By Alan Porter
Although conditions beforehand led to fears that the event might turn into an equine version of the New Jersey Lottery, at the end of a rain-soaked Breeders’ Cup meeting, there was no question that, by and large, class had risen to the top.
The Mr. Prospector line drowned all other sire lines, having be represented by six of the 11 winners: Curlin and English Channel (by Smart Strike ); Kip Deville (by Kipling , a son of Gulch); Maryfield (by Elusive Quality ) and Nownownow (by Whywhywhy), both from the Gone West branch of the sire line; and Midnight Lute (by Real Quiet, a grandson of Fappiano). The Northern Dancer line scored twice, courtesy of Lahudood (GB) (by Singspiel, a grandson of Sadler’s Wells) and Ginger Punch (by Awesome Again , from the Vice Regent/Deputy Minister branch). Three other lines tallied one apiece: Caro (IRE) via Indian Blessing (by Indian Charlie), Blushing Groom (FR) through War Pass (by Cherokee Run), and Seattle Slew, with Corinthian (by A.P. Indy’s son, Pulpit).
Three of the winners were inbred within four generations – Kip Deville, Lahudood (both to Northern Dancer) and Corinthian (to Raise a Native) – and four within five generations – Indian Blessing, Ginger Punch (both to Raise a Native), War Pass (with four crosses to Nasrullah), and Maryfield (to Raise a Native and Graustark). Curlin, English Channel, and Nownownow are all outcrossed at five generations, but Nownownow is by a stallion inbred to Mr. Prospector out of a mare inbred to Riverman.
Starting with the 2-year-olds, first blood was drawn by Fab Oak Stable-bred Nownownow, who produced an unstoppable late run to take the Juvenile Turf Stakes. He is from the first crop of Whywhywhy, a Mr. Greeley son who took the Flash Stakes (gr. III), Sanford Stakes (gr. II), and Futurity Stakes (gr. I) at 2. A beaten favorite in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), Whywhywhy failed to win in four starts at 3. He now stands for $7,500 at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky. The distaff side of Nownownow’s pedigree explains his penchant for the turf (although Mr. Greeley has also enjoyed considerable success with his grass runners). A half brother to French listed winner Marche de Paix, Nownownow is out of Here and Now, a French-raced daughter of the Irish River (FR) horse, Exit to Nowhere. The granddam, U.S. black type placed Aspalathus (by Spruce Needles, a grandson of Herbager), is out of Riviere Enchantee (FR), a Riverman half sister to the group winning French miler Lypheor (GB). Here and Now is inbred to Riverman 3 x 3, this coming through Irish River (dam by Klairon) and Riviere Enchantee (granddam by Klairon). This is also the female line of Mr. Prospector, a horse who appears 4 x 4 in the pedigree of Whywhywhy.
The following day, War Pass and Indian Blessing dominated throughout in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies (both gr. I). War Pass, bred in Kentucky by Cherry Valley Farm, is by champion sprinter Cherokee Run, a horse who is enjoying a strong revival this year, notably with War Pass and millionaire Zanjero, after getting such as champion 2-year-old filly Chilukki , Kafwain, During, Dream Run, and Sir Cherokee in his early crops. The son of Runaway Groom stands at Darley for $40,000. War Pass’s dam, the stakes-placed Mr. Prospector mare Vue, is also dam of 1994 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) heroine Oath (by Known Fact). The fourth dam is champion 3-year-old filly, Bayou, and while the third dam, Bayou Blue, was only a minor winner and never bred a winner of note, she was a sister to the excellent mare Batteur, winner of two renewals of the New York Handicap, as well as the Santa Maria, Santa Margarita, Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara Handicaps. The granddam of War Pass, Hoist the Flag’s daughter Harbor Flag, is a close relative to Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Flag Officer. There is stamina in this bottom line, and it will be interesting to see whether this will enable the champion 2-year-old-elect to stretch out to classic distances next term.
Indian Blessing – a 2-year-old filly bred by Hal and Patti Earnhardt who looks assured of a title as champion 2-year-old filly – will give her sire, Indian Charlie, his second Eclipse winner in two years, following Fleet Indian, the champion older mare of 2006 (Fleet Indian broke down in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, but will be offered in foal to Storm Cat at this year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale). Indian Charlie, who stands for a private fee at Airdrie Stud, was a winner of four of his five races, including the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), his only defeat coming when third in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), captured by Real Quiet, who he had beaten into second at Santa Anita.
