CRITERION raced only in the best company and proved one of the toughest and most competitive performers of his generation over four seasons to earn more than $7.3m. A son of Golden Slipper winner Sebring and from a high-class American family, he joins the star-studded roster at Newgate Farm in 2016.
CRITERION (NZ), who retires to Newgate Farm in 2016 on $35,750, is an exception in an era when young stallion prospects become so valuable they are rushed off to stud after only a handful of starts. The handsome chestnut had 36 starts from age two to five (35 at black type level), won four Gr.1 and was in the first three in 21 starts, earning $7.317m.
This makes him the highest earner of Australian prize money to retire to stud. He earned World Thoroughbred Rankings of 117 (2014) and 120 (2015) when he was equal Leading Older Male (extended). Criterion (Sebring-Mica’s Pride by Bite the Bullet (USA)) also boasts a very good pedigree as he’s by Champion 2YO Colt and Golden Slipper-Gr.1 winner and now successful sire Sebring (More Than Ready (USA)), while his dam is a Gr.3 winner from a high-class US family and has produced seven winners including other stakes winners Varenna Miss and Silently.
A look at the sires in the fourth generation of his pedigree confirms this excellence; Halo, Woodman, Danehill (USA), Luskin Star, Bold Bidder, Alydar, Mr. Prospector and Alleged. His pedigree shows strong inbreeding to Mr. Prospector (5m,5fx4f), with
an additional line of that horse’s sire Raise a Native through his champion son Alydar; plus Buckpasser (6fx5f,6m) and influential mare Fanfreluche (6fx6m), through her daughter Grand Luxe (Sir Ivor) and son l’Enjoleur (Buckpasser) and more distant line breeding to her sire Northern Dancer (5f,6m,7fx7f) and to Nasrullah.
Starting off in the stables of David Payne, Criterion made his debut at Rosehill (1100m) on November 3, 2012, winning by a half-length in 1:05.89 from subsequent Gr.1 winner Sweet Idea. Put away until February 16, 2013, the two year-old was beaten three lengths on a dead (5) track in the Listed Canonbury Stakes behind Never Can Tell and Whittington and then bounced back in a field of 14 to collect the Black Opal Stakes-LR (1200m) on a dead (4) Canberra track from Sidestep on March 10, wearing blinkers for the first time.
Criterion put himself into contention for the Golden Slipper at Rosehill on March 23, beating Fast ‘n’ Rocking and Havana in the Todman Stakes-Gr.2 (1200m) at Rosehill. “He’s still a bit of a thinker and the blinkers have definitely done the trick. There is improvement to come too,” Payne said after the Todman, while jockey Craig Williams described him as “quite an unusual, very relaxed type of two year-old, but most importantly he’s very solid and he’d be a main contender for the Slipper.”
Unfortunately a win in the major juvenile event was not to be. Criterion was sixth (of 16) in the Slipper-Gr.1 behind Overreach and then sixth (of 13, two lengths) in the Champagne-Gr.1 (1600m) behind Guelph.
The colt, bred and owned by New Zealand businessman Sir Owen Glenn, started his three year-old season with an 11th in the Run to the Rose-Gr.3 on August 31 and a similar placing in the Golden Rose-Gr.1 on September 14 before a narrow second to Eurozone in the Stan Fox Stakes-Gr.2 on September 28 and a 1.25 length second to Savvy Nature in the Spring Champion Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m) on October 12. Taken to Melbourne, he was fourth in the 2500m VRC Derby-Gr.1 (4.5 lengths) to Polanski, Complacent and Thunder Fantasy before going for a break.
Back at the track on February 15, he was fourth in the VRC C.S. Hayes-Gr.3 (1400m) behind Hucklebuck and then back in Gr.1 company for the VRC Australian Guineas-Gr.1 on March 1, beaten a length by Shamus Award.
Taken to Sydney, he was eighth in the Randwick Guineas-Gr.1 (1600m) behind Dissident (also by Sebring) on March 15 before claiming his first Gr.1 in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m), beating Thunder Fantasy by 3.5 lengths on a slow (7) track with Hugh Bowman taking control in the straight to storm home on the talented three year-old. Payne said the horse was more mature than when he finished fourth in the VRC Derby in the spring.
“From day one we knew this is what he’s been looking for, distances of 2000m and above,” Payne said. “We still didn’t know about the weather and if he could handle the wet, but it looks like it’s not a problem for him. He’ll be winning the Derby hopefully.”
