Looks like we had a stumper last week with Be Like Mom, a daughter of champion Black Helen who produced three-time American champion steeplechaser Oedipus and two-time American champion filly But Why Not. Let's see if this week's question proves easier. Five horses who earned American Horse of the Year honors have been residents of the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions. Can you name them all?
Last Saturday saw Cleber Massey's 4-year-old filly Blamed pick up her second Grade III win in the Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The victory was doubly sweet for trainer Bill Mott, who had trained the race's namesake, three-time American champion Royal Delta. It also ended up being an amusing irony for Mott's assistant Ken McCarthy, who was saddling Blamed for the Hall of Fame trainer while Mott was at the Fair Grounds to oversee Country House's run in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (USA-II). As Mott's stand-in, McCarthy ended up taking part in presenting the race trophy . . . to himself.
A daughter of 2010 American champion older male Blame, Blamed traces her ancestry back to another notable champion in Numbered Account, who was the best American 2-year-old filly of 1971 and was not far off that level as a 3-year old. Her pedigree was as stellar as her performance: a daughter of 1966 American Horse of the Year and four-time American champion broodmare sire Buckpasser, she was produced from the Swaps mare Intriguing, a fine producer from the Striking branch of the great La Troienne tribe, and was inbred to both War Admiral and La Troienne.
Numbered Account's performance as a broodmare was just as outstanding as her ability as a racer. Her best runner on the track was multiple Grade I winner Private Account (by Damascus), who was also an important sire. She also produced the good Maryland sire Polish Numbers (by Danzig) and the important producers Secret Asset (by Graustark) and Confidentiality (by Lyphard).
Dance Number, Numbered Account's 1979 daughter by Northern Dancer, was not far off Private Account in ability, winning the 1983 Beldame Stakes (USA-I). A first-rate broodmare in her own right, she produced 1989 American champion 2-year-old male Rhythm (by Mr. Prospector); his full brother Not for Love, who led the Maryland general sire list 10 times and five times ranked as the best American stallion based outside Kentucky; and Grade III winner Get Lucky (by Mr. Prospector), a modern matriarch in her own right.
Bred to Seattle Slew in 1985, Dance Number produced Oscillate, who won only once from 10 tries but made up for her shortcomings on the track by producing 2006 Argentine champion sire Mutakddim; Takesmybreathaway, dam of 2008 Suburban Handicap (USA-I) winner Frost Giant; and three other graded stakes producers, among them Miss Salsa, whose gelded son Pacific Ocean (by Ghostzapper) won two Grade III events.
Blamed is out of stakes-placed Salsa Star, Miss Salsa's 2006 daughter by Giant's Causeway. After producing five foals for Maryland-based Sagamore Farm, Salsa Star was exported to Saudi Arabia in late 2016, carrying a filly by Super Saver (who traces to Dance Number through Get Lucky).
Blamed is much the best runner produced by Salsa Star, and her pedigree features a string of inbreedings to some of the best bloodlines in American racing, virtually all of it through animals who themselves had impeccable credentials as either racing or breeding stock. She herself is inbred 4x5 to both Roberto and Mr. Prospector and 5x5x5x5 to Northern Dancer; Salsa Star is 4x4 to Northern Dancer; and Oscillate is 4x4 to Glamour (a good stakes winner and excellent producer), 5x5x5 to Nasrullah and 5x5 to Polynesian. Oscillate's pedigree packs even more of a genetic wallop thanks to the presence of Busher (a full sister to Glamour's dam Striking) in the fifth generation and Busanda (a first-rate staying mare and, like Striking and Busher, a product of the War Admiral/La Troienne cross) in the fourth generation. Then we come to Dance Number, inbred 3x5 to Nearco (sire of Nasrullah) and 4x5 to Hyperion, and finally to Numbered Account, inbred 3x5x4 to War Admiral, 4x5 to La Troienne, and 5x5 to the great English matriarch Selene, dam of Hyperion.
This accumulation of high-class ancestors, crossed and recrossed through descendants that themselves stood the tests of the racetrack and the breeding shed with honor, does not guarantee that either Blamed or her stakes-placed half sister Chubby Star (herself inbred 3x4 to Seattle Slew, 4x5 to Mr. Prospector, and 5x5 to Secretariat) will enjoy success as broodmares. Nonetheless, it has yielded a very nice racer in Blamed, and the odds are good that when the time comes for her to retire to the paddocks, she will post more good runners to her ancestress' account.
The daughter of a champion mother, this mare could not emulate her dam on the track. However, she easily outdid her as a broodmare, completing a unique double by producing a multiple American champion on the flat and a multiple American champion over the jumps. Who was she?
Great mare families are gifts that keep on giving, and the family of Darby Dan foundation mare Golden Trail definitely falls in this category. Four weeks ago, this column explored the Java Moon branch of the family leading to 2019 Marshua's River Stakes (USA-IIIT) winner Bellavais via Java Moon's high-class granddaughter Memories of Silver. This week, the same family is back in the spotlight via the highly regarded Winter Sunset, who is now two-for-two after winning the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Overnight Stakes at the Fair Grounds on February 9.
