This popular Midwestern runner of yesteryear was the namesake for a line of cigars. The horse, in turn, was named for an inventor whose son became a famous actor and director. Can you name the horse, the man in whose honor he was named, and the honoree's famous son?
As impressive as Knicks Go's victory in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (USA-G1) was, the performance of the day on the January 23 card at Gulfstream Park may have been in a maiden special weight six races earlier. The field included American Triple Crown winner Justify's half brother Stage Raider, a seven-figure son of Curlin from a strong stakes-producing family (Ghazaaly), and several other youngsters who to judge by their sale prices as yearlings were reasonably well-regarded by their connections, but at the end of the seven-furlong event, Prevalence was 8-1/2 lengths in front under a hand ride and not drawing a deep breath. The time was 1:23.00, just two-fifths of a second off the time of seasoned graded stakes mares in the Inside Information Stakes (USA-G2) three races later on the same card.
A son of Medaglia d'Oro, Prevalence is from the family of Desert Stormer. Unlike many other sons and daughters of Storm Cat (whose accomplishments at stud included seven titles as American champion juvenile sire), Desert Stormer was a late developer who became a Grade 3 winner at 4 and a Grade 1 winner at 5. That Grade 1 win was in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Sprint, and the race showcased the tenacity the mare had at her best. Leading throughout but never able to open up any breathing space, Desert Stormer repelled the challenge of the speedy 3-year-old Mr. Greeley by a neck at the wire with that year's champion sprinter, Lit de Justice, checking in third.
Desert Stormer ended up producing 10 winners from her 14 named foals, but only two earned any black type, and one only picked up a minor stakes placing, This was the Seeking the Gold mare Ensenada, who is the dam of Casino Host (by Dynaformer), a multiple Grade 2 winner on turf as a 4-year-old.
Desert Stormer's other black-type winner is her first foal, Sahara Gold. A full sister to Ensenada, Sahara Gold was much the better race mare, winning stakes at 2 and 3 and notching her best performance in the 2000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (USA-G2). Good-looking enough to be a US$1.45 million RNA at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling sale, Sahara Gold parlayed her racing performance, pedigree, and conformation into a successful broodmare career with three stakes winners to her credit. The best of them is multiple turf Grade 1 winner Better Lucky (by Ghostzapper), and Sahara Gold is also the dam of Sahara Heat (by A.P. Indy), who won the 2007 Marine Stakes (CAN-G3) on the Polytrack at Woodbine. Sahara Gold's third stakes winner is Final Frontier, a 2015 Ghostzapper gelding who won the listed Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational Stakes in 2019.
Prevalence's dam is Sahara Gold's 2008 daughter Enrichment, a full sister to Better Lucky and Final Frontier. Unable to win herself in eight tries, Enrichment has already compiled a respectable record as a broodmare with UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3) winner Estihdaaf (by Arch), restricted stakes winner Libreta (by Girolamo), and one other winner to her credit from Prevalence's four older siblings. Since producing Prevalence, Enrichment has since given birth to a 2019 colt by Quality Road and a 2020 colt by Frosted.
A Godolphin homebred, Prevalence has a pedigree tipped slightly more toward speed than stamina, but that is hardly uncommon in modern American breeding. What will be interesting now is watching for Godolphin's next move with him. It is no secret that Godolphin owner Sheikh Mohammed would very much like to win the Kentucky Derby (USA-G1), one of the few of the world's great races that has so far escaped him, and it is not out of the question that, in an age when even "seasoned" high-class juveniles may have only three or four starts under their belts, Prevalence may attempt to follow the path of Justify and take his chances in a race on the Triple Crown trail in his next race or two. Then again, it may be wiser to wait and let him run through a condition or two as the distances stretch out, for to win a Triple Crown race, he will need more than his great-granddam's speed; he will also need her tenacity as well as any stamina passed down from three successive crosses of Desert Stormer and her line to horses that could stay 10 furlongs in top company. Time will tell if this exciting colt has inherited the best of both worlds from his ancestry or whether he is simply another promising youngster who has already had his day in the sun.
Named for a weather phenomenon, this multiple Group 1 winner had four different trainers during the course of his career but won for only the first two. He was not a particularly successful stallion but appears as a link in an important sire line. Name him.
