Updated on 09/15/2011 12:44PM

Slew of reasons to like this female line


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Serra Lake, winner of the Go for Wand Stakes at Saratoga, is the latest Grade 1 winner for her sire, Seattle Slew, and for her distinguished female family, developed by King Ranch and descending from Monade, winner of the 1962 English Oaks.

Two dozen years ago, Seattle Slew had won the second Triple Crown since Citation, who had succeeded 29 years before. Seattle Slew was popular with the racing public, being nearly black, like his brawny sire Bold Reasoning, and people were attracted to him because of his zest and speed as a front-runner. There was always a clique of wiseguys who thought, "This time the plodders will catch Slew," but repeatedly they were wrong.

When the time came for him to retire to stud, his pedigree had some appeal, and his racing performances had certainly added plenty of luster to it. In later years, as his dam, My Charmer, also produced an English classic winner and two other stakes winners, this was clearly a pedigree to reckon with.

But when Seattle Slew went to stud in 1979, he had the most important credential for a stallion prospect, like the 1973 Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, (and five other Kentucky Derby winners of the 1970's). All were descendants of the great sire Bold Ruler.

At the time, Bold Ruler meant everything to the credibility of a stallion prospect, much as Mr. Prospector does today. If a horse wanted to be a commercial stallion, he needed Bold Ruler. But today, the only branch of Bold Ruler's male line descent that still dominates at the top level of racing comes through Seattle Slew.

As a racehorse, Seattle Slew was a crushing presence, and since he has been at stud, he has done practically everything any breeder could have hoped. He sires champions, classic winners, top fillies, and even some high-class performers on turf.

Furthermore, his sons have done very well as sires, including Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and champion Capote, and his daughters have become outstanding producers of stakes winners, with Horse of the Year Cigar being out of the Seattle Slew mare Solar Slew.

And just as Seattle Slew was the name on everyone's lips in 1977 with his racing performances, so he has been nearly as impressive this year with his runners. Among his Grade 1 winners are Kentucky Oaks winner Flute, Mother Goose winner Fleet Renee, and now Go for Wand winner Serra Lake.

One of Seattle Slew's strengths as a sire is that he succeeds with mares by a wide variety of broodmare sires. A.P. Indy is out of Secretariat mare, Capote out of a Bald Eagle mare, Lakeway out of a mare by Alydar, and Serra Lake is out of mare by the Northern Dancer stallion Lyphard.

Serra Lake is, moreover, the first foal and first Grade 1 winner from her dam, Tara Roma, who is a daughter of the Mr. Prospector mare Chic Shirine, a winner of the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes. Tara Roma won a Grade 2 stakes, almost a disappointment in this family. For not only was Chic Shirine a winner at the top level herself, but she is a full sister to champion Queena, and both are out of the Blushing Groom mare Too Chic. Too Chic also succeeded at the Grade 1 level, with a victory in the Maskette and a second in the Alabama.

These excellent producers and racers descend from English Oaks winner Monade in the female line, through her very useful daughter Remedia. In addition to winning the filly classic at Epsom, Monade also won the Prix Vermeille and ran second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. A first-class filly, Monade was a handsome dark brown daughter of Klairon. Monade had a lot of quality about her, and she was very game, truly refusing to lose in the Oaks after being pressed hard in the uphill finish to the wire.

Purchased and imported to the U.S., Monade made a justly significant mark as a broodmare, founding an important family for one of America's great homebreeding operations, King Ranch. In a way of practical of horsemanship that is too often ignored today, Monade's best daughters were mated carefully, and the thought given to producing a very high-quality type of racehorse has paid off, not once or twice but consistently over the past 30 years.