Sired by a stallion who couldn't win out of a dam who was no better, this future champion lived down to that pedigree by losing his first six races. From that inauspicious beginning, he went on to be a champion in the United States and a major race winner in England. Name him.
After two-time American Horse of the Year Curlin's first crop failed to set the world on fire as 2-year-olds or early 3-year-olds, some people were quick to proclaim that the stallion was a disappointment. That was before Palace Malice won the 2013 Belmont Stakes (USA-I) and followed up with the 2014 Metropolitan Handicap.
Curlin was still pretty much a one-horse sire at the end of 2013, as none of his other four stakes winners that year were the type that attract much notice. Nonetheless, he was rising steadily in the ranks as his runners matured. From ninth on the 2012 American freshman sire list and third on the 2013 American second-crop sire list, he became the leading American third-crop sire of 2014. That year, he was represented by 12 stakes winners including Palace Malice and his second graded stakes winner, 2014 John C, Mabee Stakes (USA-IIT) winner Moulin de Mougin.
Currently eighth on the American general sire list, Curlin is on pace to have an even bigger year in 2015. With the bulk of the year's most important races still to come, this year's runners already include five new graded stakes winners, headed by two-time Grade I winner Curalina and Santa Anita Oaks (USA-I) winner Stellar Wind. The stallion also has his first juvenile graded stakes winner, Schuylerville Stakes (USA-III) winner Off the Tracks.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that Curlin's sire profile would improve as his progeny matured. A big, massive, lengthy horse, he was unraced at 2 before becoming the unquestioned champion of his generation at 3 and 4, and his best distance was 10 furlongs. Further, he was sired by Smart Strike, himself primarily a sire of horses that improved with maturity. That is not the profile of a sire likely to get early-maturing stock or runners capable of excelling at the sprint distances that constitute the bulk of American racing.
Curlin is still not a great sire by any stretch of the imagination. His first three crops of 327 named foals (including four born on Southern Hemisphere time) include 175 winners (53.5%) and 17 stakes winners (5.2%). Nonetheless, he is proving quite useful for those wanting a horse with a bit more stamina than is typical in the American market, and he is the sort of horse capable of coming up with a breakthrough runner at any time. In his case, patience is paying off.
After breaking her maiden in her sixth start, a maiden claiming race at Latonia, Princess Doreen went on to win the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks at 3 and is generally regarded as the American co-champion 3-year-old filly of 1924, an honor she shared with Preakness Stakes winner Nellie Morse. Most experts also regard her as the top American older female of 1925 and 1926. She is the ancestress of 1989 American champion turf female Brown Bess and of a 1968 filly by Journalist, also named Princess Doreen, that failed to achieve any note.
This former maiden claimer developed into a three-time champion and was the ancestress of an Eclipse Award winner. Oddly enough, another of her direct descendants was given her name but---perhaps fortunately for future pedigree students and racing historians---showed no vestige of her champion ancestor's talent. Name this champion mare.
Erupting From a Fountain of Class
About the best of Northern Dancer's daughters on the track, Fanfreluche was also a broodmare of international significance. Her family gained a new luminary when her great-great-grandson Erupt (by Dubawi) scored an impressive win in the 2015 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (FR-I) on July 14.
A half brother to Group III-placed stakes winner Marie de Medici (by Medicean; dam of multiple Group III winner Local Time, by Invincible Spirit) and to Hespera (by Danehill), dam of Group I-placed stakes winner Lady Penko (by Archipenko), Erupt is out of the Caerleon daughter Mare Nostrum. This of course draws in another strand of Northern Dancer, as Caerleon's sire is the great Nijinsky II, arguably the Dancer's best racing son. Fanfreluche and Nijinsky II share similar genetic backgrounds as they are both from Teddy-line mares inbred to that great sire through the full brothers Sir Gallahad III and Bull Dog. In both cases, the Sir Gallahad III cross comes through 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox via either 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha or his full brother Flares, and the Teddy inbreeding is reinforced by multiple crosses to the speedy Domino, a highly compatible strain.
Mare Nostrum was a Group I-placed Group III winner in her own right and is a half sister to 1994 Yellow Ribbon Invitational Stakes (USA-IT) winner Aube Indienne (by Bluebird), Group III-placed stakes winner Raisonnable (by Common Grounds) and Group II-placed stakes winner Special Gallery (by Tate Gallery). Their dam, Salvora, is a winning daughter of 1980 American Horse of the Year Spectacular Bid and Grand Luxe, one of Fanfreluche's five stakes winners. A daughter of Sir Ivor, Grand Luxe produced only one stakes winner, the Mr. Prospector horse Smackover Creek, but she also produced Grade II-placed Lode (by Mr. Prospector), a champion sire in Argentina. In addition, Grand Luxe is the second dam of multiple Australian Group I winner and champion sire Flying Spur and the third dam of Australian Group I winner and champion sire Encosta de Lago.
As Erupt's sire Dubawi also carries a 4x5 cross to Northern Dancer through the great sire's sons Shareef Dancer and Lyphard, Erupt is 5x6x4x5 to the Dancer, not all that unusual for a top European horse these days. He looks like quite a nice horse off his Grand Prix de Paris form, and given the manner in which he handled dual Classic-placed Storm the Stars, it will be interesting to see how he stacks up against Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs as the European season moves toward the important late summer and fall races.
