03/15/2007 11:00PM

With A.P. Indy and this female line, look out

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Like a charmed princess, the royally pedigreed Rags to Riches has galloped into the spotlight as a classic candidate. A winner in 3 of her 4 starts, Rags to Riches has been so convincing in her last two performances - both victories in Grade 1 stakes - that the chestnut filly is even being considered for the Kentucky Derby.

Michael Tabor, who owns the filly with Derrick Smith, said that they were more likely to keep Rags to Riches racing against fillies but that they were considering other options, including a Kentucky Derby prep against colts, as an indicator for which direction to take with her.

Despite her name, Rags to Riches is a filly for whom the highest hopes have long been held.

Purchased for $1.9 million at the Keeneland September yearling sale, Rags to Riches brought the highest price for a yearling filly by her sire, A.P. Indy, in 2005. She sold for the fifth-highest price for any yearling filly that year.

Not only does this daughter of A.P. Indy have great conformation and impressive athletic talent, but she also has one of the best pedigrees in the world.

Her sire is Seattle Slew's most successful son at stud, and after a racing career in which he won the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders' Cup Classic, and earned the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year, A.P. Indy was expected to become a serious stallion.

He has more than fulfilled those expectations and took his second title as the leading sire in North America last year. The best yearlings by A.P. Indy regularly bring seven-figure sums at elite auctions, and he is the leading competitor to Storm Cat as the most important sire in America.

Moreover, his sons and daughters are breeding on another generation of talented athletes, and this makes A.P. Indy's premium offspring nearly worth their weight in gold.

Important as A.P. Indy is to the makeup and significance of this outstanding young racer, her female family is of nearly equal consequence.

Bred in Kentucky by Skara Glen Stable, Rags to Riches is out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour. Now the dam of two Grade 1 stakes winners (Belmont Stakes winner Jazil and Rags to Riches), Better Than Honour has become a top producer following a fine racing career. Winner of the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at 2, Better Than Honour also ran second in the Grade 1 Acorn and third in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 3.

Better Than Honour is out of Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride, a daughter of French juvenile highweight Blushing Groom and the great broodmare Best in Show. Third in the Group 1 English Derby at 3, Blushing Groom was a leading miler, and after his importation to stand at Gainesway Farm, he became an excellent international sire.

Among Blushing Groom's best offspring are Arc de Triomphe winner Rainbow Quest, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Arazi, English Derby winner Nashwan, French classic winner Blushing John, Coaching Club American Oaks winner Sky Beauty, and leading American sire Mt. Livermore, the sire of champions Housebuster, Eliza, and Orientate, who was one of last year's top freshmen sires.

Blushing Groom's daughter Blush With Pride won the Kentucky Oaks and Santa Susana Stakes, as well as the now-Grade 1 Ashland Stakes.

Blush With Pride is one of four stakes winners out of her dam, Broodmare of the Year Best in Show. The others are group stakes winners Malinowski, Monroe, and Gielgud (all by English Derby winner Sir Ivor).

In addition, Best in Show's first foal, the unraced Buckpasser mare Sex Appeal, produced three stakes winners, including the high-class full brothers Try My Best and El Gran Senor (by Northern Dancer). El Gran Senor won the 2000 Guineas and sired champion sprinter Lit de Justice.

With such accomplished siblings, great things were expected of Blush With Pride, but the lovely chestnut mare didn't produce a stakes winner until her seventh foal, when she was well into her producing career. In all, Blush With Pride produced Better Than Honour and her stakes-winning full brother Turnberry Isle (both by Deputy Minister), as well as Group 2 winner Smolensk (Danzig) and Group 1-placed Maryinsky (Sadler's Wells).

Better Than Honour, by the very successful broodmare sire Deputy Minister, has begun her producing career more conventionally than her dam, with two top-class racers from her first four foals.

The mare's first foal was the once-beaten Storm Cat mare Teeming, who did not earn black type, and her third foal was Belmont Stakes winner Jazil. Rags to Riches is her dam's fourth foal.

Better Than Honour has a 2-year-old colt by Mineshaft, a yearling colt by Giant's Causeway, and produced a colt of 2007 by Giant's Causeway on March 12. She will be bred back to Storm Cat.

John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Farm said, "I bought the mare privately several years ago from Robert Waxman, then sold her to Skara Glen at auction while in foal to A.P. Indy" with her second foal, Magnificent Honour, a full sister to Rags to Riches.

"In 2006, we were putting together a significant partnership and privately repurchased the mare again a few months ago with Southern Equine. She was the first mare that I purchased on behalf of the partnership, which also now owns such important mares as Madcap Escapade and Point Ashley."