Last weekend was a big one for racing on both sides of the Atlantic as the first major classic races of the year took place in England and the United States. As is usually the case, the classics weren’t the only stakes races on their respective cards with 20 blacktype events taking place over the three days of racing between Churchill Downs and Newmarket.
As is often the case in these weekends, some pedigrees looked familiar no matter where you were so sit back and enjoy the show as we take you through some of the bigger points of the weekend.
Sire Lines – First, let’s get the overall numbers out on the table. Sixty horses sired by 48 different stallions placed finished in the top three in the stakes over the weekend with those 48 stallions hailing from seven different sire lines. Not surprisingly, Northern Dancer led everyone with 28 placers, including six winners (21.4%), followed by Mr. Prospector with 14 (six winners – 42.8%), and A.P. Indy with seven – including two winners (28.5%). The Hail To Reason line had the best results with three winners from five on-the-board placers (60%) – including two Group 1 winners (Saxon Warrior and Yoshida.)
On the broodmare sire side, daughters of 52 different stallions produced placers with Forest Wildcat and Singspiel leading all stallions with three apiece. Fourteen different sire lines were represented on this side of the pedigree with Northern Dancer again leading with 26 placers – including nine winners (35%) – followed by Mr. Prospector with 11 placers (five winners – 45%), Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy with five (one winner - 20%) and Hail to Reason with five - again having three winners (60%).
|Horses walk in front of the Rowdy Mile at Newmarket|
Branches – It’s no surprise that some influential stallions are also siring influential sons and that was on display this weekend. For Hail to Reason, Halo and Roberto held their weight fairly equally with three stallions from Halo’s branch siring placers and two from Roberto’s – both by Arch sons with the same number being represented on the broodmare sire side as well.
Considering the success Fappiano has had in recent years on this weekend, his representation was small. Only two horses were sired by his branch of the family with both finishing third (Midnight Bisou and Givemeaminit), though he did have a winner and two placers (Maraud, Beach Patrol, Farrell) thanks to his granddaughters. Gone West was probably the biggest winner from the Mr. Prospector line in the weekend’s stakes with three winners through his broodmare sires (Yoshida, Backyard Heaven, Mia Mischief) and two winners and a third through his male line. Thanks in large part to Dubawi, Seeking the Gold also had a huge weekend with two winners and two seconds from his place on the top side of pedigrees and a winner and a third on the bottom side.
As such an international sire, it’s no surprise that Northern Dancer had placers from six different branches on the sire side and nine different from the broodmare sire category over the weekend. Sadler’s Wells and Storm Bird led his sons with Storm Bird having 10 and Sadler’s Wells nine through their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Perhaps more surprising than that information is that Sadler’s Wells’ influence wasn’t just based in England this weekend with three of his seconds coming in the U.S. (thanks to Medaglia d’Oro and his sons). Storm Bird was all alone when it came to broodmare sire representation with seven horses compared to Sadler’s Wells five and Vice Regent/Danzig’s four each.
Dubawi and Scat Daddy – The two stallions to make the biggest rises over the past few years were also the two sires to have the most success on the track this weekend in terms of numbers with two winners apiece.
Dubawi owes a lot to Singspiel for his success over the weekend with all three of the horses he had hit the board out of Singspiel mares. Four-year-old Wuheida was making her first start back since a Breeders’ Cup win last year while the regally bred Lah Ti Dar stayed undefeated and made her Group 1 potential known when winning a listed stakes. Old Persian rounded out Dubawi’s weekend as a sire when finishing second behind Key Victory in a listed race on Saturday – ironically Key Victory is out of the Dubawi mare Patroness, giving him three wins overall this weekend.
The late Scat Daddy’s weekend was obviously led by Justify winning the Kentucky Derby but showing he was a stallion who could sire horses who run on anything, on Friday at Churchill Downs the stallion had Toinette and Daddy is a Legend finish first and third in the Edgewood on turf. While Scat Daddy didn’t have much luck in the 1,000 Guineas, he did have an entry to be the only horse to have runners in classics on both sides of the Atlantic last weekend.
Stud Fees – From $5,000 to $200,000, last weekend’s winners were bred on a big range of fees with an average fee of $46,709 when their winners were conceived (Dubawi factors into that average twice as his winners were conceived two different years). Country Day, the sire of Twin Turf Sprint winner Will Call, had the least expensive of all stallions when his winner was conceived in 2013 at a $5,000 fee while Deep Impact was the most expensive at approximately $200,000 when 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior was conceived in 2014.
Four stallions have had fee drops from when their winner was conceived to today though the nine others with advertised stud fees have all had increases. The biggest increase is that of Into Mischief, whose fee rose 400% to $100,000 from the $20,000 it was at when Mia Mischief was conceived while another notable fee change is that of Quality Road, who went up 180%. Four stallions had over a 100% increase in stud fee from the year of conception of their winner to this year with an average stud fee for all stallions who had fees in 2018 at $90,872. The smallest increase of all those stallions was Champs Elysees who has switched from being a flat racing sire to a national hunt stallion but saw a 13.67% increase to $7,701 this year from $6,775 in 2014.
