Whatever the limitations of the race' s current format, it did turn up a promising winner on February 6 in Seth Klarman's Risk Taking, a son of Medaglia d'Oro who posted a visually impressive score by 3-3/4 lengths. Just how much this actually amounts to is open to question, as the field was not a particularly tough one, the pace was very moderate, and the final furlong went in :13.44. It was good enough for Risk Taking to earn a 102 Equibase speed figure, but the real tests are yet to come. Nonetheless, it was a step in the right direction for a beautifully bred colt who has now won two nine-furlong races in a row after failing twice over shorter trips.
Risk Taking's name is most appropriate as he is from the family of Con Game, a mare who did the Phipps breeding program good service in the 1980s. A Buckpasser daughter of the juvenile stakes winner Broadway and a half sister to 1967 champion 2-year-old filly Queen of the Stage and the fine racer and sire Reviewer, Con Game fit pretty well in the category of "New York allowance filly" and as such was worthy of retention for the Phipps broodmare band.
Con Game proved her worth by producing three graded stakes-winning sons in succession. The first was Stacked Pack (by Majestic Light), winner of the 1987 Jamaica Handicap (USA-G3); the third was Fast Play (by Seattle Slew), winner of the 1988 Remsen Stakes (USA-G1). In between, she gave birth to the best of the trio, Seeking the Gold. A handsome horse who combined the strong hindquarters and speed of his sire Mr. Prospector with the stamina and elegance of his maternal grandsire Buckpasser, Seeking the Gold was first or second in 14 of his 15 starts and earned Grade 1 laurels in the 1988 Dwyer Stakes and Super Derby, as well as running a couple of heart-stopping seconds to the similarly sired Forty Niner in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (USA-G1) and the Travers Stakes (USA-G1). Retired to stud at Claiborne Farm, Seeking the Gold proved a fine sire and broodmare sire whose male line continues today through his European-based grandson Dubawi.
Con Game's daughters have not been as significant thus far, but two have been of some importance. One is Seeking the Gold's full sister Miner's Game, who produced 2005 Gotham Stakes (USA-G3) winner Survivalist (by Danzig) and is the second dam of Grade 2 winner Nefertini and Grade 3 winner Awesome Chic. The other is Tricky Game, a full sister to Stacked Pack who produced multiple Grade 2 winner King Cugat (by Kingmambo). Through her daughter Commodities (by Private Account), Tricky Game is the second dam of Grade 3 winners Rey de Cafe (by Kingmambo) and El Crespo (by A.P. Indy), and is the third dam of Risk Taking through Commodities' Distorted Humor daughter Run a Risk.
Even with an extremely strong pedigree from top to bottom, Risk Taking is by no means guaranteed to progress and move forward; he could just as easily turn out another Survivalist as another champion. Nonetheless, he is an exemplar of the time-honored saw, "breed the best to the best and hope for the best," which over the long haul is still the best bet for coming up with something special in the risky business that is Thoroughbred racing and breeding.