02/25/2010 1:00AM

Miswaki's daughters carry on legacy


LEXINGTON, Ky. - It has been almost 30 years since Miswaki stepped off the van to launch his stud career at Walmac in Lexington. But his presence is still keenly felt there - and on European and American racetracks - thanks to Walmac's gamble on a stallion with a funny name who once was more familiar to Europeans than to Kentuckians.

Miswaki, who died in 2004 at age 26, was one of three internationally successful foundation stallions that helped make Walmac a marquee name on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s and 1990s; the others were Nureyev and Alleged. His name gained new currency last year, when he led the ranks of U.S.-based broodmare sires. In that regard, Miswaki is carrying on the tradition of his sire, Mr. Prospector, a nine-time leader in the broodmare sire category.

The 2009 racing season saw the rise of a horse that will keep Miswaki's bloodlines fresh in breeders' memories for a long while: Sea the Stars. A European champion out of Urban Sea, Sea the Stars was one of 10 stakes winners Miswaki's daughters had last year. He won six Group 1 races, including the Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, before retiring to the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud.

Walmac principal John T. L. Jones Jr. first laid eyes on Miswaki in 1981 when the then

3-year-old colt arrived in Saratoga's paddock for an allowance race. He already was an accomplished racehorse. His owner, Mrs. Armand Plesch, campaigned him first in France, where at 2 he won the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre and the Prix Yacowlef and finished second in the Group 1 Prix Morny. Shipped to England in the fall of 1980, he ran third in another Group 1, the Dewhurst, behind Storm Bird and To-Agouri-Mou. Once in the States, he won the 1981 Charles Hatton and finished second in the Grade 2 Fall Highweight, both at Belmont.

"Mr. [Will] Farish was my partner at the time, and I told him, 'This is a good-looking horse who's bred properly, and we ought to try to get him,'" Jones said. "So we got him. He was by Mr. Prospector out of Hopespringseternal, which is an all-American family. My opinion was that, at that time, a lot of our better-bred horses were going to Europe. Like with Nureyev - just about every decent-looking Nureyev went to Europe. And the same thing with Alleged. Very few stayed in America to race.

"Miswaki was very quick and had won good races, and I just thought he had the conformation to make a good stallion," he said. "He obviously had the pedigree and the racing ability."

Plesch retained an interest when Jones syndicated Miswaki, who went on to become a successful sire with United States and overseas runners. In 1991, he was North America's

second-leading sire, and he topped the French chart in 1993. But it is through his daughters that he has excelled. It stood to reason. His dam, Hopespringseternal, is by four-time leading broodmare sire Buckpasser, and his second dam, Rose Bower, was by eight-time leading broodmare sire Princequillo.

Miswaki's stud career, along with those of Nureyev and Alleged, put Walmac on the map.

"They got me out of my cotton-chopping clothes," Jones said. "I wish I could go back and do it all again."

But Miswaki faced some challenges as a sire, according to Jones's son John T. L. Jones III. Jones III now heads Walmac with partner Bobby Trussell.

"He just didn't have a lot of identity over here, and he had a funny name for the time," Jones III said. "It was a time before people recognized how good he was. He wasn't a very big horse. He was a very compact, precocious horse, but, boy, crossed with a stamina mare, it was unbelievable how well that worked. It wasn't just Urban Sea, but he also got Black Tie Affair, a Japan Cup winner [Marvelous Crown]. So even though he was a fast horse, I think he had a lot of classic influences in his pedigree."

Said Jones Jr.: "He was a precocious-type horse himself and had enough stamina in his pedigree to stay a little while. His foals were all very typey and leaned toward speed."

Neither father nor son is surprised we're still talking about Miswaki now as a leading broodmare sire. In addition to Sea the Stars, Miswaki daughters also have produced graded or group winners Mary's Follies and French Beret, as well as Monmouth course record setter Boots Ahead this year.

"He had such a deep pedigree," Jones Jr. said. "A very, very deep pedigree. All horses with deep pedigrees aren't good racehorses or sires, and all of them aren't good broodmare sires. But it's very simple. It makes your odds better to be successful."