07/17/2008 11:00PM

Man o' War victor a tribute to staying power

Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. - With a surprise victory over the reigning Horse of the Year, Curlin, in the Man o' War Stakes, Red Rocks made two points eminently clear.

First, the Irish-bred horse is a top-class performer, as he should be to defeat Curlin under any circumstances, win the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2006, and finish second in that race last year.

Second, Red Rocks is a son of the best stallion in Europe, the Sadler's Wells horse Galileo, who won the Derby at Epsom and has risen to the top of the European sire lists.

Red Rocks was from the first crop of his sire and was the first to win a Grade 1 race in the States.

Galileo and Montjeu - both standing at Coolmore Stud in Ireland - are the two best sons of Sadler's Wells as stallions. Both also won two derbies, like their younger Coolmore confederate High Chaparral.

There is an uncommon twist of fate in that both these young leading sires have risen to prominence quite late in the stud career of Sadler's Wells, who was pensioned from breeding earlier this year.

Typically, an important sire of stallions succeeds with one or more early sons, and then everyone gets on the bandwagon. And the fact is that many sons from the early crops of Sadler's Wells had sire success.

But none of the sons ever suggested with the volume of their best progeny that they were as good as their sire or that they might surpass him. In fact, most all the ones who did well expressed one aspect of the Sadler's Wells legacy: classic ability and distance capacity.

And in that respect, both 10-year-old Galileo and 12-year-old Montjeu have followed suit. They are sires whose stock are rarely unsuited to the classic distances.

They have sired quality in classic performers from their first crops, and they have sired the quantity of high-class horses that made Sadler's Wells the most successful European stallion since Hyperion and Nearco.

But the most exciting development in Galileo's stud career is that he is the sire of the champion juvenile colt in Europe the past two seasons. In 2006, his son Teofilo was the division leader but failed to train on because of an injury and was eventually retired to stud.

Last season's juvenile leader was the striking chestnut colt New Approach, who was so fast that trainer Jim Bolger suggested earlier this year that New Approach would be unsuited for the 12 furlongs of the Epsom Derby.

Fortunately, the trainer forgot to take New Approach out of the Derby listing, and after the colt found the mile of the 2000 Guineas a bit sharp for him, New Approach showed his true quality with a dashing victory in the Derby early in June.

With the success of New Approach, Galileo has joined Sadler's Wells as the sire of a Derby winner but at an earlier age.

The classic quality is there in the progeny of Galileo, but the extra speed is probably the result of a fortuitous addition of speed from the bottom side of his family.

Galileo is out of Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea, a daughter of Miswaki who has become a landmark broodmare in Europe. Urban Sea showed the highest class on the racetrack, winning the Arc de Triomphe over colts as a 4-year-old.

The chestnut mare showed speed and versatility during her racing career, qualities that have proven important to the success of her offspring. And from the beginning of her career at stud, Urban Sea has been a star, producing a half-dozen stakes winners to date.

The best of these include Melikah (by Lammtarra and winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes, second in the Irish Oaks); Grade 1 winner My Typhoon (Giant's Causeway); Galileo and his full siblings the Group 1 winner Black Sam Bellamy and Oaks second All Too Beautiful.

Now, Urban Sea's son Galileo is spreading his influence far and wide with high-quality racehorses.

Red Rocks was bred in Ireland by Ballylinch Stud, which sold him for approximately $160,000 at the Goffs October yearling auction in 2004. The colt raced successfully for E.H. Jones before his sale to Reddam before his victory in the Breeders' Cup, and Red Rocks is expected to continue further racing in America rather than return to Europe.

The dam of Red Rocks, the Machiavellian mare Pharmacist, has produced two other stakes winners, Blue Coral (Grand Lodge) and Medicinal (Linamix). The mare has a yearling filly by Rock of Gibraltar, was barren for 2008, and is back in foal to Galileo on a Feb. 15 cover.