11/12/2009 12:00AM

Old guard's influence still felt

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Justin N. Lane
A daughter of Storm Cat and granddaughter of Kris S., Life Is Sweet won the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.P

LEXINGTON, Ky. - For breeders and pedigree enthusiasts, the 2009 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita offered both a nostalgic glimpse back and some tantalizing clues to future stars of the North American stallion ranks.

Most strikingly, the Breeders' Cup results made it clear that although Storm Cat, Rahy, and Kris S. might be gone from active duty, their influence lives on in America's top-class racing. Storm Cat, pensioned in 2008 at age 25, sired Ladies' Classic winner Life Is Sweet; was the grandsire of Sprint victor Dancing in Silks, Marathon winner Man of Iron, and four other top-three finishers; and was the broodmare sire of Juvenile Turf winner Pounced.

Man of Iron also added luster to his dam's record. He's out of 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, a force for stamina in the breed. Her previous foals include the famous back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.

Rahy sired Pounced (Juvenile Turf) and was broodmare sire of Dirt Mile hero Furthest Land, Mile runner-up Courageous Cat, and Turf Sprint runner-up Gotta Have Her. Three Chimneys Farm pensioned the 24-year-old Blushing Groom horse in July.

Kris S., who died in 2002, is the broodmare sire of both Classic winner Zenyatta and Ladies' Classic victress Life Is Sweet.

Two other grand old sires who retired in 2008 also had a good weekend as broodmare sires: Seeking the Gold and Sadler's Wells. Seeking the Gold, by Mr. Prospector, is maternal grandsire of Juvenile Fillies winner She Be Wild and Ladies' Classic second Mushka. Sadler's Wells, one of Northern Dancer's best sons at stud, sired the dams of Turf winner Conduit and Ladies' Classic third Music Note.

And one other old-guard sire deserves special mention. Avenue of Flags entered stud in 1991 and stands this year at New Mexico's Hourigan Horse Farm for a private fee. On Saturday, his son California Flag captured the Turf Sprint not long after Midshipman, who is out of an Avenue of Flags mare, finished third in the Dirt Mile.

And Smart Strike sired both Furthest Land, winner of the Dirt Mile, and Juvenile runner-up Lookin at Lucky, who lost by a head.

Foreign-based sires did particularly well this year in the Breeders' Cup, siring 10 top-three finishers, including five winners. The most surprising was Vale of York, the Irish-bred 30-1 shot that shocked favorite Lookin at Lucky in the Juvenile. Vale of York added weight to speculation that turf sires will get good synthetic-track runners. He's by Invincible Spirit, a Green Desert horse that stands at the Irish National Stud, and he has some previous form as a sire on California's synthetic surfaces. His daughter Bahama Mama won last year's Lawndale Stakes at Hollywood.

Invincible Spirit, incidentally, was one of two sires by Green Desert to have a Breeders' Cup winner this year. The other was Oasis Dream, whose daughter Midday won the Filly and Mare Turf.

The other foreign-based sires with Breeders' Cup winners this year were Anabaa, the Haras du Quesnay (France) stallion that sired the Mile's repeat winner, Goldikova; Black Minnaloushe, a former Coolmore sire now standing at Maine Chance Farm in South Africa, who sired Sprint winner Dancing in Silks; and Gilltown Stud (Ireland) stallion Dalakhani, sire of Turf winner Conduit.

Among new sires, Darley's Offlee Wild vaulted to the top of the freshman sire rankings on the strength of She Be Wild's score in the Juvenile Fillies. And last year's leading freshman sire, Tapit, added to his reputation as a sire of high-quality juveniles when Tapitsfly won the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

A couple of other relatively new sires also bear mentioning for progeny who placed in the Breeders' Cup events: Pollard's Vision, who stood at Wintergreen Stallion Station in Kentucky for $5,000 this year, hit the board with Blind Luck in the Juvenile Fillies. That put him in third on the freshman list. Limehouse ranks eighth after House of Grace's third in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Second-crop sire Speightstown had two runners-up in the 2-year-old grass races - Rose Catherine in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Bridgetown in the Juvenile Turf. That was enough to put him in third, one spot ahead of Tapit on the second-crop ranking.

Darley Stud, its rivals Coolmore, and Lane's End and Juddmonte Farms each had a stallion who sired four top-three finishers in the Breeders' Cup. But Darley sires were the only ones to have two winners, with Street Cry's daughter Zenyatta in the Classic and Offlee Wild's filly She Be Wild in the Juvenile Fillies.