It seems almost impossible by modern racing standards, but the subject of today's quiz won six Grade 1 races in one season in the United States, yet did not earn an Eclipse Award. Further, his nose victory in one of those races may actually have sealed a championship for his defeated rival. Who was he, and who was the horse who gained more stature for his narrow defeat than our hero did for winning?
4-year-old Scalding is on a hot streak. Unbeaten in four starts in 2022, the colt defeated a good field in the Ben Ali Stakes (USA-G3) on April 23, earning his second straight Grade 3 win after taking the Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his previous outing. While his next target hasn't been penciled in yet, a step up to Grade 2 or even Grade 1 competition seems likely next out, assuming that he stays healthy.
Scalding is much the best horse to emerge so far among the descendants of 2001 American champion 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat, who took an unorthodox path to the heights. One of the few pure sprinters to be awarded an American championship outside the sprint division and one of the smallest horses to win an American championship in any division, she made up for her lack of stamina and size with speed, heart, and consistency.
Sired by the Grade 3-winning Dixieland Band horse Dixieland Heat and from a moderate female family, the tiny Xtra Heat (who stood a shade under 15 hands at the end of her 3-year-old season) passed through the bargain basement three times before she ever made it to the racetrack. A US$9,100 weanling at the 1998 Keeneland November mixed sale, she resold for US$4,700 at the 1999 Ocala Breeders' Sales August yearling sale. She finally found a racing home when sold to Ken Taylor, Harry Deitchman, and John E. Salzman Sr. for US$5,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic May sale of 2-year-olds on training, but nearly moved on again when she was dropped into a US$25,000 maiden claimer in her first start. Fortunately for her owners, trainer Scott Lake was late getting a claim slip in, missing the deadline, and Xtra Heat won by a neck. She was not risked again. By the end of her 2-year-old season, the pocket-sized filly had won eight of nine starts, including the Astarita Stakes (USA-G2) and six other black-type events, and had earned US$262,110.
One of the reasons Xtra Heat had been such an inexpensive 2-year-old is that she had OCD lesions in both stifles, and a deal to sell her for US$350,000 after the Astarita fell through when the potential buyer learned that the lesions were still present. That left Taylor, Deitchman, and Salzman to laugh all the way to the bank as their little speedball amassed another $1,012,040 at 3. She won nine of 13 starts that season and was never out of the money, setting a 6-furlong track record at Pimlico along the way. All of her wins were in stakes events, including the Prioress Stakes (USA-G1) and three other graded races, and she was second to American champion sprinter Squirtle Squirt in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (USA-G1). There was no award category for champion female sprinter at the time, but Xtra Heat had been so tough and consistent that she beat out multiple Grade 1 winners Exogenous and Flute in the 3-year-old filly division.
Xtra Heat raced on with distinction at 4 and 5, racking up eight more stakes wins (six of them in graded races). Her final tally was 26 wins and seven placings from 35 starts, with earnings of US$2,389,635. 25 of her wins were in stakes races, a mark that helped her earn induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2015. No other female member of the Hall of Fame from the 20th or 21st centuries has more black-type wins to her name; only the 19th-century champion Firenze surpasses her record among the fair sex, with 33 wins in added-money events plus several victories in sweepstakes to her credit. An equally remarkable aspect of Xtra Heat's record is her consistent speed; during one stretch in her career, she racked up 13 consecutive races in which she earned a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, including a career high of 120.
As a broodmare, Xtra Heat produced 14 named foals, of which 12 have started and eight have won; her last foal is the unraced 3-year-old colt Casino Heat, by Outwork. Two were stakes winners, with the elder being the 2004 Gone West colt Southwestern Heat. A Grade 3-placed stakes winner, he appeared to be shaping into a nice regional sire in New Mexico when he died in 2017.
Xtra Heat's other stakes winner is Elusive Heat, a son of Gone West's champion sire son Elusive Quality. The winner of the restricted Geyser Spring Stakes at Saratoga in 2009, Elusive Heat produced only one foal, the 2011 Medaglia d'Oro mare Hot Water, who produced Grade 3-placed stakes winner Tracksmith (by Street Sense) as her second foal and Scalding as her fourth. Since Scalding Hot Water has produced the 2019 Speightstown filly Hot and Sultry, who broke her maiden earlier this year; the unraced 2020 Runhappy colt Runhappy d'Oro; and a 2021 filly by Omaha Beach. Hot Water was most recently bred to War of Will.
