05/31/2007 11:00PM

Guineas double shows a filly with true grit


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Mr. Greeley filly Finsceal Beo became only the second filly in history to win both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas with a game victory in the Irish classic last weekend. Sandwiched in between those successes was a narrow loss by a head in the French 1000.

Racing in three classics in three weeks may be a record in itself, but the hardy constitution and very high class of Finsceal Beo indicate that she is a sterling example of the toughness and excellence most admired in the Thoroughbred.

She is also an outstanding example of the best progeny of her sire, Mr. Greeley, who stands at Gainesway Farm near Lexington.

Gainesway's Michael Hernon attended the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and described the victory by Finsceal Beo as "terrifically impressive."

"Her name translates from the Gaelic as 'living legend,' and she's doing her best to live up to it," Hernon said.

Having seen Finsceal Beo perform, Hernon spoke authoritatively that she "has real tactical speed and has the ability to quicken."

"She was somewhat unlucky in France [for the French 2000], as they had to kick for home earlier than they would have liked, and the winner came very wide and caught her in the last stride," he said. "It is a credit to herself and her trainer, Jim Bolger, that she was able to put up such a performance on seven days' rest and after being flown back to Ireland from England and then over to France."

Not only is Finsceal Beo a supremely talented filly, but she is also a handsome one. Hernon described the multiple classic winner as a "big, strong filly with a lot of quality about her."

Not surprisingly for a fetching athlete, Finsceal Beo was also a very good sales yearling. Bred in Ireland by Liam Cashman's Rathberry Stud, Finsceal Beo is out of the Royal Academy mare Musical Treat. As a chestnut filly by the noted Gone West stallion Mr. Greeley, she was always a progressive and well-regarded young athlete, bringing 340,000 euros at Goffs select yearling sale when auctioned in September of 2005, the top-priced lot of the sale's second day.

Rathberry acquired Musical Treat at the Keeneland November sale in 2003 for $100,000. The mare was sold carrying Finsceal Beo, and John Tirrell signed for the mare on behalf of Cashman, who operates Rathberry Stud in County Cork.

Finsceal Beo is the third foal of her dam, and as the Cartier Award champion 2-year-old filly in Europe last year, she is naturally the best of the lot. Musical Treat showed useful form during her racing career, twice placing in listed stakes, including a second to classic contender Claxon in the Lupe Stakes.

After the Guineas at Newmarket, Hernon said, "I met Liam Cashman in the winner's circle, where he asked if he could arrange for a season to send Musical Treat back to Mr. Greeley next year, and we were happy to be able to commit to that."

One of those who would be most interested in a full brother or sister to Finsceal Beo is the champion filly's owner, Michael Ryan, a builder from the south of Ireland. He also owns the broodmare Bowstring, a daughter of the top stallion Sadler's Wells, and she is in foal to Mr. Greeley on a single cover.

In addition to his classic-winning filly, Mr. Greeley also has had several other very good winners overseas recently, including the 2-year-old filly Saoirse Abu at Newmarket, who was an impressive four-length winner and now goes for the Swordlestown Stakes at Naas. The stallion had a pair of colts run one-two at Newmarket in another well-regarded maiden race when Swiss Franc won over Wolgan Valley, a $1.45 million purchase by Godolphin at the Fasig-Tipton select sale of 2-year-olds earlier this spring. And the stallion's juvenile Greek Mythology, raised at Gainesway and sold for $800,000 at the Saratoga select sale to the noted judge of athletes Demi O'Byrne, won at Leopardstown.

The successes of Finsceal Beo are too recent to have drawn all these promising young racers to Europe, however. Most were already in a program for racing overseas before she came to prominence last fall. Hernon said, "Mr. Greeley has become 'the international sire' who produces top-drawer runners on both dirt and turf who are impressive physical types that consequently draw intense bidding from the premier buyers at auctions around the world.

"That is why, although his stud fee has jumped to $75,000 this year, he has attracted a superb book of graded and group-producing or -winning mares. And we are already being contacted by prominent breeders with interest in seasons for 2008."

In the States, the stallion has last year's Del Mar Futurity winner, Horse Greeley, returning to the races, and Ketchikan, a colt owned by Wayne Hughes who finished second in the Louisiana Derby, should start in early summer.

To date, Mr. Greeley has sired nine Grade 1 or Group 1 winners, including Futurity Stakes winner Whywhywhy, a young stallion standing at Gainesway who will have his first runners this year.