Left as pretty much the lone speed in Saturday's Lecomte Stakes (USA-G3), Midnight Bourbon did what a decent colt ought to do and capitalized on his opportunity. It was a promising confidence builder for the colt, who as a son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-G1) winner Tiznow can reasonably be expected to improve with increasing maturity and more distance to run over. The question is whether he can continue his upward trajectory to become a viable contender for the Triple Crown races, or whether he was simply the beneficiary of a favorable pace scenario.
On paper, he has plenty of pedigree credentials, not just on his sire's side but on his dam's. He is the fourth graded stakes winner from four foals to race from Catch the Moon, who made the most of relatively modest opportunities early in her broodmare career. Her first foal is 2015 Iroquois Stakes (USA-G3) winner Cocked and Loaded, whose sire was multiple Grade 1 winner Colonel John, a useful stallion son of Tiznow but now in Korea. Her next is 2017 betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (USA-G1) winner Girvin, who is arguably the best of 13 stakes winners sired by multiple Grade 1 winner Tale of Ekati---a horse who is standing the 2021 season at Darby Dan for US$5,000. After producing a dead foal in 2015, Catch the Moon then produced her third graded stakes winner in Pirate's Punch (by 2012 American champion 2-year-old male Shanghai Bobby, who was exported to Japan in 2018), who won the 2020 Salvator Mile (USA-G3) and has placed in three other Grade 3 races. Catch the Moon had no produce in 2017 and threw Midnight Bourbon (a US$525,000 Keeneland September yearling) in 2018.
Now pensioned, Tiznow is the most successful stallion by whom Catch the Moon has produced a runner, but the upgrade in her status as a broodmare has continued with her subsequent mates. The mare has a 2019 colt by Curlin that was a US$500,000 yearling last year at Keeneland September, and her 2020 foal is a colt by Quality Road. She was bred back to Curlin for 2021.
Sired by the good A.P. Indy son Malibu Moon, Catch the Moon is a half sister to listed stakes winner Dubini (by Gio Ponti) and restricted stakes winner What a Catch (by Justin Phillip) and is out of multiple stakes winner Catch My Fancy, by the Grade 1-winning sprinter and good sire Yes It's True out of Walk Away Renee (by Gold Alert), whose dam Monique Rene is also the second dam of Yes It's True.
This is certainly inbreeding to a female, but Monique Rene may or may not have been the kind of mare Leon Rasmussen had in mind when he put out his namesake hypothesis of inbreeding to "superior females." A Louisiana-bred by stakes-placed Prince of Ascot out of the undistinguished winner Party Date, by the equally undistinguished Speedy Frank, she certainly couldn't boast a fashionable pedigree. And while she outran that pedigree in remarkable fashion to become the queen of Louisiana racing in the early 1980s, she was still no glamour girl by national standards. She retired without ever having won or placed a graded stakes, and she earned black type outside the Pelican State only once.
Calling Monique Rene a "superior female" based on her production record might be something of a stretch as well, though she did not do badly, especially given the opportunities she was accorded. When she did get a chance to visit a good stallion, she generally delivered something worthwhile. Her produce included 1995 Ark-La-Tex Handicap (USA-G3) winner Prince of the Mt. (by Mt. Livermore) and his stakes-placed full brother Mt. Rene, and two of her daughters did become graded stakes producers: Clever Monique (by Clever Trick), dam of Yes It's True (by Is It True) and his listed stakes-winning full sister Honest Deceiver, and Ronique (by Raise a Native), dam of 2000 Pegasus Handicap (USA-G2) winner Kiss a Native (by Kissing Kris).
No objective review of her race or produce record can reasonably call Monique Rene a great mare, but she clearly represented the best of the genes from her ancestry. Tough, consistent, and speedy, she was also able to pass her best qualities on when given any kind of reasonable chance, and there are far worse traits to inbreed to.
Aside from the inbreeding to Monique Rene in her dam, Catch the Moon is inbred 3x4 to the great sire Mr. Prospector, the sire of Gold Alert and the broodmare sire of Malibu Moon. In putting her to Tiznow, breeder Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings made use of two solid breeding principles. One is following a proven cross, as Catch the Moon had already had success with a son of Tiznow. The other is reinforcing different parts of the pedigree in successive matings in a family line, a principle used with great success in the stud of the 17th Earl of Derby. Tiznow, although inbred 4x4 to Northern Dancer, is free of Mr. Prospector, and Catch the Moon, although inbred to Mr. Prospector, has only a single sixth-generation cross of Northern Dancer in her pedigree. Thus, the mating outcrossed away from the closest inbreeding in both the sire and the dam, but it inbred to another great influence in Seattle Slew, who appears in the third generation of both Tiznow's and Catch the Moon's pedigrees. Adding to the niceties of this pedigree, Seattle Slew and Mr. Prospector both belong to the family of multiple American champion Myrtlewood, a great foundation mare, and thus, Midnight Bourbon's pedigree is line bred to this family.
