Here And Elsewhere – 2 Dec

Sarah Whitelaw's take on the thoroughbred world


The Matriarch Stakes
When Team Valor and Green Lantern Stables’ Gypsy’s Warning won Friday’s Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park, she joined a top-class roll of honour. The Matriarch was, prior to the first running of the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 1999, traditionally the US championship for female turf specialists. Since the Matriarch was first run in 1981, there have been five Eclipse award winning champions to have won the Matriarch.
Some of the US’ finest turf mares have won the Matriarch. Champions to have won the Matriarch include Royal Heroine, who beat the colts in the Breeders Cup Mile, Eclipse champions Ryafan and Wandesta, and the full sisters Heat Haze and Intercontinental. The latter would go on to beat champion Ouija Board in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2005.
Arguably the finest mare, however, to win the Matriarch, to date, was the Charlie Whittingham trained Flawlessly. The only mare to win the Matriarch on three occasions, Flawlessly, a daughter of US Triple Crown winner Affirmed,  was described by her legendary trainer, at one time, as the best turf filly he had trained –  no small praise.
Flawlessly, an Eclipse Champion in 1992 and 1993, won no fewer than 16 stakes races, and nine Gr1 races . She was inducted in the US Horse racing hall of fame in 2004.

Last US first crop sires of 2010
With the Breeders Cup meet and recent Hollywood turf festival a thing of the past, the US racing year is slowly drawing to a close. It is a good time to review some of the promising sires to watch over the next year. The 2010 US first season sires list is dominated by descendants of A P Indy. The first three stallions on the list are sons of, or grandsons of, A P Indy. The first two sires, Congrats and Bernardini, are having a ding dong battle to determine the championship. Congrats, who is heading the list, is represented by the winners of $1.31 million (at the time of writing), whilst Bernardini has the winners of $1.28 million.

There are four descendants of “AP” in the top ten first season sires list – which is, considering the numbers of stallions which enter stud in the US annually, no mean feat. Storm Cat has two sons in the list as does the Forty Niner horse Distorted Humor.
A P Indy’s son, Congrats, heads the first crop sires list for 2010. Congrats, whose stud fee has jumped from $4,500 to $15,000 (a mark up of more than 200%!), is represented by a staggering 101 2yos. Of these, he has had 23 winners and three stakes winners, including the Gr1 winning filly Wickedly Perfect. His 2yos have

Bernardini, who is second leading first crop sire, is arguably the most promising young stallion in the USA. A son of A P Indy who never ran as 2yo, Bernardini’s 2yos have shown enormous promise this year. Whilst it can’t be denied that Bernardini, a former 3yo champion, benefitted from the best mares available, he has done nothing wrong, and it is also worth remembering that Bernardini’s offspring, like him, are bound to improve with age and distance. From 41 starters (Bernardini was also represented by 101 2yos), he has had 11 winners, including two Gr1 winners and the enormously promising To Honor and Serve. The latter has won both the Gr2 Remsen Stakes and Gr3 Nashua Stakes, and is regarded as a leading hope for next year’s Triple Crown. Tellingly, Bernardini had by far the highest stud fee of the leading first crop sires.

The third leading first crop sire of 2010 is former Kentucky Derby runner up Bluegrass Cat (a close relation of leading SA 3yo Kavanagh). Another to benefit from a book of high-class broodmares, Bluegrass Cat was represented by more 2yos than any other of the young sires (he had 115 2yos). His 18 winners include the graded stakes winners Blue Laser and Kathmanblu. The latter won the Gr2 Golden Rod Stakes by 8.5 lengths, and looks a filly of huge promise.  Bluegrass Cat, a smart 2yo himself, is represented by the winners of $1.2 million.

Fourth on the list is the Danzig sprinter War Front. The Claiborne Farm inmate has made a bright start to his stud career, especially considering that he never won as a 2yo.  His 15 winners (from 34 starters) include the Gr3 winner Soldat as well as two other stakes winners.

Fifth on the first sires list is Old Forester. The latter is Canada’s top first crop sire of 2010, despite standing for a fee of just $3,800. A Gr3 winner on turf, Old Forester is closely related to former Gr1 winner High Yield. His 69 starters include 2 stakes winners, including the talented Canadian filly Tree Pose.  It is quite an achievement for a young stallion, whose choice of mate is unlikely to rival those of Bernardinis and co, to sire 14 winners of $1.02 million and place himself amongst the best young sires in North America.

Sixth horse on the first crop sires list is Sharp Humor. Runner up to Barbaro in the Florida Derby, Sharp Humor has been represented by no fewer than 22 individual winners, and is the second leading first crop sire by number of winners. Sharp Humor, like Bluegrass Cat, stands at Winstar Farm.

The sire rounding off the top ten on the list are With Distinction, Rockport Harbor, Silver Train and Flower Alley.

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