Nyquist’s Derby Highlights His Exceptional Sire

The spring classics in the US and in Europe have provided some fascinating results. This column examines the pedigrees of the winners, many of great interest to breeders in Australasia thanks to the sire shuttle.

Kentucky Derby
GOING into the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1, there was not much doubt that undefeated Nyquist the previous year’s champion two year-old was the best horse in the race. There was, however, considerable doubt about his ability to be as effective at the Derby trip of 10f, one he’d not attempted. As it was, Nyquist never looked in serious danger. After tracking a fast early pace, he turned for home 2.5 lengths clear, and had enough in hand to hold late closing Exaggerator at bay by half that margin.

Nyquist is the leader of what is turning out to be a sensational first crop by the Champion Two Year-Old, Uncle Mo (by Indian Charlie, from the Caro branch of the Grey Sovereign line). Three-for-three at two, Uncle Mo scored an easy victory on his debut in a minor stakes at a mile. Only third in the Wood Memorial Stakes-Gr.1 next out, he was found to be suffering from an illness that kept him out of the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1. He re-emerged from a long layoff to contest the King’s Bishop Stakes-Gr.1, and went down by a nose to very talented Caleb’s Posse, caught late after getting the best of a prolonged pace battle. An extremely impressive winner over older horses in the Kelso Handicap-Gr.2, an effort that earned a 118 Beyer, next out, Uncle Mo was found to have suffered a reoccurrence of the illness that struck him earlier in the season after finishing unplaced in the Breeders’ Cup Classic-Gr.1.

With his first crop at the races last year, Uncle Mo ended 2016 as Leading Freshman Sire and Leading Sire of Two Year-Olds, setting new earnings records in both categories. With his three year-olds continuing to build on that beginning, it’s clear Uncle Mo, a former shuttler to Australia, is about to rise into some distinctly rarified air, into a zone where perhaps one only finds War Front and Tapit among current US sires. From a statistical standpoint, Uncle Mo’s figures currently reflect that from 105 starters from his first crop, he is sire of 23 stakes horses, 13 stakes winners, six Graded winners, and three Gr.1 winners. Three of his offspring, Nyquist, Outwork and Mo Tom, made the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 field.

Nyquist is one of four stakes winners for Uncle Mo out of a Storm Cat mare, and his pedigree adds another twist, as his dam, Seeking Gabrielle, is by Storm Cat’s son Forestry, whose second dam is by Dr Fager, who seems to exceptionally positive under Uncle Mo, out of Bold Sequence, who is a three-quarter sister to the dam of Mr. Prospector, and his second dam, the Adirondack Stakes-Gr.2 scorer Seeking Regina, is by Seeking the Gold, a son of Mr. Prospector.

This is interesting as Uncle Mo’s great-grandsire Siberian Express is a Nasrullah line horse from the Myrtlewood/Frizette family, and that same description applies to Bold Sequence and to Gold Digger, the dam of Mr. Prospector. On top of that, Uncle Mo’s dam also carries Never Bend, who is a Nasrullah son, out of a mare by Djeddah, a horse inbred to Frizette.

Seeking Regina is also dam of a talented three-quarter sister to Seeking Gabrielle in Storm Cat’s sprinting daughter Seeking the Sky, winner of the Interborough Stakes-Gr.3 and dam of the Metropolitan Stakes-Gr.1 victor, Sahara Sky (by a son of Forestry’s broodmare sire, Pleasant Colony, so having a very similar background to Seeking Gabrielle). The family goes back to the Irish Oaks winner Superbe via Moon Star II, a three-quarter sister to Gun Shot (sire of Kelso’s great rival, Gun Bow), and to the dam of Saggy, who sired the 1961 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes scorer Carry Back.

Preakness Stakes
NYQUIST started odds-on here, despite a wet-track. He appeared to handle the surface but allowed himself to be pressed into a suicidal pace, setting the fastest early fractions ever recorded for the second classic. Nyquist was still in the lead turning for home, but despite battling gamely had to give way to Exaggerator, who drew off to score by 3.5 lengths, Cherry Wine coming from the rear to pass Nyquist for second late on.

Exaggerator enjoyed a good season at two, with wins in the Saratoga Special-Gr.2 and the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes-Gr.3, a second in the Breeders’ Futurity-Gr.1 and a fourth to Nyquist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-Gr.1 after a rough trip. He proved he’d wintered well with a good second to Nyquist in the San Vicente Stakes-Gr.2, but tired late after a big middle move from the rear in the San Felipe Stakes-Gr.2. In the Santa Anita Derby-Gr.1, run in the slop, he lingered way off a ridiculous pace, then stormed through to score by 6.25 lengths. He ran a somewhat similar race in the Derby, but was too far back to threaten Nyquist.

