Friday, May 5, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: Small 2,000 Guineas Field Boasts Big Pedigrees

With England’s 2,000 Guineas taking place tomorrow, the field is set for the race with 10 3-year-olds ready for their chance at glory. The field is the smallest this century but one thing it can boost is that some of the best pedigrees on both sides of the Atlantic will be represented in this weekend’s English classic.

Man o’ War – Leave it to the sire line created by one of the most famous racehorses of all time to ruin Northern Dancer’s party. Not surprisingly, nine of the 10 Guineas runners are from Northern Dancer’s male line but the single hold out is Al Wukair (Dream Ahead), who comes from the In Reality (Intentionally) branch of Man o’ War’s sire line just like Irap (Tiznow) in the Kentucky Derby. The Man o' War line only has a few branches still out there so seeing it in both of this weekend's male classics is big. 

Young Sires – There is a talented group of young stallions coming up around the world right now and the 2,000 Guineas is another example of that. First crop sires Excelebration (Exceed and Excel) and Frankel (Galileo) account for 30 percent of the 10 horse field (Frankel with two entries, Excelebration with one) while Dream Ahead (Diktat) is one year ahead of those two with first 4-year-olds.

International Factor – In an international industry, it’s not surprising to see international flavor in this race. Two U.S. sires (War Front and Hard Spun) have three entries while four of the damsires also stood in the U.S. Meanwhile, Guineas sire Excelebration’s sire Exceed and Excel was bred and raced in Australia and is even a champion sire in the country (while also standing in Europe on northern hemisphere time.) Larchmont Lad’s (Footstepsinthesand) damsire King’s Best stood in Europe until 2013 but now stands in Japan to really make sure all the bases are hit on the international front.

Classic Contenders From Classic Winners – Six runners (60 percent) in the field are sired by classic winners while six of the damsires in the race are also classic winners. Interestingly, five of those six runners have classic winners as both their sires and damsires. While it’s not surprising to see European classic winners in these pedigrees, one interesting damsire here is Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, who now stands in Oregon state.

Variety – While the sires side of the 2,000 Guineas doesn’t hold much variety with three stallions having two runners each, there are 10 different broodmare sires represented in this race. Perhaps even more interesting in Europe is that the Sadler’s Wells male line is only seen once in the broodmare sires with his son Galileo siring Barney Roy’s (Excelebration) dam.

War Front – While War Front has had much success in the U.S. with older horses and arguably his best horse in Europe (Declaration of War) was best as an older horse, he still has the stigma on that continent of only being a 2-year-old sire. The voices got louder last year after 2-year-old champion Air Force Blue didn’t train on at three so the sire needs a few good 3-year-olds to pop up this year to quiet the whispers. We’re getting into his best crops now and he has two horses in this race (Lancaster Bomber and Spirit of Valor) who could help his reputation out.

War Front
Northern Dancer – It’s not a big race without a mention of Northern Dancer here. While Al Wukair is the lone non-male line horse clear of Northern Dancer, he does have two crosses to the stallion in the first five generations. On the top side, his grandsire Diktat (Warning) is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and on his bottom side, his second dam is by Caerleon (Nijinsky II). Of those runners who are from the Northern Dancer line, Barney Roy, Churchill and Law and Order have sires and damsires who are both from Northern Dancer’s male line.

Horse Sales – Of the 10 horses in the field, six of the runners sold at public auction with Tattersalls October having the most graduates with three horses. The most expensive of all the horses sold at public auction was the £657,742 ($850,000/approx. €774,029) Spirit of Valor, who sold at the Keeneland November sale in 2014 while the cheapest was the £50,300 (approx. $65,003/€71,383) Law and Order, who sold in Book 3 of the Tattersalls October sale. Those six to sell averaged £192,277 (approx. $248,480/€226,271) with all but one selling as yearlings.

Sun Shower – Stallions usually get a lot of glory but the 16-year-old Sun Shower (Indian Ridge) deserves a bit of attention herself coming into this race. The mare isn’t only the dam of Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Lancaster Bomber but is also the dam of one of the sires in the race in Excelebration. The mare’s first foal was multiple group stakes winner Mull of Killough (Mull of Kintyre), third was classic winner Excelebration, sixth was stakes winner Shivalik Showers (Dancing Forever) and eighth was Lancaster Bomber. Sun Shower spent a few years in India after Excelebration was foaled before bought and sent to Kentucky where she foaled a Rebuttal filly named Rainfall Radar in 2012. Since then, she’s only been bred to War Front and currently also has a 2-year-old named Chief of War and an unnamed War Front colt born in January.

Mull of Killough
Stud Fees – The stud fees for the sires of the Guineas runners gives a wide range of breeders a chance at success. The lowest advertised 2017 stud fee is £8,477 (€10,000/$10,988) for Excelebration and Footstepsinthesand while the most expensive advertised stud fee is £193,013 (€227,676/$250,000) for War Front. Every stallion with a runner is still standing at stud with Galileo the only one not having an advertised fee (he’s been private for a number of years. Interestingly, even though this is a British classic, only one stallion with runners here (Frankel) stands in England. The rest stand in France, Ireland or the United States.

Of the damsires who are still standing at stud, the most expensive advertised stud fee is £250,000 (€294,207/$323,220) for Dubawi and the cheapest is Grindstone at £1,158 (€1,366/$1,500). Of the 10 damsires represented here, half are still standing at stud in farms in England, Ireland, Japan and two U.S. states (Kentucky and Oregon.)

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