Most racing buffs know that Black Gold was the only Kentucky Derby winner to collect four "Derby" wins during the course of his 3-year-old season. However, there is another winner of a Triple Crown race who also won four "Derby" races. Who was he, and what were his Derby victories?
Most people familiar with North American racing know that Gallant Fox was the only American Triple Crown winner to sire an American Triple Crown winner, getting 1935 champion Omaha. However, the South American stallion who is the subject of this week's question accomplished an even more remarkable feat. Himself the winner of the Argentine Quadruple Crown (the three races of the Argentine Triple Crown plus the Gran Premio Internacional/Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini, Argentina's top all-aged race), he sired a similar winner who was considered an even better racer than himself. Who was he, and who was his champion son?
After placing in the Grande Prêmio Ipiranga (BRZ-G1), 3-year-old Atila the King came through with his first stakes win on November 9 in the Grande Prêmio Premio Gobernado da Estado (BRZ-G2). Fans of the Rasmussen Factor (inbreeding to superior females) should have been ecstatic, for Atila the King has a pedigree that is a showcase for the RF; he is inbred 3x3 to Terlingua and has an additional 5x5 cross to Sequence.
As the dam of two-time American leading sire and seven-time American leading juvenile sire Storm Cat, Terlingua is probably the more familiar nowadays. The daughter of Secretariat and the sizzling-fast Crimson Saint (herself a first-rate producer) was one of the best juvenile fillies of her year before retiring to the paddocks, where Storm Cat was her second foal. Her third foal was multiple Grade 2 winner Chapel of Dreams (by Northern Dancer), and her eighth was the Mr. Prospector colt Pioneering.
Pioneering won two of his six starts and gained a chance at stud based on pedigree. He has proved worthy of the opportunity. The sire of at least 59 stakes winners including American Grade 1 winner Behaving Badly and Brazilian Group 1 winners Emperor Cat, Farrier and Meu Chuck, he initially stood alongside Storm Cat at Overbrook Farm before being purchased by a consortium of Brazilian breeders in 2009. A top-10 sire in his adopted country, he is the broodmare sire of Atila the King, whose sire is the Storm Cat horse Forestry.
Sequence, a granddaughter of the excellent racer and foundation mare Myrtlewood was, like Terlingua, a good juvenile. As befitted a daughter of Count Fleet, she was also a fine producer and is best known for her daughter Gold Digger, whose brood included Pioneering's sire Mr. Prospector. A great sire of sires, Mr. Prospector heads up by far the most successful branch of the sire line of the great Native Dancer (his paternal grandsire), and Gold Digger's branch of her family has bred on through her daughters as well.
Neither of Sequence's stakes-winning sons had any influence on future generations, but another branch of her family extends through the Bold Ruler mare Bold Sequence. Bred to Dr. Fager, Bold Sequence produced Surgery, dam of Grade 1 winners Sewickley (by Star de Naskra) and Shared Interest (by Pleasant Colony). Shared Interest, in turn, is the dam of none other than Forestry, a Grade 1 winner in his own right and a successful sire in North America before being exported to Brazil in his old age.
Forestry and Pioneering, thus, share strong links to two excellent families, and it will be interesting to see if Brazilian breeders attempt to exploit these links further by crossing these sires and their sons with one another's daughters. As for Atila the King, he appears to be a colt on the improve, and he may just have a future as one of the royalty of Brazilian breeding thanks to a genetic hand that contains two queens twice over.
Like the four-minute mile in track and field, the two-minute barrier for 10 furlongs in horse racing was one thought impossible to break for long decades. Who was the horse who finally accomplished the feat, and at what track did he make his mark?
In November 2018, the Anasheed mare Lil Indy went into the sale ring at Keeneland November, in foal to New Year's Day, and sold for US$11,000. New Year's Day had already been sold to Brazil, and the 11-year-old mare was also bound on what was expected to be a one-way trip to foreign shores, in her case to Korea. She left behind three starters, two of which had won in undistinguished company; an unraced 2-year-old by New Year's Day; and a weanling colt by Flashback.
In November 2019, Lil Indy was not only back in the United States but sold for $1.85 million at Keeneland November to Jane Lyon's Summer Wind Farm, in foal to Quality Road. The difference? She is now the dam of Maximum Security, who broke his maiden at first asking in a US$16,000 claiming race at Gulfstream on December 20. The price tag represented the level of expectations for the colt, who had a less than textbook set of legs in addition to a pedigree that was not setting any fashion standards, but since then he has won two Grade 1 races and was clearly the best horse in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (USA-G1), losing the victory by disqualification. A win in the upcoming Cigar Mile (USA-G1) will almost certainly give him the Eclipse Award as America's best 3-year-old male.
