11/18/2013 11:37AM

Sparkman: End of the line for Princequillo?


From a genetic point of view, it is arguable that the male line of a given sire is the least important part of any pedigree. Compared with other chromosomes, the Y chromosome that determines gender is tiny and carries very little other information.

However, because of the structure of the Thoroughbred industry – basically because sires produce so many more foals per year than mares – sire lines are perceived to be enormously important, and the waxing and waning of those lines can determine whether a given Grade 1 winner even gets an opportunity at stud.

Thus, it is extremely unlikely that any son of Mossman, the sire of leading Australian sprinter Buffering, will get a good enough opportunity at stud to extend the otherwise virtually extinct male line of Princequillo to a seventh generation. Buffering (out of Action Annie, by Anabaa) scored his second consecutive Group 1 win in the 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) VRC Sprint Classic on Nov. 9 at Flemington, following his victory in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Oct. 25.

The Sprint Classic was Buffering’s 14th victory in 37 career starts and established him as Australia’s leading sprinter this season. Like many another Australian sprinter of the past five years, his record would read rather better except for the phenomenon that was Black Caviar.

Buffering, a confirmed front-runner who goes as fast as he can for as far as he can, finished third to that undefeated world champion in the 2011 Group 1 BTC Cup, second to her in that year’s edition of the VRC Sprint Classic, and third again in the 2012 Group 1 VRC Lightning Stakes, all races he might have won without Black Caviar breathing down his neck throughout.

Unfortunately, Buffering is a gelding, as are eight of Mossman’s nine group stakes-winning sons. Mossman’s only ungelded group-winning son, Love Conquers All (She’s A Meanie, by Prince Salieri), the winner of the Group 2 Yellowglen Shorts at Rosehill, stands at Eliza Park Stud but will find it difficult to attract top mares without a Group 1 win to his name.

Mossman himself was a high-class sprinter-miler, winning the 1998 Group 1 QTC Classic at Eagle Farm over 1,600 meters (about one mile) and two other stakes and running second in the 1998 Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes, one of Australia’s most prestigious juvenile races. Buffering; Plucky Belle (Winning Belle, by Zabeel), the winner of the Group 3 Maybe Mahal Plate on Nov. 5 at Flemington; and Dothraki (Volantis, by Flying Spur), the winner of the listed Springtime Stakes on Nov. 9 at the same course, are among 25 stakes winners from 580 foals ages 3 and up sired to date by Mossman.

That 4.3 percent strike rate is reasonably respectable in Australia, where sires’ ratio of stakes winners to foals tends to be a bit lower than in the United States or Europe.

Mossman, in turn, is the best ungelded son of Success Express, who scored his only Grade 1 victory in a front-running romp over a weak field in the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile under a brilliant ride by Jose Santos. That was not enough to wrest champion 2-year-old male honors from Forty Niner, who did not run in the Juvenile.

A winner of four of eight starts at 2, Success Express could not win in nine starts at 3, his best effort a second in the Grade 2 Bay Shore. Thus, there was little demand for his services at stud in the declining American bloodstock market of the late 1980s. Sold to stand at Chatswood Stud in Australia, his precocious speed fit well with an Australian program heavily weighted toward juveniles, sprinters, and milers.

In a long and quite successful stud career in Australia, Success Express sired 32 stakes winners from 743 foals (4.3 percent), but that number included nine Group 1 winners, including New Zealand champion sprinter Coogee Walk, New Zealand highweight Savannah Success, and Polar Success, the winner of the world’s richest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper Stakes.

Success Express was among the best of 45 stakes winners sired by 1972 Flamingo Stakes and 1971 Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Hold Your Peace, who also finished third in the 1972 Kentucky Derby. Bred by Elmendorf Farm, Hold Your Peace also sired Grade 1 winners Mitterand, Pax in Bello, and Meadowlake, who for most of the last two decades has been the principal representative of the Princequillo line in North America.

Good sire that he was (60 stakes winners, including five Grade 1 winners, from 949 foals), Meadowlake failed to sire a successor to carry on the Princequillo male line in America.

Hold Your Peace’s sire, Speak John, won the 1961 Del Mar Derby and succeeded as a “home sire” at Elmendorf Farm, siring champion Talking Picture and the top-class handicapper and good sire Verbatim in addition to Hold Your Peace. Speak John’s sire, Prince John, was a top-class juvenile in 1955, winning the Garden State Stakes, but broke down before running at 3. Despite that juvenile success, Prince John’s stud career reflected classic-distance capabilities. His best son, Stage Door Johnny, was champion 3-year-old male in 1968 after winning the Belmont Stakes and excelled as a sire of stayers. Prince John also sired champions Typecast, Silent Screen, and Protagonist and led the broodmare sire list four times.

Prince John’s line-founding sire, Princequillo, was a dour stayer who scored his principal victory in the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup as a 3-year-old in 1943. By the great sire Prince Rose out of Cosquilla, by Papyrus, Princequillo had survived a trans-Atlantic crossing as a yearling during the early stages of World War II, when his breeder, L.B. Mayer’s right-hand man Laudy Lawrence, extricated the promising colt from the chaos of European war.

One of the premier stayers in American racing history, Princequillo retired in 1945 to Arthur B. Hancock Sr.’s
Ellerslie Stud in Virginia. He sired American Horse of the Year Hill Prince and English champion 3-year-old Prince Simon in his second Virginia-conceived crop and was quickly transferred to the Hancock family’s Claiborne Stud in Paris, Ky.

Princequillo proved capable of siring top-class runners over all distances, getting 65 stakes winners from 483 foals (13.5 percent), and led the American sire list in 1957 and 1958, the latter year when his best son, Round Table, was Horse of the Year. Princequillo also led the American broodmare sire list eight times, the most for any stallion since Sir Gallahad III.

Round Table led the American sire list in 1972, and his son Baldric, who won  the 2000 Guineas in 1964, extended his male line through his son Without Fear for two more generations in Australia. Round Table’s son Dignitas also was  successful in Australia, and his best son, Haulpak, sired the good stallion Carry A Smile, who failed to extend the male line despite considerable stud success.

Round Table’s best son, champion European juvenile Apalachee, was a successful sire in America, but Apalachee’s Grade 1-winning son K One King, the last hope for the Round Table male line in America, failed at stud.

Princequillo’s non-stakes-winning son Earldom II (Pink Velvet, by Polynesian) established a longest-lasting branch of his male line in South America. Earldom II, the leading sire in Brazil in 1973, sired Group 2-winning Only Once, who sired 1996 Brazilian Horse of the Year Quinze Quilates. Quinze Quilates, in turn, is the sire of Xao-Ra, who stands in Uruguay and has sired stakes winners there that do not qualify for international black type.

The Princequillo male line may have virtually disappeared from American racing, but his influence is still quite powerful if one knows where to look. Round Table also sired 1975 English champion sprinter Flirting Around, who was exported for stud to South Africa. There, he sired 1984 South African Horse of the Year Wolf Power, who was imported to stand at South African-owned The Alchemy in central Kentucky and later transferred to Gainesway.

Despite limited patronage, Wolf Power sired 44 stakes winners, a number that did not include a winning daughter named Lisa Danielle (out of Askmysecretary, by Secretariat, whose broodmare sire is Princequillo). Lisa Danielle is the dam of 2012 Horse of the Year and dual Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Wise Dan.