01/22/2018 10:21AM

Sparkman: Coniah adds to legacy of Serena's Song

Benoit & Associates
Coniah, a daugher of Serena's Song's son Harlington, wins the Grade 3 Las Cienegas at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Great racemares who also become great broodmares have exerted an outsized influence on the ranks of great stallions, most recently 1992 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea, by Miswaki, dam of nine-time leading English and Irish sire Galileo, by Sadler’s Wells, and top-five European sire Sea The Stars, by Cape Cross, both winners of the Epsom Derby as well.

On balance, Serena’s Song, by Rahy, was a more accomplished racemare than Urban Sea, and she has been a great broodmare as well, but her sons have fallen well short of the accomplishments of the sons of Urban Sea. Her most successful son, Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap winner Grand Reward, by Storm Cat, has been more prominent in Argentina, where he has sired four Group 1 winners, including 2011 Argentine 2,000 Guineas winner Grand Berry.

Serena’s Song’s most talented son, though, was probably Harlington, by Unbridled, who won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in a career repeatedly sidetracked by injury. His daughter Coniah won Saturday’s Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes at Santa Anita, and is only his seventh stakes winner. Harlington now stands in Saudi Arabia.

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One of the toughest, gamest, and most talented fillies to grace the American turf, Serena’s Song was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Howard Baker and purchased for $150,000 by Robert and Beverly Lewis at the 1993 Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, she missed championship honors as a 2-year-old by a head after battling the undefeated Flanders throughout the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf and Starlet at 2, Serena’s Song won 9 of 13 starts at 3, defeating colts in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and winning five other Grade 1’s. A smallish, blocky filly who preferred to run on or near the lead, she won 18 of 38 starts, earning a then-record for an American filly $3,283,388. Her second foal, Sophisticat, by Storm Cat, was purchased for $3.4 million by Coolmore as a yearling and won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.

Harlington, by Unbridled, her fifth foal, sold for $2.8-million to Eugene Melnyk at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale and was trained initially by Todd Pletcher. He won his first start at 2 in November 2004, and followed up with a Gulfstream allowance victory in January 2005, but finished sixth in the Grade 3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Harlington did not return to the racetrack until December, and reeled off three straight wins, culminating in a neck victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, with champion Funny Cide in the beaten field.

He was not good enough to beat champion Invasor in the Pimlico Special, finishing fourth, and then disappeared again for a year before again winning his first start back in a Belmont allowance. Harlington ran twice more without winning and was retired to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for the 2009 breeding season at an initial fee of $10,000.

Despite his spectacular pedigree and outstanding physique, he attracted few mares, siring only 128 foals in six crops before his export to Saudi Arabia in 2014. Coniah is his seventh stakes winner, the best of whom has been 2015 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue (out of Lucas Street, by Silver Deputy).

Coniah is the second graded stakes winner by Harlington out of the unplaced Lord At War mare Pretti Woman. Her older sister Uzziel won the 2015 Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes and three listed races. Pretti Woman’s produce record is otherwise undistinguished, but she has since produced an unraced 3-year-old Harlington gelding named Tobiah and a 2017 colt by Broken Vow.

Pretti Woman’s dam, Quick Catch Me, by Simply Majestic, did not produce a black-type horse, but is half-sister to Grade 2 winners Looie Capote, by Capote, and Fast Catch, by Fast Play. The line traces to a family fostered for decades by the late Alfred G. Vanderbilt and anchored by the brilliantly fast racemare Cold Comfort, by Nearctic.

Despite the modest accomplishments of her sons at stud, Serena’s Song’s family has gone from strength to strength. Her first foal, stakes winner Serena’s Tune, by Mr. Prospector, is the dam of two stakes winners, including the good Irish sire Vocalised, by Vindication, and second dam of champion Honor Code, by A.P. Indy, and Grade 2 winner Noble Tune, by Unbridled’s Song. Sophisticat is the dam and granddam of stakes winners, and another daughter, Night and Day, by Unbridled’s Song, is the dam of top 2017 turf 2-year-old Made You Look, by More Than Ready.