Monday, May 30, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Investec Oaks

Fastnet Rock (Coolmore photo)
After staying in Australia and skipping the 2015 northern hemisphere breeding season, Fastnet Rock seems to be making sure he won’t be left off the shuttle plane in coming years.

A number of Fastnet Rock’s runners won at least one stakes race in Europe in 2015 while he was taking the season off, headlined by Group 1 Investec Oaks winner Qualify and QIPCO Champion Stakes winner Fascinating Rock. This year, Fascinating Rock gave him his first Group 1 winner of the flat racing season when winning last weekend’s Tattersalls Gold Cup. Four fillies are trying to set him up to become the first stallion to sire back-to-back Investec Oaks winners since Diesis in 1999/2000 (Ramruma and Love Devine).

Not surprisingly, three of the Fastnet Rock runners are owned by at least one Coolmore partner, including Qualify's full sister who is partially owned by Mrs. Richard Henry, and are out of mare by their flagship sires Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) and Galileo (Sadler’s Wells). While the fourth filly isn’t a Coolmore runner, she does have more connections to the operation than just her sire as her broodmare sire Barathea is by Sadler’s Wells as well.

The Sadler’s Wells cross seems to have been a successful one with Fastnet Rock so far as his Group 1 winning daughter Diamondsandrubies is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, another Group 1 winning filly in Australia is out of a Sadler’s Wells granddaughter and two others – including Qualify – are out of Galileo mares. Not surprisingly, many of his Group 1 winners also come from other branches of the Northern Dancer line. Fastnet Rock himself is bred on a 3 x 4 cross to Northern Dancer, giving those runners a heavy dose of the influential stallion’s blood.

Not surprisingly, Coolmore stallions dominate the entries of this race with six of the seven sires represented as of Sunday's entry stage standing for the operation. Galileo holds the second most entries with champion Minding headlining his runners and Seventh Heaven making her first start in a classic after two straight victories.

This Oaks provides a promising view of the future for Coolmore as three of their first crop sires are represented here in Zoffany (Dansili), Canford Cliffs (Tagula) and Pour Moi (Montjeu) while third crop sire Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) also has a runner. Fastnet Rock’s first European crop was born in 2011 so technically he could also fall in this list but the stallion’s oldest runners are 10 in Australia and he is well established there so he’s already a proven commodity.  

Earlier this month, Zoffany secured his first classic win as a sire when Knife Edge won the Group 2 Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (also known as the German 2,000 Guineas) in Germany. The leading first crop-sire in Europe last year, Zoffany is still waiting for a first Group 1 win. Mastercraftsman is looking for his third classic win in this race with sons Kingston Hill and The Grey Gatsby both winning classic races in 2014.

The one stallion to challenge the Coolmore contingent is Galileo’s rival, Dubawi (Dubai Millennium). Dubawi has had multiple classic winners in his stud career, but he has never had an Investec Oaks winner. His closest came last year when his daughter Lady of Dubai was only 2 ½ lengths off of Qualify to finish third. This year, Dubawi’s participation came down to a last minute supplement when Skiffle’s connections paid £30,000 (approx. €39,475/$43,821) to get her in the race after she won the Height of Fashion Stakes.

Skiffle i
King's Best (Darley photo)
s out of a King’s Best mare, one of three mares not sired by a stallion from Northern Dancer’s stallion line. A son of classic winner Kingmambo, King’s Best won the 2000 edition of the 2,000 Guineas and is the only broodmare sire from Mr. Prospector’s line here.

The second most represented line by the broodmare sires is Blushing Groom's. While Fantastic Light is three generations removed from that stallion, Blushing Groom's son Rainbow Quest is the broodmare sire of Canford Cliffs’ Harlequeen.

While Sadler’s Wells and two of his sons give Northern Dancer a healthy boost on the female side of pedigrees in this race, other sons of the Kentucky Derby winner also keep him in the thick of things. Danehill plays a part as both a grandsire and a broodmare sire while Nureyev’s son Fasliyev is the broodmare sire of Zoffany’s runner. The final line that Northern Dancer runs through is that of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg, whose Northern Dancer is almost off his pedigree in the fourth generation. 

It is worth noting that none of the broodmare sires from Northern Dancer’s sireline have more than one cross to him.

