An Argentine Classic winner at 3, Village King did not fare particularly well during an American foray in 2018-2019 (he won the 2018 Red Smith Handicap, a listed race, and was third in the 2019 Pan American Handicap, USA-G2) but has been a solid competitor in his native country. He is one of the many good horses descended from Lady Be Good, who was among a number of fine Wheatley Stable horses that Ogden Phipps used in building up his own racing and breeding enterprise.
A narrow and crooked-legged but speedy daughter of Better Self (a good contemporary of Citation and Coaltown), Lady Be Good won two stakes races as a juvenile and placed in three more. At stud, she founded a family that tended to reproduce her own speed and precocity. The dam of four stakes winners, she is the ancestress of such standouts as the champion European milers Zilzal and Polish Precedent, the European champion juvenile filly Culture Vulture (who trained on to win the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches/French One Thousand Guineas, FR-G1, at 3), and the brilliant sprinter Mining.
In spite of its predilection for speed, Lady Be Good's family has shown the ability to produce Classic runners at up to 12 furlongs when repeatedly crossed with more stamina-oriented mates, its scions of this type including 2005 Vodafone Derby Stakes (ENG-G1) winner Motivator, 2004 Oaks d'Italia winner Menhoubah, and 1988 Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (USA-G1) winner Goodbye Halo. Village King fits in neatly with this group, and the infusion of stamina into his pedigree begins with his fourth dam, Lady Be Good's daughter Discipline. Sired by the staying Princequillo (whose victories included the Jockey Club Gold Cup when it was run over 2 miles), Discipline was a juvenile stakes winner but stayed well enough to win the Molly Pitcher Handicap over 8.5 furlongs as a 4-year-old.
Bred to Buckpasser (who stayed up to 2 miles), Discpline produced Squander, a Grade 1 winner over 6 furlongs as a 2-year-old but the second dam of Goodbye Halo (whose pedigree contained two more crosses to horses that could stay as she was sired by Halo out of a daughter of Sir Ivor). Discipline's other stakes-winning daughter is Duty Dance, who was sired by Nijinsky II. Of all the sons of Northern Dancer, Nijinsky II---the last winner of the English Triple Crown---was the most reliable source of stamina, and Duty Dance lived up to that heritage by winning the 1986 Diana Handicap (USA-G2) over 9 furlongs on grass.
Duty Dance's only stakes winner was Party Manners, who in 1995 won the 9-furlong Widener Handicap (USA-G3)---a race that his sire Private Account had won when it was a Grade 1 event over 10 furlongs. His year-younger half sister Bugaloo (by 1988 Travers Stakes, USA-G1, winner Forty Niner) was an unknown quantity with regard to stamina as she never raced.
Sold for US$300,000 at the 1996 Keeneland November mixed sale when covered by Dixieland Band, Bugaloo's performance as a broodmare may be gauged by the fact that she sold for US$38,000 at the same sale nine years later, in foal to Lion Heart. Her last foal before her change of hands was Villard, whose sire Pleasant Tap showed Grade 1-winning form over 7 furlongs but stayed well enough at age 5 to win two Grade 1 events over 10 furlongs before running second to 1992 American Horse of the Year A.P. Indy in the Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-G1). (For his efforts, Pleasant Tap was voted the Eclipse Award as the American champion older male of 1992.) Villard never raced and was exported to Argentina, where she was put to the Kingmambo horse Campanologist---a multiple Group 1 winner at up to 2400 meters---to produce Village King, a two-time Group 1 winner at 2000 meters and a Group 3 winner at 2400 meters.
While the typical North American breeding formula for producing the ideal Classic horse has involved putting a stallion with speed to a mare from stouter bloodlines, European breeders have often done the reverse---taking a female family with a proven ability to transmit speed and crossing its members with staying stallions until the desired balance is reached---and this is the pattern that yielded Village King. Whether it has also yielded a good stallion remains to be seen, but Village King has done enough already to show the value of the multigenerational planning that has characterized some of the best breeding programs from around the world as well as the long-term value of a lady who was good indeed.