12/15/2010 5:00PM

Galileo

Email

Few Thoroughbreds that were truly great on the racetrack have been able to duplicate- much less surpass- their achievemnets at stud. In the modern age, Bold Ruler is the first who comes to mind. American Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old in 1957, he was also champion American sprinter at four. At stud he was champion North American sire seven consecutive times from 1963 to 1969 and again in 1973 when his best son, Secretariat, won the Triple Crown.

The Canadian-bred Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Queen's Plate as well as the Flamingo Stakes, Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes in his championship 3-year-old season of 1964. Yet he surpassed his on-track record by becoming the world's most important sire of the second half of the 20th Century, winning the sire title in North America in 1970 and in Britain/Ireland that same year as well as in 1977, 1983 and 1984. Perhaps more importantly, he is one of the greatest sire of sire's in Thoroughbred history. Historically, his influence as the stallion who singlehandedly led the Thoroughbred world into the modern, international age is incalculable.

Northern Dancer's best son, Nijinsky, also a Canadian-bred, is the last horse to win the British Triple Crown- the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the St. Leger Stakes- something he did in 1970 when he also won the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. It can be argued that no Thoroughbred has ever achieved what Nijinsky did on both the racecourse and in the breeding shed. Standing at Claiborne Farm like Bold Ruler, he sired 155 group or graded stakes winners, among them the excellent racehorse/stallions Caerleon and Green Dancer as well as Lammtarra, Royal Academy and Sky Classic. In 1986 he made history when he became the only stallion to sire the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Ferdinand, and the Epsom Derby, Shahrastani, in the same year.

And now we have Galileo. Not surprisingly he is a son of Sadler's Wells, a son of Northern Dancer who surpassed even Nijinsky's record at stud. In 1997 Sadler's Wells was mated with Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea, who produced in Galileo the winner of the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the King Geroge VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, he lost for the first time when failing to take the measure of Fantastic Light by a head after a gut-wrenching, stretch-long duel in the Irish Champion Stakes in what remains one of the most memorable horse races of the last quarter century.

The Irish-bred Galileo skipped the Arc for what in hindsight looks like an ill-advised tilt at the Breeders' Cup Classic where he was beaten into sixth-place by Tiznow at Belmont Park. Then it was off to a stud career that has ultimately led him to the top of the international breeding pile.

Standing at Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary, Galileo shuttled to Australia each year from 2002 to 2006.To date from six crops to race, he has sired 19 Group 1 or Grade 1 winners at distances from 7 furlongs to 2 1/4 miles, and while he is clearly a major sire at the classic distance of 1 1/2 miles and further, he is equally adept at producing champion 2-year-olds.

From his second crop, Teofilo was Galileo's first juvenile champion. Out of a Danehill mare, he completed his perfect 5-for-5 juvenile campaign with a win in the 7-furlong Dewhurst Stakes and was installed as favorite for the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. He never ran at three, however, suffering an injury in his Guineas preapration that led to an August retirement.

The very next year Galileo produced in New Approach a virtual carbon copy of Teofilo. Like Teofilo trained by Jim Bolger, New Apporach won the same five races that Teofilo had at two, but went his predecessor one better as his 7-furlong National Stakes had been upgraded to Group 1 status, in no small part because it had been won by Teofilo a year earlier. Moreover, New Apporach was a successful 3-year-old, winning the 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby, the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes and the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes.

In 2007 Galileo's daughter Lush Lashes, also trained by Bolger, made her lone juvenile start a winning one in the $2.2 million, 7-furlong Goffs Fillies Million. No horse has ever won so valuable a race in his or her debut. At three Lush Lashes would win three Group 1 races between eight and twelve furlongs.

With three Group 1 winners, 2010 has been Galileo's best year to date for 2-year-olds. The trio is led by the exciting Frankel, who capped a perfect 4-for-4 season for Henry Cecil by landing, like Teofilo and New Approach before him, Britain's definitive juvenile contest, the Dewhurst Stakes. And like those two, Frankel is the winter book favorite for both the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby.

Galileo is also the sire this year of Roderic O'Connor, the 2 1/4-length runner-up in the Dewhurst who followed with a victory in the one-mile Criterium International. And then there is the filly Misty For Me, whose two Group 1 scores came in the 7-furlong Myglare Stud Stakes and the one-mile Prix Marcel Boussac.

At the top end of the distance scale, Galileo's most stouthearted son is probably Alandi, the winner of the 2 1/4-mile Prix du Cadran, followed by 1 3/4-mile, 132-yard St. Leger winner Sixties Icon, 1 15/16-mile Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto and 1 3/4-mile Irish St. Leger winner Sans Frontieres. His 12-furlong classic winners are Cape Blanco (Irish Derby), Soldier of Fortune (Irish Derby), and, of course, New Approach.

In Rip Van Winkle, one of his seven Group 1 winners this year, he has sired the versatile winner of the one-mile Sussex Stakes, the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard Juddmonte International. His best filly this year is the still improving Lily of the Valley. She was put away for the winter by trainer Jean-Claude Rouget riding the crest of a 6-race winning streak, topped by her victory in the 1 1/4-mile Prix de l'Opera.

Galileo long ago clinched this year's British-Irish sire championship with earnings of approximately $7.9 million, about $4 million ahead of his nearest pursuer Dansili. A half brother to 2009 European champion and Arc winner Sea the Stars, Galileo stood for a reported fee of 225,000 euros ($360,000) in 2008. That was reduced to 175,000 euros ($235,000) in 2009. His fee in 2011 is private.

Giant's Causeway, the leading North American stallion who stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky, will be the subject of our next review on Monday.