In this century, Galileo and Sadler’s Wells are the only two stallions who have both sired a winner of the Investec Oaks and sired the dam of an Investec Oaks winner. Danehill Dancer is the only horse who can join them on that list in the 2016 edition of the race.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Observations From the Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale

Uncle Mo
The 2-year-old sales season may be winding down in North America as buyers start to turn their attention toward yearling sales but Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale was anything but quiet on Monday and Tuesday. Here are a few observations from the Maryland sale.

Uncle Mo hits big … again – If you haven’t heard about Uncle Mo’s (Indian Charlie) success over the past nine months or so, you may have been living under a rock. When Nyquist was named champion 2-year-old in January, Uncle Mo became the first 2-year-old champion to sire a 2-year-old champion since Seattle Slew sired Vindication. In May, Nyquist went on to tie him as the youngest stallion to ever sire a Kentucky Derby winner at eight years of age. While Nyquist suffered his first loss on Saturday, that didn’t seem to hurt Uncle Mo’s trade with a 2-year-old filly by the stallion topping the sale for $1-million. The filly is the second-highest priced horse in the history of this auction behind a $1.25-million Smart Strike filly last year. She is also Uncle Mo’s third million-dollar 2-year-old, with two colts selling for $1-million and $1.3-million at 2-year-old sales earlier this year. If Uncle Mo keeps this trend going, the $75,000 (approx. €67,147/£50,996) advertised fee he stands for in 2016 may look like a bargain in a few years.

It’s good to be a Maryland breeder – While the Friesan Fire colt who sold for $825,000 is a Pennsylvania-bred, it still tops off a few big weeks for the Maryland program. Friesan Fire stands at Country Life Farm for $4,000 (approx. €3,581/£2,719) and this colt sold for $35,000 as a yearling last year. However, he tied for the fastest time in the breeze sale with a :10.0 and is the most expensive colt to go through the ring at the sale since Trappe Shot in 2009. Maryland’s program also produced Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winning Maryland-bred Cathyrn Sophia, whose dam’s half-sister by Paddy O’Prado sold for $145,000 only about 80 hips before the Friesan Fire colt.


The War Front Factor – If the rest of War Front’s sons have the same luck as The Factor, commercial breeders are set. Last year, the 8-year-old gray’s yearlings sold for an average of $143,499, according to Thoroughbred Daily News, with his top seller being a $750,000 colt with 13 of his yearlings bringing at least $250,000 – not bad off a $15,000 (approx. €13,429/£10,199) stud fee. This year, his 27 2-year-olds to sell have taken his average up to $185,281 off that stud fee with the most expensive being a $524,606 colt in Europe. The Factor turned the Timonium auction ring into his own personal playground with his six selling this week bringing an average of $223,303 and three of them bringing $300,000 or more, including the fourth most expensive horse of the sale. All three of those horses were included in the top 12 most expensive horses of the sale when all was said and done. The Factor is one of a very few in the class of Kentucky first-crop sires to not have at least one starter so far this year.

Malibu Moon
Oldies but goodies – The younger stallions got a lot of attention at this sale with eight of the 2-year-olds to sell for $250,000 or more by stallions whose first foals are no older than three but 10 others were by more established stallions. Medaglia d’Oro had the third most expensive horse of the sale while Malibu Moon, who started his stallion career in Maryland, had two sell for $250,000 or more. Tapit had four go through the ring was none hammering for less than $225,000 but only one of those went home with a new owner – that being a $400,000 colt. Semi-surprisingly, a Tapit colt early in the sale hammered for $700,000 but wasn’t sold.

K.O.I.D’s impact on the market – It’s not unusual to see South Korea’s K.O.I.D on the results page for horses at the lower end of the market and this sale was no different. Twenty-one horses were signed for by K.O.I.D. Co LTD or S.R.O.A. (KOID), averaging $32,143 with the most expensive being a $57,000 Rockport Harbor filly and the cheapest a $14,000 Kodiak Kowboy colt. While South Korea doesn’t spend a lot on each horse, they do help make that part of the market healthier, which is always welcome.

Less major partnerships – A trend that has caught the attention of those watching many sales lately wasn’t seen as much here. Big buyers partnered up and bought six of the 22 most expensive horses at the OBS March sale, as I mentioned here, but none of the higher priced horses had partnerships sign for them (granted, less of the big buyers signed tickets here). In fact, while partnerships obviously aren’t required to note that on tickets, there really weren’t that many buyers pairing up here if the results were any indication.

