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Sparkman: Bracelet sports a charmed pedigree
There are several candidates for best broodmare of the contemporary Thoroughbred era – Juddmonte’s Toussaud and Hasili, Germany’s Sacarina, the Tsui family’s Urban Sea. There is really no realistic challenger for the title of most influential contemporary broodmare to Urban Sea’s dam, Allegretta, whose rapidly expanding family added a fifth classic winner and 10th Group/Grade 1 winner last Saturday, when her great-granddaughter Bracelet, by Montjeu, won the 2014 Irish Oaks.
Allegretta herself produced 2000 Guineas winner and good sire King’s Best, by Kingmambo, in addition to Urban Sea, and Urban Sea, of course, is the dam of multiple classic winner and world’s best sire Galileo, by Sadler’s Wells, and his Epsom Derby winning half-brother, Sea The Stars, by Cape Cross, who may well be Galileo’s next challenger for that title if his stellar first crop is any indication. Those three alone would be enough gems for the crown of any broodmare, but there is far more to the Allegretta story.
Allegretta was bred in England by Germany’s greatest stud farm, Gestut Schlenderhan, and her pedigree was mostly German. Her sire, Lombard, a paternal grandson of the great French champion Tantieme out of a half-sister to the dam of Vaguely Noble, was Germany’s champion 2-year-old in 1969 and Horse of the Year in 1971 and 1972, winning 20 of his 28 starts, including two German classics. Lombard was only a moderately successful sire, but his best offspring was Allegretta’s year-younger full brother, Anno, Germany’s champion 3-year-old of 1982.
There are numerous other high-class German runners in the family descending from Allegretta’s fourth dam, Asterblute, the best horse sired by Pharis during his sojourn in Germany during World War II. The family was imported to Germany from England in the early 20th century when Allegretta’s 11th dam, St. Alvere, by Hermit, made the trip across the North Sea.
Allegretta herself was clearly a talented runner, but she decided about halfway through her nine-race career that she had no further interest in trying to win races. A winner of two of her three starts at 2 and second in the other, she ran second to Paul Mellon’s good filly Leap Lively in the Group 3 Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield early in her 3-year-old career. Allegretta wore blinkers in the Oaks Trial, however, a sure sign at the time in England that her trainer believed she was not trying very hard, and Allegretta never again showed much interest in racing.
Robert Entenmann’s Big E Farm purchased Allegretta after her 3-year-old year, and she raced three times in the United States at 4, finishing third once over the wholly inadequate distance of six furlongs, and that was it for what was once a very promising racing career.
Whatever hopes Entenmann might have had for Allegretta as a broodmare must have soured pretty quickly when she failed to get in foal in her first two breeding seasons, so when she finally did get in foal to Irish Castle in 1984, he consigned her to the Keeneland November sale. Horse France secured one of the biggest broodmare bargains of the century, paying only $55,000 on behalf of Paul de Moussac’s Marystead Farm.
De Moussac elected to keep Allegretta in the United States but sold and/or raced her 12 foals in Europe. De Moussac sold the fifth foal, Urban Sea, by Miswaki, for 280,000 francs (about $50,000) to trainer Jean Desbordes, along with a number of other yearlings, for a Japanese client at the 1990 Deauville yearling sale. When that client later ran into financial trouble, Desbordes’s attorney, Patrick de Watrigant, arranged for another of his clients, Chinese diplomat Ling Tsui and her businessman husband, David, to buy the package of 45 horses, which also included group stakes winners Take Risks and Adieu Au Roi.
Urban Sea more than repaid her purchase price with a victory in the $732,847 Prix Piaget d’Or, a short-lived race restricted to Deauville sales graduates at 3, but she improved dramatically at 4, winning the Group 3 Prix Exbury and Prix Gontaut-Biron and closing the season with a 37-1 upset in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Allegretta’s seventh foal, Allez Les Trois, by Riverman, sold to the Chambure family’s Haras d’Etreham, and she won the Group 3 Prix de Flore. Allez Les Trois produced 2001 French Derby winner Anabaa Blue, by Anabaa, and is the second dam of Group 1 winner and good sire Tamayuz, by Nayef.