Indian Blessing’s dam, Shameful (a daughter of the Carson City stallion, Flying Chevron) proved to be a smart and speedy performer, winning the listed Pine Tree Lane Stakes, and taking second in the La Troienne Stakes and third in the Miss Preakness Stakes (both gr. III). Indian Blessing’s granddam, Lady’s Legacy, was purchased for just $11,000 at the 1999 Keeneland January sale when carrying Shameful. A Michigan-bred daughter of the relatively obscure sire Matchlite (by Clever Trick), Lady’s Legacy won once at 2, and earned black type with a second in the Regret Stakes, a race restricted to Michigan state-breds. Lady’s Legacy was purchased specifically to breed to then Florida-based sire Matty G, and she produced two foals by that horse, the second of which, Little Matth Man, won the listed Whirlaway Stakes, and took third in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II). Indian Blessing’s granddam, Wavering Lady (by Wavering Monarch), won twice and produced one other minor stakes placed horse, but there is a lot more class in the fourth dam, Pia’s Lady. She is also ancestress of grade I winners Roamin Rachel and Cat’s Cradle, and of Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy. Indian Blessing is a product of the Indian Charlie/Mr. Prospector cross which has so far produced at least 10 stakes winners, including champion Fleet Indian and grade I winner Pampered Princess.
While both Juvenile winners ran from the front, Midnight Lute, who normally races on or near the pace, took the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) with an impressive late charge from the rear. For a sprint champion, Midnight Lute has a surprisingly stout pedigree. Real Quiet, sire of the Sprint champion bred by Tom Evans, Macon Wilmil Equines, and Marjac Farms, captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and was caught on the wire in the Belmont Stakes (all gr. I). Real Quiet started his stud career at Vinery in Midway, Ky., but he stood the most recent season at Pin Oak Lane Farm in Pennsylvania at a fee of $5,000. He is also sire of three-time grade I winner Pussycat Doll and last year’s Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner, Wonder Lady Anne L. Midnight Lute’s dam, Candytuft, is an unraced daughter of champion 2-year-old Dehere and Bolt From the Blue, heroine of the grade III, 11/2 mile La Prevoyante Handicap. That mare’s dam, Berkut, was a listed winner in Italy, and was a sister to Gyr, winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and runner-up in Nijinsky II’s Epsom Derby. Real Quiet has also sired the 2007 Texas Mile (gr. III) victor, Silent Pleasure, out of a mare by Dehere’s grandsire, Vice Regent, and the broader Fappiano/Vice Regent cross which this mating produced was also responsible for Victory Gallop, the horse whose Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victory deprived Real Quiet of the Triple Crown.
The inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) went to 6-year-old Maryfield, a filly bred in Canada by Mike Carroll and John C. Harvey, Jr., whose winning run came late in the race after two of the favorites, La Traviata and Dream Rush, had set scorching fractions. Maryfield and the runner-up, Miraculous Miss, are both granddaughters of Gone West, the first by Elusive Quality, the latter by Mr. Greeley.
Maryfield is a member of the second crop sired by Elusive Quality, as is champion 3-year-old, Smarty Jones. Elusive Quality currently stands at Darley for $100,000. Maryfield is out of the stakes placed Desert Wine mare, Sly Maid, also dam of the grade III placed Quiet (herself dam of the current U.S. black type performer Quietly Mine). The granddam, Sly Charmer, was also black type placed, and is half sister to the two-time grade II winner Sir Pele, to stakes winning and grade I placed Swoon, and to Irish black type scorer Lemhi Lass. Maryfield’s third dam, Miss Pele, was unraced, but the daughter of Sea Hawk II (FR) was a sister to an excellent filly in the shape of La Zanzara. Winner of the Premio Regina Elena-Italian One Thousand Guineas (gr. II), and second in the Italian Oaks (gr. I) while racing in Europe, La Zanzara subsequently campaigned in the U.S., where she won major stakes at 3 and 4, but saved her best performance for her final season, defeating males for the then-1 3/4 miles San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. I) as a 5-year-old.
