What filly holds the record for margin of victory in the historic Alabama Stakes, which has been contested since 1872?
On April 3, previously unheralded Rock Your World vaulted into contention for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1) with a facile win in the Santa Anita Derby (USA-G1). Pressured through a quick early pace by Parnelli, the Candy Ride colt had plenty left and had no difficulty in turning back favored Robert B. Lewis Stakes (USA-G3) winner Medina Spirit in the stretch.
While this was not a very strong renewal of the Santa Anita Derby, Rock Your World was making only his third lifetime start and appears to be a colt with a lot of potential for further development. Stamina should not be any issue for him with Empire Maker and Giant's Causeway as the sires of his first two dams, and he comes from a female line that has
Rock Your World's fifth dam is Like a Charm, a filly that Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Croll paid US$6,500 for at the 1965 Timonium yearling sale. Raced in the colors of Croll's wife Bobbi, the bargain filly made only three starts but won all three including the Sorority Stakes (a Grade 1 race when the North American grading system was instituted in 1973). She won US$79,914 and paid further dividends when she produced four stakes winners headed by Grade 3 winner Herecomesthebride (by Al Hattab) and became the second dam of four more.
Light a Charm was not one of Like a Charm's stakes winners; in fact, the Majestic Light filly never made it to the track. She produced only four foals but made good on those opportunities as her third foal was the Olympio filly Olympic Charmer. A winner on both dirt and turf, she showed some of the versatility displayed by Olympio, winner of the 1991 Hollywood Derby (USA-G1) on the turf and victor in multiple Grade 2 events on dirt. (For good measure, Majestic Light was even better as a dual-surface horse, winning Grade 1 events on both.) Olympic Charmer also showed a fair measure of the talent displayed by her sire and broodmare sire, winning the Railbird Stakes (USA-G2) at 3; and the El Encino Stakes (USA-G2) at 4; in addition, she was second in the 1999 La Brea Stakes (USA-G1).
Olympic Charmer kicked off her producing career with another good race mare. This was Charm the Giant, a daughter of Giant's Causeway whose record included the 2007 Wilshire Handicap and two other stakes wins as a 5-year-old. Charm the Giant, in turn has two stakes winners to her credit: multiple Grade 1-placed listed stakes winner Charm the Maker (by Empire Maker), dam of Rock Your World, and Liam the Charmer (by Smart Strike), who won the 2018 John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (USA-G2) as a 5-year-old.
Rock Your World has already proven his versatility, having come into the Santa Anita Derby off a grass win in the listed Pasadena Stakes, and in spite of Like a Charm's prowess at 2, the overall trend of this family has been toward improvement with maturity. That bodes well for a colt who made his third time out the charm with a Grade 1 win and now has his sights set on an even bigger prize.
Two stallions profiled at American Classic Pedigrees are specifically mentioned as having sired dead-heat winners of Grade or Group 1 races. Can you name them both?
On March 14, Janelle Monae took her second step toward sweeping Rio de Janeiro's Triple Crown for fillies by winning the Grande Prêmio Diana (BRZ-G1), the middle jewel of the series. Already the winner of the Grande Prêmio Henrique Possolo (BRZ-G1), the daughter of reigning Brazilian champion sire Agnes Gold sports an unbeaten record of three-for-three and is sitting firmly atop the Brazilian standings in her division.
While Janelle Morae is dancing to a Brazllian beat, she springs from a distinguished American family, that of Key Bridge. The 1980 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Key Bridge distinguished herself by producing 1970 co-American Horse of the Year Fort Marcy (by Amerigo) and 1973 American champion 3-year-old male Key to the Mint (by Graustark). The latter was an important sire and broodmare sire, and Key Bridge also produced 1981 United Nations Handicap (USA-G1) winner Key to Content (by Forli) and 1974 Stymie Handicap (USA-G3) winner Key to the Kingdom (by Bold Ruler).
Even more importantly for the future, Key Bridge produced several daughters that bred on well. Among them was Key to the Kingdom's full sister Key Link, who provided a precedent for South American success for her family by becoming the second dam of two-time Brazilian champion Mensageiro Alado and the third dam of 2001 Grande Prêmio Linneo de Paula Machado (BRZ-G1) winner Rizzolini.
Key Bridge's 1968 daughter Seven Locks is closely related to both Key to the Kingdom and Key Link, as her sire is Bold Ruler's son Jacinto. She was unraced and did not produce any black-type performers among her six winners, but her daughter Seven Arts (by Arts and Letters) is the dam of Grade 2 winner Lykatill Hil (by Pilgrim) and of multiple Grade 3 winner Classic Account (by Private Account).
