“There’s gold in them thar hills!”
Former Wilgerbosdrift stallion Rich Man’s Gold had a day to remember, as broodmare sire of Gr1 winners Louis The King and Athina, in their respective second legs of the Triple Crown and Triple Tiara. Louis The King got two legs on the board, while Athina flew up late to deny first leg winner Arcetri Pink, who finished fourth, beaten less than a length in the SA Fillies Classic over 1800m at Turffontein. Athina races in the colours of Wilgerbosdrift, the farm which sponsors the Triple Tiara.
Wilgerbosdrift also was the home of stallion Rich Man’s Gold, who started his stud career as a 4yo (following injury) in Chili, and arrived in South Africa in 2001, at age nine. He sired four champions in Chili. Horse of the Year Lido Palace, who continued his career in the USA and went to stud there. Champion 2yo Twingo, and Champion 3yo fillies Isola Pui Bella and France Soir – this apart from numerous stakes winners. His daughters, to date, have produced four Gr2/Gr3 winners in Chili.
Rich Man’s Gold stood five seasons in South Africa, before an untimely death. He had some good colts, for sure. Champion 2yo colt Kildonan, a multiple Gr1 winner from 1200m to a mile, went to stud as a sire in 2009 following an injury interrupted trip to Dubai. Lucky Find, runner-up in the Daily News, did better in Dubai, with a Graded win and place. Bennie Blue was runner-up in the SA Derby, Sun Screen was third in that race, while Money Bags finished runner-up in the Cape Derby.
Rich Man’s Gold sired 89 fillies (Class of ’02 to Class of ’06) in his SA career, among them just two (Listed) stakes winners. On current evidence they are more than making up for that disappointment as dams of big winners. Apart from the Triple winners, there’s Summer Cup winner Wagner, and Mike de Kock’s 3yo Whistle Stop (MR 100) , who hasn’t raced since an unplaced effort in the Cape Guineas last December.
Rich Man’s Gold is a son of sire-of-sires Forty Niner (Mr Prospector), also represented in SA as grandsire of Trippi (End Sweep) and Pathfork (Distorted Humor).
Finally we get to Athina! She is a daughter of Fort Wood, who conceived her when 20 years old. The Mauritzfontein warrior is still going strong and his continued success belies the view the market has taken of him in recent years. His yearling prices have declined in the last four years, as is often the case with older stallions. An example of how wrong the market can get it also is National Assembly, who sired Soft Falling Rain when 24 years old. Fort Wood isn’t finished yet by a long shot, and now that his ‘home-farm’ Mauritzfontein is taking the commercial route, the market might do well to take note. Fort Wood has fifteen at Nationals later this month.
Athina’s well-named dam The Heiress (Rich Man’s Gold x Quick Succession) raced just four times, as a 3yo, yielding a win and a second (both by a neck), and a modest MR 70 rating. She was well related, as half sister to five winners – four of them by Fort Wood. Of those four Heir Apparent was the best, winning six races in SA and USA, including the Gr1 SA Guineas, and was twice Gr1 placed. Four-time winner Quickwood won a Gr3 and was Gr2 placed, the remaining two, Fort Belvedere and Elderberry won 7 races between them. That leaves the fifth winner, Jesiah (by Sportsworld), who scored seven times and was Gr3 placed.
The grandam Quick Succession (by Al Mufti) won four times without earning black type, but was much better than her record suggests (we rated her 98). She is half sister to Gr1 placed Gr3 winning sprinter Waves Of Argosy (105). Their dam Inca Goddess (by Gatecrasher) won seven races, including two Listed events.
The next four dams are World Class (Savonarola), Forbidden (Fils d’Eve), Mangle (Fairthorn) and Crush (Asbestos) – the latter is also ancestor of Tommy Hotspur through another daughter, Demolish (Herculaneum).
Athena’s salient pedigree elements may well be the combining of female line elements of all of Fort Wood, Rich Man’s Gold and Al Mufti. The latter’s dam Lassie Dear is by Buckpasser, and seems to have an affinity for similar lines. Buckpasser’s dam Busanda is close kin to Fort Wood’s third dam Portage, and to Rich Man’s Gold’s third dam Romanita.
Athena was offered at the 2012 Book One sale, but failed to find a buyer, being bought back at 300k. She was subsequently withdrawn from Nationals, and today races in the colours of her breeder, Wilgerbosdrift, trained by Joey Soma.
Athina had an already promising race record prior to the Fillies Classic. She’d been third in the first leg of the Triple Tiara, following a win and two seconds in Gr3 events. Her 98 Merit Rating will no doubt be increased following the Classic, although probably not by much given the close finish of the race (post-comment: it went to MR 101). She is, reportedly, not going for the SA Oaks, third leg of the Triple Tiara.
*Gr1 SA Fillies Classic (SAf-Gr1)
Turffontein, South Africa, March 29, R1 million, 1800m, turf, good, 1.51.63 1 – ATHINA (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Fort Wood (USA) – The Heiress (SAF) by Rich Man’s Gold (USA). Owner Wilgerbosdrift (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mrs M Slack); breeder Wilgerbosdrift; trainer JA Soma; jockey K Shea
2 – Along Came Polly (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Judpot (USA) – Perfect Polly (SAF) by Model Man (SAF)
3 – Not Sulking (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Trippi (USA) – Dragoncharm (USA) by Silver Hawk (USA)
Margins: nose, nk, ½
|Fort Wood (USA)
|Northern Dancer||Nearctic – Nearco|
|Natalma – Native Dancer|
|Fairy Bridge||Bold Reason – HAIL TO REASON|
|Special – Forli|
|Pretense||Endeavour II – British Empire|
|Imitation – Hyperion|
|Change Water||Swaps – Khaled|
|Portage – War Admiral|
|The Heiress (SAF)
|Rich Man’s Gold
|Forty Niner||Mr. Prospector – Raise a Native|
|File – Tom Rolfe|
|Honest Joy||Honest Pleasure – What A Pleasure|
|Dimashq – Damascus|
|Al Mufti||Roberto – HAIL TO REASON|
|Lassie Dear – Buckpasser|
|Inca Goddess||Gatecrasher – Kirsch Flambee|
|World Class – Savonarola|