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Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause bred for success on Polytrack
By Joe Nevills
When Winning Cause crossed the finish on Saturday in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, he extended his career record over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack to a perfect three-for-three.
Studying the Giant’s Causeway colt’s pedigree, it becomes clear that Winning Cause was groomed for success on the all-weather surface.
“I think a lot of it’s his pedigree,” said trainer Todd Pletcher following the race. “I think Giant’s Causeway’s a very good stallion, period, but he seems to also get good horses on the synthetic. He’s out of a Kingmambo mare with a little bit of turf influence, so that tends to work very well.”
Giant’s Causeway has proven to be a prolific sire of synthetic runners, ranking in the top five among North American sires by lifetime progeny earnings on all-weather surfaces. The son of Storm Cat also ranks among the top 20 sires by lifetime win percentage among North American sires with 500 or more progeny starts.
Winning Cause became the 136th stakes winner for Giant's Causeway, who is based at presenting race sponsor Coolmore's Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. He also earned 20 poins in Churchill Downs' Road to the Kentucky Derby gualifying series, placing him near the cutoff point of contenders with two weeks remaining before the May 4 classic.
“He’s typical of Giant’s Causeways,” Pletcher said. “He’s a pretty sturdy colt. He’s high-energy and comes out of races pretty well. The bottom line was we knew he liked Keeneland, he was two-for-two here, and we figured there’s limited opportunities, so let’s give it a try.”
Winning Cause is the first foal to race out of the winning Kingmambo mare Raffishing Look, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Society Hostess. He was bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock.
Broodmare sire Kingmambo, a pensioner at Lane’s End Farm, is another highly successful all-weather stallion, ranking second by lifetime progeny earnings per synthetic start for those with 100 starts or more.
Winning Cause sold for $115,000 to Nick de Meric, agent, at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. The colt was pinhooked to the Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale the following year, but the high bid of $170,000 failed to meet his reserve. Pletcher noted that the colt’s breeze over the Polytrack during the pre-sale under-tack show provided a glimpse of how Winning Cause might fare over the surface when he began his racing career.
Agent Steve Young eventually purchased Winning Cause for $200,000 out of de Meric's consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training. He is owned by New Mexico-based Alto Racing.
The Lexington Stakes was Winning Cause’s second victory of the meet at Keeneland. The colt previously scored with a late move in the stretch to win a seven-furlong allowance race by three-quarters of a length on April 6. He broke his maiden at Keeneland last October, winning a seven-furlong race by 1 3/4 lengths in his third career start.
With the victory in the Lexington, Winning Cause improved his record to three wins from seven starts for earnings of $206,140.
“I think he’s just a better horse now than he was,” Pletcher said. “He’s physically doing well, he’s mentally matured a little bit, but it’s kind of hard to say because all three of his wins have been at Keeneland on the synthetic. We don’t know if he’s a synthetic horse or if he’s just getting better.”