Scalding still has a long way to go before raking up a record comparable to his great-granddam's, but he appears to be heading in the right direction after not racing at all at 2 and placing once from two tries at 3. A good season for him in 2022 would go a long way toward redeeming the broodmare record of a gallant little champion whose race record was as hot as anyone could ask.
Known as the "Giant Killer," Allen Jerkens was a great trainer by any measurement but was best known for his ability to pit unheralded horses against the great champions of his time and come off a winner. Name the first horse trained by Jenkins to pull off a win in a "hundred-grander" (a race with $100,000 or more added to the purse), the race in which it happened, and the champion who fell before Jerkens' upstart trainee.
On April 16, Tawny Port put in some insurance on securing a guaranteed starting berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1). While the 40 points he already had for finishing second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (USA-G3) would have put him in the top 20 Derby candidates anyway after the dust cleared from this month's Derby preps, his win in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (USA-G3) added 20 more points to his total, vaulting him up to 11th on the leaderboard. He also proved his ability to handle dirt and further franked the form of Road to the Roses leader Epicenter, having finished fifth in the Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford (USA-G2) behind that rival---a race that also included subsequent Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (USA-G1) winner Zandon, Blue Grass runner-up Smile Happy, and Sunland Park Derby (USA-G3) winner Slow Down Andy.
As a son of 2009 Santa Anita Derby (USA-G1) winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, Tawny Port figures to get the Derby distance, but the dam's side of his pedigree may make that last furlong a little more open to question. He is a female-line descendant of Hidden Talent, winner of the faster division of the Kentucky Oaks in 1959 and the founder of a family that has inclined toward miler speed, though with the ability to blend successfully with more stamina-oriented mates.
A daughter of 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star, Hidden Talent won the Oaks when it was contested at 8.5 furlongs. She produced only four foals, but two were both stakes winners and broodmares of substantial merit. One was the Bald Eagle mare Too Bald, whose best distance range proved to be 7-8 furlongs in spite of the stamina of her sire. The 1986 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Too Bald was one of those rare gems whose foals tended to inherit both her speed and whatever distance proclivities their sire had and so threw five stakes winners ranging from the staying Exceller (sired by Vaguely Noble, a European champion whose best performances were over 12 furlongs) to American champion juvenile Capote (by Seattle Slew, whose stallion profile---A.P. Indy excepted---tended more toward miler speed than classic stamina).
Hidden Talent's other stakes winner was Turn to Talent (by Turn-to), who took down her biggest win in the 1966 Pageant Handicap over 8.5 furlongs. Bred to Hoist the Flag, Turn to Talent produced 1976 New Castle Stakes winner Hay Patcher, whose son Broad Brush (by 1971 American Horse of the Year Ack Ack, a top-class horse at up to 10 furlongs) could run 10 furlongs with any horse out there when his mind was on running.
A half sister by 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Majestic Prince to Hay Patcher, What a Queen won one race over a mile and 70 yards but may have tended to pass down some unsoundness bequeathed by her rather heavy-topped sire, for three of her six named foals never raced. Among those was Silver Greta whose sire Silver Buck (by Buckpasser) won the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap (USA-G1) in a rather subpar year for the American older male division.
Silver Greta's opportunities as a broodmare were limited in terms of the quality of the stallions she was put to, and she produced only three winners from nine named foals. The best of them was Trust Greta (by the winning Mr. Prospector horse Centrust), who won five of her 12 starts. She fit the miler profile of her family pretty well, and she was a definite improvement on her dam and granddam as a broodmare. Bred to the Storm Cat horse Sir Cat (a multiple Grade 2 winner on turf and capable of carrying his speed 9 furlongs), she produced multiple Grade 2 winner Surf Cat, who could likewise go 9 furlongs in graded company. Trust Greta also produced Rosie O'Greta, a Fight Over filly who defeated colts in the 1995 Tremont Breeders' Cup Stakes (USA-G3) as a juvenile but failed to train on.
