Updated on 09/17/2011 11:28AM

Guineas winner has Yankee roots


New York was not the only state to challenge tradition with a classic winner on the first weekend in May. The Pennsylvania-bred filly Russian Rhythm upset a heavy favorite and 18 other rivals to win England's Group 1 1000 Guineas on May 4, the day after Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby triumph.

Russian Rhythm (by Kingmambo) was bred by one of Pennsylvania's premier breeding establishments, Elizabeth Moran's Brushwood Stable in Malvern, Pa., and sold as a weanling for $370,000 at the 2000 Keeneland November sale. Resold for the U.S. equivalent of $678,770 at the 2001 Tattersalls Houghton sale, she has raced exclusively in England for owner Cheveley Park Stud and trainer Michael Stoute.

A top-flight performer at 2, Russian Rhythm won her first three starts, including the Group 2 Lowther and Group 3 Princess Margaret stakes, and was beaten only once, while finishing second to Airwave in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.

Stoute was openly pessimistic about Russian Rhythm's prospects in the 1000 Guineas, her first start of 2003. Her slow works and lackluster appetite, among other things, convinced the trainer that Russian Rhythm was not at the top of her game, and might need a race or two to reach her full potential at 3.

But she did not hesitate to prove her trainer wrong. Taking advantage of the misfortune encountered by Guineas favorite Six Perfections, who was taken far wide much of the way, Russian Rhythm rallied from 18th in the huge field and defeated Six Perfections by 1 1/2 lengths.

For Moran, the emergence of the top-class filly offers reassurance that patience and investment can bring rewards. Moran, long noted for her million-dollar broodmare buys, purchased Russian Rhythm's granddam, the superb producer Balidaress, in foal to Nureyev, in 1987 for $1.65 million.

Balidaress, a foal of 1973, had already produced four overseas champions or Group 1 winners: Park Appeal, champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland in 1984; Alydaress, highweighted at 3 on the 1989 Irish Handicap; Nashamaa, highweighted at 4 on the 1987 Irish Handicap; and Desirable, Group 1 winner and dam of English champion 2-year-old filly Shadayid and multiple graded/group winner and sire Dumaani.

Balidaress produced six foals for Moran before she was pensioned in 1994; she was euthanized three years ago due to infirmities of old age.

Only one of Balidaress's Brushwood-bred foals was a stakes performer. Her 1987 Nureyev colt City Ballet earned $52,870 and finished second in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap. Moran sold him for $460,000 at Saratoga.

The quality was to come through in time, however, in Balidaress's daughter Balistroika (1988, by Nijinsky II), a big-boned, 17-hand mare whom Moran intended to keep and race in England. Balistroika fractured a bone in her ankle and was returned to her birthplace to join the Brushwood broodmare band before she made her first start.

Until Russian Rhythm came along, Balistroika's record as a broodmare was uninspiring, although all of her foals to race are winners. Balistroika produced Russian Rhythm as her seventh foal and first stakes winner. Her best runner before Russian Rhythm was Ive Gota Bad Liver (1997, by Mt. Livermore), who placed in three stakes, earning $84,503.

Still a member of the Brushwood broodmare band, Balistroika has a 2-year-old daughter Marisa (by Swain), who is in training for Moran with Stoute in England; a yearling colt by Rahy, whom Moran may sell at auction this year; and Rahy colt born March 23. She was bred back to Kingmambo on April 25.