Storm Cat – Storm Cat may have died five years ago but that didn’t stop him from playing a big part in the results at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday. No fewer than nine horses by stallions from his sire line placed in races at the track while a farther six were out of mares by stallions from the line.
Storm Cat’s sons Hennessy and Harlan played a big role in this success with their grandsons Scat Daddy and Into Mischief combining for six of those nine runners by Storm Cat stallions with Into Mischief’s sire Harlan’s Holiday combining for one more and Hennessy’s son Henny Hughes siring the dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl.
Auction Prices – If you had been in the right place at the right time at the sales over the years, you could have purchased one of the weekend’s stakes winners for as little as $16,260 or as much as $765,160. The Kentucky Derby winner would have cost you $500,000 while the Oaks winner cost $100,000. Both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas winners never went through the ring at public auction, joining nine other winners who either race for their breeders or were privately sold with five of those coming from the U.S. races and six from England’s. Those who did go through the ring averaged $270,713 with Yoshida being the most expensive and Mabs Cross the least expensive.
According to the Kentucky Derby Media Guide, Justify is the co-third most expensive Kentucky Derby winner since 1960, sharing the honor with Alysheba and costing less than Fusaichi Pegasus and Winning Colors.
|Fusaichi Pegasus is the most expensive Kentucky Derby winner as a $4-million auction purchase|
Sires and Broodmare Sires – In this edition of ‘that’s his daddy but also your granddaddy’ five stallions were both sires and broodmare sires of placers while a further six are both the sire of a mare and a stallion who had at least one horse finish in the top three in stakes. The only horse to fit in both categories is Galileo, who not only sired 1000 Guineas third place finisher Happily, but is also the grandsire of the winning Key Victory (among multiple second place finishers) and is the damsire of 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior.
Indy’s Line – While A.P. Indy spent the weekend enjoying retirement in his paddock at Lane’s End Farm, at the races his influence was still heavily felt when seven horses sired by his sons, grandsons and great grandsons hit the board at Churchill Downs. Those included Monomoy Girl in the Oaks, who is sired by his great-grandson Tapizar, and American Gal in the Humana Distaff who is sired by another great-grandson.
Pulpit can take a lot of credit for A.P. Indy’s success over the weekend. He was the only A.P. Indy son to make it on the damsires list and four of A.P. Indy’s seven placers are by sons and grandsons of the stallion (all through Pulpit’s son Tapit). Two other A.P. Indy sons were also able to make their presence known with Malibu Moon having two horses make the list for this piece and Bernardini siring third place finisher Lewis Bay. Interestingly, Lewis Bay’s damsire is A.P. Indy’s half-brother Summer Squall to give her a 3x3 cross to their bluehen dam Weekend Surprise.
|Lewis Bay's pedigree|
Billesdon Brook – Billesdon Brook pulled off the biggest shock in 1000 Guineas history when winning the race at 66-1 but looking at her pedigree, it’s obvious she had the class behind her to win the race. She had already won three starts and placed in four others before the Guineas, including winning a Group 3 so she had the talent needed to at least be competitive in one of these races but she also had the pedigree. Her sire Champs Elysees is one of the best-bred horses in the stud book as one of five Group 1 winners out of Hasili and a sire of nine group stakes winners.
On the filly’s dam side, each of her first three dams has produced at least one stakes winner (excluding her) and include some familiar names. The pedigree starts off with four flat racing champions in the form of German champion Smooth Operator, dual country champion Anna Monda, French champion National Defense and her third dam, champion Anna Paola in addition to jumps superstar Annie Power then continues its form past that. This is also the family of U.S. Grade 1 winner Ave, another winner at Newmarket last weekend in Indian Blessing, Italian Grade 1 winner Anna Monda and Australian Group 1 winners Helmet and Epaulette. While she was overlooked in the betting among the other strong horses in the field, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to see exactly how she pulled off the upset with the combination of form and a strong pedigree behind her.
Ghostzapper - Ghostzapper has had some major highs in his career and Saturday was definitely one of them. The stallion was on fire all over the country as both a sire and broodmare sire in multiple races. He started off the weekend with Bugle Notes earning accolades with a debut 2 ¼ length victory on Friday at Churchill Downs before the real fun started. On Saturday, his 2017 Kentucky Derby runner McCraken returned to the races after a six month break to win an allowance on the Derby undercard two races before Ghostzapper’s Proctor’s Ledge won the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile and a few hours before his 2017 Queen’s Plate winner Holy Helena won her third straight race in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Churchill Downs. To top off the day, Ghostzapper’s was the damsire of Humana Distaff winner American Gal, hours before his other daughter Stage Magic became a Kentucky Derby winner producing dam with Justify.
While none of his weekend stakes horses had a cross in common, Bugle Notes and McCracken both do with Seeking the Gold as their broodmare sire. Seeking the Gold was also the damsire of Churchill Downs Stakes third place finisher Awesome Slew, who is by Ghostzapper’s sire Awesome Again to continue a newer play on the Northern Dancer over Mr. Prospector cross that was successful decades ago.