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Belmont Stakes horse profiles
-Pedigree profiles by Lauren Stich
STRENGTHS: Birdstone is the only Belmont starter with a Grade 1 triumph over this surface, the Champagne last October. The son of 1996 Derby hero Grindstone exploded onto the scene in his Saratoga debut, and his juvenile campaign, albeit brief, was a successful one. It's reasonable to throw out his Derby debacle because he suffered through a rough trip over the sloppy strip. Believers in Birdstone, a half-brother to last year's Kentucky Oaks winner, Bird Town, will be tempted by a big price Saturday afternoon. Trainer Nick Zito had horses finish second in the Belmont five times, and he and Edgar Prado, aboard for Sarava's Belmont upset in 2002, form a capable team.
WEAKNESSES: Many things went wrong during Bird-stone's march to the first Saturday in May. His Lane's End flop at 3-5 odds led to the departure of perennial Eclipse winner Jerry Bailey. Any hopes of pre-Derby vindication were dashed when an elevated white blood count caused him to miss the Blue Grass. His recent form seemingly leaves him on the outside looking in at Smarty Jones and Rock Hard Ten. Birdstone has never reached a 100 Beyer, and it's questionable that he'll be set for a career best at 1 1/2 miles with only two dull efforts in the past three months.
STRATEGY: The compact Belmont field isn't expected to race at any kind of breakneck pace early. Prado's best move may be to stalk pedestrian fractions from close range, or even uncharacteristically seize command of a paceless race and slow things down to a walk.
VALUE: Birdstone should go postward at around 20-1 on Saturday. It will be interesting to see whether he or Royal Assault, his barnmate and fellow longshot, receives more wagering support. Birdstone's best use may be in the third slot of trifectas, if he can grind out a minor award.
- Paul Malecki
SIRE LINE: His sire, Grindstone, won the Kentucky Derby, but in another twist of breeding, both Grindstone and Unbridled's Song - two sons of stamina influence Unbridled - have proven thus far to be speed influences. Birdstone is a member of Grindstone's fifth crop, and Grindstone's other stakes winners include Ekolu Place, a Group 3 miler in Japan; Ommadon, who won the Nashua Stakes at 2; Emery Board (Go for Wand Stakes); Heirloom Diamond (Blue Hen Stakes); and Executive Air.
FEMALE FAMILY: Like Rock Hard Ten, Birdstone has a high-class female family cultivated by C.V. Whitney. Fourth dam Honey Dear produced Ashland Stakes winner You All, who, in turn, produced multiple stakes winner Hush Dear. Bred to Theatrical, Hush Dear produced stakes winner Noactor, and bred to Storm Bird, Hush Dear produced Dear Birdie, who was stakes placed on turf. Dear Birdie has become an exceptional broodmare, producing last year's 3-year-old filly champion, Bird Town, stakes-placed Mountain Bird, and Birdstone.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: Grindstone is a speed influence, and unless he is bred to a mare by an established stamina influence, he is unlikely to get a runner who would be at his best at 1 1/2 miles. Birdstone's damsire is Storm Bird, the sire of 1990 Derby runner-up Summer Squall and Storm Cat, but he usually adds more brilliance than stamina to a pedigree.
STRENGTHS: This mystery horse, who began his career in Mexico, easily won two of his first three starts. He failed to fire in his first American appearance, the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream, but then ran a respectable third to Birdstone in an allowance. His only other graded-stakes appearance was in the Grade 3 Swale, where he trailed throughout at 51-1 with no known excuse. There is one particular strength worth noting: His last two victories, both at Hawthorne, were against older runners. In fact, in Caiman's win on May 1, he was the only 3-year-old in the field. The horse he defeated in that race, 5-year-old Tio Lupe, came back to win.
WEAKNESSES: Although he was thought good enough to confront some quality 3-year-olds this year, Caiman has yet to go beyond 1 1/16 miles, and the demanding task of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont seems beyond his scope. This is the only foal to start from the dam Storming Up. The work tab at Arlington is also on the light side.
STRATEGY: The question for Saturday's race may simply be a matter of early position - will he be able to stay within striking range of the leaders? The pace for this year's Belmont is a bit hazy, as it is doubtful that Smarty Jones would be sent to dictate the fractions (the strategy that backfired on Funny Cide a year ago). Perhaps if the tempo is dawdling, Caiman can race evenly enough to earn a minor check.
