While Maximum Security was the first horse ever to be disqualified from a victory in the Kentucky Derby as the result of a stewards' ruling regarding an infraction during the running of the race, he has a parallel in European racing. Unbeaten at the time that he ran in his European Classic, this champion likewise crossed the line first but was disqualified for a foul committed during the race in a controversial decision, making him the first horse to be disqualified in the history of his Classic. He never raced again but became a champion sire nonetheless. Who was he?
The Kentucky Oaks:
1) Liatunah was the first Kentucky Oaks winner to produce a stakes winner. She won the Oaks in 1879.
2) Gal in a Ruckus won the 1995 Kentucky Oaks and Canadian Oaks, becoming the first filly to complete this double.
3) Modesty, the 1884 Kentucky Oaks winner and co-champion American 3-year-old filly, made her first four starts under the name "Golden Rod."
4) Willie Crump rode the Kentucky Oaks winners Easter Stockings (1928) and Rose of Sharon (1929) and trained the Oaks winner Blue Grass (1947).
5) Rachel Alexandra turned in the most lopsided Kentucky Oaks win in history, taking the 2009 edition by 20-1/4 lengths.
The Kentucky Derby:
1) A. J. Alexander bred five Kentucky Derby winners but never had a starter in the Kentucky Derby.
2) Canonero II cost US$1,200 as a yearling at the Keeneland sales, the lowest price ever for a future Kentucky Derby winner sold through that venue.
3) Apollo, the 1882 Kentucky Derby winner, ran second in a selling race for a purse of US$300 less than a month before the Kentucky Derby and could have been bought after the race for US$900. There were no takers.
4) The 1938 movie Kentucky used footage from that year's Kentucky Derby, won by Lawrin, for its climactic scenes.
5) The 1952 Kentucky Derby (won by Hill Gail) was the first to be broadcast on national television in the United States.
Unlike the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-I), the Longines Kentucky Oaks (USA-I) held no controversy. Running in front from start to finish, Serengeti Empress was simply the best filly around in the Oaks, earning her lilies in a final time of 1:50.17 for the 9-furlong distance.
While Serengeti Empress' performance does not rank with exhibitions like those thrown down by Rachel Alexandra or Untapable, it still represents a remarkable recovery from an episode of respiratory bleeding suffered during the running of the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (USA-II) just six weeks earlier. It also represents a top-level North American triumph for an Argentine family that has been hanging on by a slender thread.
A member of the fourth crop of the Grade I-winning Distorted Humor horse Alternation, Serengeti Empress is out of the unraced Bernardini mare Havisham, who was sold to Korea for US$12,000 out of the 2016 Keeneland November sale while carrying a full sister to Serengeti Empress. Since her export, the mare has also produced a 2018 filly by Tiz Wonderful. Her history is an odd parallel to that of the dam of disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security, Lil Indy; also exported to Korea at a modest price (US$11,000) while carrying a full sibling to her now-famous offspring, Lil Indy produced a full sister to Maximum Security in Korea on March 28.
Havisham is the only filly produced from Argentine-bred Love Dancing, who won the 2007 Premio Manuel J. Guiraldes (ARG-III) during her own racing days but managed to produce only two indifferent winners from five named foals, a circumstance that led to her being sold for the equivalent of US$1,060 at the 2016 Goffs November sale. A daughter of 1991 Hopeful Stakes (USA-I) winner Salt Lake (by Deputy Minister), she was produced from Le Midi, also the dam of multiple Group I-placed Lethal Weapon (by Southern Halo) and Group II-placed Lethal Gun (by Orpen).
A daughter of the high-class sire and broodmare sire Fitzcarraldo, Le Midi was an even better race mare than Love Dancing, winning the 1989 Polla de Potrancas de La Plata (ARG-II) and Premio Clemente Benevides (ARG-III) and placing in two Group I events. By far the best produce of her dam and the only one to breed on with any success, she in turn was produced from unraced La Tempestad, whose sire Cipol won two legs of the Argentine Triple Crown in 1970 before becoming a successful sire. The female line traces back to Venusta, who was imported to Argentina from England in 1889 and became one of the great taproot mares of Argentine breeding.
