Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: Star Families in the Epsom Oaks and Derby

The month of May be walking out the backdoor this week but classic fans worry not, the next two weeks are full of classic races on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week two of the most important races in the world, the Epsom Derby and Oaks, take place on Friday and Saturday in England with participants from multiple countries running. While “Keeping It In the Family” has focused on one race per blog this year, this week’s observations will combine both races as they have some very interesting similarities.

Note: Due to publishing date and time, the Derby entry stats reflect runners before the final entry stage.

Scat Daddy was a Coolmore stallion at the time of his death.
Coolmore – It’s not unusual to see Coolmore stallions dominate races around the world with the Oaks and Derby being no different. While their ace stallion Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) has seven entries between the two races (six in the Derby at this entry stage and one in the Oaks), he isn’t the only Coolmore star here. Of the 30 runners in the two races, 14 (46.7 percent) are sired by stallions who either currently stand at the farm or stood there at the time of their death.

Dubawi – Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) has been a little quiet this year as rival Galileo has taken the spotlight in the early European classics but he has an interesting distinction here. Both runners in the Epsom Oaks who aren’t from Northern Dancer’s male line are sired by Dubawi. He doesn’t hold the same distinction in the Derby but is the sire of two of the four runners who aren’t from the Northern Dancer line. One other is from the Mr. Prospector line that Dubawi also descends from.

Commercial Run – It isn’t too unusual to see stallion ads in Europe noting that if the breeding to a stallion produces a filly, the dam can have a free return to the sire and there’s even the #ThisFillyCan campaign in the United Kingdom to try to get fillies a little more credit in the industry. But there’s also an interesting trend when looking at the number of fillies vs. colts that went through the ring who are entered in these races. Nine Derby entries (45 percent) sold at public auction while only two fillies sold at public auction (20 percent) and one other went through the ring but was a buy back.

Whisperview – Aidan O’Brien and wife Anne-Marie are important parts of the Coolmore puzzle, but did you know they also breed horses? Breeding under the name Whisperview, they have had much success through the years and are responsible for two entries in the Derby at this entry stage. Both are trained by Aidan O’Brien for Coolmore.

Aidan O'Brien with Coolmore's Michael Tabor after a Breeders' Cup victory.
Young and Old – There seems to be a nice balance between the younger and older sires this time around with the eight stallions with runners in the Oaks averaging 15 1/2 years of age and 13 ½ for the Derby. While there are the old faithfuls like Galileo, Invincible Spirit, Cape Cross and the like, there are also some exciting youngsters coming up with Frankel having two Derby entries in his first crop, Nathaniel having three between the Derby and the Oaks and the ill-fated Campanologist also having a Derby entry in his first crop. The first 3-year-olds sires did fare better in the Derby than the Oaks with Nathanial the only one from that group to have at least one Oaks entry.

Sadler’s Wells Sons – While it’s been many years since a Sadler’s Wells son or daughter has run in a classic, these races are putting his sons and grandsons in the spotlight. As said earlier, Galileo has seven entries between the two races but High Chaparral’s second-to-last crop has yielded two Derby entries and Montjeu’s son Pour Moi, who was recently moved to Coolmore’s National Hunt division, gives Montjeu representation here as a grandsire with Wings of Eagles. Even Yeats, who has shown a lot of promise as a jumps racing sire has an entry here with Diore Lia, though she’s a bit of a controversial Derby runner. Also mentioned earlier were runners by Frankel and Nathaniel, who are sons of Galileo along with Teofilo, taking Sadler’s Wells count of sons and grandsons with runners in the Oaks and Derby up to seven.

Nathaniel (Newsells Park photo)
Kingmambo – The late U.S.-based stallion Kingmambo (Mr. Prospector) has proven to be more of a top broodmare sire than a real siremaking machine and these races are no different. While his late son Campanologist has a runner in the Derby, his daughters account for two more of them. Perhaps his best son at stud is Lemon Drop Kid, who is also the broodmare sire of a runner in the Oaks along with another son in Dubai Destination. All but one of these runners duplicate a distant version of the successful Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector cross of a few decades ago. Interestingly, the two Oaks entries both come from the Green Desert branch of the Northern Dancer line though through two different stallions. In the Derby, Campanologist’s Pealer is the only one who doesn’t duplicate that cross with his dam by Big Shuffle, who is a grandson of Bold Reasoning.

Galileo over Danehill and Family – The most successful cross in reason seasons seems to be Galileo over the Danehill/Danzig family and it will get another chance to show off this weekend. Of Galileo’s seven runners, four are out of mares sired by Danzig, his sons or grandsons. The cross is also being tried with Galileo sons with Nathanial’s Glencadam Glory out of a mare from Danzig’s line though that is the only cross with a Galileo son.

The cross is also working in reverse with Derby entry Crowned Eagle (Oasis Dream) by a great-grandson of Danzig and out of a Sadler’s Wells granddaughter.

Variety – While the sires in this race don’t provide much sire line diversity with 24 of the 30 (80 percent) by stallions from Northern Dancer’s male line and another five from the Mr. Prospector line, the broodmare sires represented in this race are here to help out. Yes, 14 of them also come from that same Northern Dancer line but the other 15 are from six different sire lines. Mill Reef, Blushing Groom and Atan all get shout outs here though as Atan and Blushing Groom have two runners each and Mill Reef has four with one in the Derby and three in the Oaks.

Active Broodmare Sires – They may be old enough to be “grandfathers” but no fewer than five stallions whose daughters have runners are still active breeding stallions. Galileo has the added distinction of being both the broodmare sire and sire of runners with runners on both sides of the coin in both the Derby and the Oaks. Giant’s Causeway gets credit for being the grandsire of a stallion with a runner in the Oaks in addition to being the broodmare sire of another runner (Lope de Vega’s Isabel De Urbina and Alluringly). 

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