03/29/2014 11:31AM

Galileo's presence looms in U.S. market

Tom Keyser
Champion Cape Blanco is one of three sons of international titan Galileo standing in the U.S.

As the U.S. breeding sector continues to rebound from the dolorous depths of 2008-10, several changes have become evident with regard to the hierarchy of stallions and the appeal of certain sire lines.

Recent news from Del Mar about its plans to revert to a dirt main track has halted, and maybe reversed, what once appeared to be a major shift in the U.S. toward synthetic racing, and despite the recent popularity of U.S.-bred turf stars Wise Dan, Gio Ponti, Little Mike, and others, the purse distribution for Grade 1 races continues to allot the biggest prizes to dirt racing over turf.

Still, in this resurgent market, owners and breeders have committed more of their attention – and money – to stallions who have proven ability as turf (and, to a lesser extent, synthetic) sires from established leaders such as Giant’s Causeway and Kitten’s Joy to up-and-comers such as War Front and English Channel. For breeders intent on finding the most propitious matings for grass success, the introduction of Galileo’s sons Cape Blanco, Midas Touch, and Treasure Beach as members of the U.S. sire community opens up new vistas of opportunity.

Inarguably the leading contemporary international stallion, Coolmore Stud’s Galileo has assumed the mantle of breed-shaper in Europe held by his late sire, Sadler’s Wells, and is well on his way to extending the incredible dominance of the Northern Dancer line into the 21st century. That early promise as a sire of sires has come from his England- and Ireland-based sons New Approach and Teofilo, with superstar Frankel’s first foals born this winter. On these shores, Ashford Stud’s stallion Cape Blanco and War Horse Place’s Midas Touch are entering their third and second years, respectively, at stud in Central Kentucky and Treasure Beach his first at Pleasant Acres Farm in Florida.

All three stallions were very successful racehorses. The youngest, the 6-year-old Treasure Beach, emerged as a 3-year-old during the spring of 2011 with a win in the Group 3 Chester Vase and a close second in the Group 1 Epsom Derby in England, which he followed by taking the Group 1 Irish Derby at The Curragh. That August, he won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, then commenced on a globe-trotting campaign over the next two years before being retired with more than $2.4 million in earnings.

Treasure Beach’s residence at Joe and Helen Barbazon’s Pleasant Acres Farm in Morriston, Fla., where he stands for $10,000, is a boon for the Florida market, which lost champion turf male and classic sire Leroidesanimaux to Europe after the 2013 breeding season. His dam, the winning Mark of Esteem mare Honorine, also has produced a stakes-placed winner and is a half-sister to Group 2 winner and sire Indian Creek. The stallion’s extended female family is packed with English, Irish, and French black type, largely of the Group 2 and Group 3 variety.

The 7-year-old Midas Touch was a Group 2 winner with proven long-distance ability and a rich female family. The English-bred captured the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and finished a half-length behind Cape Blanco in the Irish Derby during the spring of his 3-year-old campaign, then posted another classic second that fall in the English St. Leger. At ages 4 and 5, he raced in Australia for new owners and was Group 1-placed. Overall, he earned just a shade less than $800,000 in four seasons.

Midas Touch is out of the stakes-winning Darshaan mare Approach, a half-sister to French 2000 Guineas winner and England-based sire Aussie Rules. His relations include such luminaries as Irish Derby winner Alamshar, Irish St. Leger winner Alandi, French 2000 Guineas winner Nishapour, and Canadian International winner Nassipour. Midas Touch began his stud career at War Horse Place in Lexington, Ky., last year and stands for $10,000.

The 7-year-old Cape Blanco is the most accomplished of the trio, as his conquest of the North American turf division during the summer and fall of 2011 netted him an Eclipse Award. Cape Blanco, a dual Group 1 winner in Ireland, shipped to the United States to take down the Man o’ War Stakes, Arlington Million, and Joe Hirsch Turf Invitational, defeating multiple U.S. champion Gio Ponti in the first two events. He was retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for the 2012 breeding season and led all North American stallions with a staggering 220 mares bred that year. Cape Blanco, who is a half-brother to two-time Grade 2 winner Mr O’Brien, was bred to 141 mares in 2013. He stands for $15,000 at Ashford this year.

Galileo’s own exalted pedigree, as a son of Sadler’s Wells out of the brilliant Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner and multiple Broodmare of the Year Urban Sea, plus his own achievements as a multiple classic-winning racehorse, led to high-quality mating opportunities once he retired to stud, and that cycle has repeated on a super-sized scale for Juddmonte’s stallion Frankel. Even in a far different and less turf-oriented market, Galileo’s U.S. settlers should have plenty of chances to thrive in the years ahead.