Next up on the 2-year-old sales circuit is the Barretts May Sale in California. The auction held its breeze show yesterday and takes place at 1:00 p.m. PT on Friday.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Irish 1,000 Guineas

Fast Company (Overbury Stud photo)
The 2016 Irish 1,000 Guineas seems to be a sort of ushering in of a new era of stallions with four of the nine stallions’ first European foals being aged six or younger.

While there are no first crop stallions represented in this year’s race, second-crop sire Fast Company is looking for a victory in this race after he found moderate success here last year when his daughter Devonshire finished third behind Teofilo’s Pleascach. Fast Company’s sire Danehill Dancer was given one win in this race with his daughter Again in 2009, the same year his son Mastercraftsman won the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

In some ways it may be hard to believe that Galileo has the most racing aged crops any sire in the 1,000 Guineas but in other ways, his first crop being only 13 years old seems young with how much influence the stallion has had on the European Thoroughbred in that time. His success is on full display in this race with the stallion siring three of the entries here, including the full sister to the horse who gave him an Irish 2,000 Guineas victory last year.

As with this year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas, Galileo also has a son with a runner here. This time it is his classic winning Sixties Icon, who is the sire of Czabo. Interestingly, this filly also leads back to the aforementioned Danehill Dancer with that stallion siring her dam. Sixties Icon’s first foals of racing age are six years of age and the stallion is still searching for his first Group 1 success in this race.

Sixties Icon is joined by Dantime’s Bushranger in that Group 1 regard with that stallion having a 1,000 Guineas runner in his third crop of 3-year-olds. Bushranger follows the old rule of stallions getting good runners after being sold abroad as his first stakes winner came just a few months after his sale to Turkey was announced. His daughter Now or Never added to his stakes total just 12 days ago when she easily won the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial after being so close to stakes success twice before. Now Or Never is out of a Pivotal mare, making that stallion one of four here to have both sons and daughters with runners in this race.

One stallion who should be noted is Fastnet Rock, who has been a mainstay in Australia since his first foals hit the ground in 2006 but is newer to the northern hemisphere ranks, first shuttling to Ireland in 2010. The stallion has had a bit of an up and down path to glory in Europe, shuttling for a few years then stopping when he didn’t have much success. But the stallion hit big in 2015 with Qualify winning the Group 1 Investec Oaks to lead a group of six group stakes winners on the year, prompting Coolmore to shuttle him again in 2016. Fastnet Rock has three entered in the 1,000 Guineas, including one of his group winners from last year.

Giant's Causeway
Shamardal looks like the heir apparent to his sire Giant’s Causeway in Europe as both a sire and broodmare sire at a relatively young age. The 14-year-old Shamardal has 17 Group 1 winners and stands for a private fee but is still searching for his first Irish classic victory. In this edition of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the stallion has two runners in the lightly raced Anamba and Cool Thunder. Shamardal also joins Galileo and Danehill as the only stallions in this field represented as both a sire and a broodmare sire with the stallions both having that distinction in both the Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas this weekend.

Danehill Dancer is the only stallion who can stake a claim to siring both one of the runner’s sires and another runner’s dam with the recently pensioned stallion having two daughters produce runners here.

Danehill Dancer and others from the Danehill line have proven to cross exceptionally well with Galileo so it’s no surprise that one of his daughters is the dam of 2-year-old champion and QUIPCO 1,000 Guineas winner Minding, who is looking for a Guineas double here. Another of his representatives follows the Galileo to Danehill way of thinking with Sixties Icon’s daughter being out of a Danehill Dancer mare.

Thirteen years after his death, Danehill Dancer’s sire Danehill is well represented in this race in multiple ways. The stallion of course has the two runners out of Danehill Dancer mares but he is also the broodmare sire of the Galileo filly Petty Perfect in addition to his son Redoubt’s Choice producing the dam of Anamba. On the sire side, Danehill is the sire of Fastnet Rock who has three runners in here.

Mr. Prospector (WIkiMedia Commons/Pawneese photo)
Northern Dancer holds a pretty strong hand in this race but it does have a bit of a U.S. race feel to it with Mr. Prospector’s sire line showing up in a few pedigrees. Mr. Prospector’s great-grandson Dubawi is the only stallion with a runner who isn’t from the Northern Dancer sireline but on the broodmare sire side, Mr. Prospector is one of four stallions with runners tracing back to him. He does hold the distinction of being the only stallion other than Northern Dancer to have more than one broodmare sire tracing back to him, however.

