07/05/2013 5:00AM

John P. Sparkman: A line of Montjeu's own

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Barbara D. Livingston
Montjeu, shown in October 2000, sired Authorized, who in turn sired Ambivalent, the winner of the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on June 30.

The victory of Trading Leather, by Teofilo, in the Group 1 Irish Derby on June 29 expanded the burgeoning reputation of Teofilo’s sire, Galileo, as a sire of sires. But the victory of Ambivalent, by Authorized, in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh the following day may herald similar implications for Galileo’s chief rival, Montjeu, as the world’s best sire for the last decade.

Ambivalent’s Pretty Polly score followed close on the heels of the victory by Treve, by Montjeu’s son Motivator, in the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), and calls attention to the growing success at stud of the first two of Montjeu’s four Epsom Derby winners.

Montjeu retired to Coolmore Stud in 2001 at a fee of only 30,000 euros, but when Galileo followed him to stud at Coolmore in 2002, that horse’s initial fee was 100,000 euros. The big difference in stud fees was entirely a reflection of the perception of their pedigrees, since Montjeu possessed the superior race record.

Montjeu was a stakes winner at 2; Galileo was not. Both had won European derbies at 3, but Montjeu won the more prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while Galileo captured the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Montjeu added three more Group 1 wins at 4, including a King George, while Galileo was already collecting stud fees at that age.

Montjeu and Galileo were the two best racing sons of 14-time leading English sire Sadler’s Wells, but the female half of their pedigrees were not considered equal, though both were undeniably high class. In the eyes of Europe’s best breeders, the key differences were that Galileo’s dam, Urban Sea, had won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at 1 1/2 miles, and her sire was the sprinter-miler Miswaki, by speed influence Mr. Prospector, while Montjeu’s dam, Floripedes, had won the Group 3 Prix Lutece at almost two miles, and her sire, Top Ville, was a sire of stayers.

Those differences have to some extent been reflected in the performances of Montjeu’s and Galileo’s offspring. Montjeu has sired six juvenile Group 1 winners to Galileo’s eight, but all of Montjeu’s top juveniles required distances of a mile or more at 2, while several of Galileo’s good 2-year-olds won Group 1 races at seven furlongs. None of Montjeu’s juvenile Group 1 winners has shown the brilliance of Frankel, New Approach, or Teofilo.

Thus, it is not surprising that breeders’ preference for Galileo over Montjeu has carried over to their sons. And there is not the slightest doubt that the early achievements of Galileo’s first two Group 1-winning 2-year-olds, Teofilo and New Approach, outstrip those of Montjeu’s first two, Motivator and Authorized.

Trading Leather’s Irish Derby win followed 2013 classic victories by New Approach’s son Dawn Approach in the 2000 Guineas and Talent in the Epsom Oaks, while Treve’s French Oaks win was the first for a Montjeu stallion.

It was Treve’s sire, Motivator, who first put Montjeu on the map as a sire. From Montjeu’s first crop, Motivator capped a two-start, two-win juvenile season with an easy victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in 2004. Motivator trained on at 3 to provide Montjeu with the first of his four Epsom Derby winners but failed to win in three subsequent starts, though he ran honorably when second in both the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes.

Treve (out of Trevise, by Anabaa) is Motivator’s second Group 1 winner from Motivator’s first three crops, following 2012 Group 1 Prix de l’Opera winner Ridasiyna (Ridafa, by Darshaan), who was the highweighted filly on the European Free Handicap last year at 3. In fact, six of Motivator’s eight group winners and 11 of his 16 stakes winners to date are fillies. Such gender imbalances tend to even out over a sire’s career, but early ratios frequently result in “filly sire” labels that do young stallions no favors.

Motivator’s dam, Out West, by Gone West, was a stakes winner at a mile in England, from the great American family tracing to the fast juvenile stakes winner Lady Be Good, a family that has produced several brilliant milers in Europe. Out West also produced Motivator’s Group 2-winning full brother Macarthur and stakes winner Imperial Star, by Fantastic Light, earning English Broodmare of the Year honors in 2005.

