08/16/2015 4:41PM

Sparkman: Cavorting to victory in the Test

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Debra A. Roma
Cavorting, by Bernardini, is a Grade 1 winner at seven furlongs, but has stamina influences in her pedigree.

When the late John M. Schiff’s Court Martial filly Goofed won the 1 1/2-mile Ladies Handicap as a 3-year-old in 1963, the race was easily the equivalent of a contemporary Grade 1, far superior to the pallid imitation the New York Racing Association and time have made of a once-great race. Although Court Martial was primarily a miler and a sire of sprinters and milers, Goofed came by her stamina honestly as her dam, Barra II, was from a stout French family replete with high-class cup horses, and Barra’s sire, Formor, also had excelled over long distances and thrived mostly as a sire of steeplechasers.

Goofed also excelled as a broodmare, producing brilliant miler and great sire Lyphard, by Northern Dancer, the world-class 1 1/2-mile filly Nobiliary, by Vaguely Noble, and multiple staying graded winner Barcas, by Sailor. Goofed’s family has gone in interesting directions in the 50 years since she retired, and it resurfaced again at Saratoga last weekend when fifth-
generation descendant Cavorting, by Bernardini, captured the Grade 1 Test.

Bred in Kentucky by the Sangster family’s Swettenham Stud, Cavorting is the third foal out of Promenade Girl, by Carson City, one of many high-class runners descending from Dumfries, by Reviewer, a daughter of Goofed purchased by Thomas Mellon Evans in the 1970s. Dumfries was not much of a runner, placing once in two career starts, and she produced nothing of note herself, but three of her daughters provided high-class runners.

The unplaced Dumfries Pleasure, by Pleasant Colony, produced multiple Grade 1 winner Urbane, by Citidancer, dam of stakes winners Suave and Worldly, both by A.P. Indy. Winner Diamond Spring, by Vaguely Noble, produced stakes winner Droiture, by Far North, and is tail-female ancestor of the Japanese Group 1 winners Tosen Ra and Spielberg, both by Deep Impact, the Travers winner and classic sire Flower Alley, by Distorted Humor, and the Grade 1 Citation Handicap winner Ashkal Way, by Ashkalani.

Dumfries’s most influential daughter, though, was Dance Review, by Northern Dancer, who won twice in 16 starts and produced the Grade 1 winners Another Review, by Buckaroo, and No Review, by Nodouble, for Evans, as well as the multiple Grade 2 winner Dance Colony, by Pleasant Colony. No Review produced a couple stakes winners, and Dance Colony is the grandam of the multiple graded winner Blueskiesnrainbows, by English Channel. Two stakes-placed daughters of Dance Review, Rap and Dance and Pleasant Review, both by Pleasant Tap, also have produced stakes winners. 

Promenade Girl’s dam, Promenade Colony, by Pleasant Colony, won her maiden at 3 and has been sold four times as a broodmare, initially eliciting a $460,000 bid while in foal to Woodman from Lawrence E. Murray, agent, at the 1998 Keeneland November breeding stock sale and most recently for only $55,000 in foal to Henrythenavigator to Brandywine Farm at Keeneland November in 2012.

Promenade Girl, by Carson City, was bred and raced by Howard and Sondra Bender and raced in Sondra Bender’s name. Trained by Lawrence Murray, she won her only start at 2 in December 2004 and ran third in the Marshua Stakes in her first start at 3. After being off the track for six months, she won the Twixt at Laurel Park in her third start back and added the Geisha Handicap before year’s end.

Promenade Girl won the Nellie Morse Stakes in her first start at 4, and by that August, she led all the way to win the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Breeders’ Cup Handicap. A few weeks later, she ran just as honorably when third behind Asi Siempre and Soul Search in the Grade 1 Spinster. Promenade Girl raced at 5, and though she did not win again, she finished third in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap.