That assessment proved correct and Criterion’s second Gr.1 came next start on April 12 when he won the $2m Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick (heavy 9), beating Tupac Amaru by a half-length in a field of 18.
“We got him for the Slipper, but it just shows you there are no rules in racing,” Payne said after the Derby. “But this fellow needed time, he’s only becoming
a horse now. He’s furnished and it makes a difference and I think he’ll be an even better four year-old.”
Criterion’s four year-old season started on August 23 when he was third in the Warwick Stakes-Gr.2 (1400m) behind Tiger Tees and Royal Descent, beaten 1.5 lengths on a heavy (9) Kensington track and he was unplaced on a similar surface in the Chelmsford Stakes-Gr.2 behind Hawkspur on September 6. He struck a good track next time out in the Hill Stakes-Gr.2 (2000m)
at Randwick on September 20 when runner-up
to Junoob and then went to Caulfield where he was just pipped by Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m) on a good track on October 11.
He was seventh in the Cox Plate-Gr.1 behind Adelaide and then fifth in the Mackinnon-Gr.1 behind Happy Trails on November 1 at his final start for Payne. Transferred to David Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Criterion went to Hong Kong for the Longines HK Cup-Gr.1 (2000m), going down 1.1 lengths when third to Designs on Rome and Military Attack.
He returned to Australian racing on March 7 with a 1.25 length third behind Cosmic Endeavour and Catkins in the Canterbury Stakes-Gr.1 (1300m) at Randwick and was then the narrowest of seconds behind Japanese raider Real Impact (Kermadec third)
in the George Ryder-Gr.1 (1500m in 1:28.29) at Rosehill on March 21. Kermadec would go on to nudge out Real Impact in the Doncaster next time out on April 6, while Criterion scored a historic victory in the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m) at Randwick on April 11, winning the crowning event of The Championships by 2.25 lengths from grand international campaigner Red Cadeaux and Royal Descent, backing up from a third in the Doncaster, on the soft (7) track.
Criterion, ridden by Craig Williams, raced close to the lead before he took control at the turn in the Queen Elizabeth and was never in danger of defeat. “David told me, ‘Craig just ride him like a good horse’,” Williams said. “My job sitting on top was nice and comfortable.”
Three international runs followed, a third in the $HK20m Queen Elizabeth II Cup-Gr.1 (2000m) behind Blazing Speed, a fifth in the Royal Ascot Prince of Wales’s Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m) behind Free Eagle and a sixth in the York International Stakes-Gr.1 behind Arabian Queen on August 19.
It was a training effort and a half to have the entire ready for his next assignment on October 10. Criterion defied the travails of a tough international campaign to return to the winners’ list in the Caulfield Stakes-Gr.1 (2000m), running 2:02.02 on a good track for
a half-length win over Happy Trails and with Mongolian Khan third.
It was no disgrace to be beaten into second by champion Winx in the Cox Plate-Gr.1 (2040m), with Highland Reel third, on October 24 and then his really showed some backbone over the marathon 3200m of the $6m Melbourne Cup-Gr.1 on November 3, carrying 57.5kg to be 1.25 lengths third behind Prince of Penzance and Max Dynamite in a field of 24.
Unplaced in the HK Cup on December 13, Criterion was off the scene until March 5 this year, when he was last of seven in the Canterbury Stakes-Gr.1 (1300m), before a third in the Ranvet-Gr.1 behind The United States on March 19 and an unplaced run in the Queen Elizabeth on April 9, a race which signalled his retirement from the track as the winner of seven, with seven seconds, seven thirds and two fourths in 36 starts and earnings of $7,317,687.
Tough and competitive over four seasons of racing, Criterion is by Sebring, Australia’s Champion 2YO of 2007-08 and winner of five of his six starts at two ($2.53m) including the Golden Slipper-Gr.1 and AJC Sires’ Produce-Gr.1 and runner-up in the Champagne Stakes-Gr.1. Sebring came to hand early, winning the Breeders’ Plate-LR (1100m) and he also won the Canonbury Stakes-LR and he is the son of a very good US juvenile (won five from seven) in More Than Ready (USA) (Southern Halo-Woodman’s Girl by Woodman (USA)), who trained on to collect the King’s Bishop Stakes-Gr.1 (7f) at three after being tested as a Derby horse (he was fourth in the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 and runner-up in the Blue Grass-Gr.1).
