07/13/2014 1:01PM

Sparkman: Mutual rewards for Coolmore, Juddmonte

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Tom Keyser
Minorette carried Coolmore's colors to victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks.

Early in the 21st century, Juddmonte Farms and Coolmore Stud formulated an agreement whereby Juddmonte bred about 10 mares to Sadler’s Wells each year and the two organizations divided the subsequent produce. The idea provided obvious benefits for each operation. Juddmonte acquired broad access to the best sire in Europe, and Coolmore acquired some of the produce of some of Juddmonte’s best mares. After Sadler’s Wells’ retirement, the arrangement continued with his successor at Coolmore, his great son, Galileo.

Juddmonte reaped the ultimate prize from the arrangement, the undefeated Frankel, plus Group 1 winners Noble Mission and Romantica, all by Galileo, and the Sadler’s Wells mare Soviet Moon, who is the dam of Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce. Coolmore did not do too badly, either, racing the St. Leger Stakes winner Brian Boru and the Arlington Million winner Powerscourt, both by Sadler’s Wells, plus the Group 2-winning filly Silk And Scarlet, by Sadler’s Wells, who paid another dividend last Saturday when her daughter, Minorette, by Smart Strike, won the inaugural Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park.

Minorette is the fourth foal and third Group/Grade 1 winner produced by Silk And Scarlet, a precocious filly who won the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at The Curragh and the listed Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown at 2 in 2004 but did not win in six subsequent starts in Europe and the U.S. Her first foal, Eishin Apollon, by Giant’s Causeway, was sold to Japan and won the 2011 Group 1 Mile Championship. Her second foal, Master of Hounds, by Kingmambo, ran third in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at 2 in England for Coolmore and was sold to Dubai, where he won the 2012 Group 1 Jebel Hatta.

Silk And Scarlet’s third foal, Aqua Jeter, by Dansili, was unplaced in one start, and since Minorette was foaled in 2011, Silk And Scarlet has produced an unnamed 2-year-old full brother by Smart Strike.

Silk And Scarlet’s dam, Danilova, by Lyphard, was an attractive mate for Sadler’s Wells, both by production and pedigree. Her third foal, Danger Over, by Warning, was a talented sprinter, winning the Group 3 Prix de Seine-et-Oise and two other stakes. Danilova herself was unraced, but she was a half-sister to Juddmonte’s 1990 French Derby winner, Sanglamore, by Sharpen Up, who also captured the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan and ran second in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and to multiple stakes winner Opera Score, by Nureyev.

Their dam, the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Ballinderry, by Irish River, was the best horse bred by Juddmonte from the outstanding broodmare Miss Manon, by Bon Mot, after Khalid Abdullah bought Miss Manon privately. Miss Manon already had produced the Group 1 winner Lydian, by Lyphard, the Group 2 winner Mot d’Or, by Rheingold, and the multiple stakes winner and sire Sharpman, by Sharpen Up, who also ran second in the French 2000 Guineas, before her purchase.

Juddmonte also acquired Miss Manon’s daughter, the stakes winner Miss Summer, by Luthier, who was the dam of multiple stakes winner Private Line, by Private Account, the second dam of Group 3 winner Dance Dress, by Nureyev, and the third dam of Grade 2 winner Costume, by Danehill. Private Line’s stakes-winning half-sister, Most Precious, by Nureyev, produced French 1000 Guineas winner Matiara, by Bering, and three other stakes winners for the Head family of Haras du Quesnay.

Minorette’s fourth dam, Miss Manon, was one of 15 stakes winners sired by the massive Bon Mot, by Worden, who possessed proportionally perhaps the largest girth of any Thoroughbred in the author’s 50 years of experience with the Thoroughbred. The winner of the 1966 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Bon Mot spent most of his stud career with limited results in France and Japan but enjoyed his final days at Pillar Stud in Kentucky.