Greta's Joy (by the Grade 1-winning Nureyev horse Joyeux Danseur, who took down his biggest win at 9 furlongs) was far removed from the ability of her half siblings. While she was consistent at her level, winning four races and placing in another six from 15 starts, that level was quite low, and she was strictly a sprinter. She was a much better producer than racer; all five of her foals were winners (including the Purge gelding Clean Up Joy, a stakes winner in Korea), and her best foal was actually a decent race mare. This was Livi Makenzie, a daughter of 2000 American champion 2-year-old male Macho Uno (later a winner of the 9-furlong Massachusetts Handicap, USA-G2). The winner of the 2013 Saylorville Stakes (a listed race over 6 furlongs), Livi Makenzie placed in five other stakes races, including two graded events, at distances up to a mile. Tawny Point is her fourth named foal and third winner, and after producing a dead foal in 2020, she gave birth to a 2021 filly by Always Dreaming.
There seems little reason to doubt that Tawny Port will handle 9 furlongs just fine, but whether that last furlong of the Derby is within his scope will probably depend on Pioneerof the Nile's contribution to his genetic mix. Regardless, he seems to be a nice colt who is improving at the right time, and after his last two starts, his talent is hidden no more.
During the 20th century, only five horses were given the honor of being buried intact in Claiborne Farm's famous horse cemetery. For all the other equine funerals conducted at Claiborne (which included many of the greats in Thoroughbred racing and breeding), the time-honored custom of burying only the head, heart, hooves, and (in the case of stallions) genitals was followed due to the need to conserve the available space. Who were the five horses who were buried in their entirety at Claiborne?
Some horses are standouts from the day they are conceived on bloodlines alone. Sired by top horses from deep families that have produced leading racers for generations, they are expected to do great things, and when they do, it is no great surprise. Other horses seemingly come from nowhere, pulling together the best genes from undistinguished parents.
On his sire's side, undefeated RUNHAPPY Santa Anita Derby (USA-G1) winner Taiba has as good credentials as any horse out there, being by the red-hot young stallion Gun Runner. The 2017 American Horse of the Year, Gun Runner has sired three other Grade 1 winners thus far from his first crop, foals of 2019, including undefeated 2021 American champion 2-year-old filly Echo Zulu, now a top contender for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1), and recent Arkansas Derby (USA-G1) winner Cyberknife, who will likely make his next start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1). It is the dam's side that will undoubtedly have pedigree pundits scratching their heads, for in the two starts of his brief career, Taiba has shown talent far beyond anything seen in his female family in generations.
This family began its journey to the United States via Atenea II, a 1961 product of leading Uruguayan stud Haras Casupá. Acknowledged as the champion Uruguayan 3-year-old filly of her year, she was exported to Puerto Rico, where she joined the broodmare band of Potrero del Sur. There, to a mating with juvenile stakes winner Stevward (a son of 1955 American Horse of the Year and important sire Nashua), she produced Etherea.
Taking after her precocious sire, Etherea placed in three Puerto Rican stakes as a juvenile but failed to progress beyond that level. Given that she was bred to a series of stallions that had at best modest credentials. she probably did as well as could be expected. Her first five foals were bred in Puerto Rico, and the only one of the five to start or win was her first, Caterea (by the Roman horse Catullus). Catullus had been a good stakes winner as a juvenile, but Caterea defied her precocious heritage by waiting to win a stakes race until she was 4.
After this series of foals, Etherea was covered by the Raise a Native horse Grand Rights (an unraced half brother to 1974 French champion 3-year-old male Caracolero) and sent to Kentucky, where she produced Grand Glory in 1982. Like Caterea, Grand Glory waited until 4 to show her best form, winning the listed American Beauty Stakes over 5.5 furlongs at Oaklawn Park and the Fargo Stakes over 8.5 furlongs at Canterbury Downs for owner Elizabeth Alexander.