While More Than Ready has become a very good sire of two year-olds, think Golden Slipper winners like Sebring and Phelan Ready (dam by Blevic) and this season’s Champagne Stakes-Gr.1 winner Prized Icon (Danehill), he has more dimensions as a sire also getting champion middle distance performer More Joyous (inbred to Halo), NZ Oaks-Gr.1 winner More Than Sacred (Danehill), Victoria Derby-Gr.1 winner Benicio (Danehill) and WA Derby-Gr.1/WA Oaks-Gr.3 heroine Dreamaway (Danehill) as well as older Gr.1 sprinters like Perfectly Ready (Danehill) among his 158 stakes winners. He has more than 1450 winners (73%) with earnings topping $159m.
The Danehill connection continues with Sebring as his dam Purespeed is a daughter of Golden Slipper winner Flying Spur (Danehill) and from Lady Moulin, a daughter of Golden Slipper winner Luskin Star (Kaoru Star), while his third dam Willowy, won the Listed Fernhill Handicap at two and is a daughter of champion sire Better Boy (IRE)).
Sebring entered stud in 2009 and his fee at Widden in 2016 is $77,000. As well as getting Criterion in his first crop, he also had the 2014-15 Horse of the Year Dissident (Anabaa), who is also on the stallion roster at Newgate ($33,000 in 2016). Dissident’s seven wins (1000m-1600m) included the All-Aged Stakes-Gr.1, Randwick Guineas-Gr.1, Makybe Diva Stakes-Gr.1, Memsie Stakes-Gr.1 and Orr Stakes-Gr.1 and as well as his HOY honours, he was also rated Champion Sprinter and Champion Older Horse. He was precocious enough to win the Blue Diamond preview on debut at two.
There have been good horses in every crop since including Gr.2 winner and Golden Slipper third Bring Me The Maid (Belong to Me), Gr.2 winners Believe Yourself (Encosta de Lago, inbred to the Mr. Prospector mare Rolls (USA), dam of Flying Spur and second dam of Encosta de Lago), Hatori Hanzo (Marauding), Seaburge and Catch a Fire (also with dams by Encosta de Lago) and Gr.3 winners Thurlow (King’s Chapel), Scratchy Bottom (Danehill), Kiss a Rose (Redoute’s Choice), the last two with doubles of Danehill, and Clifton Red (Encosta de Lago, second dam by Century; doubling Rolls and Better Boy).
Sebring was third on the Australian sires’ list in 2014-15 and already has 208 winners (57.3%) of $29.32m, 21 of them stakes winners (5.8% of starters) and this record is sure to improve given the quality books he has covered in recent seasons, looking after 203, 223, 192 and 176 mares in the past four years. His progeny have a winning distance index of 1372m. He has 95 winners (7SW) of $7.05m this season (to May 16) to be eighth on the sires’ list by earnings (behind Street Cry).
Criterion was conceived at Widden Stud but born in NZ where his dam had been sent to visit leading sire O’Reilly, subsequently producing the minor winner Outroar by that horse. Mica’s Pride, owned by Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock, has since had a colt by Fastnet Rock called Coming Through and colts by Pierro and Fastnet Rock in 2014 and 2015 and missed to Sebring this season.
Mica’s Pride won three races to 1250m including the STC Research Stakes-Gr.3 and she is a sister to stakes placed Money Begets Money, second dam of Listed winner Malice (Teofilo) and to Rose of Cimmaron, dam of Gr.3 winner and Gr.1 placed Bull Point (Fastnet Rock), who retires to Kingstar Farm at Denman in 2016 on $7700.
Seven of Mica’s Pride’s eight named foals have raced and won including the Gr.2 winner Varenna Miss (Redoute’s Choice), who was also twice Gr.1 fourth (Oakleigh Plate and BTC Cup) and Listed winner Silently (Anabaa), dam of South African Gr.3 winner Muwaary (O’Reilly). Mica’s Pride is by Bite the Bullet (USA) (Spectacular Bid-Lassie’s Lady by Alydar), a US Gr.2 winner at 6f and third in the Arlington Washington Futurity-Gr.1, who retired to stud in Australia in 1992 and carved out a very good career despite modest opportunity, leaving 19SW including triple Gr.1 winner Sniper’s Bullet and Group winners The Jackal and Pleasure Giver among a host of winners in a long career of 21 seasons (635 live foals). He died in March 2013, a year when his final crop of five
His sire Spectacular Bid (Bold Bidder-Spectacular by Promised Land, a horse inbred 3fx3f to To Market (also dam sire of Marscay) was US Horse of the Year at four and a champion at two and three with his 26 wins including the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 and Preakness Stakes-Gr.1. He became an outstanding sire of turf performers in the US.
