To be sure, Ceiling Crusher came into the Cotillion with five wins (three in stakes races) and a third from six starts—good enough to make her the co-second choice at a bit over 3-1—but four of those wins had been in state-bred competition. Still, her last-out win, a six-length romp in the Torrey Pines Stakes (USA-G3) signaled that she might be ready for bigger things, and she came through with a gate-to-wire score over a sealed, sloppy surface. Her 100 Equibase figure for the race, paired with her 104 in the Torrey Pines, puts her right up with the top fillies of her crop—including Pretty Mischievous, who has yet to turn in an effort rated in three digits.
All this is heady stuff for a filly by a US$6,500 stallion and out of a dam that sold for US$4,500 with her Grade 1-winning daughter in utero. Bred by Harris Farm, Ceiling Crusher is by Mr. Big, who currently stands for US$7,500 but commanded US$1,000 less when Ceiling Crusher was conceived. A handsome, powerful son of Dynaformer out of Grade 2-placed stakes winner Fashion Delight (by Fappiano out of 1984 Frizette Stakes, USA-G1, winner Charleston Rag), Mr. Big commanded US$220,000 as a weanling at the 2003 Keeneland November sale but never came close to winning himself out as a racehorse, ending his career with two wins and a third from nine starts. His record suggests a horse compromised by significant physical or mental issues—or both—for he did not even get to the races until he was a 4-year-old and never made more than four starts during a season; yet in both his wins, he put up Equibase speed figures of 106, suggesting stakes-level talent.
Since entering stud in 2010, Mr. Big has sired 12 stakes winners from 213 named foals of racing age, including 27 2-year-olds of 2023. Even without taking Ceiling Crusher into consideration, he has done pretty well given what he has had to work with. The filly is his first Grade 1 winner, and he is also the sire of Grade 1-placed Grade 3 winner Big Score.
Ceiling Crusher is the third named foal out of the Indian Charlie mare Palisadesprincess, previously the dam of the 2018 Constitution mare Namibia (twice stakes-placed in Mexico) and the 2019 Mr. Big filly Cashing Big Checks, winner of rhe 2021 Blue Hen Stakes (a non-blacktype race at Delaware Park). The mare has since produced unraced Majestic Palisades, an unraced son of Majestic Harbor; a 2022 colt by Desert Code; and a 2023 filly by Smiling Tiger.
A half sister to five other winners including 2017 Mother Goose Stakes (USA-G2) third Moana, Palisadesprincess won one of her two starts and finished second in the other. She is out of listed stakes-placed Dixietwostepper (by More Than Ready), one of seven winners produced from the winning Grindstone mare Dixiechickadee. She, in turn, was produced from the stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare For Dixie, also the dam of 2007 Acorn Stakes winner Cotton Blossom (by Broken Vow) and 2005 Perryville Stakes (USA-G3) winner Vicarage (by Vicar). This is a female line that has sporadically come up with some nice horses but has been far from top-class.
Ceiling Crusher still has some work to do to catch up with Cal-bred legend California Chrome, who came from even humbler antecedents and accomplished far more. Still, trainer Doug O’Neill and owners Wonderland Racing Stables, Todd Cady, Tim Kasparoff, and Ty Letherman have accomplished all that they set out to do when they shipped their US$22,000 yearling purchase east from California, and they now have a pleasant dilemma on their hands: to go home and take advantage of what looks like easy money in lesser races, or to pony up the US$150,000 it would take to make Ceiling Crusher eligible for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (USA-G1) and a chance at the championship of the 3-year-old filly division. It may be a tough choice to make, but many people have spent a lot more money without ever getting anything that could require such a decision, let alone a filly who, to judge by this race, hasn’t found her ceiling yet.