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John P. Sparkman: Spreading the classics around
The male line of the immortal Northern Dancer has dominated international breeding for more than three decades, but the distribution of winners by sire line of the first six Northern Hemisphere classics of 2013 has been more even than in recent years.
The principal rival abroad, however, has not been Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer’s principal challenger for global dominance in recent years, but the resurgent male line of Hail to Reason, and in America, the rapidly rising, almost wholly American line of A.P. Indy accounted for both May classics.
The Northern Dancer male line, through his best sire son, Sadler’s Wells, accounted for the winners of the English 2000 Guineas (won by Dawn Approach) and Japanese 2000 Guineas equivalent (won by Logotype), while the Hail to Reason male line produced English 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern and Japanese 1000 Guineas equivalent winner Ayusan through the Roberto and Halo branches, respectively.
At Churchill Downs, A.P. Indy reigned supreme through the victories of Orb in the Kentucky Derby and Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks.
From the sterling first crop of European champion 2- and 3-year-old male and 2008 Group 1 Epsom Derby winner New Approach, Dawn Approach is a great-grandson of Sadler’s Wells through his 2001 Epsom Derby winner and European champion 3-year-old male, Galileo. Galileo earned his first of four English sire championships in the past five years in 2008, primarily through the exploits of New Approach, who also won the Group 1 Champion Stakes and Irish Millions Champion Stakes that year.
New Approach created a sensation last June when three of his offspring – Dawn Approach, Tha’ir, and Newfangled – won stakes at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting, an unprecedented feat for a first-crop sire. Dawn Approach’s subsequent victories in the Group 1 National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes assured New Approach of European freshman-sire leadership and Dawn Approach of European juvenile-championship honors.
Out of the Phone Trick mare Hymn of the Dawn, from the great family of foundation mare Islay Mist, Dawn Approach is undefeated in seven starts but is no certainty to stay the 1 1/2 miles of his next target, the Epsom Derby. Phone Trick was a brilliant sprinter and has been a strong influence for speed, but the next three sires along his bottom line are Pleasant Colony, Alydar, and Sea-Bird, all strong influences for stamina. It will be interesting to see which aspect of Dawn Approach’s pedigree takes over up that final Epsom hill.
There is little doubt, however, that Logotype, Japan’s champion 2-year-old colt of 2012, will stay the 1 1/2 miles of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), despite his sire being principally regarded as a miler. In a long and eclectic racing career, Lohengrin won 10 of 48 starts, including the Group 2 Nakayama Kinen in 2003 and 2007 at about nine furlongs, but he also won the Wakakusa Stakes at about 1 3/8 miles.
Both his sire, Singspiel, by Sadler’s Wells’s son In the Wings, and dam, Carling, by Garde Royale (by Mill Reef), were top-class racehorses at 1 1/2 miles. Singspiel captured both the Group 1 Japan Cup and Coronation Cup at that distance, while Carling’s most important victory came in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at the metric equivalent of 1 1/2 miles.
Logotype’s dam, Stereotype, is a daughter of the great Sunday Silence, who finished second to Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes, his only attempt at 1 1/2 miles, but sired plenty of top-class winners at that distance during his 13 consecutive years as leading Japanese sire. Stereotype is out of the American-conceived Japanese stakes winner Star Ballerina, by Belmont winner Risen Star, from the family of Dewan Keys, Over Arranged, and Cowtown Cat. Logotype is inbred 4x3 to Sunday Silence’s sire, Halo, by Hail to Reason, through Singspiel’s champion dam, Glorious Song, by Halo.
Halo also is the male-line ancestor of Japanese 1000 Guineas winner Ayusan, by Sunday Silence’s best son, Deep Impact. In fact, Ayusan is the third consecutive Japanese 1000 Guineas winner for Deep Impact, also the sire of last year’s Japanese Derby winner, Deep Brillante, on his way to his first Japanese sire championship in 2012.
A winner of 12 of his 14 starts, Deep Impact has quickly established himself as Sunday Silence’s best son at stud and counts 2012 French 1000 Guineas winner Beauty Parlour among his 34 stakes winners from 419 foals in his first three crops (8.1 percent).