VALUE: Caiman will certainly be viewed as one of the outsiders in the wagering and, at best, could be a throw-in at the tail end of your superfecta. It is tough to recommend him for an exacta finish against the best of his generation.
- Jim Kachulis
SIRE LINE: His sire, Malibu Moon, was a brilliant son of A.P. Indy who dazzled winning a maiden race in 57.40 seconds and finished second in his only other start at 2 before an injury cut short a promising career. Malibu Moon's dam, Macoumba, won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and is a half-sister to four other group winners - Septieme Ciel, Maxigroom, Balchaia, and Manureva. One of last year's surprising freshman sires, Malibu Moon got off to a very good start, siring nine winners from 15 runners. The crop included two stakes winners, Perfect Moon and Missacity Luke, as well as the stakes-placed Grant's Moon and Culpeper Moon.
FEMALE FAMILY: Storming Up won three races, all on turf, and has the same pedigree pattern (Storm Bird out of a Secretariat mare) as Storm Cat and Summer Squall. Caiman's fourth dam, Petitio, is a half-sister to Pas de Nom, the dam of Danzig.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: Since Malibu Moon is closely related to Septieme Ciel, and Caiman's female family also has strong turf influences, Caiman would probably move up many lengths on grass. One of his best performances was in an allowance at Gulfstream in February, when he finished third behind Birdstone and Capejinsky at one mile and 70 yards on the dirt, but his future will be on turf.
STRENGTHS: His tactical speed is one of his greatest strengths, and he may take a more aggressive approach in the Belmont than in the Preakness, where he let Lion Heart and Smarty Jones take control of the early proceedings. Although Saturday will be his first race at Belmont Park, judging from his workouts he seems to handle "Big Sandy" very well. After the Preakness, jockey Jerry Bailey reminded everyone that horses have won the Kentucky Derby, then dominated the Preakness, only to find out that the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont was an altogether different challenge.
WEAKNESSES: If experience counts, then so, too, does inexperience, and Eddington still has a lot to prove. He's yet to win his first stakes race and is still eligible for a two-other-than allowance race. It's likely that he'll need to post a career-best Beyer Figure just to find himself in the hunt Saturday, and although he boasts the potential to make his way to the top of the class, actually proving himself on the racetrack is easier said than done.
STRATEGY: With hindsight being 20/20, Eddington may have been better off taking a more aggressive app-roach from the gate in the Preakness by pressing Lion Heart and Smarty Jones through the opening stages. That said, Eddington may be looking to get more involved in the early running Saturday. Bailey knows him well, and he'll have him positioned where he feels he will have the best chance of winning.
VALUE: It seems reasonable to suspect that anyone other than Smarty Jones in this race will offer value to bettors. Although Smarty Jones is a more-than-deserving favorite, he'll be very much overbet, which will result in over-inflated odds on the rest of the field.
- Brian Pochman
SIRE LINE: His sire, the late Unbridled, was a phenomenal source of stamina. Three of his sons have won Triple Crown races: Grindstone won the 1996 Kentucky Derby; Red Bullet won the 2000 Preakness; and Empire Maker won last year's Belmont. Unbridled was by Fappiano, a talented miler bred by John Nerud who established a stamina branch of the Mr. Prospector sire line. Along with Unbridled, Fappiano sired Quiet American and Cryptoclearance. Quiet American sired 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet. Cryptoclearance sired 1998 Belmont winner Victory Gallop and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi.
FEMALE FAMILY: By Chief's Crown out of a Sir Ivor mare, Fashion Star was bred for turf and distance. Second dam Miss Ivor is a half-sister to Avasand, the dam of turf star Possibly Perfect, who is the dam of yet another turf stakes horse, Promontory Gold.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: While Eddington is not a Rasmussen Factor, his sire and dam are. Unbridled is inbred to Aspidistra, the dam of Dr. Fager, Ta Wee, and the unraced Magic, who is the third dam of Unbridled. Fashion Star is inbred to another legend, Somethingroyal, who was the dam of Secretariat, Sir Gaylord, Syrian Sea, and First Family. Inbreeding to Somethingroyal has resulted in many top runners, most notably 1999 Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic. With Unbridled on top and Chief's Crown and Sir Ivor on the bottom, Eddington is a natural to succeed at 1 1/2 miles.
