The daughter of a champion mother, this mare could not emulate her dam on the track. However, she easily outdid her as a broodmare, completing a unique double by producing a multiple American champion on the flat and a multiple American champion over the jumps. Who was she?
Great mare families are gifts that keep on giving, and the family of Darby Dan foundation mare Golden Trail definitely falls in this category. Four weeks ago, this column explored the Java Moon branch of the family leading to 2019 Marshua's River Stakes (USA-IIIT) winner Bellavais via Java Moon's high-class granddaughter Memories of Silver. This week, the same family is back in the spotlight via the highly regarded Winter Sunset, who is now two-for-two after winning the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Overnight Stakes at the Fair Grounds on February 9.
Generally speaking, it isn't wise to turn down an offer of US$900,000 for a yearling Thoroughbred---a perishable commodity if there ever was one. Even without the risk of loss through a misstep or illness, most expensive yearlings never come close to justifying their purchase prices. Nonetheless, the Phillips Racing Partnership elected to retain Winter Sunset when that was the highest bid that could be elicited for her at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. (They later sold an interest in the filly to Bob Cummings' and Annette Bacola's Coffeepot Stables).
Winter Sunset did not get to the races until November 29 of last year, but her maiden race was everything that her connections could have hoped for as she went gate-to-wire in dominating style. Her race was good enough to get her a "Rising Star" tag from Thoroughbred Daily News, and she was equally impressive in the Shantel Lanerie if not more so. Not only did she win by daylight over Grade III winner Elsa, but she was under a hand ride at the finish in spite of going six-wide around the far turn. At this point, her potential on turf appears unlimited, making her retention seem like a much smarter decision.
A daughter of three-time American champion sire Tapit, Winter Sunset is the second foal and first winner produced by Winter Memories. "Like mother, like daughter" would certainly be a good thing as far as Winter Sunset's connections are concerned, for Winter Memories won seven graded turf stakes during her racing career. Her signature wins were in the 2011 Garden City Stakes (USA-IT) and the 2012 Diana Stakes (USA-IT), and she retired to the paddocks having won eight of her 12 starts for earnings of US$1,268,100. Winter Memories' first foal, the 2014 Street Cry colt Make Memories, failed to win, but the mare has since produced full siblings to Winter Sunset in 2017 and 2018. She was last bred to Union Rags.
An El Prado half sibling to three other stakes winners produced from multiple Grade I winner Memories of Silver (by Silver Hawk), Winter Memories is the fifth daughter of Memories of Silver to come up with a stakes winner. She joins La Cloche (by Ghostzapper), dam of Bellavais; Bridal Memories (by Unbridled), dam of Penn Mile (USA-IIT) winner Hawkish; Star Silver (by Aldebaran), dam of 2016 Colleen Stakes winner Red Lodge; and Recollect (by El Prado), dam of Grade II-placed stakes winner Elusive Collection. In addition, yet another daughter, Memories for Us, is the second dam of French listed stakes winner Spinning Memories. Given the quality of stallions that these mares have been seeing plus their own genetic potential, the prospects look bright for this branch of Golden Trail's family to be producing many more "memories" for years to come.
This top producer, a Grade I winner during her own racing days, went through the sale ring four times as a broodmare or broodmare prospect. Along the way, she produced graded or Group stakes winners for every one of her owners and was the dam of an American champion and a South African champion sire. Who was she?
At the start of his career, Tax could have been claimed for US$30,000. He wasn't, but showed enough in his maiden effort at a distance probably a bit short for him to be bumped up to a US$50,000 tag in his next outing. Seven people thought the big, rangy youngster was a good enough value at that price to drop in a claim for him. Trainer Danny Gargan, acting for Hugh Lynch, won the shake to determine the horse's new ownership and led away a horse Lynch thought might make a good turf runner. Two starts later, Lynch and partners Luis Stritsman, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing have a potential Kentucky Derby horse in Tax, whose grit and determination won last Saturday's Withers Stakes (USA-III) in spite of a troubled trip.
How a young horse as well-bred as Tax ended up starting his racing life as a gelding in the claiming ranks would probably be a story in itself, akin to a prince becoming a pauper. Bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, he is a son of the late Arch, a Grade I-winning Roberto-line horse who did good service at stud for Claiborne before his death in January 2016. On the distaff side, his family is one of the most stellar branches of the fabulous La Troienne's tribe, descending through 1993 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute.
