In wrapping up my thoughts on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) a few weeks ago, it was noted that sires tracing to Unbridled are, functionally and phenotypically, not properly described as members of the Mr. Prospector line but rather from a line established by Unbridled himself.
“The (Mr. Prospector-line) distinction is better applied to the second- and third-place finishers in the Derby, Lookin At Lee and Battle of Midway: The former is by Lookin At Lucky , a son of Smart Strike and who is the sire of Battle of Midway. Smart Strike is now the most prominent son of Mr. Prospector on the leading sire list, where his son Curlin is firmly ensconced as well. But that is another story.”
This is that story.
The majority of readers would be surprised to see the only son of Mr. Prospector on the current leading sire lists (top 100) is Smart Strike, who passed in 2015. Not only that, but three of Smart Strike’s sons—Curlin (in the top 10), Lookin At Lucky (top 25 and currently all the rage in Chile), and English Channel (top 100) are there as well. Smart Strike’s son Dominus acquitted himself well with his first crop in 2016 and is ranked in the top 20 of second-year sires. And his son Square Eddie is a top sire (and most expensive at $25,000) in California.
On the strength of his race record, Smart Strike was considered a decent, but not necessarily strong, addition to the Kentucky stallion roster when he retired to Lane’s End in 1997. He raced eight times and did not earn black type until he was 4 when he took the Salvator Mile Handicap (G3) and the Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G1) at Monmouth Park.
On pedigree he was off the charts, being one of four graded stakes winners produced by his stakes-winning dam Classy ’n Smart. That daughter of Smarten was, in turn, produced by one of the great broodmares in the history of Canada, No Class (by Nodouble out of Classy Quillo, by Outing Class). No Class also threw five other stakes winners, including Regal Classic and Sky Classic, each of whom became a prominent sire.
What smacks you upside the head with the page is not Mr. Prospector but Smarten on Nodouble on Princequillo—three somewhat late-maturing, two-turn loving and exceptionally enduring stallions who passed on that latter quality to a good deal of their offspring. Taken together they were a powerful force in the development of Smart Strike’s legacy.
Smart Strike’s biomechanical profile reveals he was a natural two-turn individual with as much power as stride, the kind of horse that can get out there and stalk and then keep going until the rest are left behind. There were strong extension and very good power through the quarters, and the kind of alignment in the rear that generated powerful and steady thrust. He also was a bit less robust than many other Mr. Prospectors and thus became a “good mixer” for mares with balance and substance. And the line that has traditionally “mixed well” with Mr. Prospector has been that of Northern Dancer, the epitome of balance and substance.
Thus, it is not surprising that Smart Strike’s aforementioned sons were produced by daughters of Deputy Minister (Curlin), Belong to Me (Lookin At Lucky), El Gran Senor (Square Eddie), and Theatrical (English Channel). In addition, Curlin’s son Palace Malice , who entered stud in 2016, is out of a daughter of Royal Anthem, a son of Theatrical.
But what is a bit surprising is that, except for English Channel, all the Smart Strike sons and grandsons that have gone to stud that have been analyzed are much more “power types” than he was. Thus, they are exactly the kind of individuals that thrive best in an environment that demands consistency with sustainable speed. Smart Strike had it, and most of his good ones have struck the same vein, smartly.