Top-class racing performance will make any pedigree look better, but in hindsight, Lil Indy had the genetic makings to come up with a good horse at any time thanks to her dam Cresta Lil. A multiple stakes winner as a juvenile and a half sister to both another stakes winner and a graded stakes producer, Cresta Lil may not have been fashionably bred (her sire, French Group 2 Cresta Rider, ended up being sent to Chile well before shuttling to South America became a major trend), but she produced a very good horse in multiple Grade 1 winner Flat Out (by Flatter) and another nice runner in multiple stakes winner Our Best Man (by Runaway Groom), as well as eight other winners from 11 foals. Given the general class of the stallions she was put to, her production record was very good indeed.
Maximum Security's success has clearly boosted the perceived value and breeding opportunities of his two sisters as well. Lily of the Nile (by Pioneerof the Nile), a US$5,000 purchase from the 2019 Keeneland January sale when covered by Mr. Speaker, was a US$235,000 RNA at Keeneland November, in foal to Gun Runner. As for the New Year's Day filly Lil Indy was carrying when she went to Korea, that foal passed through the Keeneland November ring as a US$190,000 RNA and will almost certainly end up with some good breeding opportunities even if she cannot outrun the proverbial fat man.
Obviously, the main reason most mares sell for small sums at public auction is that they either lack an attractive combination of racing performance, conformation, and pedigree or they have poor production records in spite of good credentials. Most will not prove bargains even at low sale prices. Nonetheless, every now and then, a mare with real potential slips through the cracks, and it is mares like Lil Indy that help keep horsemen with limited budgets dreaming and in the game.
Virtually everything accomplished at the 2019 Breeders' Cup World Championships was overshadowed by the tragic death of Mongolian Groom in the Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-G1), but there were some remarkable feats performed that deserve to be remembered. Among those are Uni's and Got Stormy's 1-2 finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-G1), the first-ever female exacta in an event that has been noted for distaff successes against males.
Uni's victory was notable in more ways than one, as she provided a record-breaking seventh Breeders' Cup success for her sire More Than Ready. The 22-year-old Southern Halo stallion has already drawn the curtain on one of the most successful shuttle careers of modern times, as he will not return to Australia after 2019, but he is still going strong. Also the sire in 2019 of multiple Grade 1 winner Rushing Fall, he has a possible North American heir going to stud next year in Catholic Boy, a Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf.
Uni is the first foal of Unaided, whose sire Dansili has been a credit as a stallion to both his sire Danehill and his dam, the fabulous broodmare Hasili. Although Unaided was unable to win or even place in seven tries, she is a half sister to an Italian Grade III winner and a listed stakes winner and is out of the Generous mare Wosaita, a half sister to 1990 Prix de Diane Hermes (French Oaks, FR-G1) winner Rafha (by Kris). As a certain Eclipse Award nominee with a good chance of taking home the trophy, Uni has all the credentials of a top broodmare prospect, but in a sporting move in a sport desperately in need of stars, part-owner Sol Kumin has already announced that Uni will race again in 2020.
Got Stormy, too, will race again next year according to owner Gary Barber, setting up the possibility for some dynamite return matches next year. Hardly disgraced by her second-place finishes in the Woodbine Mile (CAN-G1) and the Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-G1) after defeating Uni in the Fourstardave Stakes (USA-G1), she has only reflected further credit on the family of Tiy (see "Mares on Monday: Tiy's Family Storms to New Heights," August 8, 2019), which is also responsible for Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (USA-G1) winner Sharing.
Two sterling mares, both racing on when they could be retired to make expensive babies, will not be enough to save American horse racing from its current woes. Nonetheless, the thought of this rivalry continuing, and perhaps even creating a rematch in next year's Mile, is something to look forward to in the midst of racing's clouded future.
The 2019 Breeders' Cup World Championships brought out much of the best of American racing, but they also reflected a turbulent year for the sport. A major push for equine safety after the rash of horse deaths at the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting in fact appears to have made progress in making racing safer for horses and jockeys, but in feeling seems futile after the death of Mongolian Groom in the Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-G1). For an embattled sport, the timing could hardly have been worse, coming as it did in one of the most-watched horse races of the year. In the long run, the negative publicity may do good if it finally forces racing to abandon its "we've-always-done-it-this-way" mentality and adopt long-needed reforms in creating nationally uniform policies on medications, whip use, and sanctions for violations of racing rules. In the short run, however, racing in California may have just moved onto the endangered species list, with animal rights activists having been handed a tragedy that they are unlikely to let go to waste in their campaign to kill the sport.
