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Germany in the midst of breeding renaissance
One of the most surprising developments in international racing and breeding over the past decade has been the renaissance of the German Thoroughbred. Even as German racing has experienced financial difficulties and some internal upheaval, German breeding has made unexpected inroads on international racing, and the principal agent of that renaissance is perhaps the most surprising development of all.
Germany’s resurgence to heights seldom achieved by such a relatively tiny breeding country (around 1,000 foals per year) is embodied in the pedigree of Pastorius, the winner of the 2013 Prix Ganay on April 28 at Longchamp. Bred in Germany by Prince Franz von Auersperg and Florian Haffa, Pastorious made the Ganay his sixth victory in 12 starts and his third Group 1 victory, but his first outside of Germany.
Pastorius is from the promising first crop of Soldier Hollow, an extraordinarily durable and tough racehorse who won 12 of 31 starts over six seasons, including four Group 1 races in Germany and Italy and a Group 2 in France. He also was third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in 2006 in his sole outing in the United States.
Pastorius is the best of four stakes winners to date from Soldier Hollow’s first crop of 51 foals, but it is Pastorius’s broodmare sire, Monsun, who is almost single-handedly responsible for Germany’s racing renaissance.
By leading German sire Konigsstuhl out of Mosella, Monsun was a good racehorse in Germany in the mid-1990s. It’s worth noting that Mosella was by leading German sire Surumu from a family residing in Germany since Monsun’s sixth dam, Morning Breeze, by Cameronian, was imported in the 1930s.
Monsun won two editions of the Group 1 Europa Preis but was simply not as good as his contemporary Lando (the best son of Surumu’s best son, Acatenango), who beat him comprehensively in both the German Derby and Grosser Preis von Baden (both Group 1 races).
Monsun has been a much better sire than Lando, however, leading the German sire list four times and the broodmare sire list twice.
The first indication that Monsun might be more than just a good German sire, though, came with his son Shirocco’s victory in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf. The winner of the German Derby the previous year, he franked his Breeders’ Cup form the following year by winning England’s Group 1 Coronation Cup and is now a moderately successful sire in England.
Shirocco’s international success was followed almost immediately by that of Manduro, Germany’s highweighted 2-year-old of 2004, who blossomed into the best horse in Europe at 5 in 2007, going undefeated in five starts in England and France. Manduro also has shown promise as a stallion, with his first crop just 4 years old.
Americans are most familiar with the name of Monsun, though, through the exploits of his daughter Stacelita, the French Oaks winner of 2009 who earned champion-grass-female honors in the United States in 2011 with her wins in the Grade 1 Beverly D. and Flower Bowl Invitational stakes.
Monsun has sired three German Derby winners, two German Oaks winners, Italian Derby winner Gentlewave, and 2012 French highweighted 2-year-old filly Silasol, who ran second in the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux in her 3-year-old debut an hour or so before Pastorius’s Ganay triumph.
In fact, Monsun’s 17 percent stakes-winners-to-foals ratio among his foals ages 3 and up is easily the highest of any contemporary international stallion. Sadly, Monsun died in 2012, and his daughters are really just getting started as producers, with 25 stakes winners to date, led by Pastorius; 2012 Ascot Gold Cup winner Colour Vision, by Rainbow Quest; 2009 German Oaks winner Night Magic, by Sholokhov; and 2012 Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio winner Sortilege, by Tiger Hill.
Pastorius is the third foal out of Monsun’s daughter Princess Li, who won three of 16 starts in Germany and Italy but was not stakes caliber. Princess Li’s second foal, Point Blank, by Royal Dragon, served as the pacesetter for Pastorius in the Ganay but is a good racehorse in his own right, having placed in four group races in Germany and Italy.
Pastorius’s second dam, Princess Dancer, by Suave Dancer, produced nothing to make one think her daughter would produce a Prix Ganay winner, but the third dam, Princess Nana, by Bellypha, won the Group 2 German 1000 Guineas in 1992, and her daughter Princess Mood, by Muhtarram, is the dam of two recent stakes winners.
The family’s German history traces to Pastorius’s seventh dam, Tudor Love, by Owen Tudor, whose daughter Love In, by Crepello, was imported to Germany in the 1970s and founded a family that includes German champions or highweights Lomitas, the sire of 2011 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream; Lagunas, Lavirco; Lirung; Lord of England; La Colorada; La Dorada; Lady Marian; La Blue; and Lara.
Soldier Hollow’s racing career was similar to that of Monsun in several ways, and it will be interesting to see if he is able to follow up on the success of his first crop. His pedigree is far more conventional than Monsun’s, however.
Soldier Hollow is one of 77 stakes winners (10.7 percent) sired by In the Wings, one of the best colts from the first crop of Sadler’s Wells, and, until Galileo and Montjeu came along, his best sire son in Europe. Second in the Prix Ganay in 1990, In the Wings won that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf and Coronation Cup as well as the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
In the Wings’s best son, Singspiel, compiled a similar record and has been a successful sire, but other sons of In the Wings have not established themselves as viable successors at stud.
Just where Pastorius fits in the international pecking order remains to be seen. The great Frankel and Cirrus des Aigles beat him by about eight lengths and six lengths in last year’s Group 1 Champion Stakes in his first foray outside Germany. And the horse who finished second in the Ganay, Maxios, sired by – you guessed it – Monsun, has not yet won a Group 1 race, though he has long promised to do so.
With the exception of Monsun, though, the pedigree of Pastorius is pretty conventional. He carries five crosses of Northern Dancer in his first six generations, two through Nijinsky II and two through Lyphard, each in the sixth generation, in addition to distant duplications of Hoist the Flag and Round Table.
That is precisely the kind of breeding environment Monsun was able to take advantage of as a stallion. Shirocco is out of a daughter of The Minstrel, by Northern Dancer; Manduro is out of a daughter of Be My Guest, by Northern Dancer; and Stacelita’s second dam is a daughter of Fioravanti, by Northern Dancer.
In fact, one seldom finds a really traditional German pedigree, based mostly on crossing and recrossing the famous German lines tracing to the stallions Dark Ronald and Landgraf and the broodmare Festa, anymore. Those lines have been overwhelmed by repeated crosses of American lines descending mostly from Northern Dancer, Mill Reef, and, more recently, six-time leading German sire Big Shuffle, a son of Super Concorde, the second-best son of Seattle Slew’s sire, Bold Reasoning.
That influx of the best international classic genes overlaying the stout substratum of stamina and soundness built up in German pedigrees for more than a century has made the German Thoroughbred a renewed force in international racing.