The accomplishments of those two racemares made Allegretta’s 11th foal, a handsome colt by Kingmambo, a very popular item at the 1998 Deauville sale, where agent Charlie Gordon-Watson paid about $380,000 for the colt on behalf of Saeed Suhail. Named King’s Best, he won the Acomb Stakes at 2 and beat Giant’s Causeway by 3 1/2 lengths in the 2000 Guineas but broke down in his next start, the Irish Derby. King’s Best has a mixed record at stud but led the French sire list in 2010 when his best son, Epsom Derby winner Workforce, also won the Arc.
Allegretta’s daughter Anzille, by the very bad sire Plugged Nickle, produced German Group 1 winner and sire Anzillero, by Law Society. Allegretta’s stakes-placed daughter Turbaine, by Trempolino, is the dam of three stakes winners, including Group 3 winner Tertullian, by Miswaki, a good sire in Germany. Allegretta’s last foal, Altruiste, by Diesis, is the dam of two stakes winners, including current Group 2 winner Terrubi, by Dalakhani.
Urban Sea’s broodmare production at least matches any other broodmare in the world early in the 21st century. Eight of her 11 foals are stakes winners, two (Galileo and Sea The Stars) are classic winners, two (Black Sam Bellamy and My Typhoon) are Grade 1/Group 1 winners, two (All Too Beautiful and Urban Ocean) are Group 3 winners, two (Melikah and Born To Sea) are listed stakes winners, and one (Cherry Hinton) is group-placed. In addition to her two Epsom Derby winners, her daughters Melikah and All Too Beautiful placed in the Epsom Oaks.
All Too Beautiful, by Sadler’s Wells, is the dam of the stakes-winning Kingmambo filly Wonder of Wonders, who also ran second in the Oaks. Melikah, by Lammtarra, is the dam of Group 2 winner Masterstroke, by Monsun, and the second dam of Group 2 UAE Derby winner Khawlah, by Cape Cross, and Group 2 winner Vancouverite, by Dansili.
Cherry Hinton, by Green Desert, was a modestly talented filly who never won in five starts at 3 but finished second in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes in her second start and third in the Kilboy Estate Stakes in her final effort. Her first foal, Wading, by Montjeu, showed tremendous promise at 2 in 2011, winning two of her three starts, including the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, but never raced again. Wading’s full brother, Lake Michigan, is unraced.
Bracelet is Cherry Hinton’s third foal, and the Irish Oaks was her fourth victory in six starts, following wins in the Group 3 Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial and the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes. Cherry Hinton’s 2-year-old filly Simply a Star, by Giant’s Causeway, has not yet won but ran second in the Tipperary Stakes, and she has a yearling colt by Fastnet Rock.
Bracelet is the second consecutive Irish Oaks winner for her sire, Montjeu, who until Chicquita won at The Curragh last year had never sired a filly classic winner in his extraordinary stud career. Montjeu, the best racehorse sired by the great Sadler’s Wells, led the French sire list in 2005 but is most famous for matching Blandford’s record by siring four winners of the Epsom Derby (Motivator, Authorized, Camelot, and Pour Moi). A winner of the French and Irish derbies himself, Montjeu also sired four Irish Derby winners (Hurricane Run, Fame And Glory, Camelot, and Frozen Fire), three St. Leger winners (Scorpion, Masked Marvel, and Leading Light), and two Australian Derby winners (Nom Du Jeu and Roman Emperor).
In 10 crops ages 3 and up, Montjeu has sired 1,405 foals, 133 stakes winners, and 32 Group 1 or Grade 1 winners. The week before Bracelet’s Irish Oaks victory, Montjeu’s son Gallante won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.
With 64 2-year-olds and 28 yearlings still to race, there is at least an outside chance that Montjeu, who died in 2012, will break Blandford’s record with a fifth Epsom Derby winner, but the odds are clearly against it. Urban Sea’s son Galileo, Montjeu’s erstwhile barnmate at Coolmore, sired his third Derby winner, Australia, this year, and he will have many more chances to match the Epsom record of Montjeu and Blandford and perhaps even break it.
Sea The Stars, Urban Sea’s second Derby winner, has already sired Epsom Oaks winner Taghrooda, German Derby winner Sea The Moon, and five other stakes winners in his first crop of 118 foals, and there is every chance that there is an Epsom Derby winner or two in his future as well.
Not bad for the descendants of a talented but wayward racemare whose descendants seem to lead charmed lives.