07/10/2008 11:00PM

A family looking like pure gold


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With her success in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park on turf, Pure Clan has reached a peak of success for herself and her sire, Pure Prize. The American Oaks is perhaps the most important turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and the chestnut filly's future racing will be focused on premier turf events in a bid to become the nation's top 3-year-old turf filly.

Also, winning the Oaks in 2:00.50 for 10 furlongs made Pure Clan the first Grade 1 winner for her sire and her dam, the General Assembly mare Gather the Clan.

Gather the Clan was a good racer herself, winning the Grade 3 Violet Handicap. Her sire, General Assembly, was probably the second-best son of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. General Assembly won the Hopeful and Travers and ran second to Spectacular Bid in the Kentucky Derby.

And Gather the Clan's dam was the even more distinguished: What a Summer, the champion sprinter of 1977. What a Summer won 18 races, including the Fall Highweight Handicap twice, the Maskette, and the Black-Eyed Susan.

Gather the Clan was the best runner out of her dam and has been a very good broodmare. Before Pure Clan, Gather the Clan had already produced the Grade 2 stakes winner Greater Good (by Intidab) and stakes-placed Gather the Day (Dayjur).

After being bred to such leading stallions as A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Unbridled, and Deputy Minister earlier in her producing career, Gather the Clan was sent to less-expensive stallions such as Intidab and Pure Prize, who have sired her most successful runners.

Pure Prize entered stud in 2003 at Vinery and was an inexpensive stallion in the Kentucky market when he was assigned a fee of $7,500 live foal.

But with that fee combined with his outstanding pedigree and solid racing performance, Pure Prize drew considerable attention from breeders, who sent him good mares, and his first crop of foals averaged more than $50,000 as weanlings and more than $32,000 the next year, both hefty multiples on the stallion's fee.

Having sired 13 stakes winners, with his first crop now 4, Pure Prize is in greater demand than ever, and his stud fee was $12,500 for 2008 and could go higher.

The potential for appreciation was one of the attractions for acquiring and standing Pure Prize at Vinery. He has a grand pedigree, and by proving a success at stud, he has become a much more valuable animal.

The stallion's success in the States has come as good news for his Southern Hemisphere shareholders, because it has increased interest in his offspring in Argentina.

Vinery's general manager, Tom Ludt, said Thursday, "He always has shuttled because that's how the ownership is arranged, and he leaves tomorrow for South America.

"He's owned by a 40-share syndicate. The 10 Southern Hemisphere shareholders get 100 percent of the Southern Hemisphere seasons and stud fees, and the 30 shareholders in the U.S. get 100 percent of the Northern Hemisphere revenue."

Widespread interest in Pure Prize was natural, given his pedigree. His sire, Storm Cat, is the premier international stallion for yearlings and stallion prospects, and although he was pensioned recently, Storm Cat will have foals of 2009 and will continue to have an impact on these markets for years to come.

The physical type most associated with Storm Cat is a horse of immense strength. They tend to be blocky and round-bodied but not always perfectly conformed through the knees.

Vinery's Frances Relihan handles seasons and mating advice for clients. She said that "when people call up to book a mare, some don't take conformation into account, and we try to offer advice in helping them make a decision on that point.

"Pure Prize is not a typical Storm Cat. He is not a heavy-bodied horse, is tall, and has scope. They are typically good movers and have a very good stride on them. We've always recommended breeding him to a more correct type of mare because he is a little bit offset."

The added scope and size comes from the dam of Pure Prize, champion Heavenly Prize, a daughter of the important Mr. Prospector stallion Seeking the Gold. Heavenly Prize was from the first crop by Seeking the Gold and was champion 3-year-old filly in 1994, the same year the sire's daughter Flanders was champion juvenile filly.

Heavenly Prize was the first foal out of the Nijinsky mare Oh What a Dance, a daughter of the major racer and producer Blitey.

Oh What a Dance has produced Grade 1 winner Oh What a Windfall, as well as the graded stakes-placed Hunting Hard and Dancinginmydreams, all by Seeking the Gold.

None was so accomplished as Heavenly Prize, who won the Frizette at 2; the Beldame, Alabama, and Gazelle at 3; and the Apple Blossom, John A. Morris, Hempstead, and Go for Wand at 4. All are Grade 1 races.

As a winner at the premier level eight times, Heavenly Prize would have a mighty task to produce a better racer than herself, and she has not.

But in addition to Grade 2 stakes winner Pure Prize, the mare also foaled his full brother Good Reward, who won twice at the Grade 1 level and whose first foals arrived this year.

If Pure Clan continues to dominate the 3-year-old turf filly division, she will add another gold leaf of success to this amazing family tree.