Mad Hatter won the 2-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1921 and 1922 and the 6-furlong Toboggan Handicap in 1923. He was one of two sons of Fair Play to pull off the Jockey Club Gold Cup/Toboggan Handicap double; the other was Chance Play, who won both races in 1927.
Not too many winners of the Jockey Club Gold Cup over its old 2-mile distance also had the speed to defeat top sprinters, but the rugged old champion who is the subject of today's trivia challenge did just that, winning the 6-furlong Toboggan Handicap---as a 7-year-old, yet. Name him.
The White Stuff
Wherever Beautiful Devil and Passionforfashion go, they turn heads. They aren't great runners, at least not yet. But in a world full of horses in various shades of chestnut, bay and brown, a white horse stands out like a snowball in a coal bin.
White horses have appeared from time to time on the American turf since White Beauty became the first officially registered white in The Jockey Club's records. Foaled in 1963, the daughter of Ky. Colonel carried a mutant allele of the KIT gene now designated as W2 (for "dominant white #2," one of 20 known dominant white alleles). The mutation has varying effects, so that a foal that carries it may range from a loudly marked horse with a partly white coat to pure white.
A daughter of Devil His Due, Beautiful Devil is the latest white winner from White Beauty's family, which is also responsible for the white winners Patchen Prince, The White Fox and Chief White Fox. Beautiful Devil's dam Spot of Beauty (by Skip Away) is also registered as white and was also a winner.
Although White Beauty's family descends from 1922 Coaching Club American Oaks winner Prudish, none of this family have come close to stakes level, and Beautiful Devil doesn't look like a runner with stakes potential at this point; she is already 3, and her recent maiden win was at Belterra Park in Ohio. In fairness, the mares of this line have generally been bred to relatively modest sires, and there is also a tendency for unusually colored Thoroughbreds to be diverted to sporthorse lines. It doesn't have to be that way, though. The Japanese mare Yukichan, a white by 2001 Japanese champion dirt male Kurofune (registered as gray/roan) from the white Sunday Silence daughter Shirayukihime, was a multiple stakes winner in 2008-2010.
Yukichan has no connection to the White Beauty family; her color and her dam's appear to be due to a spontaneous mutation. This also appears to be the case for Turf Club (by Trust N Luck), the dam of Passionforfashion, who is a white with numerous chestnut spots and a chestnut mane and tail. As least as of 2013, Turf Club had not been DNA typed to determine whether her color comes from one of the dominant white variations of KIT or from the sabino gene, a different allele of KIT which can also result in white or mostly-white coloring and which is responsible for the chrome of Turf Club's chestnut half sister Adorable (by Anet). Old Fashioned, the sire of Passionforfashion, is also a known sabino, further clouding the source of Passionforfashion's striking coloring.
How much ability Passionforfashion has is still unknown, but she is said to be a good mover and trainer Doug O'Neill is hoping she'll be ready to start at the Del Mar meeting. It will certainly be interesting to see if this horse of a different color has what it takes to become the first white North American stakes winner.
Yes, it's Discovery. He packed up to 143 pounds as a 5-year-old in 1936 and still holds the record for the maximum assigned in an American route race on the flat.
Pedigrees don't get much better than those of Saturday's Dwyer Stakes (USA-III) winner Speightster, now unbeaten after three starts. By the fine sire Speightstown, the colt is from a family that just keeps producing, that of the great Canadian matriarch No Class.
No Class' six stakes winners and four champions include 1984 Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Classy 'n Smart (by Smarten), whose produce record is not much less impressive than her dam's. The 1991 Canadian Broodmare of the Year, Classy 'n Smart is the dam of 1991 Canadian Horse of the Year Dance Smartly (by Danzig), Grade I winner and two-time American champion sire Smart Strike (by Mr. Prospector, and Smart Strike's full siblings Full of Wonder (2002 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap, CAN-I) and Strike Smartly (2002 Chinese Cultural Center Stakes, CAN-II).
Speightster's dam Dance Swiftly is an unraced full sister to Dance Smartly. Previously the dam of listed stakes winners Paiota Falls (by Kris S.) and West Coast Swing (by Gone West), she is also the dam of Speight Swiftly, a 2-year-old full brother to Speightster who went for $500,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training.
Now 17 years old, 2004 American champion sprinter Speightstown has produced winners of major races all over the American distance spectrum. The son of Gone West had a big Independence Day as he is also the sire of Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (USA-IT) winner Force the Pass. Force the Pass highlights Speightstown's ability to add his own speed to his mates' best attributes as he is out of Social Queen, a Grade III winner on the grass by the strong stamina influence Dynaformer. Speightstown has been among the top 10 American sires for the last five years (including a runner-up finish to Kitten's Joy in 2013) and is currently sixth on the general sire list.
How far Speightster will want to go is still a question. His pedigree is tilted more toward brilliance than that of Force the Pass, but his "aunt" Dance Smartly could go up to 12 furlongs, so longer distances than he has yet run certainly aren't out of the question. If he continues to develop as well as he has done so far, he could definitely spice things up in an already memorable year.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.