Serengeti Empress still has some racing to do before she is retired to carry on her family's legacy, but through her female family, she will bring some welcome outcross blood into the North American gene pool. Until that time, long may she reign at the racetrack.
Welcome to this year's edition of the special Derby Weekend challenge! This year's version consists of five questions centered on the Kentucky Oaks and five more on the Kentucky Derby. Let's see if anyone can run the table before post time for the Derby!
1) Who was the first Kentucky Oaks winner to produce a stakes winner after her retirement to the paddocks?
2) Most students of racing history know that Northern Dancer was the first (and to date only) colt to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Queen's Plate, Canada's premier Classic. Who was the first filly to land the corresponding filly double by winning the Kentucky Oaks and Woodbine/Canadian Oaks?
3) While the modern rules of racing in North America do not allow a horse's name to be changed after its first start, this old-time champion ran under a different name at 2 than she did when she won the Oaks. Who was she?
4) Who was the first man to both ride and train Kentucky Oaks winners?
5) What filly holds the record for the longest winning margin in the Kentucky Oaks?
1) What breeder sent out the most Kentucky Derby winners without ever having a starter in the race?
2) Who was the least expensive Kentucky Derby winner ever sold through the Keeneland sales?
3) Less than a month before his Kentucky Derby victory, this race winner failed to change hands at an asking price of $900. Name him.
4) This fictional film about a longshot Kentucky Derby winner used actual film footage from a real-life Kentucky Derby winner's run for the roses for the climactic shots of the movie. Name the movie and name the Derby winner who supplied the footage used.
5) In what year was the Kentucky Derby first broadcast on national TV in the United States?
With his final work in the books for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-I), Omaha Beach looks as ready as a colt can be for the challenge of his young life. He has the performance, coming into the Derby with a Grade I win in the Arkansas Derby under his belt. He has the seasoning with two straight victories over quality opposition and good-sized fields. He has the connections, with Hall of Famer Richard Mandella as trainer, Hall of Famer Mike Smith as jockey, and Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms as owner. And he has the pedigree. Sired by the top stallion War Front (who is also represented by Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford, USA-II, winner War of Will), he is a grandson of 2013 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, whose legacy continues to expand in 2019.
Omaha Beach is actually one of two grandsons of Take Charge Lady in the Run for the Roses. The other is Rebel Stakes (USA-II) winner Long Range Toddy, a son of Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy x Take Charge Lady) who was a solid fourth behind Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. The winner of the 2012 Florida Derby (USA-I), Take Charge Indy was the first stakes winner for Take Charge Lady, who followed up the following year by producing 2013 American champion 3-year-old male Will Take Charge (by Unbridled's Song).
While both of Take Charge Lady's Grade I winners were sired by elite stallions, they certainly did not owe all their quality to their sires, for Take Charge Lady was a formidable talent in her own right. The best of three stakes winners produced from the unraced Rubiano mare Felecita, Take Charge Lady won eight graded stakes during her career including the 2002 Ashland Stakes (USA-I) and the 2002 and 2003 editions of the Overbrook Spinster Stakes (USA-I). Bred to Seeking the Gold before being offered at the 2004 Keeneland November Sale, she went for US$4.2 million to Eaton Sales, which bred nine foals from her before selling her privately to the Coolmore affiliate Orpendale. Her most recent foal is a 2017 filly by American Pharoah.
Charming, the foal Take Charge Lady was carrying at the time of her sale to Eaton, is no small part of her continuing legacy. She made only two starts before breaking down, but prior to producing Omaha Beach, Charming produced 2014 American champion 2-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi (by Giant's Causeway) as her second foal. The dam of the unraced 2-year-old Take Charge Curlin (by Curlin) as her first foal, Take Charge Brandi has since produced 2018 and 2019 colts by Tapit. Charming's second daughter, Take Charge Tressa (by War Front), never raced but will also see her first foal come to the races this year, the Tapit filly Take Charge Glenda. Like Take Charge Brandi, Take Charge Tressa has regally-bred foals of 2018 (by Tapit), and 2019 (by Curlin) waiting in the wings. Charming has not produced a foal since Omaha Beach (she visited American Pharoah this spring), but with her daughters getting opportunities like these, her position as an influential broodmare seems secure.
