07/03/2015 2:07PM

Sparkman: Iltis female line breeds on

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Multiple stakes winner Fanticola is a sixth-generation descendant of Iltis.

Although flashy, high-profile stallions tend to get all the publicity, the key to building a breeding program in a regional market requires good broodmares. Ease of transportation today makes it possible for broodmares to be sent to national breeding centers such as Kentucky to be covered by top sires, but if the broodmare population for a state program is not up to national standards, that program will not consistently produce top-level horses, regardless of the quality of its stallions.

As the Florida breeding industry began to grow in the early 1950s, it was particularly blessed with the arrival of a number of broodmares of sometimes doubtful pedigree who turned out to be top-class producers. Although the family of Noodle Soup, by Jack High, the dam of the first Florida-bred champion, Needles (by Ponder), did not breed on particularly well, Iltis (by War Relic), the dam of Florida’s second American champion, My Dear Girl (by Rough’n Tumble), founded a prolific family of high-class runners that remains influential on the international scene. Iltis’s sixth-generation descendant Fanticola, by Silent Name, captured her first graded stakes in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine on June 27 at Santa Anita Park.

Bred in Kentucky by eccentric textile magnate Harry Isaacs, who chose names beginning with the letter “I” for all of his homebreds, Iltis possessed a pedigree better than the typical Florida mare when she arrived in Ocala in 1952 after a solid but unspectacular racing career. By War Relic, the last good son of Man o’ War, Iltis was a half-sister to the good Isaacs-bred stakes winner Is Proud, by Hampden. Her dam, We Hail, by Balladier, was closely related to three good stakes winners bred and raced by Col. E.R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Farm: Bold Lover (by Black Toney); Bryan Station (by Balladier); and Blessed Again (by Blue Larkspur). Blessed Again had already proven herself an influential broodmare as the grandam of the great sprinter Decathlon, by Olympia, and Hollywood Gold Cup winner Prince Blessed, by Princequillo.

A decent allowance winner who was well beaten in several stakes events, Iltis won 5 of 53 starts and was eventually claimed for $5,000 by pioneer Florida breeder Dan Chappell’s Sunrise Stable before being passed on to Joe O’Farrell’s Ocala Stud.

Rough’n Tumble, the 1951 Santa Anita Derby winner, was the principal resident stallion at Ocala Stud, and he sired three fillies out of Iltis, all of whom became important broodmares: My Dear Girl, Treasure Chest, and Me Next.

My Dear Girl, champion 2-year-old filly of 1959, produced seven stakes winners, headed by the brilliant miler In Reality, by Intentionally, whose record of 14 wins in 27 starts would have been even better but for having been born in the same year as Racing Hall of Famers Dr. Fager (with whom he shared a paddock as a foal) and Damascus. A great sire, In Reality’s male line lives on through Tiznow and his sons.

The multiple stakes-winning Treasure Chest produced three stakes winners and is the second dam of European Group 1 winners Glint of Gold (by Mill Reef), Diamond Shoal (by Mill Reef), and Ensconse (by Lyphard). Her subsequent descendants include contemporary European star Al Kazeem, by Dubawi.

Me Next is grandam of 1985 Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect, by Mr. Prospector.

My Dear Girl’s 15th and final foal, My Dear Lady, by Mr. Prospector, won stakes at Ak-Sar-Ben and produced three stakes winners, including Fanticola’s third dam, My Dear Frances, by Caro, another minor stakes winner. My Dear Frances was also a black-type producer through her daughter Frances in the Sky, by Sky Classic, winner of the Magnolia Stakes at Ellis Park. Frances in the Sky is the grandam of Venezuelan champion El de Chine, by Biloxi Palace.

Fanticola’s second dam, Irish Dear, by Irish River, was unplaced in her only start and produced only four foals, including Stormin Irish, by Stormin Fever, a stakes winner in Puerto Rico. Fanticola’s dam, Virginia-bred Catalina Cat, by Tabasco Cat, was also a decent runner, winning twice and running second in the restricted Oakley Stakes at Colonial Downs. Catalina Cat was bred by and raced for Virginia’s leading breeder, Edward P. Evans, but was sold after her racing career, most recently purchased for $13,000, in foal to Strive, at the 2007 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale by Hedgestone Management.

Bred in Ontario by Hedgestone Management and Frank Mermenstein, Fanticola is the fourth foal and third winner out of Catalina Cat, who subsequently foaled a winning 4-year-old gelding named Cisco Kid, by Pollard’s Vision, but has not produced a foal since 2011. Frank Mermenstein was listed as the buyer at $21,069 when she was offered as a yearling at the 2011 Canadian yearling sale, and she was withdrawn from the 2012 Ocala Breeders’ Sales spring sale of juveniles.

Sold privately to Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino, Fanticola began her racing career as a 2-year-old at Del Mar by running second to eventual dual champion Beholder in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race. She did not win until transferred to the turf three starts later, but proceeded to win three consecutive races on grass. Second in the Megahertz Stakes last year at 3, she made amends in the same race this year before being beaten narrowly in the Grade 3 Santa Barbara and Grade 1 Gamely. The Royal Heroine was her fifth win in 17 starts; she has earned $468,300.

Fanticola is one of 15 stakes winners sired by Silent Name, one of the best results from international breeders sending mares to the great American-bred Japanese stallion Sunday Silence late in his breeding career. Silent Name was bred in Japan by the Wertheimer brothers from their Group 3-winning mare Danzigaway, by Danehill, a half-sister to European highweight and successful sire Gold Away, by Goldneyev, and to Group 3 winner Blushing Gleam, by Caerleon, all out of the stakes-placed Blushing Groom mare Blushing Away.

Silent Name began his racing career in France for trainer Criquette Head-Maarek by winning a 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) maiden race at Chantilly and finishing second in the Prix Herod in his only other start at 2. Well beaten by champion Shamardal in the classic Poule d’Essai des Poulains at 3, he won two listed races at about a mile at Deauville later that year.

Transferred to trainer Gary Mandella in California for his 4-year-old campaign, Silent Name quickly reeled off victories in a mile allowance and the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap, where he ran a mile on turf in a snappy 1:33.17. Stronach Stables bought an interest in Silent Name during his 4-year-old season, but he did not win another stakes until capturing the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Stakes at seven furlongs at Keeneland as a 5-year-old.

Retired to Stronach’s Adena Springs in 2008, with a record of 6 wins in 23 starts and earnings of 663,431, Silent Name was never well-patronized and moved to Ontario in 2010. He stood in New York in 2011 and 2012 before returning to Canada in 2013. He sired a horse very much like himself in his first crop in the Wertheimers’ horse Silentio (out of Listen A. P., by A.P. Indy), winner of the Grade 2 Citation Handicap and second in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile in 2013.

Fanticola is only his second American graded winner, but he sired Group 1 winner Jaspion Silent (Xiririca Da Serra, by Know Heights) and three other stakes winners during a one-year sojourn in Brazil. Silent Name’s strike rate of 6 percent stakes winners from his 235 foals age 3 and up is not bad, and he deserves better patronage than he has received in Kentucky, New York, or Ontario.

Sunday Silence, of course, was the greatest sire in Japanese history, leading the sire list a record 13 times, and his best son, Deep Impact, has led the Japanese list each of the last three years. Attempts to re-import Sunday Silence’s male line to the Western Hemisphere have been only sporadically successful. His sons Deep Impact, Divine Light, Hat Trick, and Layman have all sired group or graded winners in Europe or America, but a likely candidate to continue the Sunday Silence male line in his native country has not yet emerged.