As Alexander and her husband Quentin were Ohio residents, their primary focus as breeders was on the lucrative Ohio state-bred program. Nonetheless, Grand Glory's record was good enough to gain access to a better class of stallions than her dam had visited, and the Alexanders made use of that access. Grand Glory produced seven winners from her eight foals, including 1997 Governor's Buckeye Cup Stakes winner Lived It Up (by Devil's Bag).
More importantly for the future, Grand Glory produced Phone Switch to a 1992 cover by the top sprinter and good speed sire Phone Trick. A winner of five of her 24 starts, Phone Switch was primarily a sprinter but not a very talented one. Nonetheless, she produced three foals that garnered black type in the Ohio-bred program, culminating with Sousaphone. A 2004 daughter of 1999 European champion sprinter Stravinsky, Sousaphone took after her sire in preferring the grass but stayed better than either parent, winning the 2008 Vivacious Handicap (a state-bred race) over 8.5 furlongs at River Downs and placing third at the same distance in the 2009 Endeavour Stakes (USA-G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Kiosk, Phone Switch's 2000 daughter by the winning Afleet horse Left Banker, was not as talented but nonetheless earned her oats, placing in five state-bred stakes at ages 2 through 4 before retiring to the paddocks to produce three stakes winners in the Ohio-bred program. Like her dam, she was a sprinter, but her best daughter, Needmore Flattery (by A. P. Indy's good sire son Flatter), was able to stretch her speed to intermediate distances. A multiple stakes winner at ages 2, 3, and 4 and multiple stakes-placed at 5, Needmore Flattery was also the most durable and consistent of her dam's runners, winning 17 of her 39 starts and placing in another 10. Her record earned her a chance to visit Gun Runner's court, and she made the most of it, producing Taiba as her second foal. Her first foal, the 2018 Uncle Mo colt Need More Mo, has not raced, and her last known produce is a 2020 filly by Uncle Mo who arrived after Needmore Flattery was exported to Europe in late 2019.
Taiba will buck history if he does run in and win the Kentucky Derby, which would be only his third lifetime start. It has been done before; Leonatus won the 1883 Kentucky Derby off a single start at 2 and a win in the Blue Ribbon Stakes at 3, and he went on to rack up a 10-for-10 3-year-old season that gained him acclaim as the best American 3-year-old male of his year. Leonatus faced only six rivals in the Derby, though, a far cry from the full field of 20 likely to contest this year's renewal. Taiba has never faced a field with anything like the traffic problems routinely encountered in the Derby, and how the inexperienced colt will react to being jostled about inside other horses or having dirt kicked in his face is anyone's guess. Should he succeed in capturing the roses, he will write one of the more unusual stories in Kentucky Derby history, both because of his meteoric rise to Classic success and because of a female family that will have risen to fame with equal suddenness after a long, strange journey off the beaten path.
Six days before this Kentucky Derby winner's score, the contract between his owner and one of the top jockeys in the country ran out and was not renewed by mutual consent. While the jockey in question could still have ridden his former employer's horse, he elected to ride a better-fancied animal from a different stable, He wound up sixth and probably wished his contract had lasted a few more days, for another jockey picked up the mount he left behind on a blind-date basis (jockey and colt did not meet until 15 minutes before the Derby's post time) and won the roses. What Derby winner was the center of this little drama, who owned him, and who were the jockeys involved?
On March 2, White Abarrio guaranteed himself a slot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1) with a businesslike win in the Curlin Florida Derby (USA-G1). While many observers have noted that Charge It might have won if he had raced less greenly in the stretch, White Abarrio still stands as the winner and is the latest major star for a family that has been producing good horses for some time.
A son of the Tapit stallion Race Day (a multiple Grade 2 winner over 9 furlongs), White Abarrio is from the female family of the Coaltown mare Miss Newcastle. This family was reviewed in 2019 and 2020 (see "Mares on Monday: A Graded Stakes Double Puts Coals on the Fire for Miss Newcastle," September 30, 2019, and "Mares on Monday: Dr. Post Might Kick Off a Fiesta," April 27, 2020), but in view of White Abarrio's accomplishment, an update on the branch of the family tracing to Miss Newcastle's daughter Faneuil Girl seems to be in order.