As of July 9, Minorette is the 107th stakes winner from 1,214 foals age 3 and up (8.8 percent) sired by Smart Strike, who has been one of the world’s top five sires for most of the last decade. Smart Strike led the American general sire list in 2007 and 2008, when his best son, Curlin (out of Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister), was Horse of the Year, and he also has sired champions English Channel (Belva, by Theatrical), Lookin At Lucky (Private Feeling, by Belong to Me), My Miss Aurelia (My Miss Storm Cat, by Sea of Secrets), Soaring Free (Dancing With Wings, by Danzig), Never Retreat (Lisieux, by Steady Growth), Eye of the Sphynx (Queen of Egypt, by Vice Regent), Portcullis (Dancer’s Gate, by Gate Dancer), Gold Strike (Brassy Gold, by Dixieland Brass), and Added Edge (Sweet Nostalgia, by Mr. Redoy).

Smart Strike, by Mr. Prospector out of Classy ’n Smart, by Smarten, was a top-class but unsound racehorse who was also a full brother to two other stakes winners and a half-brother to champion and Racing Hall of Fame member Dance Smartly, by Danzig. Unraced at 2, he was beaten in his debut at Keeneland’s April 1995 meeting but did not lose again until his final start the following year when he finished fourth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Cigar in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes.

Smart Strike won his maiden at Keeneland in his second start and captured two allowances at Woodbine by wide margins but suffered an injury in that second Woodbine win and was not able to run in the Queen’s Plate, for which he would have been a heavy favorite. Smart Strike returned to the races the following July with an easy win in an optional claimer at Woodbine and shipped south to win the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth.

That served as a prep race for Monmouth’s Grade 1 Philip H. Iselin Handicap, and Smart Strike confirmed he belonged near the top of the older-horse rankings with a facile 2 1/4-length win over Eltish and champion racemare Serena’s Song. Smart Strike suffered from engaging in a duel on the lead with L’Carriere in the Woodward, and both proved easy targets for Cigar in the stretch, as Smart Strike faded slightly in the final yards.

Smart Strike suffered a condylar fracture to a front leg in training for the Breeders’ Cup and was retired to Lane’s End for the 1997 breeding season. A well-made horse built in the image of his sire, Mr. Prospector, Smart Strike is rather plain, and his early career as a commercial stallion suffered as a result. His first runners soon proved that their race-finish photos were more attractive – as well as more important – than their appearance in the sales ring, and Smart Strike’s commercial profile improved accordingly.

Smart Strike has been as notable for his versatility as a stallion as for the extraordinary quality of his offspring. The first of his 15 Grade 1 or Group 1 winners, Fleetstreet Dancer (Street Ballet, by Nijinsky II), captured the 2003 Group 1 Japan Cup Dirt. His second, Canadian champion Soaring Free, won the 2004 Grade 1 Atto Mile on turf. Curlin was a world champion on dirt but failed in his only try on turf, while the 2007 champion grass male English Channel was world class on turf but never raced on dirt. Other Smart Strikes have been equally adept on both surfaces, and the champion Lookin At Lucky won Grade 1 races on both dirt and synthetic.

Whether a result of self-fulfilling prophecy or natural inclination, the Smart Strikes’ choice of surface often seems to follow those of the broodmare sire and/or female family, and Minorette has raced only on turf to date. She won her first start in Ireland last year, a six-furlong maiden race at Naas when trained by Aidan O’Brien, and placed in the listed Flame of Tara Stakes. Imported to the barn of trainer Chad Brown for her 3-year-old campaign, she ran third in a turf allowance at Keeneland and second in the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont before her Belmont Oaks victory.

Minorette is the first stakes winner by Smart Strike out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, but obviously, many of his best runners have been out of mares by Northern Dancer-line stallions. Minorette is a relative outcross with a 4x5x6 triple of Native Dancer her most prominent duplication. As is so often the case with outstanding broodmares, however, Silk And Scarlet is much more closely inbred, carrying a 2x3 cross to Northern Dancer through two of his greatest sons, Sadler’s Wells and Lyphard.

Both Coolmore and Juddmonte have always been notably eclectic in their approach to acquiring bloodstock and breeding, so it is entirely appropriate that their breeding arrangement would be so mutually rewarding. Competition may always be fierce, but it can also be friendly.