Only five fillies started in the Busanda, and neither the field—headed by Affirmative Lady, second in last fall’s Demoiselle Stakes (USA-G2), and Gambling Girl, third in the same race after winning a New York-bred stakes—nor the final time of 1:54.78 were impressive; even allowing for the slow early pace set by Sweetest Princess, Occult still took 0:40.56 to negotiate the final three furlongs. Off that form, she will have some serious catching up to do in order to join the top tier of Oaks contenders. On pedigree, though, she is a nice prospect and may have the potential for the needed improvement.
Sired by four-time American champion sire Into Mischief, Occult traces back to the good broodmare Mono. A daughter of the good stakes winner Better Self (by two-time American champion Bimelech) out of a full sister to 1946 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Assault, Mono showed none of the talent of her illustrious “uncle” and managed to win only one of her 14 starts. Her broodmare record was much better as she produced 12 winners from 14 foals, among them 1981 Donald P. Ross Handicap (USA-G3) winner A Sure Hit (by Ack Ack) and multiple stakes winners Channing Road (by Kentucky Pride) and Rare Performer (by Mr. Prospector). Mono is also the dam of La Finale (by In Reality), dam of 1997 Astarita Stakes (USA-G2) winner Ninth Inning (by Meadowlake) and restricted stakes winner Karakorum Katie (by Pure Prize).
Mine Only, a full sister to Rare Performer, won only once from eight tries but, like her dam, greatly improved on her race record as a broodmare. From 12 foals, she produced 1991 Early Times Manhattan Handicap (USA-G2) winner Academy Award (by Secretariat), 1991 Miss Grillo Stakes (USA-G3) winner Good Mood (by Devil’s Bag), and 1993 Nijana Stakes (USA-G3) winner Statuette (by Pancho Villa). The last-named mare produced Group 1-placed listed stakes winner Tomahawk (by Seattle Slew), the highweighted Irish 2-year-old male of 2002, and Mine Only is also the dam of Academy Award’s full sister Chosen Lady, dam of 1998 Ashland Stakes (USA-G1) winner Well Chosen (by Deputy Minister) and 1996 Cherry Hill Mile Stakes (USA-G3) winner In Contention (by Devil’s Bag) and second dam of two-time Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (USA-G1) winner Telling (by A.P. Indy) and multiple Grade 3 winner Multiple Choice (by Mt. Livermore).
Good Mood is one of three other stakes-producing daughters of Mine Only, accounting for stakes winner Grand Royale (by Danzig), but more was expected from her given her race record, pedigree, and opportunities. As is often the case when a good race mare has a slew of well-bred daughters, several of Good Mood’s daughters have come up with good runners, most notably Business Plan (by Deputy Minister), whose son Golden Ticket (by Speightstown) dead-heated with Alpha for the 2012 Travers Stakes (USA-G1). Good Mood is also the dam of Attitude (by Capote), dam of restricted stakes winner Sterling Outlook (by Eurosilver), and of Magical Mood (by Forestry), whose daughter Magical Feeling (by Empire Maker) won the 2012 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (USA-G2) before producing Occult and stakes winners Exulting (by Tapit) and Magical (by Tapit). Magical Feeling’s most recent produce is Imagination, a 2-year-old full brother to Occult, and she is expecting a 2023 foal by Gun Runner.
Overall, the record of Mono’s family, while commendable, has not been top-drawer, and this female line has not produced anything close to Assault’s ability and consistency in the decades since. The likeliest forecast for Occult is that she will turn out to be a nice performer without ever approaching the top of her crop, but several members of her family have turned in surprising performances during the years, and it is always possible that Occult will find her own magic on the first Friday in May. Stranger things have happened.