Most people recognize Calumet Farm as the greatest American racing program of the 20th century, but not everyone recalls that it was a Standardbred nursery before it was switched over to Thoroughbreds. Your challenge: Name the first homebred stakes winner to race for Calumet after it switched between the two breeds.
In a topsy-turvy 2020, some things remain the same. Saratoga and Del Mar are still favored places to reveal promising juveniles, and on August 8, Weston added his name to the list of youngsters to keep an eye on. A gelded son of 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (USA-G1) winner and freshman sire Hit It a Bomb (War Front x Liscanna, by Sadler's Wells), Weston dug down deep to score by a neck over Girther in the Best Pal Stakes (USA-G2) at 6 furlongs on the main track. While his time was unimpressive, the professional demeanor he displayed both in the paddock and after getting shuffled back early stood him in good stead, and no one can fault the determination he displayed in his final surge to the wire.
While dirt was not Hit It a Bomb's forte, the distaff side of Weston's pedigree gave good reason for trying the gelding on the main track. He is a member of the family of Passing Look, which has had some turf and distance successes but has been at its best at intermediate distances or less and on the dirt.
A Buckpasser half sister to the Northern Dancer horse Gay Jitterbug, who was a Grade 3 winner on turf and Grade 2-placed on dirt, Passing Look was stakes-placed on dirt at 2 and 3. Like many other daughters of Buckpasser, she proved a valuable broodmare, producing three stakes-winning fillies by perennial Canadian champion sire Vice Regent as well as the Northern Dancer mare Look North, dam of Raja's Revenge (by Raja Baba; a Grade 3 winner at 7 and 8 furlongs) and second dam of 2000 San Vicente Stakes (USA-G2) winner Archer City Slew.
None of Passing Look's stakes-winning fillies produced any stakes winners themselves, but all are the second or third dams of graded stakes winners. The eldest of the trio is In My Cap, who won six stakes restricted to Canadian-breds at 2 and 3 and ran second in the 1985 Canadian Oaks. She produced stakes-placed Bright Feather (by Fappiano), who in turn produced 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (USA-G1) winner Albert the Great (by 1994 Kentucky Derby, USA-G1, winner Go for Gin) and listed stakes winners Watch the Bird (by Rahy) and Sheer Bliss (by Relaunch). Bright Feather is also the second dam of listed stakes winner Itsmyluckycharm, and through other daughters, In My Cap is the second dam of 2012 Autumn Stakes (CAN-G2) winner James Street and 2002 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes (USA-G3) winner Ask Me No Secrets and the third dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Rushing Fall and 2014 Illinois Derby (USA-G3) winner Dynamic Impact.
In My Cap's youngest sister Passing Vice was an even more accomplished racer, winning the 1993 Bay Meadows Oaks (USA-G3) and placing in the 1992 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (USA-G1) and three other graded stakes races. She was less accomplished as a producer, but via her Gulch daughter Crime, she is the second dam of 2007 St. Simon Stakes (ENG-G3) winner Crime Scene and the third dam of multiple Argentine Group 2 winner Old Bunch.
Trumpet's Blare, the "middle sister" among Passing Look's daughters, reached the highest level as a racehorse, winning the 1989 Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (USA-G1) and four other stakes events. If anything, she was an even more disappointing producer than her sisters, as neither she nor any of her daughters produced any stakes winners. Nonetheless, her unraced daughter Call to the Post (by Mt. Livermore) produced multiple stakes-placed Elke (by Dixie Union), and after a disappointing previous broodmare career, Elke produced Weston as her seventh named foal. She has since produced a 2019 filly by Tapiture and a 2020 colt by Speightster.
On paper, Weston does not seem likely to want distances beyond an extended mile, but his pedigree does suggest enough versatility that a later trial on turf should not be ruled out. He may not turn out to be a great horse, but he is at least one worth giving a passing look.
We probably will not see a filly competing in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1), but fillies have not only done so but have even been favored for the big race when the field went to the post. Your challenge: Name the first filly to be the race-day favorite and the first filly to be the winter book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
While Saturday's four-length win by Hopeful Growth in the Monmouth Oaks (USA-G3) was an upset according to the tote board, it was also the payoff for a trainer's careful provision of learning experiences to a promising but immature filly. After making sure in earlier events that Hopeful Growth knew how to handle being off the pace, being inside horses, and going around two turns, Anthony Margotta Jr. had the pleasure of seeing his pupil put everything together for her first stakes win, in the process trouncing pretty much the same group of fillies that had beaten her into fifth in the Delaware Oaks (USA-G3) on July 4.