STRENGTHS: With the exception of the Kentucky Derby, Master David has finished in the money in every start. His performance in the Peter Pan, while non-threatening to the winner, was more representative of his talents than the Derby was.
He gets a dose of stamina from his broodmare sire, Sadler's Wells, who placed in the French Derby and King George, both 12-furlong races.
Trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jose Santos have both won this race. Frankel won last year with Empire Maker while Santos won with Lemon Drop Kid in 1999.
WEAKNESSES: Since winning the Sham Stakes earlier this year, where he earned a career-best 100 Beyer, Master David has performed below expectations. His runner-up finish in the Wood Memorial was visually impressive, but the Beyer he earned was a relatively low 97.
He was never a threat in the Kentucky Derby, his only previous encounter with Smarty Jones, and finished well behind Purge when favored in the Peter Pan. Overall, he seems a cut below the top 3-year-olds.
STRATEGY: Master David was at disadvantage trying to rally from off the pace in the Peter Pan - a speed or stalking position was the preferred style in one-turn races up to that point in the meet. He has more tactical speed than he showed that day, and Santos might likely secure a position closer to the leaders in the opening furlongs on Saturday.
BETTING VALUE: With Smarty Jones likely to go off around 2-5, every other runner will offer attractive odds in the win pool. For those convinced that keying Smarty Jones on top in exotics is the way to play the race, a second-place finish by Master David, who might be the fifth choice, may trigger decent exacta and trifecta payoffs.
- Vance Hanson
SIRE LINE: His sire, Grand Slam, was a major 2-year-old, winning the Champagne and Futurity Stakes. At 3, he won the Peter Pan Stakes and placed in six stakes, including a second to Reraise in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He also finished second to Old Trieste in the 1 1/8-mile Swaps Stakes. Grand Slam's runners have speed and quality, and his first crop of 3-year-olds last year included Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat and stakes winners Strong Hope, Grand Hombre, and Alke. His current 3-year-olds include Limehouse, Master David, and Fire Slam. By world-class sire Gone West (Mr. Prospector), Grand Slam's versatile runners are successful on dirt, turf and wet tracks.
FEMALE FAMILY: Nadra never won in seven starts in England, but the well-bred daughter of Sadler's Wells and champion French filly Bint Pasha produced stakes-placed Ardent Passion and Master David. Second dam Bint Pasha was one of Affirmed's best runners. This female line traces to Man o' War's daughter Judy O'Grady, the dam of major stakes winner Snow Goose and Blue Denim, the dam of six stakes winners.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: Grand Slam adds speed to the classic strains of Sadler's Wells, Affirmed, and Graustark, the sires of Master David's first three dams. With these stamina and turf influences, Master David should be competitive at longer distances - on turf. Grand Slam is a powerful hidden turf sire, and adding Sadler's Wells, Affirmed, and Graustark to the pedigree make Master David a no-brainer for grass.
STRENGTHS: His grandsire, A.P. Indy, won the 1992 Belmont Stakes, and Purge's win while racing 1 1/8 miles over this oval in the Peter Pan Stakes suggests he may have the capacity to last the distance. Purge was caught both times when leading the way vs. Smarty Jones - in the Arkansas Derby and Rebel - but the important thing here is that Purge seems to have learned how to rate again. He is still a fresh horse despite the two-week turnaround and still has some upside left to his development. Purge is the one entry most likely to affect the pace scenario and has the look of a spoiler that may be good enough to challenge all the way around.
WEAKNESSES: Dam was a stakes winner, but she was a sprinter and is from a family of sprinters. Though Purge has handled routing quite well so far, it is quite another thing to go the marathon distance of the Belmont Stakes vs. Grade 1 company. Though there are many things to like about his present condition and accomplishments, he has yet to be tested seriously in any of his victories and came up empty when challenged by Smarty Jones in his first two route attempts. Smarty Jones is much improved since their last meeting, and Purge may have to hope that the Derby and Preakness has taken a lot out of him.