Ahrex, Seven Locks' 1975 daughter by Dr. Fager, also became a graded stakes producer, coming up with 1988 Adirondack Stakes (USA-G2) winner Pat Copelan (by Copelan), but it was Sawmill Dollars who took Ahrex's branch of the family to Brazil. Foaled in 1980 as the result of a cover by multiple Grade 1 winner Our Native (by Exclusive Native), Sawmill Dollars proved her value in her new home by producing multiple Group 1 winner Clausen Export, a daughter of 1985 Kentucky Derby (USA-G1) winner and American Horse of the Year Spend a Buck. Clausen Export, in turn, is the dam of Brazilian Group 2 winner Que Espetaculo (by Northern Afleet).
Clausen Export was Sawmill Dollars' only stakes winner, but the mare produced two other successful broodmare daughters. Special Dark (by Banquet Table) is the dam of Group 1-placed Brazilian Group 3 winner Itaquere Dollars (by Minstrel Glory) and is the second dam of multiple Brazilian Group 1 winner Kara de Birigui and Brazilian Group 2 winner Jogo de Birigui. Sawmill Dollars' other important daughter is Clausen Export's full sister Just Lucky, who is the dam of Janelle Monae as well as 2009 Grande Prêmio A.B.C.P.C.C. (BRZ-G1) winner Uncle Tom (by First American), Brazilian Group 2 winner Grand Cru (by First American), and Brazilian Group 3 winner Portuga (by Vettori).
As a daughter of eight-time American champion broodmare sire Princequillo out of a mare from a fine family and sired by two-time American champion broodmare sire War Admiral, Key Bridge was bred to be a top-class producer and lived up to her bloodlines by founding a family successful in North America, Europe, and Brazil. Janelle Monae, thus, has every credential that could be desired in a future broodmare, and when her time comes to retire to the paddocks, it can be hoped that she will do her part in building a bridge to the future of the Thoroughbred.
This great foundation mare began her racing career while still unnamed and was afterward named in honor of a city in Belgium. Among her many accomplishments, she became the oldest mare to foal a winner of England's Derby Stakes in the 20th century. Who was she?
With her victory in the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (USA-G2) on March 20, Travel Column successfully avenged herself on Clariere for her last-out defeat in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes Presented by Fasig-Tipton (USA-G3). The attractive daughter of Frosted also stamped herself as a live contender for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1), now less than six weeks away.
Travel Column is a direct female-line descendant of another Oaks winner, and thereby hangs a tale. The ancestress in question is Carnauba, whose story served as the basis for the 1984 movie Rare Breed.
Foaled in 1972, Carnauba raced in Italy for Nelson Bunker Hunt and was the champion of her age and sex at both 2 and 3, her victories including the 1975 Oaks d'Italia (ITY-G1). With that kind of race record, the daughter of the Australian champion Noholme II and the Amerigo mare Carnival Queen seemed destined for a peaceful retirement as a member of Hunt's broodmare band. Instead, the Oaks winner fell victim to the social turmoil then embroiling Italy. She was stolen from the yard of trainer Luigi Turner, and Hunt received a note demanding a US$250,000 ransom for her return. Interestingly, the note was crudely scrawled on the end of a cigarette pack.
Unbeknownst to Hunt and Turner, Carnauba was not far away. The thieves had pulled off her racing plates and hacked off her mane in a crude attempt at disguise before concealing her at a girls' riding academy in the same general area. But the filly's time was running out. She was too big and hot-blooded for most of the girls to handle, and rumors were beginning to spread.
In the meantime, Hunt had reluctantly refused the initial ransom demand, knowing that if he gave in, many other horses would be put at risk as opportunistic thieves scented a profitable line of business. More ransom demands came, each demanding a lesser amount and each written on a cigarette pack of the same brand as the first but with a lower serial number on the pack. Finally, in early 1976, the ransom demand reached US$15,000 and the Italian authorities convinced Hunt to play along. After Hunt made a show of withdrawing money from a bank, a fake drop was arranged as bait. When a member of the gang showed up, the police pounced. They knew they had the right fellow immediately, for among his possessions was half a carton of cigarettes of the same brand and serial number series as the packs that had conveyed the ransom demands.
Under questioning, the thief quickly turned in his co-conspirators, but they refused to divulge Carnauba's location. Luckily, by that time Turner's son had heard the rumors about the mare at the riding academy, and he investigated. It turned out that just before the sting had been conducted, the horsenappers, fearing discovery, had removed Carnauba from the academy and looked for a way to dispose of her. Carnauba was less than 24 hours away from destruction when she was found at a Milanese butcher shop, having been sold for horsemeat at the going rate of about 60 cents a pound. She was about 80 pounds underweight and her feet were in bad shape, but she was alive.