Exaggerator is by dual Horse of the Year Curlin (by the Mr. Prospector horse, Smart Strike). Curlin started a little slowly at stud, but has made rapid strides, and is now one of North America’s leading classic sires. He has 25 stakes winners in his first four crops, and in addition to Exaggerator, they also include last year’s Champion Three Year-Old Filly Stellar Wind; the Belmont Stakes-Gr.1 winner Palace Malice; Keen Ice, who defeated American Pharoah for last year’s Travers Stakes-Gr.1; and the triple Gr.1 winner Curalina.

Exaggerator’s dam Dawn Raid, a daughter of Champion Two Year-Old Vindication, was stakes placed at two, when she won at 5f and 5.5f. She is half-sister to Champion Canadian Older Mare Embur’s Song (a Graded winner at up to 8.5f) and sprint stakes winner Ten Flat. The second dam Embur Sunshine (by Bold Ruckus) was a stakes placed sprinter, who never won beyond 5f. The third dam, who is by 12f classic winner The Minstrel, is a three-quarter sister to Eternal Search, Champion Sprinter and Champion Older Mare in Canada. Curlin’s broodmare sire Deputy Minister is by Vice Regent, a close relative to The Minstrel, and the fifth dam Chou Fleur has pedigree similarities with both those horses.

The 2000 Guineas
LIKE the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1, the English 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 had a hot favourite who had been a brilliant two year-old. In this case it was Air Force Blue, a son of War Front, who hadn’t started at three, but had won the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 in sensational style on his last start as a juvenile. After taking a keen hold early Air Force Blue found nothing when asked and dropped away to finish behind all but one of the 13-horse field.
At the sharp end it was 14-1 shot Galileo Gold who stayed on well to score by 1.5 lengths from Massaat. Galileo Gold, who was running for the first time in 2016, was among the better two year-olds of last term, winning three of five races, including the Vintage Stakes-Gr.2 and finishing third in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere-Gr.1.
Galileo Gold is from the second crop of a former NZ shuttler in Paco Boy, a top-notch miler who took eight Group events, including the Prix de la Foret-Gr.1, Queen Anne Stakes-Gr.1 and Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1. Despite his excellent race-record, his pedigree was not exactly the stuff of which dreams are made, as he’s by the Green Desert horse, Desert Style, who despite being a very useful stallion, never carried much commercial heft, and his dam is by the very disappointing Sandhurst Prince. Despite this, Paco Boy has made a very promising start with six first crop stakes winners, including Group scorers Beacon and Smaih.
Interestingly, Galileo Gold’s dam Galicuix is by former shuttler Galileo, and Smaih out of a mare by Galileo’s brother Black Sam Bellamy, so suggesting an early affinity for Paco Boy. Galicuix ran just twice, both over 10f, finishing last both times, but she is half-sister to crack sprinter Goldream (by Oasis Dream, a son of Paco Boy’s grandsire, Green Desert), winner of the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1 and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp-Gr.1. The second dam, Machiavellian’s daughter Clizia, is half-sister to Mont Rocher, a Listed winner in France and England. Clizia is out of a half-sister to Montjeu, a super-star son of Sadler’s Wells, hence Galicuix comes from the same sire and female line as that horse.

1000 Guineas
THE day after the 2000 Guineas-Gr.1, the English 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 went to Minding, who had 3.5 lengths to spare over her stable-companion Ballydoyle, as the Galileo/Aiden O’Brien combination supplied the first three home. Minding was last year’s Champion European Two Year-Old Filly, her victories including the Fillies’ Mile-Gr.1 and Moyglare Stud Stakes-Gr.1.

A sister to Group winner Kissed By Angels, Minding is out of the excellent Danehill Dancer mare Lillie Langtry, whose successes included the Coronation Stakes-Gr.1 and Matron Stakes-Gr.1. The Galileo/Danehill Dancer cross is following hot in the footsteps of the famous cross of Galileo with mares by Danehill, and there are now 10 stakes winners from just 43 runners bred that way. Lillie Langry is a three-quarter sister to the Duke of Marmalade Listed scorer Count of Limonade, and to last year’s Sandown Classic-Gr.3 winner Master Apprentice, who is by Danehill Dancer’s son, Mastercraftsman (another shuttler to NZ), out of a half-sister to Lillie Langtry. The second dam, the Darshaan mare Hoity Toity, is half-sister to the Nureyev Group winners Lead On Time and Great Commotion. The family goes back to a sister to the great racehorse and sire Vaguely Noble.

French 2000 Guineas
THE French 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 may have seen the unveiling of a new star in the shape of The Gurkha, who strolled home 5.5 lengths clear. Like Minding, The Gurkha is an Aiden O’Brien-trained son of Galileo out of a mare by a long-time former shuttler Danehill Dancer.