Elarose, Take Charge Lady's 2007 daughter by Storm Cat, has so far been a disappointment in the breeding shed, but she has plenty of opportunities for redemption with the 2017 filly Eloisa (by Tapit) , a 2018 colt by Union Rags, and a 2019 filly by Quality Road in the pipeline. Take Charge Lady has two other daughters just beginning their producing careers, the winners I'll Take Charge (by Indian Charlie) and Conquering (by War Front), and they too are getting top-class opportunities. If there was ever a mare on the edge of seeing her family catapult her into matriarchal status, Take Charge Lady is it.
Take Charge Lady's legacy as a dam of sires is less certain, as Take Charge Indy was sold to Korea in 2016, leaving just three American-sired crops behind. His first crop, 4-year-olds of 2019, has so far yielded seven North American stakes winners (including Grade II winner Noble Indy and Grade III winner Take Charge Paula) as well as a Venezuelan Group I winner and a Russian Group II winner. Long Range Toddy is the only stakes winner thus far from his second crop, though he has several graded-placed runners. As for Will Take Charge, his first crop, foals of 2016, has yielded just one North American stakes winner thus far, though he does have a Russian Group I winner to his credit. Neither Take Charge Indy nor Will Take Charge were the kind of horses that could reasonably be expected to sire a lot of precocious runners, but the American stallion market is not noted for its patience. Still, either could come up with a top runner at any time, and if Omaha Beach wins the Kentucky Derby, he should have no trouble in getting the kind of stud opportunities that can keep Take Charge Lady's legacy charging forward.
This unlikely Kentucky Derby hero was a rogue with a history of bolting and swerving and was produced from a mare who served as her owner's favorite buggy horse until she was 17. Adding to the improbability of his story, he was a maiden when he faced the starter at Churchill Downs, and his jockey had to be compelled to ride him by track officials, who threatened to suspend the rider if he did not honor the commitment. Who was this improbable Derby winner?
On April 18, 2019, Wonder Gadot became the second daughter of Medaglia d'Oro to earn Horse of the Year Honors as she was crowned Canada's Horse of the Year for 2018. While she is so far not in the same league as the similarly sired Rachel Alexandra, who earned American Horse of the Year honors in 2009, her achievements are still noteworthy and a credit to a high-class family that has been turning out excellence in North America for a century, that of Flambette.
Wonder Gadot belongs to a branch of Flambette's family descended from the Claiborne Farm-bred Nasrullah mare Gal I Love, whose dam Gallita is a full sister to the great race mare Gallorette. Herself a sister to 1957 American champion 2-year-old male Nadir, Gal I Love never raced. It was in the breeding shed that she proved the worth of her bloodlines, producing three stakes winners. The best of the trio was Saber Mountain (by Bagdad), who won four stakes including the 1966 San Felipe Handicap but suffered a fatal breakdown as a 4-year-old.
Several of Gal I Love's daughter had some influence as broodmares, and the most important of them was Homespun, a stakes-placed daughter of Round Table who became a top producer for William Farish and partners. Improving on her dam's produce record, Homespun produced multiple European Group I winner Mashaallah, 1984 Oak Leaf Stakes (USA-I) winner Folk Art and multiple stakes winner Sportin' Life to the cover of Nijinsky II.
Like Gal I Love, Homespun bred on well through her daughters, among them the unraced Raja Baba mare Hard Knocker. Hard Knocker's foals include the Green Dancer colt Huambo, a stakes winner in Germany and Turkey. and Grade I-placed Grade III winner Chimichurri (by Elusive Quality), who got her major score as a juvenile in Aqueduct's Tempted Stakes.
