Pic: Asuncion Pineyrua
The Danzig male line has done exceptionally well in Australia and Declaration of War (USA), whose first southern yearlings are at the sales this year represents a new chapter in that line’s history here. In just a few short seasons his sire War Front has created a huge impression in the northern hemisphere and several of his better runners have Danehill, another great Danzig son, on their distaff side, it’s a trend which could catch on locally.
With his first crop yearlings in Book One at the Gold Coast Magic Millions selling up to $230,000 in early January, Coolmore shuttler Declaration of War (USA) has made a bright start in Australia for a “new” branch of the Danzig sire line. The dual Gr.1 winner is one of several sons of War Front, one of the world’s most sought after sires, who have made their way south.
War Front (Danzig-Starry Dreamer by Rubiano) only entered stud in 2007 and already has 53SW. He commands a $US250,000 fee at Claiborne Farm, Kentucky in 2017 and had yearlings sell up to $US1.9m at the Keeneland September Sale in 2016, a year when he was North America’s number one sire by stakes winners (12%) and the world’s leading sire by juvenile stakes winners to runners (18%).
The European breeders, and Coolmore in particular, can’t seem to get enough of his stock, hardly surprising given the likes of Air Force Blue (dam by Maria’s Mon; Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1, National Stakes-Gr.1, Phoenix Stakes-Gr.1), Declaration of War (Rahy; York International-Gr.1, Queen Anne Stakes-Gr.1), Brave Anna (Sadler’s Wells, second dam by Danehill Dancer; Cheveley Park Stakes-Gr.1) and War Command (Red Ransom; Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1) are among his runners there. He’s already had more than 260 winners (100 plus at two) of more than $US40m.
His US Gr.1 winners include The Factor (USA) (Miswaki), who has shuttled to Newgate, Aberdeen from 2014), Jack Milton (Forty Niner), Data Link (Known Fact), Avenge (Woodman), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Hit It A Bomb (Sadler’s Wells, second dam by Danehill), Summer Soiree (Mazel Trick) and Peace and War (Smart Strike). French Listed winner The Brothers War (Sadler’s Wells), who also raced in the US, is on the roster at Kooringal Stud at Wagga, entering stud in 2015.
Declaration of War, a bay who stands a tick over 16 hands, has 85 foals from his first season here (2014) when he stood at $27,500 and 67 live foals from his second season (2015) when he stood at $24,750. He did not return to Coolmore, Jerrys Plains in 2016. His 12 yearlings in MM Book One averaged $85,167 and as well as the $230,000 yearling (a filly from Royal Dance by Danehill Dancer), who went to Paul Perry, a colt from Love All (USA) (Mt Livermore) sold to the good judges from the Hong Kong Jockey Club for $170,000, while two others, a filly from Skip Along (GB) (Galileo) and a filly from Festival Princess (IRE) (Barathea), made $110,000 to bids from Dermot Farrington Bloodstock and Paul Perry respectively.
His 2017 fee at Coolmore’s US base, Ashford Stud in Kentucky is $US35,000 (live foal) and his 74 first northern crop yearlings offered in 2016 averaged more than $US120,000. His northern weanlings sold for up to $US200,000 and averaged more than $US83,000 last year.
Declaration of War (ex Tempo West by Rahy) won seven races (1500m-2100m), including his only two starts as a juvenile. He earned a Timeform of 128 at four when Racehorses of 2013 noted, “There probably wasn’t a tougher horse in training at the top level in Europe in the last season than Declaration of War, who kept his form throughout the summer, winning the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and the International at York and also finishing in the frame in three other Gr.1s between those successes, before crowning a memorable campaign when going close in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (third) at Santa Anita.”
His trainer Aidan O’Brien described Declaration of War as “a strong traveller in his races and extremely tough”. Declaration of War began his career in France with Jean Claude Rouget at two, winning over 1700m on debut (November, 2011) and then over 1500m at Deauville the following month. This prompted his sale to a Coolmore syndicate and War Front’s breeder Joseph Allen. He was put into training briefly in the US in early 2012 but did not race there and was then sent to Ireland. He did not start until September 9 when he was fourth (a half-length) in the Solonaway Stakes-Gr.3 at the Curragh. He won the Moyglare Stud Trophy (11f) on September 30 by 3.5 lengths at the Curragh and backed up on October 5 to collect the Diamond Stakes-Gr.3 (11.75f) at Dundalk to earn an annual Timeform of 116p and the recommendation “should do better still” from Racehorses of 2012. Timeform commented that he was an “attractive” colt.
He won the Heritage Stakes-LR at Leopardstown first up at four and was fifth of 12 in the Lockinge-Gr.1 (2.5 lengths) next time out as favourite (the trainer blaming himself for not having the horse fit enough), before winning the £350,000 Queen Anne-Gr.1 (8f) at the Royal Ascot meeting on June 18 by three quarters of a length after having to barge his way to the front in the straight.