At the other end of the distance scale, the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) was dictated at a leisurely pace, which guaranteed that the field would have no answer for the finishing punch of Keene Ridge Farm-bred English Channel, the only member of the field who could boast shorter distance credentials like a 1:33 and change mile (en route to a 1:39.00 8 1/2 furlongs) and a near world-record nine furlongs. By Smart Strike – who, with Curlin taking the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), has an insurmountable advantage on the leading sires’ table, and whose Lane’s End fee was doubled to $150,000 for 2008 – English Channel is the first foal of the Theatrical (IRE) mare Belva. Hers is a pedigree that suggests the blend of speed and stamina that English Channel has displayed. Theatrical was runner-up in the Joe McGrath Irish Sweeps Derby (gr. I) at 3, but peaked at 5, earning honors as champion turf horse and capturing four 12-furlong grade I events, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Belva’s dam, Theatrical’s onetime stable companion Committed, was a stellar speedster. A sprint champion in England, Ireland, and France, Committed took back-to-back renewals of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (gr. I) and three other group events, including the William Hill Sprint Championship (gr. I). Belva never ran, but she is a sister to Pharma, winner of the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. I), and Hap, who captured six graded events at 4 and 5, including the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile (gr. II). By Olden Times’ son Hagley, a good 2-year-old and miler who subsequently was a very successful regional sire in Maryland, Committed had a stakes-winning juvenile brother in Christiana Hundred. Her Stage Door Johnny half sister, Wooing, was a listed winner who also took second in the Diana Handicap (gr. II), and produced Irish stakes winner Stage Affair, while another half sister, Gossiping, became dam of Musicale, a four-time group winner in England.
Had he not been sidelined by an injury which forced his retirement, the Woodbine Mile (gr. I) winner Shakespeare would have probably started as favorite in the NetJets Breeder’s Cup Mile (gr. I). In his absence, the form of the Woodbine race was franked by Kip Deville, an Oklahoma colt bred by Center Hills Farm. Kip Deville’s sire, Kipling, stands at Mighty Acres in Oklahoma at a fee of $2,500 for the 2007 season, but has made a bright start to his career with his first four crops, getting five stakes winners from 50 runners. A $1.4 million yearling, Kipling never earned black type, but was a decent allowance runner at his best. He did take to stud considerable pedigree credentials: he is by Gulch out of a Storm Bird mare, the same cross which produced leading sire Thunder Gulch, and his dam was a sister to Summer Squall and half sister to A.P. Indy.
Kip Deville’s dam, Klondike Kaytie, was a $2,200 yearling, but turned out to be tough campaigner, winning 20 of 63 starts including a minor stakes at Thistledown. Kip Deville’s third dam was also a stakes winner, but one has to go back to his sixth dam, Up the Hill – ancestress of numerous good horses including the two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. I) victor Alleged – to find a previous group or graded winner from the family. The upgrading over recent performers in the pedigree is almost certainly due to the combination of Kipling’s broodmare sire, Storm Bird, with his genetic relative Nijinsky II, whose son, Encino, is sire of Kip Deville’s dam.
The other turf event, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Fillies and Mares (gr. I) went to Shadwell’s English-bred Lahudood. She is by Singspiel (IRE) (a grandson of Sadler’s Wells), himself an outstanding international campaigner who scored major victories in England, Japan, Dubai, and Canada. He never won in the U.S., but of his offspring, Singhalese (GB), Funfair (GB), Three Degrees (IRE), and Dark Islander (IRE) have all captured U.S. graded stakes, with Singhalese preceding Lahudood as a grade I winner. Darley’s English operation stands the son of In the Wings (GB) for a £15,000 fee.
As far as the distaff side of her pedigree is concerned, Lahudood comes from what had been a rather quiet branch of a highly successful family. Her dam, Rahayeb (GB), is by Arazi, a brilliant 2-year-old in Europe and spectacular winner of the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Arazi was a disappointing sire, but is now somewhat redeeming himself as a broodmare sire. The second dam is Bashayer, a stakes placed daughter of Mr. Prospector. Bashayer was a sister to listed winner Sarayir, and to listed placed Wijdan (dam of 2007 U.S. graded stakes winner Makderah (IRE)). She was also three-parts sister to the Dubai Champion Stakes (UAE-I), Juddmonte International (ENG-I), Prince of Wales’s (ENG-I), and Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) winner, Nayef (by Mr. Prospector’s son, Gulch), and half sister to Nashwan, winner of the General Accident Two Thousand Guineas, Ever Ready Epsom Derby, Coral-Eclipse Stakes, and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (all ENG-I), as well as to multiple group winner Unfuwain, group winner Alwasmi, and black type winner Mukddaam. The third dam is champion 2-year-old filly, Height of Fashion (FR), herself a daughter of One Thousand Guineas (ENG-I) and Prix de Diane-French Oaks (FR-I) heroine Highclere (GB).