STRATEGY: Purge and Smarty Jones are the only two in this field who like to run on or near the lead, and it will be those two that determine the pace scenario for this event. Having lost twice to Smarty Jones when leading the way, in contrast to his three wins when stalking the leader, it is most likely that he will try to be the one applying the pressure this time around.
VALUE: His stock certainly rose with the win over the strip, but with the betting public expected to make Smarty an overwhelming favorite at the windows, Purge may offer a price anywhere from 10-1 to 15-1.
- Elliot Safdie
SIRE LINE: Pulpit was one of A.P. Indy's most talented runners and a member of his first crop. After easily winning the Blue Grass Stakes, he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby despite incurring a career-ending injury. Pulpit's first crop yielded three stakes winners, with the best being Essence of Dubai, a multiple stakes winner who won the Super Derby. Thus far, Pulpit has four stakes winners from his second crop: Sky Mesa, Stroll, Lydgate, and Special Rate.
FEMALE FAMILY: It has been producing stakes winners over multiple generations. Copelan's Bid Gal is a stakes-winning half-sister to stakes winner and sire Valid Wager. Purge's second dam, Bid Gal, was unraced, but is a half-sister to Mepache, who produced four stakes winners and three stakes-placed runners, including Valid Expectations. His third dam, Nowmepache, is a half-sister to 1975 Kentucky Derby winner and 2-year-old champion Foolish Pleasure.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: While most runners by A.P. Indy are bred to be better as they mature and at distances over one mile, Pulpit was an A.P. Indy runner who had high speed. Purge's dam is by Copelan (Tri Jet), a top 2-year-old who became a leading sire of precocious sprinters. It is unlikely Purge will be at his best at 1 1/2 miles, but this is an animal of quality.
ROCK HARD TEN
STRENGTHS: While no match for Smarty Jones in the Preakness, his runner-up effort did validate much of the speculation about him, that he is indeed one quality animal. The Preakness also marked his first start in six weeks, and just his fourth career start overall. In other words, there's plenty of room for development, and the three-eighths of a mile run he made in the Preakness showed there is ample talent here.
WEAKNESSES: His primary weakness is the same as everybody else's - he must face Smarty Jones again. While he did run well to be second in the Preakness he must to make up 11-plus lengths on the country's leading 3-year-old. Also, one of his strengths may also be a weakness. While it's conceivable he's ready to leap forward having had limited experience, that factor may also play against him. Is he, in just his fifth career race, ready for 12 furlongs and a rematch against a quality animal such as Smarty Jones? His antics of balking before his workout last week is also cause for some concern.
STRATEGY: They tried the patient approach in the Preakness but the feeling here is that they're going to go right at Smarty Jones. More seasoning, some strong works, and ample tactical speed may mean that like with Sham, Alydar, and Touch Gold, they're not going to sit back and allow their main foe first run and gain a tactical edge. The feeling here is they're going to go toe-to-toe with Smarty from the bell.
BETTING VALUE: That strategy could work one of three ways: Rock Hard Ten may come apart on the far turn, he could fight on but not have enough to beat Smarty Jones, or he may actually prove the spoiler with more experience and more aggressive tactics. As the likely second choice at 6-1 or higher, he's attractive if you believe in the third option.
- Michael Hammersly
SIRE LINE: The late Kris S. was one of many highly successful sons of Roberto at stud and this sire line (Kris S.-Roberto-Hail to Reason) is a strong source of turf ability and stamina (Brian's Time, Dynaformer, Kris S., Lear Fan, Red Ransom, Repriced, and Silver Hawk). Dynaformer and Kris S., in particular, have also been very successful sires of dirt runners. Kris S. is the sire of champions Hollywood Wildcat, Soaring Softly, and Action This Day, and his many stakes winners include Prized (who won major stakes on dirt and turf), Kissin Kris, Brocco, Dr Fong, Arch, and You and I.
FEMALE FAMILY: Tersa was champion 2-year-old filly champion in France and a half-sister to 1982 Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol (Cougar II). This female family was cultivated by C.V. Whitney and descends from his blue-hen broodmare Silver Fog. Rock Hard Ten's fourth dam is Yellow Mist, a half-sister to the beloved champion Silver Spoon, who defeated males in the 1959 Santa Anita Derby.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: Historically, crossing stamina (sire line) over high class and speed (female family) has been a formula for success for the legendary breeders of yesteryear, and Rock Hard Ten has such a pattern. There is no doubt that Rock Hard Ten should flourish at 1 1/2 miles over a racetrack ideally suited to his giant frame.