Among Glowing Tribute's outstanding brood (which also includes 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero and Grade I winner Hero's Honor) is Wild Applause, a daughter of Northern Dancer. A full sister to Hero's Honor, she was quite a good race mare in her own right, winning the 1984 Diana Handicap (USA-IIT). She was even better as a broodmare, producing four graded stakes winners. Unfortunately, her son Eastern Echo (by Damascus) was too unsound to follow up on the promise he showed in winning the 1990 Futurity Stakes (USA-I), but Grade II winner Roar proved a very good stallion in Argentina, winning that country's sire championship in 2004.
Yell, the best of Wild Applause's daughters on the track, won the 2003 Davona Dale Stakes (USA-II) and Raven Run Stakes (USA-III). Given her race record, her family, and her status as a daughter of A.P. Indy, she was something of a disappointment during her own producing career as she came up with only one stakes winner, Cheery (by Distorted Humor). As often enough happens when a beautifully-credentialed mare doesn't quite deliver in the paddocks, her daughters have begun making up for it, however. Cheery produced multiple Grade I winner Elate (by Medaglia d'Oro) as her first foal, and after producing only a couple of minor winners from four previous foals, Yell's winning daughter Toll (by Giant's Causeway) has come up with Tax.
On pedigree and conformation, Tax looks to be the sort of horse likely to improve with maturity and distance, which is promising indeed as he also has a solid third-place effort in last fall's Remsen Stakes (USA-II) on his record. He may still be tried on turf at some future date, but for now, he is likely to remain in the Derby trail in hopes that he will prove worthy of wild applause on the first Saturday in May.
Who was the first jockey born outside the United States to ride a Kentucky Derby winner, and what was his native country?
Whew! After a busy Monday, a day late is definitely better late than never! So, on to the business at hand.
The Pegasus World Cup card featured several winners with interesting families, among them La Prevoyante Stakes (USA-IIIT) winner Si Que Es Buena. The hook in her pedigree is her second dam, Rubia Epic (by Southern Halo), who is inbred 3x3 to the great Northern Dancer and the mare Sea Saga through the full sisters Northern Sea and Dancer's Saga.
A member of an already-distinguished family, Sea Saga was sired by Sea-Bird from the stakes-placed Bold Ruler mare Shama, a half sister to 1956 American co-champion 2-year-old filly Leallah (by Bold Ruler's sire Nasrullah). She proved a worthy heiress to her distinguished bloodlines, winning the 1971 Ladies Handicap (then a much more important race than now) and a division of the Vineland Handicap at 3. She added a win in the 1972 Whitemarsh Handicap at 4 before retiring to the paddocks.
Unfortunately, Sea Saga lived to produce only four foals, but she made the most of her limited production career. Her first foal, Northern Sea, was her best runner, winning the 1977 Test Stakes (USA-III) at 3 and placing in two Grade I events as a juvenile. As a broodmare, Northern Sea failed to produce a stakes winner, but her third foal was stakes-placed Southern Halo (by Halo), who proceeded to rewrite the Argentine record books in a long and distinguished stud career at Haras La Quebrada near Buenos Aires. A 10-time champion sire in his adoptive country, Southern Halo also begot the excellent American-bred shuttle sire More Than Ready, a Grade I winner as a racehorse and a first-class sire in both Kentucky and Australia.
Northern Sea's two daughters were also destined to gain fame in the breeding shed rather than on the track. The first, the good allowance filly Excellent Meeting (by Smarten), produced multiple Grade I winner General Challenge (by General Meeting), 2000 Oak Leaf Stakes (USA-I) winner Notable Career (by Avenue of Flags) and listed stakes winner Western Hemisphere (by General Meeting) and is the third dam of multiple Grade I winner Evening Jewel. The other, unraced Northern Pageant (by Spectacular Bid), produced multiple Grade II winner Snow Dance (by Forest Wildcat) and is the second dam of Argentine Group III winner Panacea, dam in turn of 2012 Gran Premio de Las Americas-OSAF-Internacional winner (USA-I) Panegirico, and of Japanese Group III winner Keiai Leone.
Sea Saga's second foal, Key to the Saga (by Key to the Mint), also became a Grade III winner at 3, taking the 1978 Pucker Up Stakes. The dam of multiple stakes winner Cherokee Benji (by Cherokee Colony), she is the second dam of 1993 Santa Anita Handicap (USA-I) winner Sir Beaufort and Argentine Group II winner The New Yorker. She is also the third dam of multiple Group I winner A Shin Hikari and Argentine Group III winner Fedra Gulch.
