06/20/2016 9:58AM

Sparkman: American-breds post strong results at Royal Ascot

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Lady Aurelia, trained by Wesley Ward, won the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot is widely considered the world’s highest-class Thoroughbred race meeting, and it lived up to its billing once again last week. With six races a day spread over five days of unmatched pageantry and pomp at the Queen of England’s racecourse, 23 of the 30 races earn their winners black type, 18 are group races, and eight are Group 1 races.

The prestige of the Royal meeting attracts horses from all over the world, with runners trained in the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Ireland this year, in addition to English-trained runners defending their home turf. Among the 474 runners (an average of 15.8 horses per race), nine were trained in the United States and 43 were American-bred.

Given that relatively sparse representation, the Americans enjoyed a great meeting, with American-trained and -bred Tepin winning the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and American-trained and -bred Lady Aurelia running away with the Group 2 Queen Mary. Victories by Caravaggio in the Group 2 Coventry, Hawkbill in the Group 3 Tercentenary, and Brave Anna in the Group 3 Albany increased the haul for American-breds to a healthy five winners, a fine showing considering the relatively sparse representation.

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: Real-time coverage of breeding and sales

The results of the meeting’s two biggest juvenile races illustrated once again why the late Scat Daddy, who died unexpectedly last December, will be sorely missed. The son of Johannesburg was the sire of the sensational Queen Mary winner Lady Aurelia and Coventry winner Caravaggio, who was almost as impressive in his own way.

Tepin’s sire, Bernstein, also is deceased, but Hawkbill’s victory in the Tercentenary confirmed that Kitten’s Joy ranks among the world’s best turf sires, and Brave Anna, who is a full sister to 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb, continued War Front’s sensational success abroad.

All five of those American-based stallions are tail-male descendants of Northern Dancer, whose tribe predictably dominated the Royal Ascot meeting. Northern Dancer is annually responsible for more than about 90 percent of all group stakes winners in Europe these days, and his descendants captured 26 of the 30 races (86.7 percent) at Royal Ascot last week.

Mr. Prospector-line horses sired three winners of group races at the meeting, headed by the upset win of My Dream Boat, by Lord Shanakill (by Speightstown, by Gone West), in the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes, while the non-black type Ascot Stakes was captured by Jennies Jewel, an increasingly rare tail-male descendant of the great Ribot. Mr. Prospector also provided a victory for the meet’s official hostess, Queen Elizabeth II, whose Dartmouth, by Dubawi, outfought Highland Reel for a narrow victory in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes.

Among the 26 Northern Dancer line winners, 10 came through the Danzig branch, which is much more prominent in Europe than in the United States, eight through the great Irish-based sire Sadler’s Wells, and five through Storm Cat. Sadler’s Wells’s great son Galileo, his successor as Europe’s best sire, led all stallions with five winners, headed by the stirring victory of Order of St. George in the world’s most important race for stayers, the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup. Kodiac, sire of Group 2 Norfolk winner Prince of Lir and Windsor Castle winner Ardad, and Scat Daddy were the only other stallions to sire more than one winner.

Northern Dancer also dominated the broodmare sire lists, with 19 of the 30 individual winners out of mares by Northern Dancer-line stallions. Northern Dancer-line horses Choisir, Danehill, Galileo, Night Shift, and Sadler’s Wells each were broodmare sire of two individual winners, but no broodmare produced more than one winner this year.

The success of the American-trained runners should encourage more American trainers to focus on the Royal meeting. The nine American runners this year were trained by only four trainers, with the irrepressible pioneer Wesley Ward providing six runners, and Mark Casse, Graham Motion, and Enebish Ganbat one each.

With the equivalent of almost $5.5 million on offer at Royal Ascot, the purses of the top races alone, led by the $610,767 purse for the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes, are sufficient for American trainers to consider, but the prestige of the races on offer far outweighs the financial rewards.

The wealthy men and women who now compete for the top prizes in the Sport of Kings are in the game for far more than just the monetary returns. And there is no other meeting anywhere on earth that offers more psychic rewards and prestige than Royal Ascot.