Ayusan descends from a far more distinguished American female family. Her dam, Buy the Cat, by Storm Cat, was a maiden winner who produced multiple stakes winner Saki to Me, by Fusaichi Pegasus, before her export to Japan, but she is a full sister to Grade 3 winner Storm Broker and a half-sister to stakes winner Royal Arrow, by Dayjur. Their dam, Buy the Firm, by Affirmed, counted the Grade 1 Top Flight Handicap among her 12 wins and descends from the great family of Escutcheon.
Hail to Reason’s best racing son was Roberto, the winner of the 1972 Epsom Derby and a great sire here and abroad. Roberto’s son Red Ransom showed brilliant speed as a 2-year-old but broke down before running in a stakes race. Red Ransom made his own way as a stallion, siring top-class runners in America, Europe, and Australia, with 113 stakes winners from 2,017 foals ages 3 and up (5.6 percent), including American champion Perfect Sting, Australian Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy, and Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look.
Red Ransom’s son Red Clubs (out of Two Clubs, by First Trump) counted the 2007 Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup among his six victories in 25 starts, and Sky Lantern is one of five stakes winners from 231 foals in his only two crops. Red Clubs died in 2010 before covering any mares that season.
Sky Lantern is the fourth stakes winner out of her dam, Shawanni, a winning Shareef Dancer mare from a family that has been on the rise in Europe in recent decades. Shawanni’s dam, Negligent, by Ahonoora, was the champion 2-year-old filly in England in 1989 and produced group winners Songlark, by Singspiel, and Blatant, by Machiavellian, and traces to Dalmary, the dam of Rough Shod II.
A.P. Indy’s influence as a sire of sires has so far been largely confined to the Americas, although Bernardini shows some promise to export his sterling qualities to countries where grass is the dominant racing surface. Orb’s victory in the Kentucky Derby completed the classic trifecta for the A.P. Indy male line, following the victories of his son Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness and his daughter Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont.
Although American filly classics are a bit more loosely defined, the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks must surely qualify, making Princess of Sylmar’s victory in the Kentucky Oaks the eighth American filly classic win for the A.P. Indy male line, following the victories of Secret Status (2000) and Rags to Riches (2007) at Churchill Downs and Jilbab (2002), Music Note (2008), Funny Moon (2009), Devil May Care (2010), and It’s Tricky (2011) in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Orb is the first male American classic winner for Malibu Moon, and Malibu Moon is the sire of Funny Moon and Devil May Care. Malibu Moon has sired 68 stakes winners from 914 foals ages 3 and up (7.4 percent). Although Malibu Moon broke down after breaking his maiden in his second start at 2, he has steadily established himself as A.P. Indy’s best son at stud.
Out of the winning Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, Orb is a seventh-generation descendant of 1930 Gazelle Stakes winner Erin, by Transmute, a Harry Payne Whitney-bred mare purchased by Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, the grandmother of Orb’s owners and breeders, Dinny Phipps and Stuart Janney III, in 1928. Erin’s granddaughter Shenanigans, the fifth dam of Orb, was the dam of the great Ruffian.
Princess of Sylmar is the best of four stakes winners to date from the first crop of A.P. Indy’s son Majestic Warrior. Like Malibu Moon, Majestic Warrior showed unusual precocity for a son of A.P. Indy, winning the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes in his second start at 2. Injured in the Champagne Stakes, Majestic Warrior could not regain his winning form in four starts at 3.
The Coolmore partnership bought a half-interest in Majestic Warrior after his Hopeful victory, and he stands at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. One of the best-looking stallions in Kentucky, he has been widely expected to succeed at stud despite his failures at 3.
Princess of Sylmar’s dam, Storm Dixie, by Catienus, placed in a stakes and is a half-sister to United Arab Emirates Group 3 winner Rhythm Band, by Cozzene, and the graded stakes-placed Musical, by El Gran Senor. Her second dam, Golden Wave Band, by Dixieland Band, was a minor stakes winner, but there is little else of quality in her female family in recent decades.
Despite the lack of his usual dominance in the early classics, shed no tears for Northern Dancer. Each of the six Northern Hemisphere classic winners so far in 2013 carries at least one cross of Northern Dancer in their pedigrees, and three of the six carry multiple crosses.
Other male lines may finally be on the rise, but Northern Dancer will continue to dominate international pedigrees for most of our lifetimes.