A little surprisingly, multiple sires and broodmares sires have had more than one winner in this race over the last 16 years. On Sunday, Galileo will be looking for his fourth win in the race (his last coming two years ago with Marvellous) to pull ahead of his sire Sadler’s Wells, who also has three wins. Pivotal is the third sire with more than one victory in here at two winners and while he won’t be represented by a daughter this weekend, his son Kyllachy and daughter Queenofthefaries both have runners.

Three broodmare sires have two wins in this race since 1999 but only Storm Cat can get another victory. Storm Cat’s daughter You’resothrilling was the dam of Marvellous and last year’s dual 2,000 Guineas winner Gleneagles. She is looking for a three-peat of sorts here with the ambitiously named Coolmore (Galileo), who is a Group 3 winner (beating fellow entry Anamba in that race) but hasn’t hit the board since that win. 

Both Galileo and Danehill Dancer have won this race as sires in the past 16 years and both have a chance to emulate Sadler’s Wells as the only stallion to have wins as both a sire and broodmare sire in this race in this century.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Irish 2,000 Guineas

Northern Dancer. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons
When Northern Dancer won two legs of the U.S. Triple Crown 52 years ago, it was obvious that the little bay horse was something special but it took years to realize just how special he was. Today, Northern Dancer is found in pedigrees around the world with his influence on full display in this weekend’s Irish 2,000 Guineas where every horse entered comes from his sireline.

Overall, of the 13 sires and broodmare sires in the 2,000 Guineas as of Thursday, 10 of them can trace their male line directly to Northern Dancer.

Northern Dancer can thank his son Sadler’s Wells with a large assist from grandson Galileo for a lot of the representation in this race. Galileo has the distinction of having runners in the Irish 2,000 Guineas as both a sire and as a broodmare sire with one other runner by one of his sons giving him a total of four runners in this race as a sire, broodmare sire or grandsire. Galileo has absolutely dominated the European Guineas races so far this year with his daughters producing the British 2,000 Guineas and French 1,000 Guineas winners, his son winning the British 2,000 Guineas and three of his daughters filling the trifecta in the British 1,000 Guineas. With four runners as a sire and one other as a broodmare sire running in the Irish 1,000 Guineas as of Wednesday night, he looks to complete another double this weekend.

Galileo. Coolmore photo.
Galileo’s sire Sadler’s Wells is continues to prove that Galileo isn’t his only high class son, with a runner out of a Montjeu mare also participating in this edition of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Like many races in Europe, Coolmore’s sires are well represented here. In addition to the aforementioned Sadler’s Wells and his sons, another runner is by a Coolmore stallion in Fastnet Rock. Coolmore's U.S.-based European Horse of the Year Giant’s Causeway isn't the sire of broodmare sire of any horse in this race but he is the sire of Shamardal, who is the broodmare sire of one runner and whose son Lope de Vega also has a runner in the race.

Darley also plays a big part in the pedigrees seen in this race with the aforementioned Shamardal standing for the operation. They also stand the evergreen sire Cape Cross, who was pensioned from breeding duties this year but has a son looking to give him another classic success here. Cape Cross’ latest big runner was last year’s European Horse of the Year Golden Horn but the stallion is also the sire of 2009 European Horse of the Year Sea the Stars and U.S. champion Ouija Board.

Golden Horn
Darley stands multiple Galileo sons and that approach has been well rewarded this year with the 12-year-old Teofilo looking for his fourth Irish classic victory as a sire with Sanus Per Aquam

Kentucky stallion War Front, who has etched his place as a top European sire, is again the only stallion who is represented by two runners in this race after holding that distinction in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago. His champion son Air Force Blue looks to rebound from a disappointing showing in that race while Air Vice Marshal looks to improve off a fourth place finish in the same race.

U.S. breeders will recognize many of the broodmare sires in the entries with two of the runners out of U.S.-based stallions' daughters. Two-time Kentucky Derby winner-producing sire Maria’s Mon is the broodmare sire of U.S.-bred Air Force Blue while Arch takes credit for being the broodmare sire of Air Vice Marshal.

