12/20/2010 4:01PM

Giant's Causewy Bridges European American Gap


Through December 20 Giant's Causeway holds a narrow edge over Distorted Humor, Malibu Moon, Maria's Mon and Smart Strike as the race for leading North American stallion, a title he copped in 2009, comes down to the wire. Giant's Causeway's offspring have earned $8,760,013 this year in the Northern Hemisphere excluding Hong Kong and Japan. Taking only races run in North America into consideration, Giant's Causeway ranks fifth at $6,838,181.
That means that the sons and daughters of the 13-year-old son of Storm Cat have earned $1,921,832 outside of this continent. Approximately $1.3 million of that has been earned in Britain and Ireland, where Giant's Causeway is the twentieth leading sire. In France, he is considerably further down the list in 160th place with five winners and earnings of appromixately $210,000.
Among American-based stallions, Giant's Causeway, who stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky, is the leading sire this year in Britain and Ireland. This was surely what John Magnier and company had in mind when they decided to send him to their Kentucky operation after his unlucky second-place finish to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic. Giant's Causeway had run in that race with the express purpose of raising his stud prospects among American breeders. While he didn't win the Classic, he proved himself to be perhaps as good on dirt as he had been on turf in Europe, where as a 3-year-old he won five Group 1 races in a row: the one-mile St. James's Palace Stakes, the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes, the one-mile Sussex Stakes, the 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard Juddmonte International, and the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion Stakes.
His streak was broken by Observatory when he dropped back to a mile for the second time in less three months in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The margin that day was a half-length. Six weeks later at Churchill Downs in the Classic, the third time that season he was stepping up to 10 furlongs from 8 furlongs, it was a mere neck.
Rarely has so much been asked of a horse in a single season as was asked of Giant's Causeway in 2000, during which he was bounced up-and-down in distance and in which he raced in three differnet countries. At two he had won the 7-furlong, Group 3 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh and the 7-furlong, Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp, beating subsequent Hollywood Derby winner Brahms at the Curragh and subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas winner Bachir at Longchamp, so his 3-year-old heroics were not unpredictable.
Bred in Kentucky by Orpendale and Michael Tabor, Giant's Causeway has been under the control of Coolmore throughout his life. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, he was was never worse that second (nine wins, four seconds) in 13 lifetime starts, ten of those at the Group/Grade 1 level. He was, however, denied world championship honors in 2000 due to the presence not only of Tiznow, but of Dubai Millennium and Arc winner Sinndar.
As versatile as they come, Giant's Causeway was even more widely renown for his toughness. Two of his best sons, however, Shamardal and Eskendereya, unluckily saw their careers cut short by injury.
His best son Shamardal raced exclusively in Europe and was cut very much in the image of his sire. Like his father, Shamardal was a 7-furlong, Group 1 winner at two in the Dewhurst Stakes. And at three he was equally adept as dad at both a mile and a mile and a quarter or thereabouts, sandwiching victories in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and St. James's Palace Stakes around his Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) triumph at 1 5/16 miles.
Shamardal also offers evidence that Giant's Causeway will be a successful sire of sires, as he is the sire of French 2000 Guineas and French Derby winner Lope de Vega as well as 2-year-old Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner Casamento.
One would have thought that Giant's Causeway would not quite be able to get them to go further than 1 5/16 miles, but in Rite of Passage he has sired the winner of this year's 2 1/2-mile, Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup. And in Man of Iron he has the winner of the 1 3/4-mile Breeders' Cup Marathon.
Giant's Causeway also shows an equal prediliction for turf, dirt and synthetics. In America this year his best son is Eskendereya. The highly impressive winner of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles, Eskendereya would have started as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but for a career ending injury.
In Aragorn he sired the winner of two Grade 1's on turf, the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Handicap and the one-mile Shoemaker Mile. Aragorn also won three Grade 2's between a mile and nine furlongs.
His daughter My Typhoon earned her Grade 1 turf credentials in Saratoga's 1 1/8-mile Diana Stakes after four wins at the Grade 2 level and a single Grade 3 tally. Another of his daughters, Swift Temper, won the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap on the Belmont dirt and the $1 million, Grade 2 Delaware Handicap going 1 1/4 miles. She is another example of Giant's Causeway's ability to produce horses that can win at both a mile and 10 furlongs at the highest level.
Cowboy Cal was nearly as versatile, taking the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride and the Grade Oak Tree Mile on turf. Red Giant won the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Clement Hirsch and the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 2 Virginia Derby, all on turf. Another son, the Irish-bred Heatseeker, once held four different track records at Santa Anita and Hollywood, and was a winner on turf in Ireland and America. He numbers three graded race victories Stateside, the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap and the Grade 2 Californian (by 5 1/4 lengths) going 1 1/8 miles, and the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.
Those victories of Heatseeker all came on synthetic surfaces, but the two Grade 1 triumphs of First Samurai as a 2-year-old- the 7-furlong Hopeful Stakes and the one-mile Champagne Stakes, came on dirt. In Mike Fox, Giant's Causway has the 2007 winner of Canada's most important classic, the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate on a synthetic surface.
So whether it is on dirt, turf or synthetics, in Europe or America, or whether it is a mile or 1 1/4 miles (or perhaps even 2 1/2 miles), Giant's Causeway is producing runners of the highest caliber.
He will stand in 2011 at Ashford Stud for a fee of $85,000.