06/27/2016 10:49AM

Sparkman: Melatonin's pedigree a sleeper

Shigeki Kikkawa
Melatoin, by Kodiak Kowboy, wins the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

As the saying goes, a good horse can come from anywhere. While that is true, it also is true that “anywhere,” more often than not, turns out to be one of the great female families.

There are good reasons for Saturday’s Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Melatonin to be cited by those who love rags-to-riches stories, but it also is true that his eighth dam is the legendary foundation mare Alcibiades. And though that relationship may be too distant to truly be of any importance, there are plenty of the good horses endemic to great families much closer to the surface in his pedigree as well as other hints in his pedigree to explain Melatonin’s obvious talent.

Bred in Kentucky by Susan Osborne’s Tarabilla Farms, Melatonin is the third foal out of Yanquee Reign, whose sire, Yankee Victor, by Saint Ballado, won the 2000 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap but accomplished relatively little as a stallion, siring 11 stakes winners from 478 foals.

Yanquee Reign, though, ranks among Yankee Victor’s more talented offspring, winning 4 of 16 starts, earning $92,588, and running second in the 2007 Claire Marine Stakes at Arlington Park. Although she produced nothing else of note in a lengthy breeding career, Yanquee Reign’s dam, Quarteira, by Vice Regent, was a winning full sister to the high-class filly Twice the Vice, who captured five Grade 1’s, including the 1994 Del Mar Oaks. Quarteira also was a half-sister to stakes winner Burgandy Dancer, by Marshua’s Dancer, and her dam, Double Set, by the relatively obscure sire Resurgent, was a half-sister to another high-class runner, Navajo, by Grey Dawn II, winner of the Grade 2 William du Pont Jr. Handicap.

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Doublene and her next four dams, including 1929 champion 2-year-old filly Alcibiades, were all bred by various members of the Headley family, and Alcibiades and her descendants produced champions Sir Ivor and Menow and scores of other stakes winners for the Headleys and other breeders.

Melatonin’s sire, Kodiak Kowboy, was a better racehorse than Yankee Victor but has compiled a similar record at stud. Bred in Kentucky by Robbie Lyons’s Hartwell Farm, he was voted champion 2-year-old in Canada in 2007 after adding the Victoria Stakes north of the border to his victories in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes in the United States.

Kodiak Kowboy added the Grade 2 Amsterdam and Grade 3 Sport Page at 3, but enjoyed his best season at 4 in 2009, winning the Grade 1 Carter, Grade 1 Vosburgh, and Grade 1 Cigar Mile. That was enough to earn him an Eclipse Award as champion sprinter and a place at stud in Kentucky, but Kodiak Kowboy’s pedigree was always going to work against him in that ultra-competitive market.

Kodiak Kowboy was from the first crop of his sire, Grade 2-winning sprinter Posse. An angular, very muscular horse, Posse did not sire much else to recommend him to Kentucky breeders and by the time his second-best son, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse, came along, Posse had moved on to New York, where he stands at Rockridge Farm.

A more compact, smoother horse than his sire, Kodiak Kowboy retired to WinStar Farm in 2010 but was never well-patronized by breeders and now stands in Brazil.

Melatonin is by far the best of Kodiak Kowboy’s eight stakes winners from 149 foals age 3 and up, a 5.4 percent stakes-winners-to-foals ratio. Shotgun Kowboy (out of Shotgun Jane, by Siphon), winner of the 2015 Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby, is his only other graded stakes winner.

Yanquee Reign’s first foal, Caribbean Reign, a filly by Speightstown, won 7 of 32 starts at the claiming level, and her second, Yankee Sovereign, a gelding by Successful Appeal, has won 3 of 38 starts in Japan, earning more than $500,000 in Japan’s rich racing program. Yanquee Reign has since produced the unraced 4-year-old filly Olympic Moonlight, by Warrior’s Reward; a yearling filly by Run Away and Hide; and a 2016 colt by Yes It’s True.

Melatonin’s internal pedigree is both interesting and somewhat unusual. He is inbred 5x3 to Northern Dancer’s leading Canadian sire son Vice Regent through the latter’s best son, dual-leading American sire Deputy Minister and Melatonin’s second dam Quarteira. He also carries duplications of leading sire Halo and the great broodmare Ballade 6x4 through champion racemare Glorious Song and her full brother, leading sire Saint Ballado.

Yes, good horses can come from anywhere, but one rarely has to look far to see where the good genes could have come from.