The Benders sold Promenade Girl to Thoroughbred Advisory Group on behalf of the Sangster family’s Swettenham Stud for $1,125,000 at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. Her first foal, Seaside Escape, by Bernardini, sold for $90,000 to Stonebridge as a weanling at the 2012 Keeneland November sale and won once in seven starts. Her second foal, Mill Creek, by Medaglia d’Oro, sold for the equivalent of $118,000 to Ben McElroy at the 2012 Tattersalls October yearling sale and has not won in seven starts.

Cavorting, her third foal, obviously has been rather different from the start, eliciting a $360,000 bid from Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables as a weanling at the 2012 Keeneland November sale. Swettenham sold Promenade Girl at the same sale for only $335,000 in foal to War Front.

Upfront Girl, by War Front, Promenade Girl’s fourth foal, was sold for $290,000 to Three Chimneys Farm, agent, at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale just a few weeks after Cavorting won the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga last year. Promenade Girl’s 2014 colt by Stay Thirsty sold for $240,000 to J.J. Crupi, agent for Roma Farm, at last year’s Keeneland November sale, and she since has produced a 2015 colt by The Factor and is in foal to Uncle Mo. 

Cavorting’s sire, Bernardini, is the only American classic winner bred and raced to date by Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. By dual leading sire A.P. Indy, he was the fifth foal out of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet winner Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American, a high-class racemare Sheikh Mohammed purchased privately after her racing career.

Unraced at 2, Bernardini always was highly regarded by trainer Tom Albertrani and his connections. Beaten in his first start in January of his 3-year-old year, he did not lose again until his final start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic 10 months later. His maiden win in March was followed by a victory in the Grade 3 Withers.

The tragic injury to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro at the start of Bernardini’s Preakness Stakes overshadowed the easy brilliance of the A.P. Indy colt’s 5 1/4-length victory over Sweetnorthernsaint. In retrospect, the rest of the field in the second classic was pretty undistinguished, but after sidestepping the Belmont, Bernardini suggested he might have won the Preakness even had Barbaro not broken down.

A nine-length romp in the Jim Dandy was followed by an equally easy 7 1/2-length score in the Travers, essentially clinching the 3-year-old championship. Bernardini expanded his domination to the older generation in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, beating Wanderin Boy by 6 3/4 lengths.

That made Bernardini a heavy favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but jockey Javier Castellano was perhaps a bit overconfident and asked Bernardini for his run going into the far turn instead of waiting another furlong. Bernardini swept to the lead but had nothing left in the final furlong when Invasor challenged. He finished second, beaten a length.

Retired to Darley at Jonabell, Bernardini made a huge impression with his first crop of 2-year-olds when A Z Warrior (out of Carson Jen, by Carson City) won the Grade 1 Frizette in America and Biondetti (Lyphard’s Delta, by Lyphard) captured the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Europe. That led to considerable hype for Bernardini, both as a natural successor to A.P. Indy and as a stallion capable of siring top-class runners on both sides of the Atlantic.

His subsequent achievements have not quite lived up to that hype. Bernardini has proven repeatedly that he is capable of siring high-class runners, but his percentage of stakes winners is not as high as most stallions of similar class. His two winners of the Travers Stakes, Stay Thirsty (Marozia, by Storm Bird) and Alpha (Munnaya, by Nijinsky II), are counterbalanced by his 4.1 percent ratio of stakes winners to foals age 3 and up. Still, any stallion good enough to sire two Travers winners, plus the Grade 1 Woodward and Cigar Mile winner To Honor and Serve (Pilfer, by Deputy Minister), will continue to be well patronized by breeders.

Bernardini has followed a similar pattern on annual sojourns to Australia, siring the New Zealand champion Ruud Awakening and the multiple Group 1 winner, among others.

Cavorting is hardly bred to be a sprinter, so it will be interesting to see if she can add Grade 1 victories around two turns as her pedigree suggests. If she does, she could have something to say about a 3-year-old filly division that does not have a clear leader so far this year.