Fourteen stallions have sired Irish 1,000 Guineas winners since 1999 with Galileo (three winners) holding the distinction as the only stallion to produce more than one Irish 2,000 Guineas winner in the 21st century. He looks to join Danehill and Storm Cat as sires who have been both the sire and broodmare sire of Irish 2,000 Guineas winners in this era.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Preakness

Nyquist arriving at Keeneland in April
With Preakness week rolling into gear, the field is becoming clearer with 11 probables as of Monday evening. Just like the Kentucky Derby, the Uncle Mo train seems to be rolling through Baltimore, Maryland uninterrupted with the stallion having over a quarter of the entries with four of his sons looking like they’ll enter the race.

Of those four only one, the Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, ran in the Kentucky Derby giving Uncle Mo a total of six different horses running for him in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The champion 2-year-old of 2010, Uncle Mo never had a chance to run in a classic after scratching from the Kentucky Derby due to illness but has made a big impact on the racing scene since his first runner hit the track last year. As of May 15, he currently sits second to Tapit by stakes winners, is tied by stakes wins and leads Tapit in Grade 1 winners with 109 less runners than that leading sire.  

Uncle Mo won’t be the only stallion whose name is seen in more than one pedigree, however. Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Awesome Again has a unique distinction in this year’s Preakness. The stallion is the sire of probable Awesome Speed, who earned a spot in the Preakness with a Federico Tesio victory but he is also the grandsire of Fellowship, who is by Awesome Again’s son Awesome of Course. Awesome Again also sired the 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow.

Paddy O'Prado
While Medaglia d’Oro has been marked as the heir apparent for El Prado, he won’t be the only one representing that son of Sadler’s Wells in this year’s Preakness Stakes. First crop sire Paddy O’Prado nearly had a Kentucky Derby runner but plans were changed when Cherry Wine didn’t get the scratches he needed to get into the field and had to reroute to the Preakness. Paddy O’Prado is thought of as more of a turf horse with a Grade 1 win and placing on the surface but the stallion was also third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Paddy O’Prado is out of the Prized mare Fun House, who is also the dam of Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable (Tapit).

Vindication died in 2008, leaving behind only five crops of racing age for 487 foals. But the stallion has left a lasting mark through his daughters, with that mark very evident this Triple Crown season. The stallion is the broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator (Curlin), who is set to race in the Preakness this weekend. Another 3-year-old out of one of his daughters, Dazzling Gem, was possible for the race but decided to reroute to another race on the card.

Of the 8 sires with runners in this year’s Preakness Stakes, four come from the Northern Dancer sireline and three from the Mr. Prospector line. More diversity is shown in the sirelines of the 11 broodmare sires with Northern Dancer’s line represented only twice and Mr. Prospector’s three times. Hail to Reason joins them with three broodmare sires from his line having runners while Seattle Slew has two runners in the race through Vindication and an A.P. Indy son.

Since 2000 only Unbridled has been both a sire and broodmare sire of Preakness winners while only Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) has sired more than one Preakness winner. There are no sires or broodmare sires who can duplicate those two stallions’ feats this year. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Curlin's Classic Success

Editor's note: This blog was first run May 10, 2016 but was modified on June 10, 2017 when Irish War Cry finished second in the Belmont Stakes. 

A racehorse who didn’t debut until February of his 3-year-old year, Curlin caught the attention of the racing world after winning two of Arkansas’ Kentucky Derby preps in 2007. But it was the Triple Crown that really solidified his place as a future superstar.

Going into the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands with only three races under his belt, the Smart Strike son held his own when finishing third in the 20 horse field. In a bit of a twist, the Derby seemed to complete the seasoning he needed as he won a hard-fought Grade 1 Preakness Stakes over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (Street Cry) by a head. Perhaps the most famous of his three Triple Crown races is the one he lost by a head to the filly Rags to Riches in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

Curlin ended his career in November of the following year after a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. In his two years of racing, he won 11 of 16 career starts for an at-the-time all-time leading North America money earner record of $10,501,800 in purses (topped in 2016 by California Chrome then again in 2017 by Arrogate) helped by victories in the 2007 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge and the Group 1 Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup. In all, Curlin won seven Grade 1s in his career and hit the board in four others, including a turf race.

Curlin retired to Lane’s End Farm for the 2009 breeding season where he stood for $75,000 and bred 131 mares for 104 live foals. He had a rough season with his 2-year-old numbers with only 47 starters for 15 winners and no stakes winners, although two hit the board in stakes.

It wasn’t until June of that crop’s 3-year-old year that Curlin got his first graded stakes winner and it was a big victory. Palace Malice, who had been on the Triple Crown trail all spring broke through in a big way when he came back five weeks after spooking in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and setting the pace to finish 12th, was a bit calmer in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes when he sat off the pace. But the colt took command late in the race and gave his sire his first graded stakes and classic victory all in one swoop.