Declaration of War next raced on July 6 when second (two lengths) to Al Kazeem in the Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1 (10f) at Sandown after connections had toyed with the idea of chasing the top sprints with him. He was third behind star three year-olds Toronado and Dawn Approach in the Sussex Stakes-Gr.1 at Goodwood on July 31 and then the closest of fourths in the Prix Jacques le Marois-Gr.1 (1600m) behind Midnight Cloud, Olympic Glory and Intello on August 11.
Described by his trainer as “a horse who likes to be busy”, which should be a great advantage given our style of racing if his southern runners inherit this toughness, Declaration of War was back in action and the winner’s circle on August 21, collecting his second Gr.1 in the Juddmonte International (10.5f) at York, asserting himself in the final stages to beat Trading Leather by 1.5 lengths with Al Kazeem third. He finished his career on November 2 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic-Gr.1 (10f) when third, beaten a nose and a head, by Mucho Macho Man (runner-up in 2012) and the Travers Stakes winner Will Take Charge, on the unfamiliar dirt surface.
Declaration of War is from the triple winning miler Tempo West, a daughter of the very good juvenile and successful sire Rahy (Blushing Groom-Glorious Song by Halo). Tempo West’s six winners also include the US Gr.3 winner and Gr.1 placed War Correspondent (also by War Front) and French stakes winner Vertiformer (Dynaformer) and she is a half-sister to the dual Gr.1 winner and sire Union Rags (Dixie Union), who claimed the Belmont Stakes and Champagne Stakes and was runner-up in a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-Gr.1. They are from dual winner Tempo, a daughter of Gone West (Mr. Prospector) and the Gr.2 winner Terpsichorist (Nijinsky-Glad Rags by High Hat), a sister to Champagne Stakes-Gr.2 winner Gorytus and half-sister to US stakes winner Mirthful Flirt (Raise a Native). Declaration of War carries Northern Dancer 3m,6mx5m (twice via Nijinsky) and has Mr. Prospector 5mx4m. This is family 13b. Declaration of War’s fourth dam Glad Rags won the English 1000 Guineas-Gr.1.
Even the most enthusiastic fan of War Front could hardly have predicted his startling rise to fame when he retired to the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky in 2007 on a fee of $12,500, where his sire Danzig (Northern Dancer-Pas de Nom by Admiral’s Voyage), foaled in 1977, had stood throughout his long an illustrious career (also starting on a modest fee), retiring from active duty in 2004 (died 2006). In fact there are parallels with another Danzig son in Danehill (USA), who retired to stud at Arrowfield in 1990 on a fee of $37,500 (his fee at Coolmore topped $150,000 at one stage) after winning four of his nine starts including the Ladbroke Sprint Cup-Gr.1 and went on to become a nine times Champion Australian Sire.
War Front, whose fee at Claiborne in 2017 is $US250,000, also won four races including three of his five starts at three, most notably the Listed Princelet Stakes (8.5f) by eight lengths. He also won an Allowance (6f) by six lengths in 1:09.31 and broke his maiden at Saratoga, running the six furlongs in 1:09.68 and cruising home by 11.5 lengths. His major win came at four when he took the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap-Gr.2 (6f) by 2.5 lengths in 1:10.21. Like Danzig, and that other great Danzig son Danehill, his metier was speed and this is something he passes on in spades to his progeny and reminds us of that famous quote from Claiborne Farms legendary stallion maker A.B. “Bull” Hancock who famously said the three things he looked for in a stallion prospect were “speed, speed and more speed.”
War Front, a typical Northern Dancer “type” although a shade bigger at 16 hands, also registered five seconds in his seven starts at four including in the Vosburgh-Gr.1 (6f to Henny Hughes), Forego Stakes-Gr.1 (7f, to Silver Wagon) and the Tom Fool Handicap-Gr.2 (7f to Silver Train, beaten a neck and recording a high Beyer Speed Figure of 114). He retired to Claiborne, where he was born and raised for owner Joseph Allen, after Claiborne purchased the breeding rights in the horse while he was still racing.
In his 24 crops his sire Danzig, unbeaten in just three starts, had 1075 foals for 684 winners (64%) and 202 stakes winners (19%). His other sire sons include Danehill, Chief’s Crown, Langfuhr, Anabaa, Boundary, Hard Spun, Belong to Me, Elnadim, Maroof, Polish Precedent and Bianconi. War Front’s dam, the stakes winner and Gr.1 runner-up Starry Dreamer (six wins), is a daughter of champion sprinter Rubiano (Fappiano-Ruby Slippers by Nijinsky) and her seven foals also include the Gr.2 winner Teamate (A P Indy). Rubiano won 13 of 28 starts and $US1.2m and won an Eclipse Award in 1992 as Champion Sprinter in the US.
Given War front’s success with mares carrying lines of Danehill and Sadler’s Wells, his talented son Declaration of War should work well with Australia’s broodmare band. His first local youngsters have been well received in the sales ring and success on the track in the new season should see even more interest in this new boom branch of the Danzig male line.
Published: February 2017