10/03/2016 3:23PM

Sparkman: O'Brien, Galileo in a league of their own

Shigeki Kikkawa
Noted and Quoted wins the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes, giving her sire, The Factor, his first Grade 1 winner in his first crop.

Whatever the Coolmore partnership pays trainer Aidan O’Brien it is not enough.

That is the No. 1 lesson learned from a packed trans-Atlantic weekend of prep races for the Breeders’ Cup a month hence that began at Chantilly on Saturday morning and ended at Santa Anita on Sunday evening.

O’Brien’s feat of training Found, Highland Reel, and Order of St. George to finish first, second, and third in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is unprecedented since the race’s inauguration in 1920. The fact that all three of those horses were sired by Coolmore’s great stallion Galileo merely emphasizes how much both trainer and sire are in a league of their own on the world Thoroughbred stage. All three horses also were bred by Coolmore-affiliated entities.

Found, Highland Reel, and Order of St. George all number among the incredible 61 Group 1/Grade 1 winners, 141 group or graded stakes winners, and 231 stakes winners sired by Galileo from 2,177 foals age 3 and up, and all three possess sterling pedigrees.

Found’s dam, Red Evie, by Intikhab, won the Group 1 Matron and Lockinge Stakes and was an English and Irish highweighted filly. Found’s two full sisters, Magical Dream and Best in the World, are both Group 3 winners, and Red Evie’s dam and granddam are both stakes winners.

Highland Reel’s dam Hveger, by Danehill, placed in the Group 2 South Australian Oaks and is full sister to Australian champion Elvstroem, half-sister to Australian champion Haradasun, by Fusaichi Pegasus, and out of Australian Group 1 winner Circles of Gold, by Marscay.

Order of St. George is a half-brother to American Grade 3 winner Angel Terrace, by Ghostzapper; French Group 3 winner Asperity, by War Chant; and stakes winner Sehoy, by Menifee. His second dam is 1996 champion 2-year-old filly Storm Song.

The first Group 1 of the weekend, the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, also fell to a daughter of Galileo in Alice Springs, whose dam, appropriately enough is Aleagueoftheirown, by Danehill Dancer. Alice Springs’s second dam is a full sister to European highweight Golden Opinion, by Slew o’ Gold, whose dam, Optimistic Lass, was one of Mr. Prospector’s first big winners in Europe.

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Found, Highland Reel, and Alice Springs are all possible runners at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, but there may not be many other notable foreign entries at Santa Anita to emerge from the European trials last weekend. That is definitely not the case with the series of races at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita on Saturday and Sunday.

Ectot, who upset favored Flintshire in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont; Gallant Bloom Stakes winner Paulassilverlining, Pilgrim Stakes winner Oscar Performance, Vosburgh Stakes winner Joking, Beldame winner Forever Unbridled, and Miss Grillo winner New Money Honey are all bound for the West Coast along with a number of their conquered rivals. Also Breeders’ Cup bound is Churchill’s Ack Ack Stakes winner Tom’s Ready, who beat last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Runhappy in the latter’s first race of the year. Similarly, California Chrome, Avenge, Stellar Wind, Gormley, Noted and Quoted, and Ashleyluvssugar, winners of the Santa Anita prep races, are all likely for the Breeders’ Cup.

Interestingly, the pedigrees of the 23 winners of the Trans-Atlantic group or graded races that could theoretically have been used as Breeders’ Cup preps last weekend did not show quite as much continental variation as usual in recent years. The Danzig and Sadler’s Wells branches of Northern Dancer, which have long dominated in Europe, did just that, but they also were more prominent than usual in the American preps.

In addition to the winners of the Arc, Sun Chariot, and Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein in Europe, the Sadler’s Wells branch of the Northern Dancer male line produced Ectot (by Hurricane Run, by Montjeu, by Sadler’s Wells), Pilgrim Stakes winner Oscar Performance (by Kitten’s Joy, by El Prado, by Sadler’s Wells), and Miss Grillo winner New Money Honey (by Medaglia d’Oro, by El Prado, by Sadler’s Wells).

Similarly, while the Danzig branch of Northern Dancer was responsible for major winners Shalaa and National Defense in Europe, it also was represented by Santa Anita victors Ashleyluvssugar (by Game Plan, by Danzig), Avenge (by War Front, by Danzig), and Noted and Quoted (by The Factor, by War Front, by Danzig).

Noted and Quoted, out of stakes winner Silver Cub, by City Zip, is both the first stakes winner and first Grade 1 winner from the first crop of War Front’s Grade 1-winning son The Factor and did nothing to diminish War Front’s increasing clout as a potential sire of sires.