Palace Malice
Palace Malice also won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy that year but seemed to be snake bitten the rest of the year, running well in other races and even placing second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational but not returning to the winner’s circle. However, in 2014 Palace Malice ran away with the older horse division early in the year, reeling off four straight victories. The last of those victories put him in a rare group when he became the ninth horse, and first since 1982, to complete the Belmont Stakes/Metropolitan Handicap double.

While Palace Malice was storming through the older horse division, Curlin’s next classic hope was on the 2014 Triple Crown trail.

A third-place finisher in the 2013 Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes, Ride On Curlin followed his sire’s path down the trail as a 3-year-old at Oaklawn. While he didn’t win any of the Oaklawn preps, he hit the board in all three graded stakes and qualified for the Kentucky Derby. Finishing seventh in that race, he returned two weeks later in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes where he was second to California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) with the rest of the field 6 ½ lengths behind them.

In July, Curlin got his second classic placing of the year with the gelding Lynx. Bred in Canada, the bay gelding was the runner-up to Coltimus Prime (Milwaukee Brew) in the Prince of Wales Stakes. The successes of Palace Malice and Curlin’s classic placers plus those of 11 other stakes winners helped Curlin top the Third-Crop Sire list by over $2.5-million with 100 winners from 182 runners but 2015 promised to be even better.

Stepping into the deep waters of the General Sires list without an “x crop” list to back him up, Curlin excelled with his 216 runners. With three crops 3-years and older, Curlin had 113 runners and 11 stakes winners to place him sixth on the list at the end of the year.

The headliner of all his winners was champion 3-year-old filly and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind, who finished second in the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at the end of the year. 

Stellar Wind
The most famous of his winners was Grade 1 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice, who defeated American Pharoah in that race. But before he was know as the Travers winner, he had put Curlin’s name back in the Belmont Stakes history books when he finished third in the race to give Curlin his third classic-placed horse in as many crops.

Keen Ice
Other graded stakes winners in 2015 for the horse included two-time Grade 1 winner Curalina, who helped Curlin with another piece of history by giving him both the second and third place finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, turf Grade 2 winner Diversy Harbor and Kentucky Derby prep grade 3 winner Ocean Knight.

But the winner who may have been most important to Curlin’s career from a commercial standpoint was Exaggerator. Curlin’s runners had won on dirt and turf but he hadn’t had a juvenile graded stakes winner in his first three crops, a mark against him in a market that likes early runners. Making his third start in the August Grade 2 Saratoga Special, Exaggerator closed from last to win by three-quarters of a length. From there, he finished second to Brody’s Cause (Giant’s Causeway) in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and fourth in the Grade 1 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before ending his season with a win in the Grade 3 $1-million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Early 2016 has been a success for Curlin as well. Exaggerator destroyed the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby field in early April to give Curlin a legitimate Kentucky Derby hope. While Exaggerator wasn’t able to win the Kentucky Derby for Curlin, he did give his sire a Triple Crown of sorts with Curlin now having a runner hit the board in each leg of the Triple Crown. 

While Curlin would have been excused for breaking his classic-placed streak with only 39 live foals in 2014 according to The Jockey Club, the streak is still alive. Irish War Cry had won both the 2017 Grade 2 Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes and Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on the Triple Crown trail and went into the Kentucky Derby as one of the favorites. The colt ran a disappointing race to finish 10th but came back five weeks later for the Belmont Stakes. It looked like Irish War Cry would give Curlin his third classic winner in five years until Tapwrit (Tapit) passed him in the stretch. The Graham Motion trainee still finished second to allow Curlin to keep his classic streak alive in what looked like it would be a quiet year for the stallion.

The numbers are looking up for Curlin again in his future crops with the runners in the second half of 2013 convincing mare owners to book to him again in 2014. He has 113 2-year-olds (none to yet make a start as of June 10), 131 yearlings and bred 141 mares last year.

Looking at Curlin’s top 10 earners, it's no surprise to see a few of them inbred to either Northern Dancer or Mr. Prospector or in some cases both but there are a few other interesting crosses. Two of Curlin's top 10 earners have two crosses of Northern Dancer grandson Deputy Minister in the third and fourth generations. He also has four horses in-bred to Mr. Prospector's sire Raise a Native with only one or even none of those crosses coming through his influential son.

