In 1957-1958, Round Table ruled as the king of Santa Anita. His world record-equaling effort in the San Antonio Stakes was the fourth of five consecutive stakes races he won at the California oval. The others were the 1957 Malibu Sequet Stakes, the 1958 San Fernando Stakes, the 1958 Santa Anita Maturity (later known as the Charles H. Strub Stakes and then simply as the Strub Stakes) and the 1958 Santa Anita Handicap. Round Table's victories in the first three of these races made him the first horse to sweep the "Strub Series" at Santa Anita.
With his impressive win in Saturday's Withers Stakes (USA-III), Far From Over thrust himself into the Triple Crown picture. Given his lack of seasoning -- this was only his second race -- it may be a long shot for him to deliver a Kentucky Derby (USA-I) win. Don't be surprised to see him playing a role in this year's Triple Crown series, though, especially in the Belmont Stakes (USA-I). Unlike most of his potential rivals, Far From Over is bred to go Classic distances, and he has the depth of pedigree to do it in classic style.
As a son of Blame and a maternal grandson of A.P. Indy, the bay ridgling has no shortage of stamina in his pedigree. What saves him from the possibility of being a one-paced plodder is his maternal line, which traces back to the family of the modern foundation mare Courtly Dee. If this sounds familiar, it should; 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-I) winner Bayern is also a member of this family. In fact, Bayern and Far From Over are second cousins once removed in human terms; Bayern is a grandson of Aquilegia (Alydar--Courtly Dee), whose full sister Aishah is the great-granddam of Far From Over.
Courtly Dee's great legacy is quality speed, the kind that can blend successfully with stamina bequeathed by staying mates. In Far From Over's case, this speed descends through Aishah's Storm Cat daughter Aldiza, winner of the 1998 Go for Wand Handicap (USA-I). Aldiza, in turn, produced Grade III-placed Alchemist, a full sister to 2008 Turnback the Alarm Handicap (USA-III) winner Altesse and the dam of Far From Over. For good measure, Far From Over has another cross of Courtly Dee through her champion daughter Althea, a full sister to Aquilegia and Aishah and the granddam of Far From Over's paternal grandsire Arch.
While Far From Over showed a fine turn of foot and surprising maturity to overcome his bad start in the Withers, his maiden win suggests that his most dangerous weapon may turn out to be the one Bayern has wielded so well -- the ability to use a high cruising speed to control a race from the front. But what may make him a better horse than Bayern if he lives up to his pedigree and promise is the ability he showed in the Withers to change his tactics if he doesn't get things his own way in the early going. Based on what he has shown so far, he will be one to watch.
It's a classic showdown for California Chrome and Shared Belief in Saturday's San Antonio Stakes (USA-II). With Hoppertunity thrown into the mix as an able deputy for sore-footed Bayern, this clash for early-season supremacy rivals the Charles H. Strub Stakes (USA-I) of 1987, which featured Snow Chief, Ferdinand and Broad Brush in a repeat of their 1986 Preakness Stakes (USA-I) tangle.
In honor of this year's San Antonio Stakes, this week's trivia question goes back to a previous winner of the race. Not content with equaling a world record in the San Antonio, he included the race in a string of five consecutive stakes won at Santa Anita. Who was he, and what were the other races he won during his streak at Santa Anita?
1) 1919 American Triple Crown winner Sir Barton was named for the notorious Scottish sea captain Sir Andrew Barton, whose activities skirted the line between pirate and privateer.
2) 1916 Kentucky Derby winner George Smith was named for the gambler better known as "Pittsburgh Phil," who had once owned the colt's dam Consuelo II and engineered a betting coup with her.
3) 1979 American champion 3-year-old filly Davona Dale, who was bred and owned by Calumet Farm, was named for a character in a novel written by Admiral Gene Markey, husband of Calumet Farm owner Lucille Wright Markey.
4) 1914 Kentucky Derby winner and multiple American champion Old Rosebud was named for a brand of whiskey produced by a distillery owned by the family of owner Hamilton Applegate.
It's a good thing for the colts that the Kentucky Derby (USA-I) isn't decided on pedigree, or they'd be conceding the victor's roses to a filly. Sired by a Kentucky Derby winner out of a half sister to a Kentucky Derby winner and produced from one of the hottest families of the early 21st century, Las Virgenes Stakes (USA-I) winner Callback is equine royalty through and through.
Callback is the third stakes winner of 2015 for hot young sire Street Sense, whose dozen 2014 stakes winners include multiple Grade I winner Sweet Reason and Australian Group I winner Hallowed Crown. The one chink in Street Sense's armor as a potential Classic sire is that he seems to be throwing more speed and less stamina than might be expected from his own race record; the average winning distance of his stock is only 7.2 furlongs, longer than average for North American sires but distinctly shorter than proven stamina sources such as Dynaformer and A.P. Indy.
Whether Callback will want much more than a mile is a good question, given that her broodmare sire is the pure speed sire Forest Wildcat; further, she is a half sister to the stakes-winning sprinter Defy Gravity (by Bandini). While her dam Quickest is a half sister to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (by Maria's Mon), she is also a half sister to Grade III winner Brethren (by Distorted Humor), whose best performances were at 8 and 8.5 furlongs.
Through her dam Supercharger (by A.P. Indy), Quickest is part of a burgeoning clan descended from the Mr. Prospector mare Get Lucky, herself a descendant of one of the best branches of the family of the great matron La Troienne. Other top members of Get Lucky's family include Grade I winners Bluegrass Cat, Girolamo and Imagining.
Horses from this family have shown a wide range of distance aptitudes, so where Callback will fit in is anyone's guess. Based on the proclivities of her sire and broodmare sire, we may already have seen her best trip. Still, even if she never earns another penny, she has just increased her value to a good deal more than the $375,000 paid for her at the 2013 Fasign-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. And if she can stay further than a mile, she just may have a sheaf of lilies in her sights in the Kentucky Oaks (USA-I) later this spring.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.