The Breeders' Cup also left several Eclipse Award divisions murkier than ever, with both sophomore divisions, both juvenile divisions, the older dirt male division, and possibly the turf female division all in position to possibly have year-end voting affected by post-Breeders' Cup racing. The greatest possibility for this appears to be in the 3-year-old male division, in which Maximum Security seems to have the edge after winning the Bold Ruler Stakes (USA-G3) and sitting out the Breeders' Cup. Code of Honor has probably taken himself out of the mix with his disappointing run in the Classic and seems unlikely to race again this season, but Omaha Beach may still be in the picture after his second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (USA-G1). Both colts have three graded wins with two at the Grade 1 level; both have a win over older males, and while Maximum Security was clearly best in the Kentucky Derby (USA-G1) despite his disqualification, he made that distinction in the absence of Omaha Beach, who would probably have been the Derby favorite had he not been injured and withdrawn. Both colts are being pointed to post-Breeders Cup Grade 1 races---Omaha Beach to the Malibu Stakes and Maximum Security to either the Cigar Mile or the Clark Handicap, and if both win, the deciding factor will probably be Maximum Security's second win at the expense of older males. A loss for Maximum Security and an impressive win for Omaha Beach could tip the scales the other way.
Besides the Cigar Mile and Clark Handicap (both of which could conceivably impact the older dirt male division, though it would probably take a very impressive performance by another leading older male to unseat Vino Rosso), other graded stakes that could become the final line in a resume for a championship include the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (USA-G1) at Los Alamitos (2-year-old fillies), the Remsen Stakes (USA-G2) at Aqueduct (2-year-old males), the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (USA-G2) at Churchill Downs (2-year-old males), the Los Alamitos Futurity (USA-G2) (2-year-old males), and the Hollywood Derby (USA-G1) at Del Mar (3-year-old males and conceivably 3-year-old fillies). The most intriguing of all could be the Matriarch Stakes (USA-G1) at Del Mar in the older turf female division. While Uni has the edge at present thanks to her victory over males in the Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-G1), Sistercharlie has three Grade 1 wins to two for her rival from identical 3-0-1 records in four-start campaigns and would be hard to overlook with a fourth Grade 1 win. Two other mares that might have at least a shot in the division with an impressive Matriarch score would be Vasilika, who has five graded stakes wins (one of them a Grade 1) and two Grade 1 placings this year, and Iridessa, who would then have a perfect 2-for-2 record in North America and the cachet of having won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (USA-G1) over Sistercharlie. (Vasilika, however, is slated to sell at Fasig-Tipton's "Night of the Stars" and is unlikely to race again.)
Not all was darkness and confusion at the Breeders' Cup, as Bricks and Mortar sealed an Eclipse Award in the turf male division and probably a Horse of the Year title as well in the Breeder's Cup Turf (USA-G1). Mitole upheld his claim to a title as champion sprinter by taking the Sprint (USA-G1), and Covfefe probably sealed the deal in the female sprinter division by taking the Filly and Mare Sprint (USA-G1). Midnight Bisou's Horse of the Year chances died with her second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (USA-G1), but she will still be the champion older dirt female, and her conqueror Blue Prize certainly deserves credit for her late-season campaign. And while unbeaten Structor may not get an Eclipse for his win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (USA-G1), he is certainly worthy of consideration in the 2-year-old male division and may have a shot to get the trophy if one of the division's Grade 1 winners on dirt does not come up with a major late-season victory.
In a perfect world, horses would never get hurt during a race, champions would be decided by thrilling year-end victories in racing's championship showcase, and people would leave the Breeders' Cup completely happy that they had seen the very best American horse racing has to offer. That didn't happen this year and though there were some bright spots, this year's Breeders' Cup may have raised more questions than it answered. Only future events can tell whether the 2019 Breeders' Cup proves to be a catalyst that ends up renewing the sport in North America, the tinder for its funeral pyre, or just another set of short-lived fireworks that are soon forgotten.
Welcome to the 2019 edition of the special Breeders' Cup trivia challenge. See if you can come up with the answers to all five questions before post time for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (USA-I),
1) Third time was the charm for this Breeders' Cup race winner, who finally captured a Breeders' Cup trophy and a Horse of the Year title to go with it. The previous year, a losing effort had still been enough to gain him a divisional title. Who was he?
2) Sired by a horse who stood for US$1,000 stud fee in the year of his conception, this Breeders' Cup race winner ended up as the first horse to win three Eclipse Award titles in each of two consecutive years. Who was he?
3) This remarkable broodmare has had great influence on the Breeders' Cup, producing two Breeders' Cup race winners who between them sired five more such winners. Who is she, and who are her BC-winning sons and "grandfoals"?
4) Who was the first horse to run in five editions of the same Breeders' Cup race?
5) Only one Breeders' Cup winner has ever stood in Switzerland. Who was he?
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan with a particular interest in Thoroughbred mares and their contributions to the history of the breed.