Thanks to her victory, Hopeful Growth now has enough points on the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) leaderboard to take a shot at Classic glory if Margotta and owner Vincent Viola (who races as St. Elias Stable) so desire. The daughter of the Tapit horse Tapiture certainly has the pedigree for it, for her family is one of the pillars of Darby Dan breeding, that of Soaring.
Produced from the mating of Swaps to the imported mare Skylarking II and thus a half sister to 1958 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) winner Yla, Soaring failed to win in five starts but bred two good runners while in Darby Dan's broodmare band. One was Mehmet (by His Majesty), winner of the 1982 Monmouth Cup (USA-G1). The other was 1968 Ashland Stakes winner Miss Swapsco (by Cohoes), dam of stakes winners Vite View (by Reviewer) and Secreto's Glory (by Secreto) and the head of a branch of the family leading to champions Devil's Bag, Glorious Song, and Singspiel.
Aside from her two stakes winners, Soaring produced several other daughters that had some significance, among them the Raise a Native mare Pi Phi Gal. The winner of two of her four starts, Pi Phi Gal produced five foals, with the best runner among them being multiple Panamanian stakes winner Pi Phi Prince (by His Majesty). More importantly, she produced the His Majesty mare Graceful Touch, a solid allowance runner whose daughters and granddaughters provided a fruitful cross with stallions from the male line of 1972 Derby Stakes (ENG-G1) winner Roberto, a champion in both England and Ireland and a most influential sire for Darby Dan.
Graceful Touch signaled what was to come by producing Graceful Darby as her second foal. Sired by the useful Roberto horse Darby Creek Road, Graceful Darby won four Grade 3 races and was Grade 1-placed. She proved a disappointing broodmare, but her full sister Graceful Creek produced Grade 1-placed Grade 2 winner Stalcreek (by Stalwart) and listed stakes winner Graceful Cat (by Forest Wildcat).
Tribulation, Graceful Darby's Danzig half sister, achieved higher honors as a race mare, winning the 1993 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (USA-G1) and two Grade 3 races but showed the family affinity for Roberto as well; to the cover of Roberto's good son Silver Hawk, she produced Grade 3 winner Bold Hawk and English listed stakes winner Coshocton. Adding to her credits, her Dubai Millennium daughter Mizna is the dam of multiple Japanese Group 2 winner Decipher (by Deep Impact).
Tribulation's full sister Ameriflora never raced but produced two top-class horses when bred to Silver Hawk. The first was Grass Wonder, the Japanese champion juvenile male of 1997 and a two-time winner of the Arima Kinen (then a Japanese Group 1 and now a Group 1 race by international standards). The other was Wonder Again, a two-time Grade 1 winner on turf in the United States and the dam of Group 3-placed Japanese listed stakes winner Red Raven (by Smart Strike). Bred to the Roberto grandson Rock Hard Ten, Ameriflora added further luster to her record by producing Maiden America, who produced 2017 Bashford Manor Stakes (USA-G3) winner Ten City (by Run Away and Hide) as her second foal and Hopeful Growth as her fourth.
Since producing Hopeful Growth, Maiden America has given birth to the unraced 2018 Shackleford colt Little Chief and a 2019 full brother to Ten City. Her first foal, the winning Kitten's Joy mare Full of Joy, is also active in the paddocks, having produced a Run Away and Hide colt in 2019 and a Klimt filly in 2020. As for Hopeful Growth, she still has some racing to do before her breeding career commences, and one can hope that whatever happens, she will soar to greater heights than those she has already reached.
The great Affirmed, a two-time American Horse of the Year, was known for attacking birds if he got the chance, but he wasn't the only American Classic winner who regarded birds as feathered fiends rather than feathered friends. Among his other quirks, this Preakness champion would try to stomp pigeons into the ground if he saw them in the shedrow. Who was he?
It seems stunning that in a year in which trainers have been crying for a place to run their horses, a Grade 1 sprint with a total purse of $232,500 could not draw but five entries. Yet that's exactly what happened in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga on July 25, and the race was further reduced when Lexitonian was scratched at the gate on the recommendation of the track veterinarian. That left three Grade 1 winners in the race---Whitmore, Mind Control and Firenze Fire---and Volatile, a lightly-raced 4-year-old who was coming in off an 8-length romp in the Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 6. At the race's end, Volatile made it four Grade 1 winners from four starters, scoring by one and a quarter lengths over the veteran Whitmore.
Some observers found the results rather unsatisfying, given that Whitmore had broken through the gate prior to the official start and that Volatile was allowed to get away with an opening quarter in :23.46, downright leisurely by the standards of top sprinters. Yet to his credit, Volatile accelerated through each quarter of the race, running the second two panels in :23.21 and the final quarter in :22.94. Further, he had set a stakes record in the Aristides, blowing through that race in a torrid 1:07.57, a performance that had made him a 2-5 favorite in the Vanderbilt. If he did not show quite that kind of foot in the Vanderbilt, he also never looked threatened at any time during the race and coasted through the final strides.
