08/22/2016 8:53AM

Sparkman: Now or never for Godolphin Arabian line

Michael Amoruso
Tourist became Tiznow's 13th Grade 1 winner in Saturday's Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga.

For almost 300 years, all Thoroughbreds have descended in male line from three stallions imported into England from the Middle East between about 1686 and 1730.

The fortunes of the male lines descending from the Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian, and Godolphin Arabian waxed and waned for most of that period, but over the last century, the male-line descendants of the Darley Arabian, primarily through Phalaris, have swamped descendants of the other two line founders. Male-line descendants of the Darley Arabian now account for more than 95 percent of all Thoroughbreds born annually on planet Earth.

Though there are still a few descendants at stud, the male line of the Byerley Turk through his seventh-generation descendant Herod is effectively dead. There is no credible male-line descendant left to revive his once-dominant male line. It will take a miracle.

The male line of the Godolphin Arabian through his grandson Matchem has never been as numerous as the other two, but it has weathered the challenge of the Darley onslaught better than the Byerley Turk line – at least so far.

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Throughout most of the 20th century, the Godolphin line looked safe through the descendants of the immortal Man o’ War, but as the millennium approached, prospects for survival began to look bleak. In Reality, the best Man o’ War line stallion of the second half of the 20th century, had left a worthy successor in Relaunch, but none of the latter’s sons had picked up the torch.

Thus, for those who care about such things, the emergence of Relaunch’s grandson Tiznow, by Cee’s Tizzy, as the Horse of the Year of 2000 and champion older male of 2001 came as a welcome relief. Surely, the only two-time winner of a Breeders’ Cup Classic could be the savior of the Godolphin Arabian male line. It has not quite worked out that way – at least not yet. It is not too late, but since Tiznow will be 20 next year, it is time for one of his sons to take over.

Another candidate as Tiznow’s successor appeared last Saturday in the form of his 5-year-old son Tourist, winner of the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. Tourist is the 13th Grade 1 winner sired to date by Tiznow, a very high number for a horse who has sired 65 stakes winners overall from 1,137 foals age 3 and up.

Although those 65 amount to only a 5.7 percent stakes-winners-to-foals ratio, those 13 Grade 1 winners have earned Tiznow the well-deserved reputation as a “big horse” sire.

Tiznow captured four Grade 1’s during his 15-race career, adding the Santa Anita Handicap and Super Derby to his two Breeders’ Cup Classics. He sired champion 2-year-old filly Folklore (out of Contrive, by Storm Cat) in his first crop, but his best son overall has been Colonel John (Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman), winner of the Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes in 2008.

Standing alongside his sire at WinStar, Colonel John, a much-prettier horse than his angular, Roman-nosed sire, has been inconsistent, siring 11 stakes winners to date, none with obvious sire potential.

Grade 1 winners Tizway (Bethany, by Dayjur) and Morning Line (Indian Snow, by A.P. Indy) are too young to judge thoroughly, and Tourist may now have done enough to earn a chance at stud as well.

Tourist is the second foal to live out of Unbridled Melody, by Unbridled’s Song, a winning full sister to Grade 1-placed Unbridled Express who was purchased for $325,000 by WinStar at the 2007 Keeneland November sale.

Her first and fourth living foals, Michael With Us and Mountain Music Man, both by Bluegrass Cat, are stakes winners, as is her current 2-year-old Harlan’s Harmony, by Spring At Last, who won the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga the day before Tourist’s Fourstardave.

Tourist’s second dam, Skye Castles, by Sky Classic, also is granddam of Grade 3 winners Mizz Money and One Mean Man, both by Mizzen Mast. Tourist’s third dam is stakes winner My Sea Castles, by Polish Navy, a half-sister to Japanese champion Hishi Akebono, by Woodman, and international Group 1 winner Agnes World, by Danzig. Their half-sister Mysterial, by Alleged, is dam of Group 1 winners Librettist, by Danzig, and Dubai Destination, by Kingmambo.

Tourist’s pedigree is certainly good enough to justify a stud career, but, like many sons of Tiznow, he matured into a Grade 1 winner relatively late. Placed at 2, he won listed stakes at 3 and 4. The Fourstardave was his fifth win in 16 lifetime starts.

The Godolphin Arabian male line through Man o’ War and In Reality still has a high-class representative in Europe in Dream Ahead (by Diktat, by Warning, by Known Fact, by In Reality), Europe’s champion 2-year-old colt in Frankel’s year, but he has yet to prove he is capable of siring a top-class runner.

With survival at stake, it is now or never for the Godolphin Arabian line.