02/06/2017 12:40PM

Garden State grows Derby contender Irish War Cry

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Barbara D. Livingston
Irish War Cry wins the Grade 2 Holy Bull on Saturday.

The colt who knocked the Florida road to the Kentucky Derby askew last Saturday is named for Ireland, is by a Kentucky stallion, and has roots in European breeding. But his actual birthplace is a state not known for producing top Thoroughbreds – New Jersey.

Garden State native Irish War Cry remained undefeated by winning the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, defeating Grade 2 winner Gunnevera and juvenile champion Classic Empire. A May foal, Irish War Cry was making his graded stakes debut for owner and breeder Isabelle de Tomaso, a daughter of Amory L. Haskell, for whom New Jersey’s biggest race, the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, is named.

According to The Jockey Club’s state fact book, 118 registered foals were born in New Jersey in 2014, representing 0.5 percent of the nation’s foal crop. One of those foals was Irish War Cry, who springs from a female family long cultivated by de Tomaso. She got into the family with the purchase of his fourth dam, Tabebuia II, who produced stakes winner and stakes producer Irish Trip in 1971 in England.

One of Irish Trip’s daughters, Irish Genius, produced the winning Polish Numbers mare Irish Sovereign, who has been a productive broodmare, with six winners from as many starters. Her son Irish Politics finished third in the Jersey Juvenile.

Now, Irish War Cry, by Curlin, raises the bar.

Two New Jersey-breds have won the Kentucky Derby: the filly Regret in 1915 and Cavalcade in 1934. The state is responsible for four Preakness winners and seven Belmont winners, including dual winner Belmar in 1895.

More recent standouts bred in New Jersey include champion filly Open Mind, 1989 English 1000 Guineas winner Musical Bliss, and Grade 1 winners Classy Mirage, Jersey Girl, Missy’s Mirage, Sewickley, and Zoffany.