Motivator’s daughter Treve also is from a distinguished European family with American roots. Treve’s half-brother Trois Rois, by Hernando, won stakes in France, and their dam, Trevise, by champion sprinter Anabaa, is a full sister to American stakes winner Tsigane. Treve’s second dam, Trevillari, by Riverman, is a full sister to Group 1 winner Treble, and her third dam, Trevilla, by Lyphard, was a half-sister to the brilliant Triptych, by Riverman, a winner of nine Group 1 events. Treve’s fourth dam, the massive American-bred mare Trillion, by Hail to Reason, was a champion in France and America and is a tail-female ancestress of Group 1 or Grade 1 winners Tawqeet, Tamarisk, and Amorama.

Authorized duplicated many of Motivator’s feats two years later. A winner of the Racing Post Trophy in his second start at 2, he became Montjeu’s second Epsom Derby winner at 3 but did better than Motivator subsequently by winning the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes. His dam, Funsie, by Saumarez, was unraced and produced nothing else of note but hails from one of the best families in Europe over the past five decades, that of the American-bred mare Ampola, by Pavot. Francophile American breeder Gertrude Widener raced Ampola’s daughters Polamia, by Mahmoud, and Sly Pola, by Spy Song, in France, and their daughters vastly expanded one of the best families in the Stud Book.

Ampola’s descendants include champions and/or classic winners Grey Dawn II, Zagora, Sulamani, Dream Well, Right Away, Alhaarth, Makfi, and Green Dancer. Funsie’s dam, Vallee Dansante, by Lyphard, was a half-sister to French classic winner and leading sire Green Dancer, by Nijinsky II. Funsie is a half-sister to three stakes winners, including Group 3 winner Brooklyn’s Dance, by Shirley Heights, the dam of six stakes winners, including 2012 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Solemia, by Poliglote.

Brooklyn’s Dance’s daughter Brooklyn’s Storm, by Storm Cat, also is the granddam of 2012 French highweighted juvenile filly Silasol, by Monsun, who trained on to win the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary this year and finished third behind Treve in the French Oaks. Vallee Dansante’s daughter Krissante, by Kris, is the dam of French highweighted 2-year-old Okawango, by Kingmambo, while another daughter of Vallee Dansante, Quest of Fire, by Rainbow Quest, is the granddam of German and Italian highweight Quijano, by Acatenango.

Ambivalent is Authorized’s first Group 1 winner, and she, too, has a pedigree to match with American roots. Her dam, the stakes-placed Darrery, by Darshaan, already has produced jumps stakes winner Made in Japan, by Barathea, and two stakes-placed runners.

Darrery’s winning daughter Diary, by Green Desert, is the dam of Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp winner Total Gallery, by Namid, and the stakes winner Tempest Fugit, by High Chaparral. Ambivalent’s second dam, the American-bred Flamenco, by Dance Spell, captured the Group 3 Waterford Candelabra Stakes. The family arrived in America in the 1960s via the Chilean champion Aysha, by Forest Row, and has produced a steady stream of stakes winners without producing anything of special merit.

Both Motivator and Authorized could use a high-class colt to really put them on the map with breeders, and both have 3-year-old colts who just might do that. Motivator, who moved to the Head family’s Haras de Quesnay this year, is the sire of Sky Hunter, who ran third in the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) in his fourth start. Authorized’s promising son Sugar Boy won the Group 3 Bet365 Classic Trial Stakes but pulled up very sore when finishing a disappointing last behind Trading Leather in the Irish Derby.

Despite his disappointing campaign so far this year, Montjeu’s fourth Derby winner, Camelot, is certain to be given a superb opportunity at stud and is likely to have the best chance of extending his sire’s male line. Until that day comes, though, Motivator and Authorized still have the chance to come up with the “big horse” that defines a young sire’s career.