STRENGTHS: Stumbled at the start, but he still finished a respectable fifth of 11 behind Tapit in the Wood Memorial. He followed that performance with a victory in the Sir Barton at Pimlico. His closing style suggests that he might like the added distance. He has been consistent with a 5-2-1-1 record. Trainer Nick Zito is also a plus.
WEAKNESSES: He hasn't shown that he is fast enough to be competitive against the main contenders in this field. His 88, 88, and 90 Beyers from his three route starts do not come anywhere close to being competitive with the numbers earned by Smarty Jones. Those Beyers also fall short of the recent efforts turned in by Purge and Rock Hard Ten, so despite his recent consistency, a finish among the top three in this field is unlikely without significant improvement on his part, or big regression from at least one of those contenders.
STRATEGY: If the pace up front is lively, his closing bid might enable him to pass some tiring speed late. He will also have a chance to outrun those who aren't suited to the 1 1/2-mile distance. Trying to close ground behind a slow pace would make his task even more difficult.
VALUE: If you like his chances, the price will be right with large odds available to win and in the exotics.
- Steve Klein
SIRE LINE: Like Rock Hard Ten, Royal Assault is a son of Kris S., whose current crop of 3-year-olds also includes last year's 2-year-old champion, Action This Day, stakes winner Tiger Hunt, and Philanthropist, a late-blooming colt out of stakes winner Hidden Reserve who has the look of a future stakes winner.
FEMALE FAMILY: Fit for a Queen was a multiple stakes winner who earned more than $1 million winning 13 races (and finishing second 14 times) in 51 starts over five years. She is the dam of eight foals, six runners, and five winners. She produced Gold Rush Queen, the dam of two stakes winners, Ender's Sister, and Ender's Shadow. Royal Assault's second dam, Titled, was unplaced in two starts, but also produced stakes winner Stolen Title. Royal Assault's fourth dam, Countess Angela, is a half-sister to the influential stallion Nearctic, forever immortalized as the sire of Northern Dancer.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: Royal Assault gets staying power from Kris S. and plenty of class from his female family. His first two dams are by Fit to Fight (by Chieftain) and 1966 champion sprinter Impressive (Court Martial). Fit to Fight won the 1984 Handicap Triple Crown (Metropolitan, Suburban, and Brooklyn handicaps) when the Brooklyn was run at 1 1/2 miles. Impressive was one of the fastest horses bred by Ogden Phipps and his mother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps (Wheatley Stable). When Buckpasser set the world record for one mile of 1:32.60 in the 1966 Arlington Classic, Impressive scorched the first six furlongs in an eye-popping 1:06.80. Royal Assault has a combination of stamina and class and should stay 1 1/2 miles.
STRENGTHS: He is fast, classy, and unbeaten in eight races. When he splashed to victory over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby, he became the first unbeaten Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977. Then came an 11 1/2-length win in the Preakness - the largest winning margin in that race's history.
Now, he seeks to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, 26 years ago.
Besides the 118 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in the Preakness, his other top Beyers fall around the 107-108 range. Those rank him as consistently the fastest horse in the Belmont.
He has the speed to be on or near the pace, but unlike Funny Cide - who weakened to third in last year's Belmont - he relaxes without restraint from his rider. Manageable speed is key in a 1 1/2-mile race.
WEAKNESSES: In recent years, Funny Cide, War Emblem, Charismatic, Real Quiet, and Silver Charm failed in the Belmont after taking the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Going back further, even such great horses as Sunday Silence, Alysheba, and Spectacular Bid lost in the final leg.
If Smarty Jones has a weakness, it is that he lacks a 1 1/2-mile pedigree. Of course, he is not even bred for 1 1/4 miles - yet he had no trouble with the Derby distance.
He is also a potential bounce candidate after running a career-best figure in the Preakness. Funny Cide, for example, ran a 105 Beyer in the Belmont last year after a 114 in the Preakness.