Hunt promptly shipped Carnauba back to the United States and bred her to Vaguely Noble, and in due course she produced a bay filly appropriately named Spirited Away. The filly never raced but became the dam of multiple stakes winner Noble Regent (by Vice Regent), and Carnauba ended up producing 10 more foals including the stakes-winning Valid Appeal filly Valid Carnauba, dam of multiple Grade 3 winner Ebony Breeze (by Belong to Me) and multiple stakes winner Boastful (by Cozzene). Another daughter of Carnauba, the Empery mare Rich and Riotous, produced multiple French Group 2 winner Shaanxi (by Zilzal) and Grade 2-placed listed stakes winner Kraemer (by Lyphard), and a fourth daughter, Lyphard's Holme (by Lyphard), produced listed stakes winners Vijaya (by Lear Fan) and Takaddum (by Riverman).
Pay the Ransom, Carnauba's 1984 daughter by J. O. Tobin, did not race or produce a stakes winner, but her winning Our Native daughter Free Ransom carried on the line. The mare produced stakes winner Singit (by Sultry Song) and multiple listed stakes winner Swingit (by Victory Gallop) among her seven foals, and Swingit produced Travel Column as her sixth foal after previously producing multiple Grade/Group 1-placed Neolithic (by Harlan's Holiday). And so, Travel Column heads for Kentucky carrying at least a few adventurous genes along for the ride, handed down from the well-traveled Carnauba. If a Hollywood finish does occur in the Kentucky Oaks, it will be a fitting conclusion to one of the wilder stories in the annals of Thoroughbred racing.
This filly was the first Kentucky Derby mount for a jockey who later rode two Derby winners, including an American Triple Crown winner. Who was she, where did she finish in the Derby, and who was the jockey?
On March 13, Master Johnny scored his first stakes win in the Premio America (ARG-G2) at San Isidro. In doing so, the Mastercraftsman colt brought a family sprung from Argentine roots back into the limelight: that of two-time Argentine champion Dorine, a mare bred on the same sire/broodmare sire cross as the great racehorse and good sire Forli.
Prior to her importation to the United States, Dorine had already produced the Right of Way mare Dory, second dam of five Group winners in South America including 2004 Argentine champion sprinter Forty Doriana, 2000 Gran Premio Estrellas Carreras Sprint (ARG-G1) winner Dionisio Tom, and 1991 Las Oaks (CHI-G1) winner Doryanna. Following her arrival in Kentucky, Dorine produced a lone stakes winner, the Bold Ruler colt Our Hero, but made a much more significant contribution to North American breeding in her Hoist the Flag daughter Grecian Banner, the 1988 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year.
Grecian Banner is best known as the dam of the undefeated champion Personal Ensign, and rightly so. Aside from Personal Ensign's racing heroics, the daughter of Private Account produced three Grade 1 winners and a Grade 1-placed Classic sire (earning herself honors as the 1996 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year along the way) and is the ancestress of the bulk or Grecian Banner's good descendants in North America. Personal Ensign's full brother Personal Flag was not quite in the same league as his sister but won two Grade 1 races in his own right and proved a useful sire.
Master Johnny traces to Grecian Banner through Private Colors, an older full sister to Personal Ensign and Personal Flag. Much less distinguished than her siblings, Private Colors waited until the last of her nine foals to produce a stakes winner, the Johannesburg filly Private Dreams, who won a small stakes at Emerald Downs. Her previous production was not without merit, however. Her first foal, the unraced Mr. Prospector filly Team Colors, produced Japanese Group 2 winner God of Chance (by Cozzene) and English listed stakes winner Silver Colours (by Silver Hawk) and is the second dam of multiple English Group 2 winner Strong Suit. Another daughter, stakes-placed Golightly (by Take Me Out), is the second dam of 2017 Slovakian champion 2-year-old male King Heart.
Black Icon, Private Colors' 1995 daughter by the brilliant sprinter Mining, never raced and got only three minor winners from five foals, but her lone producing daughter, Kascha (by Awesome Again), has done very well at Haras Firmamento in Argentina, producing 2015 Gran Premio General San Martin (ARG-G1) winner Giacom (by Giacomo) and multiple Argentine listed stakes winner Jane Cash (by Johannesburg). Jane Cash, in turn, produced Master Johnny as her second foal.
Giacom was a late developer, taking down his biggest wins at age 6, and Master Johnny may be progressing along the same lines as he is now in the fall of his 3-year-old season according to the South American calendar. Whether or not he goes on to become a Group 1 winner, his most recent achievement raises the banner of an already well-known family and perhaps signals further glories to come.
This champion filly was blessed with the racing ability to defeat top-class colts, but was literally knocked out of racing when the victim of a lightning strike. Although she regained consciousness and returned to more or less normal functioning, she was unable to resume training or racing, and she suffered repeated colic attacks during a relatively short broodmare career. Who was she?
