The Kentucky Derby
Saturday night’s horse racing viewing has to be an all time low. It is hard to understand how a racing channel, ie Tellytrack, can fail to show what is arguably the world’s greatest, and best known, horse-race – the Kentucky Derby. Not only is the Derby a great and historic race, this year’s race was won by Team Valor – a syndicate which has greatly supported the South African racing industry over the years.
It is hard to believe for one moment that there are fans who would rather watch harness racing and/or obscure Australian racing than the Kentucky Derby. It is easy to understand how horse racing continues to fail to attract new fans, when powers that be show no interesting in keeping the few remaining fans.
The Derby itself was won by Animal Kingdom – who was making his dirt debut. Animal Kingdom is a good example of why it’s impossible to judge by pedigree what course a horse is best suited to.
His sire, Leroidesanimaux, was an Eclipse Champion on turf. He won eight of ten starts on turf, and ran second in the G1 Breeders Cup Mile. Animal Kingdom is out of the German bred, Acatenango mare Dalicia – whose biggest win came when beating Horse of the Year Soldier Hollow in a G3 race in Germany (on turf!). Dalicia in turn is out of the non-winning mare, Dyanmis – a daughter of the great turf champion Dancing Brave.
It is also interesting to note the ongoing international success that German broodmares are enjoying. Allegretta, the most internationally reknowned of the German broodmares, is ancestress of King’s Best and Galileo, sire of recent classic winners Workforce and Frankel respectively.
Another top mare bred in Germany is Gryada (Windwurf). She is the granddam of Fame And Glory, a three G1 winner and runner up in the Investec Derby.
Animal Kingdom is the first Blushing Groom line descendant to win the Kentucky Derby.
Whilst star 3yo filly, Igugu, has attracted plenty of rave reviews following historic win in the Triple Tiara, she has a long way to go to match the record of another of Mike de Kock’s star fillies. Ipi Tombe, bred in Zimbabwe, became the first 3yo filly in 50 years to win the Vodacom Durban July, before she was exported to Dubai. In Dubai, Ipi Tombe won all three of her starts, culminating in a victory in the G1 Dubai Duty Free (where she beat subsequent Duty Free winner Paolini by 3 lengths) . She also won her sole start in the US, the G3 Locust Grove Handicap, before injury forced her retirement.
To date, Ipi Tombe (Manshood) has been a slightly disappointing broodmare. She has produced just two minor winners to date, Pin Wheel (Pivotal) and Monastic Springs (Sadler’s Wells). She is currently in foal to Medaglia D’Oro – the sire of Friday’s G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. Ipi Tombe also has a yearling filly by Medaglia D’Oro.
As the picture shows, retirement clearly suits Ipi Tombe!
When Plum Pretty crossed the line first in Friday’s G1 Kentucky Oaks, she became the second daughter of Medaglia D’Oro, in three years, to win the fillies classic. This is a staggering achievement, and clearly stamps Medaglia D’Oro as an outstanding young stallion.
Medaglia D’Oro retired to stud with plenty going for him. By a champion sire in El Prado, he was handsome, masculine horse with a great track record, having won or placed in nine G1 races. Nonetheless, he didn’t please everyone as he lacked a strong female line. Whilst his dam, Cappucino Bay (by the unfashionable sire Bailjumper), was a minor stakes winner, neither his granddam or third dam had won a stakes race, and there were no promising sires in his first three dams.
This has not stopped Medaglia from becoming one of the most sought after sires on the planet, with his stud fee rising from $35,000 to $100,000.
So is having a fashionable female line important in making a stallion? There have been plenty of examples of top stallions who have not had wow female lines. Perhaps the best local example is Jet Master, South Africa’s multiple champion sire and the best stallion ever bred in this country.
Jet Master’s first five dams never won a stakes race between them, and, apart from Jet Lightning herself, only fifth dam, Cavalier, ever bred a stakes winner.
Other prominent stallions to have been produced from female lines best described as ordinary include Sunday Silence and Foveros, whilst the mighty stallion Danzig was out of a minor stakes winner by stud failure Admiral’s Voyage. Another top international sire today, Montjeu (sire of three group winners over the last three days), comes from a less than stellar female line – although his dam was a smart stayer herself.
It is interesting to compare the stud records of such sires mentioned above with such fashionably bred, but failed sires, such as Arazi, Dayjur and Lammtarra.
It is worth noting, however, of the top ten leading sires in the US, only one – Medaglia D’Oro, can be said to come from a less than fashionable female line. In the UK, likewise, just two of the top ten leading sires (by general prize money), comes from a less than stellar female line.
Clearly the female line must have some influence in a stallion’s success, if only to attract a better quality of mate, but it is not the sole determining factor in finding a top-class sire, as the examples above testify to.
Mare’s remarkable record
When Crackerjack King (Shamardal) won Saturday’s G2 Derby Italiano, he gave his dam, Claba Di San Jore. A winning daughter of Barathea, Claba Di San Jore has the rare distinction of having produced two European Derby winners – her son Awelmarduk won the Derby Italiano won the race when it had G1 status. Claba Di San Jore is also the dam of Jakkalberry (Storming Home) –winner of the G1 Gran Premio di Milano.
Remarkably, Jakkalberry and Awelmarduk are both the sole European G1 winners sired by Storming Home and Almutawakel respectively – a fact which pays tribute to the merit of Claba Di San Jore.
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