Classic Pedigree Profile: Bernardini

Classic Pedigree Profile: Bernardini
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Classic contender Bernardini
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If Lava Man's pedigree is blue-collar and Invasor's is foreign nobility, Bernardini's represents the American aristocracy. From a family that has been a factor in American racing since the Civil War era and by one of the most popular commercial sires in the United States, Bernardini is unquestionably bred in the purple.

Like Lava Man, Bernardini is a paternal grandson of the great Seattle Slew. But while Lava Man is by a reliable bread-and-butter horse in Slew City Slew, Bernardini is by 1992 U.S. Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, the acknowledged heir to Seattle Slew's mantle as a stallion. So far, A.P. Indy has sired ninety stakes winners from 916 foals, and fifty-seven of those stakes winners have won at the graded level. He is also giving indications that he may become an important broodmare sire, with sixteen stakes winners to his daughters' credit thus far including this year's Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Bluegrass Cat.

Bernardini's female line traces back to *Myrtle, who was imported to the United States in 1836 and is found in modern pedigrees through her 1841 *Glencoe filly, Magnolia. Beginning with Kentucky, a once-beaten colt by Lexington out of Magnolia, this family has been responsible for many good horses including the acknowledged 1926 Horse of the Year, Crusader, Kentucky Derby winners Lawrin (1938), Middleground (1950; also won the Belmont Stakes), Venetian Way (1960), and Sunny's Halo (1983); and the Preakness Stakes winners Faultless (1947) and Timber Country (1995).
Bernardini himself was produced from Cara Rafaela, who might well have been named U.S. champion juvenile filly in 1995 had she managed to stave off the late-running My Flag in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). As it was, the daughter of Quiet American collected victories in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I), Matron Stakes (gr. I) and Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) and also placed in five Grade I stakes as a three-year-old. Bernardini is her fifth foal and first stakes winner.

Quiet American himself won the 1990 NYRA Mile as a four-year-old and has been a solid sire with champions Real Quiet and Hidden Lake, English/Irish highweight Warrior Queen, and thirty-six other stakes winners to his credit. However, his long-term influence may well be on the distaff side of pedigrees. So far, his daughters have produced twenty-one stakes winners from 265 foals, and those stakes winners include the late Saint Liam, 2005 Horse of the Year; Italian and German Group I winner Cherry Mix; and 2002 Futurity Stakes (gr. I) winner Whywhywhy, whose first foals are yearlings of 2006.

A half-sister to two-time Grade III winner Abaginone (by Devil's Bag), Cara Rafaela is out of Oil Fable, a winning daughter of the great Spectacular Bid. Winner of four American championships including Horse of the Year in 1980, Spectacular Bid was more useful than stellar at stud but had some good production from his daughters, whose progeny include Grade/Group I winners Amonita, Mozart, Aube Indienne (Fr), Janfranco, Janet (GB), and Spectacular Tide.

Third dam Northern Fable (by Northern Dancer) was a disappointing producer but a good runner who won the 1982 Palomar Handicap (gr. IIIT). But her dam, Fairway Fable (by Never Bend) was one of four stakes winners produced by Fairway Fun (by Prince John), while Fairway Fun herself is a full or half sister to 1972 Prix Morny (Fr-I) winner Filiberto; multiple grade I winner White Star Line; Trick Chick, dam of four stakes winners including 1984 Prix de Diane Hermes (Fr-I) winner Northern Trick and 1977 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner On the Sly; and Day Line, dam of 1973 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Magazine.

Royal blood does not guarantee any horse a championship, and Bernardini will have to defeat the best field he has faced yet to claim Horse of the Year honors. But if "blood tells," as the saying goes, Bernardini will be in there at the finish.

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