Updated on 09/15/2011 12:25PM

Sadler's Wells: Everything going but sprinters


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Last weekend's classics in England proved a celebration of a great sire, Sadler's Wells. In the Oaks on Friday, June 8, the first three home were by Coolmore's grand stallion, and in the English Derby on Saturday, Galileo became his sire's first winner in the premier English classic.

Although Sadler's Wells has sired four winners of the Oaks at Epsom, he never before had succeeded with a winner in the Derby. Making this even more frustrating, five of his sons had finished second in the race.

Galileo changed that emphatically, running the second-fastest Derby in history and earning acclaim as one of the best Derby winners in many years.

From his sire's 13th crop of foals aged 3 or older, Galileo is one of a horde of top-class racers by Sadlers's Wells. A 20-year-old son of Northern Dancer, Sadler's Wells has sired 14 colts or fillies who have won a classic (20 total classics) and has sired 47 Group and Grade 1 winners worldwide. No stallion has sired more.

Sadler's Wells is virtually guaranteed to lead the sires' list in Britain and Ireland again, as he has done annually for 10 of the past dozen years. Although I rarely use superlatives, Sadler's Wells is simply the best stallion in Europe.

The racing program there is ideal for him. He excels at siring top-class performers at 10 to 12 furlongs, and those distances are the primary focus of the European racing pattern.

Even better for the sire, the European scheme of racing offers top racing opportunities at distances from five furlongs to more than two miles.

Thoroughbreds are a naturally variable breed, and Sadler's Wells has taken advantage of the variability the pattern system addresses. Not only has he sired one of the best staying horses in recent years with Kayf Tara (twice a winner of the Ascot Gold Cup at 2 1/2 miles), but he also has sired a dozen juveniles who have won Group 1 races.

Those 2-year-olds, although early maturing, were not sprinters, however. The only portion of the pattern race calendar that is safe for others' exploitation is sprint racing. Sadler's Wells has yet to sire a Group 1 winner at six furlongs or less.

Nor is either Galileo or Oaks winner Imagine likely to correct that omission. Each showed great liking for the 12 furlongs of the Epsom classics, although they have the speed for mile racing.

Imagine also won the Irish 1000 Guineas at a mile last month, and Galileo may race in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes before racing in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

On pedigree, this pair is also outstanding. Imagine is a half-sister to English Derby winner Generous, and she has given her dam, the Master Derby mare Doff the Derby, the distinction of producing two classic winners. This was the mare's last chance, as Imagine is the last living foal out of Doff the Derby, who died in 1999.

As expected from mates to such a distinguished sire, the dam of Galileo also is a star in her own right. She is Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea.

A top-class race filly and daughter of Miswaki, Urban Sea has been, if anything, even more impressive as a broodmare. Each of her first three foals is a stakes winner, and her second foal, the 4-year-old Lammtarra filly Melikah, ran second in the Irish Oaks and third in the English Oaks last year.

Urban Sea's 2-year-old and yearling are colts by Sadler's Wells, and she produced a bay filly by him this spring. The mare has been bred back to Giant's Causeway.

In addition to Galileo's victory, Urban Sea's family is having immense success in classic company. Last year, her half-brother, King's Best, won the English 2000 Guineas, and this year, their half-sister, the stakes winner Allez Les Trois, was dam of the French Derby winner, Anabaa Blue.

If any group is having more success than this family or Sadler's Wells, it must be Coolmore. Not only does Coolmore own and race both classic winners in partnerships, but they also own and stand Sadler's Wells, stand Spectrum (sire of English Derby second Golan), stand Thunder Gulch (sire of Belmont winner Point Given), own and stand Danehill (sire of French Oaks winner Aquarelliste), and own the breeding rights to Belmont second A P Valentine and Epsom second Golan.

The weekend's haul for Coolmore-connected horses was four classic victories and four classic placings. Absolutely amazing.