Classic Pedigree Profile: Flower Alley

Classic Pedigree Profile: Flower Alley
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Classic contender Flower Alley
Order This Photo
Some might question why Flower Alley is even being considered for the Breeders' Cup Classic–Powered By Dodge (gr. I), given that he has not even been close in Grade I company so far this year – one reason why he was on the also-eligibles list for the big race. If he can return to the form that carried him to a second-place finish behind Horse of the Year Saint Liam in last year's Classic, however, he will not be a horse to overlook.

Named for a street in Barbados, Flower Alley is by Distorted Humor  , a sire who has worked his way up to the heights from relatively modest beginnings. The son of Forty Niner and 1989 Gardenia Stakes (gr. II) winner Danzig's Beauty had a good but not outstanding racing career, topping his racing career with wins in the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) and the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) as a five-year-old in 1998.

Retired to stud at Prestonwood Farm (now WinStar) in 1999, Distorted Humor had several strikes against him: he is slightly on the small side (listing at 15.3 hands in the Stallion Register), he had not won a Grade I race, he was not particularly precocious, and many people thought of him as "only a sprinter." His pedigree is solid, however – not only is his dam a Grade II stakes winner, but so was is his second dam, Sweetest Chant – and he actually stayed better than the label "sprinter" would imply, placing in Graded events up to nine furlongs.

Veteran pedigree analysts John Prather and Les Brinsfield helped in determining what mares might suit the young stallion, and Prather gives the credit to Brinsfield for proposing the idea that mares carrying strains of *La Troienne might work particularly well. They did. Distorted Humor's first crop of sixty-six foals contained twenty youngsters whose dams carried *La Troienne in their pedigrees, and those twenty foals accounted for seven of the eleven stakes winners in Distorted Humor's first crop, including 2003 dual Classic winner Funny Cide, 2002 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) winner Awesome Humor, and 2003 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Go Rockin' Robin.

Since then, Distorted Humor has continued to produce well from mares whose pedigrees contain *La Troienne, particularly through Buckpasser and Seattle Slew. Flower Alley, however, reflects a different pedigree pattern. He is inbred 3x3 to Mr. Prospector and 4x5x4 to Northern Dancer.

In fact, Distorted Humor and the dam of Flower Alley, Princess Olivia, are bred rather similarly in that both are by grandsons of Mr. Prospector out of mares by sons of Northern Dancer. Distorted Humor, however, is by one of Mr. Prospector's best staying sons in Forty Niner out of a mare by the brilliantly fast Danzig, while Princess Olivia reverses the aptitudinal pattern; her sire, Lycius, was a good sprinter-miler in Europe, while her broodmare sire, Sadler's Wells, is one of the strongest stamina sources among Northern Dancer's sons.

A winner on the racetrack, Princess Olivia is from a female line that had not produced a horse of graded stakes class since the multiple group I winner and excellent sire Lyphard, 1975 Washington, D.C. International (gr. IT) winner Nobiliary, and multiple Grade II winner Barcas, all half siblings to Princess Olivia's third dam Dumfries, who was produced from the Ladies Handicap winner Goofed. In other branches of her family, however, Dumfries is the ancestress of 1989 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IT) winner No Review and of two-time Grade I winner Urbane, so it is not really too surprising that Princess Olivia had the genetic resources to come up with a good horse when bred to a good sire.

Whether Flower Alley can rise to the occasion to score the biggest victory of his career – assuming he does manage to draw into the Classic – is a question that only the race itself can answer. Still, he has done enough to earn himself a place at stud next season, giving Distorted Humor a chance to begin proving himself as a sire of sires as he already has a sire of runners.

Most Popular Stories