(Originally from the August 10, 2013 issue of The Blood-Horse)
by Anne Peters
The rarest jewels in Thoroughbred breeding are those mares and rich female lines that continue to produce top-class runners. With the recent successes of stallions such as Empire Maker, First Defence , and Indygo Shiner, we are reminded that, for whatever reason, some female families are also better at producing top stallions.
One of the finest modern sire families is that descending from the imported mare Rough Shod II, based at Claiborne Farm. This family is responsible for the major sires Ridan, Lt. Stevens, Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, Fairy King, Topsider, Thatch, Apalachee, and the current top-level sire Stormy Atlantic.
The Almahmoud family has produced Northern Dancer, Halo, Danehill, Machiavellian, and Proud Citizen .
The Knight’s Daughter family, responsible for Round Table and his full sister Monarchy, has led to a spate of sires through Monarchy’s daughter State, including Pulpit, Tale of the Cat , Johannesburg, and Teuflesberg .
Juddmonte Farms, whose bloodlines tend to run in the purple, initiated a new sire dynasty with their mare Image of Reality (by In Reality out of Edee’s Image by Cornish Prince), through her graded stakes-winning daughters Toussaud and Navarra, both by El Gran Senor. The best-known stallion from this family is the popular runner and impeccably bred sire Empire Maker, by Unbridled out of grade I winner Toussaud, the 2002 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. Winner of the 2003 Florida Derby, Wood Memorial Stakes, and Belmont Stakes (all gr. I), Empire Maker was a well-established sire of class in November 2010, when he was sold to breeders in Japan.
Empire Maker’s stars include two-time champion Royal Delta and grade I winners Pioneerof the Nile , Grace Hall, Bodemeister , Mushka, In Lingerie, Acoma, Country Star, Icon Project, and most recently Emollient and Last Full Measure, both grade I winners in 2013. So far he has 41 stakes winners from 653 foals of racing age—9.2%.
Empire Maker wasn’t the first stallion star in this family, however. That credit goes to Toussaud’s first foal, Chester House(by Mr. Prospector), winner of the 2000 Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT). He retired to Juddmonte Farms and stood only three seasons before his premature death from cancer in June 2003. Chester House’s loss wasn’t fully appreciated until several years and 29 stakes winners later. He left a record of more than 13% stakes winners to foals, including grade I winners Divine Park and Ventura.
Toussaud’s second foal, Honest Lady (by Seattle Slew), was quite the opposite of the turf stayer Chester House, as she wanted to go short on the dirt. Her top efforts included a win in the seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) and a runner-up finish in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) as a 4-year-old. Honest Lady has produced three stakes winners so far, the best being her son First Defence (by Unbridled's Song), who followed in his mother’s footsteps as a top sprinter, winning the seven-furlong Forego Handicap (gr. I).
First Defence’s first crop, foals of 2010, includes Close Hatches, first in the recent Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I); and the good English colt Dundonnell, winner of the Pinsent Masons LLP Acomb Stakes (Eng-III) last year and the listed Coral King Charles II Stakes this year. Although he has just the two stakes winners, hopes are that First Defence carries on the Unbridled’s Song line and the sire precedent already running through his family.
Toussaud’s full sister, Navarra, was born a Juddmonte-bred but while in training, became the property of Craig Singer. She won four times for Singer, including a score in the Vineland Handicap (gr. IIIT) as a 5-year-old. As a broodmare, Navarra had a foal for Singer and then was sold to Summer Wind Farm, for which she produced Indygo Shiner (by A.P. Indy), winner of the Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill at 3.
Indygo Shiner entered stud in 2003 at Haras La Quebrada in Argentina, and his early success there brought him to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Kentucky for the 2009 breeding season. Indygo Shiner is a resounding success in South America, with five group I winners including champion Tecla Shiner, Argentine and North American group/grade I winner Miss Match; GDP Investments U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas winner So Shiny; and Indy Point, a group I winner in Argentina and recent winner of Del Mar’s Wickerr Stakes.
Indygo Shiner’s first North American crop, foals of 2010, includes the multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old Amberjack and Puerto Rican stakes winner Light Cat. Indygo Shiner has 19 stakes winners to date and a bright future ahead.
Why would this female line produce four good sires in the last decade? Consider that these stallions were all graded stakes winners, by top-tier sires, from two generations of graded stakes-winning mares. There are no holes here.
Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story, but the breeding adage “blood will tell” says it best. The highest standards create the strongest legacy.