On the dirt, the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) resolved into an epic battle between Ginger Punch and Hystericalady, with the Adena Springs-bred Ginger Punch battling to the win despite being in tight quarters on the rail. The Breeders’ Cup has been a rich hunting ground for Ginger Punch’s sire, Awesome Again, whose 2008 fee is $150,000 at Adena Springs Kentucky. Not only did he win the race himself to climax an undefeated 4-year-old season, but he has also sired Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) victor Ghostzapper; Wilko, who took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I); and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) heroine, Round Pond.
Ginger Punch’s dam, Nappelon, doesn’t own a particularly fashionable pedigree, but the daughter of the Canadian sire Bold Revenue was a very smart filly at up to a mile, winning 17 races from 2 to 5 years, including the Comely Stakes (gr. II). Nappelon was the only stakes winner for her dam, Sally Go Gray, but that mare was half sister to graded stakes winner Escaped. Sally Go Gray’s dam, Surreptitious, was granddam of graded stakes winner Easy N Dirty. Surreptitious was inbred 4 x 4 to her fourth dam, Dulce (FR), who was also third dam of 1957 English Two Thousand Guineas and Epsom Derby winner, Crepello (GB). Ginger Punch’s mating represents a version of the very successful Deputy Minister/Bold Ruckus cross.
Earlier this year, Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) victor Corinthian was considered a promising candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). However, after a Woodward Stakes (gr. I) effort which saw him make a major middle move before flattening out, it was decided that the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) would be a better target for the 4-year-old colt bred by Gracefield Equine and Hargus Sexton. The move paid dividends, and Corinthian said farewell to the racetrack with an impressive victory.
By the very successful A.P. Indy stallion Pulpit, who stands at Claiborne Farm for an $80,000 fee, Corinthian is half brother to San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) winner Desert Hero. His dam, the Easy Goer mare Multiply, is a half sister to the minor stakes winner Inflate. Multiply is out of Add, a half sister to the group/graded winning trio of Jade Robbery (who took the CIGA Grand Criterium (FR-I)), Numerous, and Chequer, who were all sired by Pulpit’s broodmare sire, Mr. Prospector. Add’s dam, Number, was a three-time graded winner, but more significantly, from the standpoint of Corinthian’s potential as a stallion, the daughter of Nijinsky II was out of Special, which makes her a three-parts-sister to Nureyev and to Sadler’s Wells. We should also note that Corinthian has Raise a Native 4 x 4 through Mr. Prospector and Alydar, similarly-bred horses who combine well together.
Had Corinthian elected for the Classic, he would have found a formidable obstacle in the shape of Curlin, who probably nailed down honors as champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year with his impressive victory. Like English Channel, Fares Farm-bred Curlin is a product of a Smart Strike/Northern Dancer cross. In this case, his dam, Sherriff’s Deputy, is by Deputy Minister. Mares by this horse have always looked a natural cross for Smart Strike, whose family worked very well with Deputy Minister and his sire Vice Regent. So far, the cross has produced not only Curlin, but millionaire Tenpins and 2007 graded scorer Super Freaky.
Curlin’s granddam, Barbarika, won the Johnnie Walker Black Classic Handicap (gr. II) and Turfway Park Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III), She was the only stakes winner in the first two dams of this pedigree prior to the appearance of Curlin, but her dam, the Conniver Handicap winner War Exchange, was a successful producer and foundation mare. War Exchange’s best runner was the Carnivalay filly, Lucky Lady Lauren, winner of the Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III), but it is another daughter, the stakes-placed Count On Kathy, who made a bigger impact as a producer. She is dam of two stakes winners, and granddam of champion 2-year-old filly (and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner) Countess Diana, and the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) and Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) heroine Exogenous.