Bite the Bullet is a three-quarter brother to minor US stakes winner Spectacular Spy (USA), a success in a short stud career in NSW, while his stakes placed dam, Lassie’s Lady, a daughter of five-time Gr.1 winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Alydar, is a half-sister to nine other winners including the Gr.1 winners Weekend Surprise (Secretariat), dam of sires A.P. Indy and Summer Squall; and Wolfhound (Nureyev), from Gr.3 winner Lassie Dear (Buckpasser). This is a very prolific and high-class family and offers some interesting inbreeding opportunities with Criterion, perhaps via mares with Summer Squall or A.P. Indy in their pedigrees. Other sires from this immediate family include Lemon Drop Kid, Statue of Liberty (USA) and Duke of Marmalade (IRE), while a recent star is English Derby hero Ruler of the World (Galileo).
Mica’s Pride is from the imported Gainesville (CAN) (Afleet-Adarling by Alleged), an unraced sister to Gr.3 winner Afleetaffair (CAN), who stood in Queensland (1999-2013, 209 foals), and to Listed winner Justadarling. Gainesville’s 11 foals all won and also include the Listed winner and Group placed Amah Rock (Fastnet Rock) and Bite the Bullet’s daughter Joleur (dam of stakes winners Upon This Rock, Bhutane Dane and Gaze On and second dam of Gr.3 winner Najoom). Her sire Afleet (Mr. Prospector-Polite Lady
by Venetian Jester), a Horse of the Year in Canada and a very good sire, won the Jerome Handicap-Gr.1 and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint-Gr.1, while her dam, Adarling, a daughter of dual Arc winner and twice European Horse of the Year Alleged (Hoist the Flag), was a stakes winner and Gr.1 placed in Canada and is a daughter of Canadian Oaks winner and Champion 3YO Filly of Canada, Avowal, a daughter of l’Enjoleur (Buckpasser-Fanfreluche by Northern Dancer). The Gr.1 winner Fanfreluche of course being the third dam of Flying Spur and fourth dam of Encosta de Lago. Avowal left five winners including Canadian Gr.3 winner and Queen’s Plate-Gr.1 runner-up Freedom Fleet (Afleet).
Next dam Well In Hand (Bold Ruler-Bull Poise by Bull Lea) is a grandaughter of Alpoise (by Equipoise from the Selima Stakes winner Laughing Queen by Sun Briar). Alpoise is also second dam of multiple Gr.1 winner and sire Tom Fool (Menow-Gaga by Bull Dog), sire of Buckpasser and grandsire of Lunchtime (GB)). Laughing Queen, who is Criterion’s eighth dam, is a sister to Futurity Stakes/Hopeful Stakes winner and notable sire Pompey (32SW), a Champion 2YO Colt in the US. Their dam is CCA Oaks and Champagne Stakes winner Cleopatra (Corcyra-Gallice by Gallinule). This is family 3j.
“It is a real privilege to be entrusted by Sir Owen Glenn with such an exceptional racehorse as Criterion,” Newgate Farm’s Henry Field said when announcing the entire would stand at his Hunter Valley property. “He danced every dance through his career, developing into one of the toughest and most versatile racehorses of the modern era. He is the type of horse every breeder dreams of breeding and every owner dreams of owning.”
“He’s done me proud,” Sir Owen said of his “once in a lifetime horse”. The 76 year-old millionaire and philanthropist, who is battling liver cancer, is determined to see Criterion succeed at stud and will be sending him some choice mares.
“He’s proved himself as a sprinter, a middle-distance horse and then a stayer. I don’t know any other thoroughbred who has done all three. He’s a remarkable horse with a great spirit. I wish I had called him ‘Indomitable’.
“He’s tried to bite me and kick me, just being a bit frisky. But he doesn’t owe me anything and I hope he has a long and happy career at stud. What I want is for him to do his best. That’s all. And the last time I lifted his ear I said, ‘have I got some girlfriends for you’.” n