A son of Violence, Volatile is from a family that has had its fair share of individuals that could show wicked speed, that of Dangerous Dame. A precocious and speedy daughter of Nasrullah from 1946 Irish champion 2-year-old filly Lady Kells, Dangerous Dame produced two good stakes winners in 1959 Kentucky Oaks winner Hidden Talent and 1959 Matron Stakes winner Heavenly Body, both by 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star. Through these two fillies, Dangerous Dame's family extends to horses such as 1986 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Too Bald; champions Capote, Lake Country and Myasha; and Grade/Group 1 winners Broad Brush, Exceller, Sakhee, River Memories, and Bob and John.
Dangerous Star, a full sister to Hidden Talent and Heavenly Body, was much less accomplished than either of her sisters, failing to place in her only start. She improved on her race record in the paddocks, producing two stakes winners. More importantly, her Lucky North daughter Star of My Eye produced Lady Tak (by Argentine champion sire Mutakddim), a top-class sprinter-miler whose victories included the 2003 Test Stakes (USA-G1) and the 2004 Ballerina Stakes (USA-G1). Both races were contested over 7 furlongs at Saratoga. Lady Tak, in turn, is the dam of Group 2-placed Japanese stakes winner A Shin Spartan (by Zensational) and of Melody Lady (by Unbridled's Song), winner of the 2013 El Paso Times Handicap at Sunland Park and the dam of Volatile. Still in production, Lady Tak most recently foaled a Maclean's Music colt on March 9, and her youngest foal to race is her 3-year-old daughter Casual (by Curlin), a winner of two of three starts before running unplaced in the Longines Acorn Stakes (USA-G1) on June 20.
Melody Lady has also not been idle. Previously the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes winner Buy Sell Hold (by Violence), she is also represented by the 3-year-old colt Soccer Dad (by Bayern), who ran second in his only start at 2. The mare has an unraced 2-year-old, the Bayern colt Grendel, and produced a filly by Army Mule on February 7.
While Volatile could possibly stretch out to a mile and perhaps a little more on paper, his future in 2020 appears to lie in the sprint division, where he is already being talked of as a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (USA-G1). More immediately, one juicy possibility is a clash with the brilliant Vekoma in the 7-furlong Forego Stakes Presented by America's Best Racing (USA-G1) on August 29. If it happened, Vekoma---already the winner of the Runhappy Carter Handicap (USA-G1) over 7 furlongs and the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (USA-G1) at a mile---would probably rule as favorite, but Volatile has already done enough to prove himself dangerous regardless of the competition and should be a worthy contender in American racing's fastest division.
This handsome runner of yesteryear was considered the best older male in America as a 4-year-old in spite of failing to win a stakes race that season. Unfortunately, he was a better runner than sire and may have ended his days as a cart horse. Who was he?
Last Saturday's Coaching Club American Oaks (USA-G1) field may have been short on quality (as measured by pre-race records of the entrants) and quantity, but it was not short on excitement. Racing all the way outside stablemate Crystal Ball, Paris Lights withstood a stretch-long duel and thrust her head in front in the final strides to take the filly classic. It was the first stakes win for the daughter of Curlin, who also garnered enough points toward the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) to guarantee herself a slot if her connections so desire.
Paris Lights also enhanced her value as a prospective broodmare, which was already quite high thanks to her family connections. She descends from the marvelous family of Best in Show, which captured its second Grade 1 win in less than two weeks after War of Will won the Maker's Mark Mile Stakes on July 10.
Paris Lights traces her descent from Best in Show through Blush With Pride, a Blushing Groom half sister to War of Will's ancestress Minnie Hauk. The best of Best in Show's daughters on the track, Blush With Pride won the 1982 Kentucky Oaks (USA-G1) and Santa Susana Stakes (USA-G1) before producing three graded/Group stakes winners of her own, including 2007 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour (by Deputy Minister).
Toward the end of her producing career, Blush With Pride was mated four successive times to the great European stallion Sadler's Wells. Her first daughter from this cross was Group 1-placed Maryinsky, whose first two foals were 2007 European co-champion 3-year-old filly Peeping Fawn (by Danehill) and 2007 Criterium International (FR-G1) winner Thewayyouare (by Kingmambo). Peeping Fawn is the dam and granddam of listed stakes winners, and Maryinsky's most recent foals are the 2018 American Pharoah colt Narmer (who is still unraced) and a 2019 American Pharoah filly.