STRATEGY: Jockey Stewart Elliott would likely prefer to place Smarty in a comfortable tracking position. But with Lion Heart passing the Belmont and with the connections of Purge saying they prefer to have their horse stalk the pace, Smarty Jones could go straight to the front.
BETTING VALUE: No one will be wagering on him for value. He will likely be 1-5 odds.
- Byron King
SIRE LINE: His sire, Elusive Quality, was a sprinter-miler who showed flashes of brilliance on dirt and turf. At 4, he won a seven-furlong dirt race by five lengths against Halo's Image (sire of handicap star Southern Image), in a Gulfstream Park track record of 1:20. The next year, he won 4 of 7 starts and set a world record of 1:31.63 for a mile in Belmont's Poker Handicap on turf. This sire line is synonymous with brilliance (speed).
FEMALE FAMILY: Smarty Jones descends from the most important female family in the Stud Book. His tail-female family (mother, mother's mother, mother's grandmother, etc.) traces to La Troienne, the sport's most celebrated broodmare. La Troienne's daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters are responsible for hundreds of stakes winners, and she is Smarty Jones's seventh dam. While seven generations may seem far removed to have a significant influence on a Thoroughbred, that is not the case when it comes to the tail-female position.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: With a pedigree of speed and high class, Smarty Jones did not figure to be at his best beyond 1 1/8 miles. Despite the class of his female family, his brilliance at classic distances cannot be explained by his pedigree. His success in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness does not mean that Elusive Quality is suddenly a source of stamina. Smarty Jones has succeeded at classic distances because he is a rare commodity, a freak - the highest compliment in racetrack parlance.
STRENGTHS: He is consistent, putting up steady Beyers since returning from a layoff. His lone stakes win came in his fourth career start, and this is his fourth start back after the break. He has some speed, enough for him to get early position, and he can obviously also take back off the pace and make a late run. That gives him some options, which is important at this distance, especially since this edition of the Belmont Stakes features an uncertain pace scenario.
WEAKNESSES: He never has faced horses like Smarty Jones and Rock Hard Ten, let alone defeated horses of that caliber. In fact, he ran on the same day as Smarty Jones in his last start, on the Preakness undercard, and ran about 35 points slower on the Beyer scale. His figures do not come close to matching up with the main contenders in the race, and there is nothing to indicate that he is on the verge of a major move forward. His last win came in August of last year, and he's failed to hit the board in his last three while running against much less than those he faces Saturday.
STRATEGY: He has a touch of early speed so he'll be able to stalk the leaders and can try to make a run late. Perhaps the extended distance will get to some runners in the lane, enabling him to pass a few and pick up a small check in the process.
VALUE: If Smarty Jones runs to his Preakness figure this colt would have to improve about 35 Beyer points, or about 32 lengths, to beat him. Is that likely? No. If you disagree, you can expect to get between 50-1 to 80-1 on a win bet. In reality, however, it would be a big surprise if he were to even get third in here.
- Kenny Peck
SIRE LINE: Unraced at 2, Tap Dancer's sire, Sword Dance, won 2 of 4 races in Ireland at 3 and became a stakes winner in the U.S. at age 4, winning the Del Mar Handicap. A son of world-class stamina influence Nijinsky II, Sword Dance is closely related to Sadler's Wells and Nureyev, but never had their kind of ability. Nevertheless, Sword Dance has been a successful sire considering the fact that he never received the kind of mares that visited Sadler's Wells or Nureyev. His offspring are best on turf and enjoy distances over one mile. His best runner was Marlin, winner of the Arlington Million, Secretariat Stakes and Hollywood Derby. His other stakes winners include Blazing Sword and Dance for Thee.
FEMALE FAMILY: Tap Dancer's dam, Heaven's Gate, is by European group winner Septieme Ciel (Seattle Slew), who is a strong turf influence. Heaven's Gate is also a half-sister to Oh So Sharp, Finality, and Stolen Beauty. Stakes horses from this Canadian female family include Giboulee, Meadow Monster, and Northern Answer.
PEDIGREE PATTERN: With Sword Dance on top and Septieme Ciel on the bottom, Tap Dancer is much better bred for grass than dirt. In fact, he ran well to be a close fifth, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths, behind Timo, Imperialism, and Cool Conductor in the Mecke Stakes on turf as a 2-year-old.