Curlin was relocated to Hill ‘n’ Dale before the 2016 breeding season and is one of the more expensive stallions in the United States with a $150,000 fee.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks

The pensioned A.P. Indy
A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) hasn’t stepped into a breeding shed in five years but this Kentucky Oaks, open only to 3-year-old fillies, has the 27-year-old stallion’s mark all over it.

The oversubscribed Oaks field has 15 entries with 14 fillies automatically in the gate and one waiting on the outside looking in. Some of the top stallions in the sport are seen in the first two or three generations on the fillies’ pedigrees in both the sire and broodmare sire lines but none more than the 1992 Belmont Stakes winner. 

While A.P. Indy isn’t the sire or broodmare sire of any runner in the race, he is the grandsire or great-grandsire of nine of the runners with seven sired by his sons or in two cases, grandson. In the two other cases, he is seen on the bottom side of the pedigree with his sons’ daughters producing the runners. As far as his representation with sires go, Bernardini and Tapit are responsible for four of those runners with two each including the morning line favorite Rachel’s Valentina (Bernardini). 

Full brothers Flatter and Congrats provide A.P. Indy with one runner apiece while Mineshaft is the only son that is both a sire and broodmare sire of runners.

Tapit is playing a big part in keeping Pulpit’s branch of the A.P. Indy sireline alive, giving his sire two representatives in the Oaks but he isn’t the only one by providing a runner for that A.P. Indy son. Land Over Sea (Bellamy Road) is out of the Pulpit mare Belle Watling who also produced Kentucky Derby starter War Story (Northern Afleet) last year. 

While Belle Watling won’t be giving Northern Afleet a major 3-year-old graded stakes winner this year, his son Afleet Alex will.
Afleet Alex

Afleet Alex, who won two legs of the Triple Crown in 2005, is the sire of Dream Dance. A multiple stakes placed filly, Dream Dance is out of a Vindication mare, which gives Seattle Slew yet another representative in the race. Overall, the 1977 Triple Crown winner can be found in the sire line of the sire or broodmare sire of 10 of the 14 fillies currently in the gate for the Kentucky Oaks. 

Like it was when they reigned as sires, A.P. Indy is joined by Storm Cat as being a dominate force in the pedigrees of this year’s Kentucky Oaks.

While Storm Cat isn’t seen in as many pedigrees as A.P. Indy in this field, he is the broodmare sire of Grade 1 Ashland Stakes winner Weep No More (Mineshaft), who also traces back to A.P. Indy through his son Mineshaft. Storm Cat only has one son who sired a prospective starter in Pure Prize, whose Dothraki Queen is the only filly on the also-eligible list. But Storm Cat takes a more active role in the lower half of pedigrees.

Storm Cat is the sire of three of the broodmare sires in the Oaks with his son Giant’s Causeway taking him for the biggest ride this season. 

Giant’s Causeway, who is the damsire of Taxable in this race, has been found in the pedigrees of runners in three of the four major 3-year-old races in England and the United States during this seven day stretch. While the colt entered for the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas scratched before final entries came out, ending his clean sweep of this week’s classics, his son Shamardal was the sire of two 1,000 Guineas runners on Sunday. On Saturday, it is expected that the Storm Cat son will have two sons in the Kentucky Derby with Candy Ride’s Gun Runner giving him the distinction of being the only stallion in the race who is there as both a sire and broodmare sire.

Overall, 12 sires are represented in the current entries with three having two entries each (Bernardini, Tapit and Uncle Mo).  Five stallions look to be represented by both Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses this weekend with Uncle Mo and Tapit having at least two runners in each race. 
Bernardini in 2013
Since 1999, only A.P. Indy has sired both a Kentucky Oaks winner and a Kentucky Oaks winner’s dam. A.P. Indy, Medaglia d’Oro and Proud Citizen are the only three stallions to sire more than one Kentucky Oaks winner in that time frame. This year Medaglia d’Oro can join A.P. Indy as both the sire and damsire of Oaks winners if Rachel’s Valentina wins, as can A.P. Indy’s half-brother Summer Squall (Storm Bird) if Lewis Bay (Bernardini) wins. Tapit is the only one who can join the two-time winner list this year if one of his two entries wins the race.

No broodmare sire in the above time frame has had more than one winner in the race. None of those broodmare sires have a runner in the Kentucky Oaks this year.