Chimichurri became an object lesson in the volatility of a Thoroughbred's value. Changing hands six times via the auction ring, she was a US$25,000 weanling at the 2000 Keeneland November mixed sale, a US$250,000 juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton February sale of 2-year-olds in training, a US$675,000 purchase as a racing or broodmare prospect at the 2003 Keeneland November sale, and a US$2.1 million broodmare when sold in foal to Unbridled's Song as a 5-year-old at the 2005 Keeneland November mixed sale. Eight years later, with only three minor winners to her credit from seven foals of racing age by some of the top sires in the industry, she went back to Keeneland November, where she sold for US$52,000 while in foal to Astrology. She completed her slide to the basement at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga October sale, selling for US$1,500 in foal to Emcee. The foal she was carrying, the 2017 filly Havin' a Party, was a $37,000 RNA at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale.
Chimichurri's first foal was Loving Vindication (by Vindication), a US $725,000 Keeneland September yearling who won two of her 13 starts and had enough talent to hang up a 109 Bloodstock Research Information Systems speed figure. A US$180,000 as a broodmare prospect from the 2011 Keeneland January mixed sale, she proved a money-making machine for Ontario-based Anderson Farms, which to date has sold four yearlings out of the mare (including Wonder Gadot and 2015 Tropical Park Derby winner Solemn Tribute) for a total of US$1.165 million. Following Wonder Gadot's championship season, Loving Vindication was offered in foal to Curlin at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale but failed to meet her reserve on a final bid of US$1.45 million.
With three Canadian championship titles, two Canadian Classic scores over males, a Grade II win, and three Grade I placings under her belt, Wonder Gadot has all the resume she needs to secure matings to Kentucky's top sires even if she never wins another race. She is still in training as a 4-year-old, however, so, Canadian fans will be treated to at least one more season of performances by a gal they love. And nothing would please them more than if there is a Grade I race with her name on it, an accomplishment that would add extra glitter to her already-burnished pedigree.
This champion racehorse was the star of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Moment of the Year" in two consecutive years, based on performances in consecutive editions of the same race. Name the horse and the race involved.
It's over. The last winner's circle shots have been taken; the roar from the grandstands at Royal Randwick has died away into memory. Whether Winx will miss the excitement of the racecourse and the adulation of the crowds is anyone's guess---most likely not, as biology takes over and she becomes absorbed in the business of reproducing her kind. It is left for her fans to feel the hollow place where she once was. For four seasons, she was the uncontested queen of Australian racing. Now she is gone, leaving an empty throne.
Numbers tell the bare bones of her story. 43 starts, 37 wins, the last 33 of them in succession. A record 25 Group I wins, more than any Thoroughbred in history. Group victories from 1200 meters (about 6 furlongs) to 2200 meters (about 11 furlongs). Four consecutive wins in three different Group I races, including the historic Cox Plate. A three-time Australian Horse of the Year, and virtually guaranteed a fourth such title when the votes are officially tallied. The world's top-rated mare on the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings for three consecutive years, and tied with Cracksman for delivering the world's top-rated performance in 2018. The highest-earning racehorse ever, anywhere.
But numbers cannot capture what she meant to fans around the world. As her triumphs mounted, webcasts of her races became must-sees. Europeans longed to see her in action on their turf, and the collective sighs of disappointment when her connections decided against an invasion of Royal Ascot in 2018 could surely be heard on the International Space Station. Americans followed her story with such enthusiasm that in that same year, Winx became the first horse based outside North America to be voted the Secretariat Vox Populi Award as the horse "whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the general public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing," as specified in the terms of the award---and this in a year featuring American Triple Crown winner Justify. And Australians knew her simply as "The Queen."
Comparisons between the greats of different eras and different continents are essentially pointless, given the differences in conditions and competition that racing's legends faced. What matters is the privilege of having seen, even in the tiny images of a computer screen, one of the rare Thoroughbreds whose feats transcend nationality, space and time.
Thanks for the memories, Winx.
Following his retirement to stud, this champion racehorse made such an economic impact on his new community that he was made an honorary member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Who was he?
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.