03/28/2016 11:46AM

Sparkman: Diversity at Meydan on Dubai World Cup card

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Neville Hopwood
Real Steel, a son of Japanese leading sire Deep Impact, wins the $6 million Dubai Turf at Meydan.

Those who decry the lack of diversity in contemporary Thoroughbred pedigrees should have been at Meydan last Saturday.

True, six of the eight major winners on the Dubai World Cup card trace in male line to Phalaris, but since something like 95 percent of modern Thoroughbreds hail from the Phalaris male line, any less dominant result would be very unusual. Besides, since the Y chromosome serves little known genetic purpose beyond making the offspring male, it is time to move on from worrying about the “excessive” influence of a horse born 103 years ago.

Still, we obsess. Since stallions produce so many more progeny than mares, it is simply too convenient to look at results, at least to some extent, in terms of male line. Even within the six male line descendants of Phalaris at Meydan, there was more diversity than usual, not to mention the victories of representatives of male lines long seen as essentially dead.

Vazirabad, winner of the about two-mile Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup, is an eighth-generation tail-male descendant of four-time leading English sire Blandford, a near contemporary of Phalaris (born 1919). Blandford sired leading American sire Blenheim II, sire of leading sire Mahmoud, but the last really successful American sire from the Blandford male line was Mahmoud’s grandson Al Hattab, a foal of 1966.

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Until Vazirabad’s German-based grandsire Monsun emerged as one of the premier sires in Europe about 10 years ago, the Blandford male line was effectively dead, at least commercially. Manduro, the unbeaten champion of Europe in 2007, was his best son but has not done as well as hoped as a stallion, though he has sired 24 stakes winners, including six Group 1 winners. Monsun’s Breeders’ Cup Turf-winning son Shirocco also has failed to shine, and perhaps Monsun’s best chance to pass on the Blandford male line is 2012 Group 1 Prix de Moulin de Longchamp winner Maxios, whose first foals are 2-year-olds this year.

Despite Buffering’s win in the about five-furlong Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, the male line of his sixth-generation ancestor Princequillo, sadly, remains effectively dead. Buffering is by Mossman, whose sire, Success Express, won the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Success Express’s sire, Hold Your Peace, was a great-grandson of Princequillo, who led the American sire list in 1956 and 1958, when his great son Round Table was Horse of the Year. Round Table, likewise, led the sire list in 1972, but his sons failed to achieve comparable results.

Buffering, an 8-year-old gelding, is the best of Mossman’s 32 stakes winners, and though Mossman has a son or two at stud in Australia, they are unlikely to be given much of an opportunity to revive the Princequillo male line.

Among the six Phalaris-line winners, A.P. Indy was represented by World Cup winner California Chrome, by Lucky Pulpit, and Group 2 UAE Derby winner Lani, by Tapit, leading American sire of 2014 and 2015 and already odds-on for a third straight crown in 2016.

The Northern Dancer branch of Phalaris also recorded two victories through One Man Band, by Pivotal, in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and Muarrab, by Oasis Dream, in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen. Hail to Reason’s line notched a win through the victory of Real Steel, by Deep Impact, in the Group 1 Dubai Turf, while the Mr. Prospector male line scored with Postponed, by Dubawi, in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

The Dubai World Cup card is annually the single most international day of racing anywhere in the world, as well as the richest. With winners trained principally in Dubai, France, Australia, Great Britain, the United States, and Japan, the card lived up to its reputation.

The success of the Japanese runners was particularly notable in terms of evaluating the relative quality of horses in various parts of the world. Lani, the Japanese-trained son of Tapit who won the UAE Derby, was bred in Kentucky by his Japanese owner Kojii Maeda’s North Hills Co. Limited and is likely to bid for a first Japanese victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Dubai Turf winner Real Steel, however, is a son of Japan’s greatest racehorse and perennial leading sire, Deep Impact, by 1989 American Horse of the Year Sunday Silence. Duramente, by King Kamehameha (by Kingmambo), Japan’s 2015 Horse of the Year who beat Real Steel by a neck in last year’s Japanese 2000 Guineas equivalent, also finished a gallant second in the Sheema Classic, despite throwing a shoe in the preliminaries.