Sea Saga's third foal, Dancing Fiction, never raced and left no issue, so it was up to her fourth foal, Dancer's Saga, to write the concluding chapter in her dam's story. She won only once from 13 tries but proved a prolific and successful broodmare with stakes winners Exclusive Story (by Exclusive Native), Colonial Saga (by Pleasant Colony and Pleasant Tango (by Pleasant Colony) to her credit.
Dancer's Saga's Argentine connection is through her 1988 Pancho Villa daughter Epic Villa, who was exported to Argentina in 1993. Bred to the Forty Niner horse Luhuk, she produced multiple Argentine Group I winner Knock, a top-class sprinter.
Two years previously, Epic Villa had produced Rubia Epic to a mating to Southern Halo, thereby uniting two of the three branches of Sea Saga's family. As often happens with closely inbred stock, Rubia Epic was not a great success on the track, and none of her four winners were of any particular distinction. It has taken her daughter Epoca Buena to resurrect the worth of her genes by producing Si Que Es Buena (by the successful Argentine sire Equal Stripes, a paternal grandson of Blushing Groom via Candy Stripes), now a Group III winner in Peru and a Grade III winner in the United States.
Where the saga will lead next is anyone's guess, as Si Que Es Buena currently races for Japanese owner Takayo Shimakawa. With a little luck, however, she will continue adding to the illustrious tale of her family wherever she goes.
Morvich proved to be a stumper for last week's trivia question, but there's always the next question. This week's poser concerns two half brothers who were both winners of American Triple Crown races, both ridglings, and both successful sires. Who were they?
It is still very early in the season for the 2019 Triple Crown contenders, but War of Will looked like the legitimate article in taking Saturday's Lecomte Stakes (USA-III) in sharp style. As a son of War Front out of a Sadler's Wells mare, he would ordinarily have been expected to show his best form on turf. Instead, he is 0-for-4 on turf and 2-for-2 since moving to the main track. The key to understanding what may seem an anomalous preference for dirt over turf may lie in his female family, that of Minnie Hauk, which has been as versatile as any around.
Named for a noted American opera singer, the equine Minnie Hauk is a Sir Ivor daughter of the great 20th-century matriarch Best in Show. The versatility shown by her branch of the family is embodied by her own two Group I winners. One, the 1993 Sadler's Wells colt Chief Contender, was a thoroughgoing stayer who won the 1997 Prix du Cadran (FR-I), France's equivalent to the Ascot Gold Cup (ENG-I). The other, the Northfields filly Aviance, won the 1984 Heinz "57" Phoenix Stakes (IRE-I), Ireland's top sprint stakes for juveniles.
Aviance, in turn, produced four-time Grade I turf stakes winner Denon (by Pleasant Colony), who thrived over distances from 9 to 12 furlongs, and Chimes of Freedom (by Private Account), a Group I-winning juvenile like her dam but able to stretch her speed to further Group I success over a mile at 3. Chimes of Freedom is the dam of 2003 American champion sprinter Aldebaran (by Mr. Prospector) and of 2002 Atto Mile Stakes (CAN-IT) winner Good Journey (by Nureyev).
Imperfect Circle, a Riverman half sister to Denon and Chimes of Freedom, was not quite as talented as either but did become a juvenile stakes winner in England and was second in the 1990 Tattersalls Cheveley Park Stakes (ENG-I). She is the dam of multiple Grade/Group I winner Spinning World (by Nureyev), whose conquests included the 1997 Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-IT)., and of Visions of Clarity, a Sadler's Wells filly who was a listed stakes winner over 1600 meters (the so-called "metric mile") in France.
Bred to Distorted Humor, Visions of Clarity produced Pathfork, who was Ireland's top-rated juvenile in 2010 after winning the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (IRE-I) and the Futurity Stakes (IRE-II) but was derailed by injuries at 3 and 4. Bred to the staying A.P. Indy, she produced a racehorse of a very different stripe in Tacticus, whose liking for long distances on dirt led to 2015 victories in the 13-furlong Temperence Hill Invitational Stakes and the 14-furlong Birdstone Stakes. War of Will is the third stakes winner for Visions of Clarity, who has since produced a 2017 Tapit colt.
