01/23/2017 10:00AM

Sparkman: Familiar names among Eclipse Award pedigrees

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John Bambury
Champion 3-year-old filly Songbird was among five Eclipse winners Saturday from the Northern Dancer line.

As they usually do, the pedigrees of the 2016 Eclipse winners followed the overall trends of American pedigrees. Over the last several decades the Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector male lines have dominated grades stakes results, with the emergent A.P. Indy branch making steady inroads into that dominance. Those male lines thus dominate the numbers of stallions at stud, and it is only logical that those numbers will be reflected during awards season.

Northern Dancer was represented by five Eclipse Award winners last Saturday evening, Mr. Prospector by four, and A.P. Indy by Horse of the Year and champion older male California Chrome. A.P. Indy is a fourth-generation male line descendant of 1957 Horse of the Year Bold Ruler, whose male line has now accounted for 40 individual Eclipse Award winners of 59 championships.

The Northern Dancer male line accounted for champion 3-year-old filly (Songbird), champion turf male (Flintshire), champion turf female (Tepin), champion sprinter (Drefong), and champion older female (Beholder), bringing his totals to 82 individual winners of 95 Eclipse Awards, well clear of Mr. Prospector’s 65 winners of 80 individual gold statuettes. Mr. Prospector in 2016 added champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire, champion 2-year-old filly Champagne Room, champion 3-year-old male Arrogate, and champion female sprinter Finest City to his totals.

Three of the four Mr. Prospectors are male line descendants of his son Fappiano, and, in fact, all three are descendants of Fappiano’s 1990 Kentucky Derby winner and champion 3-year-old male Unbridled. Classic Empire is the second champion 2-year-old male sired by Pioneerof the Nile (following American Pharoah), one of the best sons of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, one of three classic winners sired by Unbridled. Champagne Room is the first Eclipse Award winner for the under-appreciated Broken Vow, a multiple graded stakes winner by Unbridled who never managed a Grade 1 victory but has sired 76 stakes winners, including five Grade 1 winners. Arrogate is the third Eclipse Award winner and second champion 3-year-old male in the last four years sired by Unbridled’s Song. Arrogate is one of 118 stakes winners and 23 Grade 1 or Group 1 winners by Unbridled’s Song.

The fourth Mr. Prospector-line winner is Finest City, who is the third Eclipse Award winner sired by City Zip, by Mr. Prospector’s son Carson City. She follows 2015 champion turf female Dayatthespa and 2014 champion sprinter Work All Week. A half-brother to Horse of the Year and successful sire Ghostzapper, City Zip has sired 71 stakes winners, including six Grade 1 winners.

Three of Northern Dancer’s 2016 Eclipse winners are descendants of his grandson, dual leading sire Storm Cat, whose son Bernstein is the sire of Tepin, who garnered her second consecutive champion turf female statuette. Bernstein has sired 91 stakes winners and has twice led the sire list in Argentina, but Tepin is his only American champion. Beholder’s champion older female statuette is her fourth Eclipse Award at the end of a Hall of Fame career. She is the only American champion among the 37 stakes winners by Storm Cat’s grandson Henny Hughes, by Hennessy. Champion sprinter Drefong is the first champion sired by three-time Eclipse champion Gio Ponti, the best son of Storm Cat’s son Tale of the Cat.

Both the Sadler’s Wells male line and the Danzig male line have been more prominent abroad than in America over the last two decades. Songbird is the second Eclipse Award winner and second champion 3-year-old filly sired by Sadler’s Wells’s grandson Medaglia d’Oro, whose daughter Rachel Alexandra also earned Horse of the Year in 2009. Medaglia d’Oro has sired 100 stakes winners, including 16 Grade 1 or Group 1 winners.

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Champion turf male Flintshire is the second Eclipse Award winner sired by Dansili, whose daughter Dank earned champion turf mare honors in 2013. One of many top sires by Danzig’s great son Danehill, Dansili has sired 122 stakes winners, including 19 Group 1 or Grade 1 winners.

Honors are generally spread more freely among female lines, but this year, three members of the number 4 family (Classic Empire, Songbird, and Flintshire) earned Eclipse Awards, and other families, number 1 (Tepin and Drefong) and number 16 (Champagne Room and Arrogate), supplied two winners, leaving family number 8 (Finest City), family number 23 (Beholder) and the family designated as American family number 4 (California Chrome) that does not trace to Volume 1 of the General Stud Book with one winner apiece.