Hunch bettors will not have to look further than Borrego for a play in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered By Dodge (gr. I). The name "Borrego," after all, is the Spanish for a sheep's or ram's horn--and as fans of the Dodge Ram line of trucks say, "If you can't Dodge it, Ram it!"
Of course, there are more things than hunches to recommend Borrego as one of the favorites for the Classic. After back-to-back wins in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I)--the latter one of the most visually impressive races of the year--there is no doubt about either Borrego's ability to get 1 1/4 miles or his ability to handle top-grade competition. The only thing left to wonder is what took him so long to get to the top.El Prado
, sire of Borrego, certainly wasted no time about making his mark. A winner of four of six starts as a juvenile, the son of Sadler's Wells and the 1977 Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner Lady Capulet earned the juvenile championship in Ireland with a victory in the 1991 National Stakes (Ire-I). He was unable to return to that form at three and was retired to Airdrie Stud in Kentucky after three fruitless efforts.
Until recently, Sadler's Wells has not been considered a great sire of sires, but El Prado
is one of several sons helping to change that assessment. After earning the reputation of a promising breed-to-race sire with his first few crops, El Prado
made the headlines in 2002 when his 3-year-old son Medaglia d'Oro
won the Travers Stakes (gr. I). Medaglia d'Oro
would go on to be a grade I winner at four and five as well, and El Prado
gained his first American champion in 2004 when Kitten's Joy reigned as champion turf horse. El Prado
himself earned honors as leading sire in the United States in 2002 and was second on the list in 2003 and 2004. He is currently in fifth place on the 2005 list and could easily be in line for his second title as leading sire should Borrego win the Classic.
Precocity was the strong point of El Prado
's racing career, and it is also a recurrent trait in the family of Sweet as Honey, Borrego's dam. A half-sister to Canadian champion 2-year-old male Truth of It All (by Proud Truth) as well as to multiple grade I winner I Ain't Bluffing, Sweet as Honey could not win in three starts as a juvenile, her only season on the track. Nonetheless, she hails from the family of 1962 co-champion 2-year-old filly Smart Deb, and she is inbred 3x3 to 1963 co-champion juvenile male Raise a Native.
There is more to this family than early speed, of course, thanks in no small part to bloodlines developed by the famous Calumet Farm. Sweet as Honey is by 1991 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Strike the Gold, a son of Calumet's great stallion Alydar, while Borrego's second dam, Cup of Honey, is by the Calumet-bred Raise a Cup. Both Alydar and Raise a Cup are from the family of 1952 champion 3-year-old filly Real Delight, who is also the ancestress of 1980 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Codex and champion fillies Our Mims and Christmas Past.
Borrego showed some promise at three with three runner-up finishes in grade II events, including a strong second behind eventual 3-year-old male champion Smarty Jones in the 2004 Arkansas Derby. However, as a May 17 foal, he still had some growing to do, a factor that may have compromised his ability to show his best form at three, and he also seemed mentally immature. Those problems now appear to be behind him.
He may have been late coming into his heritage, but that heritage has proved nothing to be sheepish about.