Maryinsky's full sister Butterfly Blue was less distinguished on the race course, winning one of nine starts with no black type, and also failed to produce any stakes winners, though four of her foals were stakes-placed. Her record as a dam of broodmares is improving her overall profile, however. Sapphire Pendant (by Danehill Dancer), Group 3-placed on the turf, came up with a Group 3 winner last year in Ecrivain (by Lope de Vega), winner of the 2019 Prix de Chenes. Listed-placed Lacadena (by Fasliyev) has done still better, as she has multiple Grade 1-placed Grade 3 winner America (by A. P. Indy) to her credit as well as Paris Bikini (by Bernardini), dam of Paris Lights.
Lacadena's branch of the family is in a good position to continue adding honors, as America's first three foals are the 2018 Curlin colt First Captain (a $1.5 million sales yearling who is as yet unraced), the 2019 Curlin filly American Caviar, and a 2020 colt by Uncle Mo. As for Paris Bikini, she followed Paris Lights with the unraced 2018 Into Mischief colt Cousteau and has a 2019 Distorted Humor filly and a 2020 Always Dreaming colt. Thus, even if Paris Lights fails to follow up on her initial Grade 1 success, there are more prospects in the pipeline to keep this family proud for some time to come.
This horse later became a member of the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame, but he began his racing career in much humbler circumstances. Among his early starts was a claiming race, which he duly won, earning a purse of US$380. Nonetheless, his owner came out a loser on the deal as he had to pay several times the value of the purse to keep the horse from being claimed away. (Under the terms of the race, which were not the same as those of a modern claimer, the owner could submit a counter-bid to keep his animal if someone put in a claim for his horse.) Shortly after the race, the owner sold the horse at a modest profit, only to see the animal become a stakes winner a couple of races later. Who was the horse, and who was his hard-luck owner?
Unbeaten so far in 2020, Bruce Lunsford's homebred Art Collector thrust himself into the conversation surrounding the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1) with an authoritative win over top filly Swiss Skydiver in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (USA-G1). As he is a son of 2006 Preakness Stakes (USA-G1) winner and American champion 3-year-old male Bernardini, there is reason to believe that he will have no problem with the 10-furlong Derby distance, and this is reinforced by a look at his female family.
Art Collector is a fifth-generation descendant of Bebop II, a stakes-placed daughter of 1951 French champion sire Prince Bio who became part of Greentree Stud's broodmare band. Her immediate impact in the paddocks was not particularly impressive, as three stakes-placed runners were the best she could produce from 10 named foals. It was her broodmare daughters who proved Bebop II's worth. Four of them became stakes producers, and two did well indeed: stakes-placed Stepping High (by No Robbery), who produced the stakes winners and successful sires Buckaroo (by Buckpasser) and Parade Marshal (by Caro) as well as several broodmares of significance, and Bebopper, a daughter of Tom Fool.
While Bebopper never won or placed in a stakes, she was a consistent sort whose talent easily placed her in the category of "New York allowance winner" and probably made her the equivalent or better of many a stakes winner on a lesser circuit. Her sons Stop the Music (by Hail to Reason) and Hatchet Man (by The Axe II) were both high-class racehorses and sires of some significance, and two of her non-stakes-winning daughters also made contributions to the family reputation, as Crazy Music (by Hail to Reason) produced 1985 Laurel Turf Cup Handicap (USA-G3) winner Crazy Moon (by Stage Door Johnny) and Boasting (by Bold Lad) became the second dam of 1996 American champion 3-year-old filly Yanks Music.
Bebopper's most important daughter is the Hoist the Flag mare Flag Waver, who was a listed stakes winner during her own racing days. The dam of stakes winner Abidjan (by Sir Ivor; dam of stakes winner Lady Tabitha, by Lyphard) and of Private Banking (by Private Account), second dam of 2008 Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Ginger Brew, Flag Waver also produced Grade 1-placed Bunting (by Private Account), who produced 1999 Illinois Derby (USA-G2) winner Vision and Verse (by Storm Cat) as her first foal. 10 foals later, Bunting came up with Grade 1-placed stakes winner Distorted Legacy (by Distorted Humor), who produced Art Collector as her second foal.
Distorted Legacy's best racing performance was when runner-up in the 10-furlong Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (USA-G1), and this family has produced plenty of horses that could handle two turns with aplomb, so stamina is not likely to be a problem for Art Collector. The question now---as it is for every one of his rivals---is whether he has the soundness and luck to make it to the Derby starting gate and the class and tactical speed to make his own luck in America's most contentious race. Nonetheless, he has earned his ticket to the "Big Dance" of the 3-year-old season and will get his chance to collect the country's most coveted piece of sporting art: the Derby trophy.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.