The dam, Chintz, won the Park Stakes-Gr.3 and is also dam of The Gurkha’s Group-placed sister Queen Nefertiti. The second dam Gold Dodger, a daughter of Slew o’ Gold, was a Listed winner in France, and is half-sister to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-Gr.1 heroine Solemia, to Group winner Prospect Park, who was only narrowly beaten in the French Derby-Gr.1 and to Group winner and Grand Prix de Paris-Gr.1 second Prospect Wells. Solemia is by Poliglote, a son of Sadler’s Wells, and Prospect Park and Prospect Wells by Sadler’s Wells himself, so both from the same male line as The Gurkha. Gold Dodger is also half-sister to stakes winners Brooklyn’s Gold and Never Green, and to Brooklyn’s Storm, the second dam of Champion French Two Year-Old Filly Silasol. Gold Dodger’s dam Brooklyn’s Dance (by Shirley Heights) was also a Group winner and is a granddaughter of Green Valley, the dam of Green Dancer, and ancestress of numerous other important winners, including shuttle sire, Makfi, winner of the 2000 Guineas-Gr.1.

French 1000 Guineas
THE French 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 went to La Cressonniere, who prevailed by a length over the English 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 fifth, Nathra. Previously a winner of three Listed stakes, La Cressonniere is by the French Derby-Gr.1 winner Le Havre. Despite his pedigree, he’s by the disappointing Rahy stallion Noverre (a former shuttler who wound up in India) and out of a mare who is half-sister to successful sire Polar Falcon, but is by the relatively little-known German sire, Surako, Le Havre’s connections showed considerable faith in him when retired to stud. That faith has been extremely well rewarded with Le Havre having sired 14 stakes winners in his first three crops, including another classic winner in the French Oaks-Gr.1 and French 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 heroine Avenir Certain.

Le Cressonniere is out of Absolute Lady, a daughter of Galileo, a constant presence in the pedigrees of European Guineas winners this year, who is a sister to the US Listed winner Paris Winds. The second dam, Lil’s Jessy, won the Fred Darling Stakes-Gr.3. She is a granddaughter of Light o’Battle, a sister to Her Majesty The Queen’s outstanding filly Highclere, successful in the 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 and French Oaks-Gr.1, and through her daughter Height of Fashion ancestress of such as Nashwan, Nayef, Unfuwain and the 1000 Guineas captress Ghanaati.

Irish 2000 Guineas
THE English 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 favourite and the 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 winner crossed swords again in the Irish 2000 Guineas-Gr.1. On softer ground, Air Force Blue once again failed to fire, but Galileo Gold run a good race to take second to Awtaad, who was winning his fourth consecutive race after finishing third on his debut.
Awtaad is by Green Desert’s veteran son Cape Cross, a former shuttler to NZ and Australia who is well-know in both hemispheres for such as Sea The Stars, Ouija Board, Golden Horn, Able One and Seachange, to name a few. Awtaad is the first foal of the stakes placed Shamardal mare Asheerah. The second dam Adaala, by the Sadler’s Wells horse Sahm, was a Group winner and Listed placed in Ireland.
Adaala’s dam, Alshoowg, is a Riverman half-sister to the dam of Nasheej, a Nashwan daughter who won the May Hill Stakes-Gr.2, and was third in the 1000 Guineas-Gr.1. The next dam Ghashtah (by Nijinsky II) is a sister to Group winner and one time world-record priced yearling Seattle Dancer, a three-quarter-sister to the 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 scorer Lomond, and half-sister to one of the all-time greats of US racing in Seattle Slew.
Irish 1000 Guineas

Like Galileo Gold, the Newmarket winner Minding finished second in her bid for a Guineas double. In this case she missed by just a head to Jet Setting, who had been only ninth in the 1000 Guineas-Gr.1, but relished the extra give in the ground here.

A 7000 Euro yearling and 12,000 guineas yearling, Jet Setting is from the second crop of the Danehill Dancer horse Fast Company. A winner of two of his three starts, including the Acomb Stakes-Gr.3, Fast Company suffered his sole defeat when beaten a half-length by New Approach in the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1. From a relatively inexpensive fee, Fast Company is making a very solid start, with his first crop producing Gr.2 winners Baitha Alga and Devonshire, who also took third in last year’s Irish 1000 Guineas-Gr.1.

Jet Setting’s dam Mean Lae is by former shuttler Johannesburg out of Pivotal’s juvenile stakes winning daughter Plume Rouge. The third dam, Classic Fan, is by Lear Fan out of the Ribblesdale Stakes-Gr.2 scorer Miss Boniface.

Published June 2016