04/10/2008 11:00PM

Moscow Ballet leaves behind decades of success


Moscow Ballet, who was euthanized at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., on April 4 at the age of 26, had a significant impact on California racing throughout his more than two decades at stud.

The stallion was euthanized because of degeneration in his hind end, Harris said.

"He couldn't get up and couldn't get down," Harris said. "He had a good life. He looked really good until the last three or four weeks."

Moscow Ballet stood his first season in 1986, as a 4-year-old, and his first crop included Dominant Dancer, the winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in 1989. In 2006, two of his females - Dancing Edie and Moscow Burning - finished first and second in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar. Moscow Burning had been named California-bred horse of the year two years earlier.

Through his stallion career, Moscow Ballet had one home - at Harris Farms.

"It's unusual to stand a stallion as long as we did, for more than 20 years," owner John Harris said.

It was Harris who walked out of the winner's circle after the 2006 John Mabee and said, "He's still got it," about Moscow Ballet.

Moscow Ballet was a stakes winner in Ireland as a 2-year-old in 1984, winning the Group 3 Railway Stakes. He made one start at 3, but was unplaced.

At stud, he sired more than 750 foals with progeny earnings of more than $20 million. Moscow Ballet was by Nijinsky out of the Cornish Prince mare Millicent, who did not start. Millicent was a half-sister to Mill Reef, the star European 3-year-old of 1971.

Moscow Ballet ranked 13th on the 1989 juvenile sire list, helped by Dominant Dancer's major win. She was the first of three Grade 1 winners for the stallion. The others were Dancing Edie and Golden Ballet, who rose from the lowly two-furlong maiden special weight races at Santa Anita in 2000 to win the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in 2001.

Moscow Ballet had six California-bred champions: Dominant Dancer, Golden Ballet, Moscow Burning, Moscow Changes, Soviet Problem, and Teresa Mc. It was Soviet Problem who came closest to giving Moscow Ballet a Breeders' Cup winner, finishing second by a head in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs after leading by a length in the stretch. She was named the California-bred horse of the year that season.

While Golden Ballet was the champion state bred 3-year-old filly of 2001, Moscow Ballet's other statebred champions came in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dominant Dancer was the top 2-year-old filly of 1989, Teresa Mc was the champion 3-year-old filly of 1991, and Moscow Changes was the leading 2-year-old male of 1992.

Moscow Ballet stood for as much as $15,000, Harris said. In 2007, his final full season at stud, he stood for $3,000.

"It's hard to stand one for a whole lot in California," Harris said. "He got fairly good mares."

This year, Moscow Ballet was bred to "a few mares, but we didn't get any mares in foal," Harris said.

The stallion is the broodmare sire of 11 stakes winners, including Leave Me Alone, the winner of the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga in 2005; Spot the Diplomat, the winner of two stakes for California-bred males at Del Mar in 2006; and Stage Luck, the winner of the 2008 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct.

Stage Luck is by Unbridled's Song out of Golden Ballet, and was purchased by Darley Stable for $1.6 million at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"I think he'll be a good broodmare sire," Harris said of Moscow Ballet. "We've got several Moscow Ballet mares."