While Minnie Hauk's branch of the Best in Show family has produced a number of staying runners when bred to stamina-oriented sires, its native proclivity over the last three generations has been for speed. This naturally leads to the question of whether War of Will will relish distances beyond an extended mile, given that War Front has earned a reputation as a sire of top juveniles in Europe. A number of War Front's progeny have stayed 10 furlongs or more in top company, however, and given the way in which War of Will has already defied expectations raised by his pedigree, he just might be able to hit the right notes at Classic distances and bring further renown to an already distinguished family.
Julia nailed last week's question, identifying Eddie Arcaro (with Whirlaway and CItation in the American Triple Crown) and Don Seymour (with With Approval and Izvestia in the Canadian Triple Crown) as the two North American jockeys to have won two Triple Crowns. This week's question is a little late, but better late than never. 13 horses have won the Kentucky Derby as the first start of their 3-year-old seasons. Who was the last horse to do so?
Great stallions can make remarkable contributions to the breeding pool because of the number of foals a single horse can sire, but the long-range success of any breeding program is built on the strength of its broodmare band. A great foundation mare is a treasure beyond price for the farm fortunate enough to land one, for with good management, her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters will continue producing a golden stream of winners long after she herself is gone.
Such a mare is Golden Trail, who was acquired from owner-breeder Brookmeade Farm by John Galbreath when she was a 4-year-old. The daughter of Hasty Road produced three stakes winners during her own producing career, but her great gift to Galbreath's Darby Dan Farm was the slew of producing daughters she left behind her. The crosses of this family to the Darby Dan sires Graustark, His Majesty, and Roberto led to many of Darby Dan's standouts of the 1980s and 1990s, including champion Sunshine Forever and grade 1 winner and important Japanese sire Brian's Time.
The best of Golden Trail's daughters on the track was Java Moon (by Graustark), who won the 1973 Comely Stakes (USA-III). In the paddocks, Java Moon was eclipsed during her own producing days by her full sisters Outward Sunshine, Kelley's Day, and Autumn Glory, all producers of graded or Group stakes winners. Java Moon failed to produce a stakes winner among her seven foals, but her four daughters made up for that, producing nine stakes winners between them. The best of the four was All My Memories (by Little Current), whose three stakes winners included multiple Grade I winner Memories of Silver (by Roberto's good son Silver Hawk) and Grade II winner Memories (by Hail the Pirates, by Roberto's sire Hail to Reason).
As a top-flight race mare from a great female family, Memories of Silver received the best of opportunities as a broodmare and cashed in on them with four stakes winners from nine named foals. The best of them was Winter Memories (by El Prado), whose seven graded wins included the 2011 Garden City Stakes (USA-IT) and 2012 Diana Stakes (USA-IT). Winter Memories has since produced two named foals, including the 2016 Tapit filly Winter Sunset, winner of a much-anticipated debut at the Fair Grounds on November 29, 2018.
La Cloche, a Ghostzapper half sister to Winter Memories, was slower to mature and not quite so talented, waiting until she was 5 to take the 2012 Athenia Stakes (USA-IIIT). If early results are any indication, however, she may be no less valuable a producer than Winter Memories. Her first two named foals are both winners, and her firstborn, the 5-year-old Tapit mare Bellavais, earned her first graded stakes brackets on January 12, 2019, when she won the Marshua's River Stakes (USA-IIIT) at Gulfstream Park.
Aside from her descent from one of the great foundation mares of the 20th century, Bellavais has an interesting hook in her pedigree thanks to the full sister and brother Moon Glitter and Relaunch, who appear 4x4 as the third dam of her sire Tapit and the broodmare sire of her maternal grandsire Ghostzapper, respectively. This pairing of full siblings at the fourth generation was a pedigree pattern often seen in matings planned by Olin Gentry, who was farm manager for Colonel Edward Riley Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm and for Darby Dan Farm and had a great impact on the success of both.
As things now stand, Bellavais will not get the chance to add to the record of Darby Dan farm as a producer. Although she raced as a homebred fpr the Phillips Racing Partnership at ages 2 and 3, winning two stakes as a sophomore, she was sold to Dr. Gerald Bortolazzo's Bortolazzo Stable (represented by agent Steven Young) for $485,000 at the 2018 Keeneland January mixed sale. Should Bortolazzo choose to get into the breeding game with her, he has what every horseman dreams of: a mare with a fine race record and the genetic potential to one day become a foundation mare in her own right and create a golden trail of her own.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.