Generally speaking, it isn't wise to turn down an offer of US$900,000 for a yearling Thoroughbred---a perishable commodity if there ever was one. Even without the risk of loss through a misstep or illness, most expensive yearlings never come close to justifying their purchase prices. Nonetheless, the Phillips Racing Partnership elected to retain Winter Sunset when that was the highest bid that could be elicited for her at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. (They later sold an interest in the filly to Bob Cummings' and Annette Bacola's Coffeepot Stables).
Winter Sunset did not get to the races until November 29 of last year, but her maiden race was everything that her connections could have hoped for as she went gate-to-wire in dominating style. Her race was good enough to get her a "Rising Star" tag from Thoroughbred Daily News, and she was equally impressive in the Shantel Lanerie if not more so. Not only did she win by daylight over Grade III winner Elsa, but she was under a hand ride at the finish in spite of going six-wide around the far turn. At this point, her potential on turf appears unlimited, making her retention seem like a much smarter decision.
A daughter of three-time American champion sire Tapit, Winter Sunset is the second foal and first winner produced by Winter Memories. "Like mother, like daughter" would certainly be a good thing as far as Winter Sunset's connections are concerned, for Winter Memories won seven graded turf stakes during her racing career. Her signature wins were in the 2011 Garden City Stakes (USA-IT) and the 2012 Diana Stakes (USA-IT), and she retired to the paddocks having won eight of her 12 starts for earnings of US$1,268,100. Winter Memories' first foal, the 2014 Street Cry colt Make Memories, failed to win, but the mare has since produced full siblings to Winter Sunset in 2017 and 2018. She was last bred to Union Rags.
An El Prado half sibling to three other stakes winners produced from multiple Grade I winner Memories of Silver (by Silver Hawk), Winter Memories is the fifth daughter of Memories of Silver to come up with a stakes winner. She joins La Cloche (by Ghostzapper), dam of Bellavais; Bridal Memories (by Unbridled), dam of Penn Mile (USA-IIT) winner Hawkish; Star Silver (by Aldebaran), dam of 2016 Colleen Stakes winner Red Lodge; and Recollect (by El Prado), dam of Grade II-placed stakes winner Elusive Collection. In addition, yet another daughter, Memories for Us, is the second dam of French listed stakes winner Spinning Memories. Given the quality of stallions that these mares have been seeing plus their own genetic potential, the prospects look bright for this branch of Golden Trail's family to be producing many more "memories" for years to come.
This top producer, a Grade I winner during her own racing days, went through the sale ring four times as a broodmare or broodmare prospect. Along the way, she produced graded or Group stakes winners for every one of her owners and was the dam of an American champion and a South African champion sire. Who was she?
At the start of his career, Tax could have been claimed for US$30,000. He wasn't, but showed enough in his maiden effort at a distance probably a bit short for him to be bumped up to a US$50,000 tag in his next outing. Seven people thought the big, rangy youngster was a good enough value at that price to drop in a claim for him. Trainer Danny Gargan, acting for Hugh Lynch, won the shake to determine the horse's new ownership and led away a horse Lynch thought might make a good turf runner. Two starts later, Lynch and partners Luis Stritsman, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing have a potential Kentucky Derby horse in Tax, whose grit and determination won last Saturday's Withers Stakes (USA-III) in spite of a troubled trip.
How a young horse as well-bred as Tax ended up starting his racing life as a gelding in the claiming ranks would probably be a story in itself, akin to a prince becoming a pauper. Bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, he is a son of the late Arch, a Grade I-winning Roberto-line horse who did good service at stud for Claiborne before his death in January 2016. On the distaff side, his family is one of the most stellar branches of the fabulous La Troienne's tribe, descending through 1993 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute.
Among Glowing Tribute's outstanding brood (which also includes 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero and Grade I winner Hero's Honor) is Wild Applause, a daughter of Northern Dancer. A full sister to Hero's Honor, she was quite a good race mare in her own right, winning the 1984 Diana Handicap (USA-IIT). She was even better as a broodmare, producing four graded stakes winners. Unfortunately, her son Eastern Echo (by Damascus) was too unsound to follow up on the promise he showed in winning the 1990 Futurity Stakes (USA-I), but Grade II winner Roar proved a very good stallion in Argentina, winning that country's sire championship in 2004.
Yell, the best of Wild Applause's daughters on the track, won the 2003 Davona Dale Stakes (USA-II) and Raven Run Stakes (USA-III). Given her race record, her family, and her status as a daughter of A.P. Indy, she was something of a disappointment during her own producing career as she came up with only one stakes winner, Cheery (by Distorted Humor). As often enough happens when a beautifully-credentialed mare doesn't quite deliver in the paddocks, her daughters have begun making up for it, however. Cheery produced multiple Grade I winner Elate (by Medaglia d'Oro) as her first foal, and after producing only a couple of minor winners from four previous foals, Yell's winning daughter Toll (by Giant's Causeway) has come up with Tax.
On pedigree and conformation, Tax looks to be the sort of horse likely to improve with maturity and distance, which is promising indeed as he also has a solid third-place effort in last fall's Remsen Stakes (USA-II) on his record. He may still be tried on turf at some future date, but for now, he is likely to remain in the Derby trail in hopes that he will prove worthy of wild applause on the first Saturday in May.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.