Tamarkuz is a son of frequent top 10 sire Speightstown . A grandson of Mr. Prospector, Speightstown has sired 80 stakes winners, including 14 at the grade 1 level, and has a lifetime record of 11.5% stakes winners to runners. With graded winners over dirt, turf, and synthetics, Speightstown presents compelling versatility. Speightstown is also showing potential as a sire of sires with son Munnings firing at a rate of 10.9% stakes winners to runners.
With career earnings of $1.8 million, Tamarkuz is Speightstown's second-leading earner worldwide. Only the outstanding gelding Reynaldothewizard has earned more. Tamarkuz, a winner at 2, 3, 5, and 6, broke his maiden over a synthetic track and later excelled on dirt as an older horse.
A stakes-winning streak in Dubai in 2015 culminated with victory in the prestigious Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Meydan Sobha (G2). This impressive victory on a world stage earned Tamarkuz a trip to the United States where his first start was a respectable fourth to Honor Code in the NYRA.com Metropolitan Handicap (G1).
Tamarkuz was then given a break following a couple of subsequent underwhelming efforts. After dusting off the cobwebs in his 2016 debut, he began finding his best stride with impressive second-place finishes in the Priority One Jets Forego Stakes (G1) and Kelso Handicap (G2).
A notable change marked this turning point: Mike Smith taking the reins. Smith had an unparalleled ability to get him to relax and focus, and never was this more apparent than in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. They flew past rivals to cap Tamarkuz's career with a decisive 3 1/2-length victory over highly regarded foes Gun Runner, Accelerate, and Dortmund.
On the dam side, Tamarkuz is the first foal out of Without You Babe, an unraced daughter of emerging broodmare sire Lemon Drop Kid . Injury, not lack of talent, prevented Without You Babe from a racing career. She has produced winners by Bernardini and Congrats and has an unraced Frankel 2-year-old and Kingman yearling. With an Oasis Dream in utero and a next date with Dubawi, much potential lies ahead for siblings of Tamarkuz.
Second dam Marozia (by Storm Bird) produced multiple graded stakes winner and young sire Stay Thirsty , graded stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed sire Andromeda's Hero, and grade 1 stakes-placed stakes winner Superfly. Both Stay Thirsty and Andromeda's Hero placed in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Stay Thirsty and Superfly both ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). Although unplaced, their participation in this prestigious 2-year-old race in addition to a second in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (G1) for Stay Thirsty and third in the Champagne Stakes (G1) for Superfly provide an indication of class and potential for precocity in the family. Stay Thirsty also won the Cigar Mile (G1) to finish his career on a high note.
The third dam of Tamarkuz is Make Change (Roberto), bred by the King Ranch. Make Change won over a half-million dollars back in the 1980s and was second or third in eight G1 races. Although she was a very good racehorse, she did not produce a horse with similar abilities.
Fourth dam Equal Change (Arts and Letters) was grade 1 stakes-placed as a 3-year-old in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). This second was to none other than champion Ruffian. Equal Change's courageous second-place finish in this race was the closest any horse got to the indomitable Ruffian at the wire in her entire 3-year-old campaign (excluding the tragic last race of her career).
Going farther back, Tamarkuz's fifth dam Fairness produced champion Irish miler Solford and grade 1 stakes-placed No Duplicate. Sixth dam Equal Venture was the full sister to Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Assault as well as dam of multiple graded stakes winner Prove Out.
Prove Out won the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Woodward Stakes (both G1), earning the distinction in the latter of defeating Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Although six generations may be more than a sufficient history to review, it would seem negligent not to mention that the tail female family of Tamarkuz traces back to the family of one of the greatest racehorses of all-time, Man o' War. The ninth dam of Tamarkuz is a full sister to Man o' War.
With siblings of Tamarkuz gracing our paddocks in Kentucky and his dam and other relatives currently enjoying their sojourn across the pond in England, it is impossible to be objective about the prospects of Tamarkuz as a new sire. We believe in the family already, that much is clear, and studying the pedigree of Tamarkuz further stokes the embers of optimism. Maybe, just maybe, Tamarkuz will continue to build this legacy with his progeny. Daring to dream is what keeps this particular breeder in the game.
Tanya Gunther, a former investment banker, now helps manage and plan the matings for the 330-acre Glennwood Farm that is owned by her father, John D. Gunther.