11/08/2012 1:04PM

Breeders' Cup 2012: Storm Cat's male line rules

Barbara D. Livingston
Storm Cat had four male-line descendents win at this year's Breeders' Cup: Beholder in the Juvenile Fillies, Shanghai Bobby in the Juvenile, Trinniberg in the Sprint, and Wise Dan in the Mile.

From the death of Mr. Prospector in 1999 until his own retirement from stud in 2008, Storm Cat was the most important commercial sire in the world. The primary reason for that commercial popularity was that he was perceived as the next great sire of sires, making his sons extremely valuable commodities at yearling sales.

Although several of his sons can accurately be labeled successful sires, only one, his best son, Giant’s Causeway, has emerged as a superstar sire. The enduring power of the Storm Cat male line has never been more evident, however, than at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, where his male-line descendants won four of the 15 events: Beholder (Juvenile Fillies), Shanghai Bobby (Juvenile), Trinniberg (Sprint), and Wise Dan (Mile). A son of one of his daughters – Hightail (Juvenile Sprint) – captured a fifth Breeders’ Cup event.

That brought the total number of Breeders’ Cup winners for the Storm Cat male line to 13, and two other Breeders’ Cup winners for the male line of Storm Cat’s grandsire, Northern Dancer, solidified Northern Dancer’s overall lead in Breeders’ Cup winners. As shown in the accompanying table, the Northern Dancer male line has accounted for 73 individual Breeders’ Cup winners since the event’s inauguration in 1984. The Mr. Prospector and Nasrullah male lines rank a distant second and third, with 52 and 50 individual winners.

The Mr. Prospector line added five winners to its total, including Classic winner Fort Larned, plus a repeat win for Royal Delta in the Ladies’ Classic. Last year, Mr. Prospector dominated the Breeders’ Cup when his male-line descendants won seven of the 15 races, including victories by Drosselmeyer and Royal Delta in the two Classics.

The Seattle Slew branch of the Nasrullah male line continued its upward mobility, adding two more winners to bring its total to 17. But it was another male descendant of Nasrullah, Mizzen Mast, who produced the outstanding sire performance of the two-day event when his daughters Flotilla and Mizdirection captured the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Turf Sprint. Mizzen Mast joined Cox’s Ridge (1985), Nureyev (1987), Kris S. (1993), Sadler’s Wells (2003), Awesome Again (2004), Smart Strike (2007), Chester House (2008), and More Than Ready (2010) as sires with two Breeders’ Cup winners in one year.

Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby is a grandson of Storm Cat’s first-crop son Harlan, who served first notice that Storm Cat would be a sire of sires. Harlan’s best son, Harlan’s Holiday, sire of Shanghai Bobby, won the 2002 Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes and 2003 Donn Handicap and has been a consistent sire of stakes winners (6 percent from foals) but has sired only two previous Grade 1 winners.

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Three of Storm Cat’s winners trace their descent through his son Hennessy, the first son of Storm Cat to make a commercial impression at stud. From Storm Cat’s fifth crop, the first conceived after it was apparent that Storm Cat would be a top sire, Hennessy was one of the best 2-year-olds of 1995, winning the Hopeful, Sapling, and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes and running second to Unbridled’s Song in the Juvenile.

Hennessy broke down before racing at 3 and was a successful if not particularly consistent sire while shuttling between hemispheres until his death in 2007. Hennessy sired 76 stakes winners from 1,401 foals (5.4 percent), led by European and American champion 2-year-old Johannesburg, Australian champion Grand Armee, Canadian champion Inglorious, and dual European classic winner Special Duty.

Johannesburg’s speedy son Teuflesberg is sire of Sprint winner Trinniberg from his first crop. Teuflesberg won three stakes, including the 2007 Woody Stephens Stakes, and stands at Journeyman Stud in Florida.

Hennessy’s two-time Grade 1-winning son Henny Hughes, who was sold earlier this year to stand in Australia, sired Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder. Wise Dan, the brilliant winner of the Mile, is by far the best horse sired by Hennessy’s well-bred son Wiseman’s Ferry, who stands at Dana Point Farm in Pennsylvania. Stakes-placed at 2 in Ireland, Wiseman’s Ferry won the West Virginia and Lone Star derbies at 3.

The 2012 Breeders’ Cup also marked the continued blossoming of the A.P. Indy branch of the Seattle Slew male line. Grandson Hightail, by A.P. Indy’s champion son Mineshaft, won the Juvenile Sprint, and his great-grandson Tapizar, by Tapit, by Pulpit, by A.P. Indy, scored impressively in the Dirt Mile.

Breeders' Cup winners by male line

Horse Winners
Northern Dancer 73
Mr. Prospector 52
Nasrullah 50
Turn-to 19
Ribot 9
Damascus 6
Icecapade 6
In Reality 6
Djebel 4
Speak John 4


Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
ofcourse this article fails to explain that today you would be hard pressed to find a horse in an american race that isnt from the raise a native/mr prospector or northern dancer line,so they are basically racing against each other as an example in this years classic 11 out of the 12 runners were direct line descendants of either northern dancer or raise a native/imr prospector either through the sire or the mare.in the ladies classic or distaff 5 of the 8 were direct line decendents through the sire.in the mile 6 of the 9.the same patern repeats in all the breeders cup races.obviously with an overwehlming majority of the runners being by northern dancer or mr prospector line runners they are going to win more,that ribot,damascus,in reality,turn-to and specialy djebel and speak john have as many winners as they do is the real achievment here.i would love to see the percentages on djebel line runners to winners.
Nate More than 1 year ago
Why are American breeders so unimaginative?
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I think that the stats should not be based on just Breeders Cup races. It should be based on all Graded Stakes races.
Bamb Ezzy More than 1 year ago
What an interesting article, I adored Storm Cat as a sire and was privileged to have the chance to care for one of his offspring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overrated. 3 of his wins were 2 year old races and the other 2 were a mile or less. Can't get too excited about Mizzen Mast either. 2 Breeders Cup winners in the same year isn't what it used to be and his winners came in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Turf Sprint. Two of the worst Breeders Cup races their are. As a matter of fact neither race even existed until recently. The credit should go to Mr. Prospector. His line has produced 12 of the last 30 Breeders Cup race winners. Those wins include both Classics and both Ladies Classics. Knowing that I'd much rather one of Mr. Prospector's offspring than one of Storm Cats.
Nate More than 1 year ago
This article fails to make any mention of possible negative ramifications caused by the inbreeding of the Storm Cat/Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector line, which has grown exponentially in recent years and has been speculated to be a major cause of injuries, breakdowns and the inability of the modern breed to carry its speed for long distances.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
I think the article was just trying to focus on something positive. Something many people seem to have a hard time with.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
In many ways, the lines are all crossed with these prolific sires. If you go back far enough, all the greats are somehow related-past to present. Mr Prospector especially has had a prolific stud career. It's fascinating and time consuming to do a geneology, but shows so much relativity.