Girvin, of course, did Monique Rene's family proud in Louisiana when he made off with the 2017 Risen Star Stakes (USA-G2) and Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (USA-G2), and it looks as though Midnight Bourbon will try to emulate his elder brother as he makes his own way down the Triple Crown trail. If he succeeds, perhaps his fans should lift a glass to the memory of Monique Rene, who appears to have added her own touch of Louisiana jazz to yet another nice runner.
This champion race mare was so popular that when she retired, a major turf publication held an essay contest on the subject of what lucky stallion should be her first mate. She was indeed bred to the horse touted in the winning essay and in due course produced a filly. The filly failed to emulate her dam's glory on the track but did produce a useful sire during the course of her broodmare career. Can you name the champion mare, her chosen mate, her daughter, and her stallion grandson?
A juvenile champion in her native Chile, Sanenus is now a Grade 3 winner in the United States, having demolished a field that included Grade 1 winners Hard Not to Love and Fighting Mad in the La Canada Stakes (USA-G3) on January 9 at Santa Anita. She has yet to prove herself a feminine counterpart to Justify, but she appears to a be a real threat in important filly and mare stakes later in the season, and there are some notable pedigree similarities between the two champions. Both are by the late and much-lamented Scat Daddy, and both feature pedigrees with inbreeding to a notable Claiborne Farm family, that of Narrate.
A great-granddaughter of 1959 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Knight's Daughter and a granddaughter of the great Round Table's stakes-winning full sister Monarchy, Narrate proved a good but not stellar race mare, winning the 1983 Falls City Handicap (USA-G3). She produced two important daughters. One, Preach, showed ability on the track with a win in the 1991 Frizette Stakes (USA-G1) before producing Pulpit to a cover by A.P. Indy. A multiple Grade 2 winner whose racing career was cut short by injury, Pulpit became a valuable stallion at Claiborne and sired a still better stallion in three-time American champion sire Tapit, now the primary conduit for the Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy male line.
The other of Narrate's important daughters was Yarn, a full sister to Preach. Not nearly as able as Preach on the track, Yarn improved on her sister's record as a producer, throwing 2000 English and Irish champion 2-year-old male Minardi (by Boundary) and Grade 2 winner Tale of the Cat (by Storm Cat), a prolific sire at Ashford Stud. Yarn also produced Myth (by Ogygian), whose son Johannesburg (by Hennessy) was the champion juvenile of 2001 in both Europe and the United States. Johannesburg, in turn, is the sire of Scat Daddy, who was a two-time champion sire in Chile and well on his way to superstardom as a stallion in North America when he died unexpectedly in December 2015.
Justify's inbreeding to Narrate comes by way of his second dam Magical Illusion, who was sired by Pulpit, and is reinforced by inbreeding to two Claiborne stallions who crossed fruitfully with Narrate's family. One is Mr. Prospector, who sired Preach and Yarn and is also the sire of Scat Daddy's dam, Love Style. The other is Nijinsky II, who sired both State, the dam of Narrate, and Scat Daddy's second dam, Likeable Style, and whose son Baldski sired Justify's third dam, Voodoo Lily.
Likewise, Sanenus shows inbreeding to Narrate's family buttressed by inbreeding to a stallion that had crossed well with that family. In her case, both the Narrate crosses come through Yarn, as Sanenus is a maternal granddaughter of Tale of the Cat. As Scat Daddy and Tale of the Cat are both male-line descendants of Storm Cat, Sanenus is inbred to that stallion as well, in her case 4x3.
While it is interesting to note the common elements in the pedigrees of Justify and Sanenus, it is also worth noting important differences that have been reflected in racing performance. Inbred to the stamina influence Nijinsky II and with 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-G1) winner Ghostzapper as his broodmare sire, Justify was less precocious than Sanenus but stayed much better, well enough to sweep the American Triple Crown series. Sanenus' record to date is that of a sprinter-miler, and the 8.5 furlong La Canada is the longest stakes race she has won. In her case, the speedy tendencies bequeathed by Monarchy have been reinforced by the doubling of Storm Cat, and the background of her second dam Hay Lauren contains more speed in the forms of her ancestors Hagley, Olden Times, and Dangerous Dame.
