While Early Voter's win continued building the reputation of his young sire, it represents another chapter in a rich tradition for his female family. Descended from Chistopher Chenery's foundation mare Hildene, it has been turning out high-class racehorses for over 70 years---probably not a result that anyone would have expected when Chenery first returned a non-winning, visually-impaired mare to the paddocks.
A daughter of 1926 Kentucky Derby winner Bubbling Over---an unsound horse who ended up going blind---Hildene spent her first few years being bred to horses whose ability as racehorses decidedly outran their ability as sires. She showed some ability to produce roast chicken from chicken feathers by throwing Mangohick as her second foal. A son of three-time American champion but poor sire Sun Beau, Mangohick combined his sire's soundness and hardiness with enough talent to win several stakes races.
The turning point in Hildene's broodmare career came when she was taken to the court of Princequillo in 1946. While universally acknowledged as a fine stayer (his wins included the 1943 Jockey Club Gold Cup, then at 2 miles), Princequillo was probably about 10-12 pounds below the best of his crop over the 9-12 furlong range that top American males were then expected to excel at, and his European bloodlines were both strongly stamina-oriented and unfamiliar to most American breeders. "Bull" Hancock of Claiborne Farm had taken a liking to Princequillo and bought into him, but the Claiborne stallion barn was sufficiently full of what were seen as better prospects that Princequillo was sent to the Hancock Family's older Ellerslie Farm in Virginia when he began his stud career in 1945. In Hildene, Princequillo met a mare whose pedigree carried a double dose of the speedier American strains of Ben Brush and Commando, with salutary results.
It could be said that Hildene and Princequillo made each other as a top broodmare and a top sire, for the fruit of their 1946 mating was 1950 American Horse of the Year Hill Prince---in a nice symmetry between then and now, the winner of the 1950 Preakness Stakes among other accomplishments. Named the 1950 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year based mostly on Hill Prince, Hildene produced two more colts by Princequillo (who went on to become a two-time American champion sire and eight-time champion broodmare sire). Both those colts were stakes winners, and Hildene also produced 1958 American champion 2-year-old male First Landing to a cover by Turn-To.
None of Hildene's daughters achieved fame on the track, but Satsuma (sired by the good sprinter but indifferent sire Bossuet) produced three-time American champion filly Cicada. Another Hildene daughter by a moderate sire, First Flush (by Flushing II) proved to be the primary conduit for Hildene's emerging family, producing three stakes winners. Through the best of them, her Bold Ruler daughter Bold Experience (winner of the 1964 Sorority Stakes, then the equivalent of a Grade 1 race), First Flush became the granddam of the high-class Round Table colt Upper Case and the third dam of 1989 Irish St. Leger (IRE-G1) winner Petite Isle.
Early Voting's branch of the family traces back to another of First Flush's stakes winners, Copper Canyon, whose sire Bryan G. was also the sire of Cicada. While Copper Canyon did not produce any stakes winners, she produced four stakes producers including Copernica (by Nijinsky II), dam of 1987 Hopeful Stakes (USA-G1) winner Crusader Sword (by Damascus), and Cherokee Phoenix (by Nijinsky II), dam of 1988 Flamingo Stakes (USA-G1) winner Cherokee Colony (by Pleasant Colony).
Copper Canyon's daughter Insilca (by Buckpasser) never raced but is the dam of 1995 Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (USA-G1) winner Turk Passer (by Turkoman). Through her stakes-winning daughter Silken Doll (by Chieftain), she is also the second dam of 1995 Canadian champion 2-year-old filly Silken Cat (by Storm Cat), in turn the dam of 2004 American champion sprinter and successful sire Speightstown (by Gone West) and of multiple graded stakes winner Irap (by Tiznow), a colt sadly lost to laminitis after suffering a leg fracture in the 2017 Pennsylvania Derby (USA-G1).
In between Speightstown and Irap, Silken Cat foaled Irap's full sister Amour d'Ete. Like her brother, Amour d'Ete suffered a share of misfortune, being robbed of a racing career by a fungal infection, but she was at least lucky enough to recover and go to the paddocks. Early Voting is Amour d'Ete's third foal and third winner, and the mare produced a full sister to the Classic winner in 2020. She followed up with a Constitution filly in 2021 and a Volatile filly foaled on April 17.
Early Voting will not be going on to the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (USA-G1), so the earliest prospect of a matchup between him and surprise Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will likely be in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes (USA-G1) or the Runhappy Travers Stakes (USA-G1) later on in the summer. Nonetheless, in a year in which no one colt has yet established dominance, he certainly has his hat in the ring as a candidate for year-end honors, not an unprecedented position in the history of Hildene's descendants.