Sired by the prolific Nantallah stallion Bolinas Boy, Faneuil Girl was a full sister to multiple stakes winners Faneuil Hall and Faneuil Boy, but the best she could do on the track was a placing in a small stakes at Ruidoso Downs as a 2-year-old. She was a much better producer than racer, foaling five stakes winners including 1984 Matron Stakes (USA-G1) winner Fiesta Lady (by Secretariat). Fiesta Lady did not train on at 3 and was a disappointing broodmare but is the second dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Thorn Song (by Unbridled's Song) and the third dam of Grade 2 winner Mary Delaney (by Hennessy), dam in turn of multiple Grade 3 winner Dr. Post (by Quality Road).
The second-best runner among Faneuil Girl's foals was Faneuil Lass, who won the 1982 Princess Stakes (USA-G3) and Railbird Stakes (USA-G3) at Hollywood as a 3-year-old. Sired by the obscure Somebody II (whose sire, the Court Martial horse Wilkes, was a three-time champion sire in Australia), Faneuil Lass produced 1989 Los Angeles Handicap (USA-G3) winner Sam Who (by Lypheor). More importantly for the future, she produced Breeze Lass, whose sire, 1976 Queens County Handicap (USA-G3) winner It's Freezing (by T. V. Commercial) was an honest., hardy racehorse and a prolific sire of hard-knocking winners.
Breeze Lass raced only twice, winning once, so she was not exactly a sterling example of her sire's hardiness. She was, however, a prolific broodmare, producing 13 named foals. All of those foals started, and 11 were winners. Most had a bit of speed, though not much class; the best of the bunch as a racehorse was Afleet Lass (by Northern Afleet), who won a minor stakes at Calder and was listed-placed before producing stakes winner Honor the Fleet (by To Honor and Serve).
Breeze Lass produced three broodmare daughters of some importance. The most accomplished has been Irmadohomemra (by Candy Stripes, an important Argentine-based son of Blushing Groom), who produced five Brazilian stakes winners including multiple Group 1 winner Juno (by Setembro Chove, a Group 1-winning son of the Mr. Prospector horse Fast Gold), the Brazilian champion 2-year-old filly of 2014/2015. Juno was unable to transfer her best form to North America but placed in three graded stakes at Santa Anita. Through another daughter, Group 2-placed Emily (by Confidential Talk), Irmadohomemra is the second dam of 2017 Grande Prêmio Immensity (BRZ-G1) winner Love 'n' Happiness (by Setembro Chove).
Breeze Lass's second important broodmare daughter is Bluegrass Belle (by Unbridled's Song), dam of 2019 Eddie D. Stakes (USA-G2) winner Pee Wee Reese (by Tribal Rule). The third is Grand Breeze (by multiple Grade 1 winner Grand Slam, by Gone West). The dam of Cool Cowboy (by Kodiak Kowboy), a multiple Group 3 winner in Dubai, Grand Breeze is the second dam of White Abarrio through her daughter Catching Diamonds (by Into Mischief), who was bred at age 3 after running unplaced three times and produced White Abarrio as her first foal. The first daughter of Into Mischief to produce a Grade 1 winner, Catching Diamonds has since produced Cage Match, a 2020 colt by Gormley, and a 2021 colt by Lord Nelson. She was bred to Lord Nelson for 2022.
While White Abarrio has proven himself capable at up to 9 furlongs, his ability to get one more furlong in top company may be open to question, given that Faneuil Girl's family has been more inclined to produce horses adept at sprint and intermediate distances than those preferring longer trips. A final furlong run in :14.09 after a reasonably paced journey is also not too reassuring for a horse seeking to stretch out for a longer trip. Still, he has done what has been asked of him up until now with competence, and that is enough to make White Abarrio both a legitimate Kentucky Derby horse and the latest star from a solid family that keeps on quietly producing good runners.
On December 4, 1966, Zip Pocket set a new world's record for six furlongs on dirt, blazing the distance in 1:07-2/5. Yet before Zip Pocket ever showed what he could do, another horse had scorched the distance even faster in a race, being officially clocked at 1:06-4/5 for six panels, but was not credited with a time record. Who was the horse whose record-breaking speed did not result in a record, when and where was its phenomenal clocking made, and why was an official world record not credited?
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.