No form of inbreeding or line breeding is ever a ticket to racing glory in and of itself; no matter how clever a pedigree may be, it needs to be supported by careful selection of the individuals involved for compatibility in their physical and mental traits and for avoidance of doubling down on problem areas. Nonetheless, when patterns repeat themselves in the breeding of top racehorses, they are worth studying and, if suitable opportunities present themselves, imitating.
A notable champion on the race course, this fine runner lost all chance at one Classic race when his fans mobbed him prior to the event, going so far as to pull hairs from their hero's tail. Upset by the human swarm, the colt made no showing in the race (for which he was a heavy favorite) but made amends later in another Classic event. He went on to become a fine sire whose male-line descendants went on to successful stud careers in both North and South America but oddly, although a high-class stayer himself, became known primarily as a source of speed. Name him, and name the race he lost because of his overenthusiastic fans.
Favored at 4-5 for the Santa Ynez Stakes (USA-G2) on January 3 at Santa Anita, Kalypso did not let her backers down. Dropped back from 8.5 furlongs to 7, the last-out runner-up in the Starlet Stakes (USA-G1) overcame a speed duel that lasted through the first five furlongs and proved to have more than enough to withstand the challenge of stablemate Frosteria. Drawing clear in the final furlong, Kalypso was under a hand ride as she went under the wire.
Whether Kalypso will turn out to have enough stamina to be a viable contender for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) is still open to question, though her pedigree suggests that 9 furlongs should not be beyond her scope. What is not open to question is that the Brody' s Cause filly has both talent and natural speed, and perhaps a little of both qualities has come down to her through her fourth dam, 1987 American champion older female North Sider.
Sired by the good Northern Dancer stallion Topsider (whose progeny tended to be sprinters like himself), North Sider was produced from the Ack Ack mare Back Ack. On that breeding, North Sider was entitled to be fast, and she was that. She was also tough, durable, and capable of stretching her speed up to 9 furlongs though she was essentially a miler. She made 17 starts during her championship season, winning seven, and up through her victory in the Maskette Stakes (USA-G1) on September 12, 1987, she was a determined and consistent competitor. After that race, she was badly beaten in her last three starts, suggesting that something was physically or mentally amiss, and she retired to the paddocks with 15 wins and 12 placings from 36 starts.
North Sider had plenty of opportunities to add to her laurels in the paddocks, but although she was for the most part bred to high-class stallions, none of the nine starters among her 12 named foals added any distinction to her name. As a group, her daughters fared no better as broodmares, with one exception. This is the 1993 Capote mare Cape North, who failed to win in eight starts but is the dam of the minor stakes winners Spirited Away (by Awesome Again) and Fufty Too (by Speightstown).
Spirited Away was much the best of Cape North's daughters on the track, and she was also by far the best as a producer. Sent to Malibu Moon for her first mating, she produced Prospective, winner of the 2012 Tampa Bay Derby (USA-G2) and two other graded stakes. She failed to repeat that success in five subsequent matings to Malibu Moon, but Prospective's non-winning full sister Malibu Cove found her own way to justifying the repetition, producing Kalypso as her second foal. Since then, Malibu Cove has produced a 2019 filly by Hit It a Bomb and a 2020 colt by Mor Spirit before being bred to Jimmy Creed for 2021.
Malibu Cove's full sisters Enhanced and Vienna Melody are also young broodmares, and Malibu Cove has two winning half sisters, Boston Tesoro (by Temple City) and Josie (by Race Day) who have yet to start their producing careers. Between Kalypso and the other young mares from this family, perhaps more good things will be forthcoming to keep alive the memory of a mare who, if not the most brilliant runner to ever grace the American racing scene, had plenty of other qualities worth remembering.
Welcome to 2021, which we can all hope will be a better year than the last one. To kick off the New Year, this week's question concerns a horse who started out on a regional North American stallion market. While horses who prove themselves with good runners may earn a quick transfer to Kentucky, this fellow made the move while his first foals were still yearlings, his value boosted not by runners but by his status as a Grade 1-winning half brother to an American Horse of the Year. He proved more than worthy of the improved opportunities, finishing three times among the top 10 American sires according to at least one major reference. Can you name him?
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.