After winning three lesser stakes over the last two years, Micheline broke into the ranks of graded stakes winners in the Hillsborough Handicap (USA-G2) on March 6 with a beautifully timed burst of speed. The Bernardini filly became the first stakes winner for her dam, multiple Grade 1 winner Panty Raid, who represents a family that exploded onto the racing scene of the 1960s and 1970s. This was the family of Scotch Verdict, an unraced daughter of two-time American champion Alsab and juvenile stakes winner Glen Arvis.
Scotch Verdict was a good broodmare in spite of visiting mostly second and third-tier stallions, producing 1970 Monmouth Oaks winner Kilts n Kapers (by 1964 Ohio Derby winner National, by Nashua), the good California stakes filly Desert Trial (by 1960 Everglades Stakes winner Moslem Chief, a son of Alibhai), and the minor stakes winner Memory Garden (by 1966 American champion older male Bold Bidder), as well as stakes-placed Secret Verdict (by 1960 San Carlos Handicap winner Clandestine, by Double Jay). The catalyst for her family's step up to the next level was the top Florida sire In Reality, who got some memorable runners from her daughters.
Chief among those runners was the brilliant Desert Vixen (out of Desert Trial), a two-time American champion and the dam of French Group 2 winner Real Shadai (by Roberto), an important sire in Japan. Desert Vixen's younger brother Valid Appeal was not quite as talented but was good enough to win the 1975 Dwyer Handicap (USA-G2) and place in four other graded races including the 1974 Futurity Stakes (USA-G1). A small, light-framed colt with upright pasterns, miler speed, and light, fluent action, he became a perennial leading Florida sire at Harry Mangurian's Mockingbird Farm.
Desert Trial also produced the stakes-winning In Reality sons Court Trial and Classic Trial and in addition produced the Rexson filly Desert Royal, dam of stakes winner Royal Med (by Medieval Man) and second dam of New Zealand Group 2 winner Millennium. In the meantime, Kilts n Kapers also got into the act with the ill-fated In Reality filly Stub, who won the 1977 Sorority Stakes (USA-G1) and Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (USA-G2) but died in training. A Real Kaper, a full sister to Stub, is the second dam of two stakes winners and of Rio Camu, 2001 Horse of the Year in the Dominican Republic, while her half sister Kilts Girl (by Royal Saxon) is the dam of Grade 1-placed stakes winner Charging Fire (by Peterhof). Another half sister, Seattle Kaper (by Seattle Slew), is the dam of Grade 3 winner Kentucky Kaper (by The Prime Minister)
Memory Garden and Secret Verdict also contributed to the legacy of Scotch Verdict: the former became the second dam of Brazilian Group 2 winner Puro Brilho, while the latter produced Grade 3 winner Remote Ruler (by King Emperor) and multiple stakes winners Secret's Out (by Royal Saxon; dam of listed stakes winner Close In, by Fappiano) and A Realgirl (by In Reality; dam of two listed stakes winners). Michelin, however, is descended from yet another daughter of Scotch Verdict. This was Summer Legend (by Raise a Native), who won only two of 11 races but produced Grade 3 winner Legarto (by Roberto) and stakes winners Nafees (by Raja Baba) and Lean Cuisine (by In Reality).
Nafees, in turn, produced three stakes winners and is the second dam of 2005 Personal Ensign Stakes (USA-G1) winner Shadow Cast, while Lean Cuisine produced listed stakes winner Health Farm (by Pleasant Colony) and is the second dam of multiple Italian Group 3 winner Dream Impact and Grade 3 winner Cryptoquip. Their half sister Summer in Seattle is the second dam of Grade 3 winner U D Ghetto, and another half sister, Summer Spectacular (by Spectacular Bid) is the dam of stakes winner Real Display (by In Reality).
Tamaral, a full sister to Summer in Seattle, was the only one of the sibling group to produce a graded stakes winner, coming up with Grade 3 winner Danc'n Jake (by Affirmed). Her stakes-placed daughter Adventurous Di (by Private Account) has been the family's best producer since Desert Trial, producing Panty Raid (by Include), 2011 Delaware Oaks (USA-G2) winner and Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) runner-up St. John's River (by Include), and French listed stakes winner Franc (by Woodman).
Micheline is the best runner thus far from the fifth generation of Scotch Verdict's descendants, and Panty Raid may be done as a producer after giving birth to a dead foal in 2019 and coming up barren in 2020 after producing the Tapit colt Proxy in 2018. Proxy, though, has placed in two graded races thus far in his 3-year-old season, and Panty Raid's full sister St. John's River has an unraced Ghostzapper 3-year-old named Rives and a yearling colt by Malibu Moon still waiting to go. As for Micheline, her status as a Grade 2 winner owned by Godolphin will undoubtedly give her access to some of the best stallions out there when her time comes to retire to the paddocks. Thus, it seems safe to say that while the descendants of Scotch Verdict have already proven a good family, the final verdict as to their merit is not yet in.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.