11/06/2017 9:29AM

Sparkman: Offspring of Mr. Prospector strike gold in Breeders' Cup

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Susie Raisher
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn now has the race results to go with a sterling pedigree.

When Butch Savin and trainer Jimmy Croll paid a sale-topping $270,000 for Mr. Prospector at the 1971 Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings, they were buying - or at least hoped they were buying- a talented racehorse, and were focused on winning major stakes races with little thought to a future stud career. Another colt born the same year as Mr. Prospector, however, set in motion seismic changes in the Thoroughbred marketplace perhaps best exemplified by the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last Saturday, Mendelssohn.

Secretariat’s $6-million syndication in 1973 led to the escalation in syndication value and stud fees that made developing a stallion prospect the true goal of the contemporary yearling buyer. That was evident at the Keeneland September yearling sale last year when M.V. Magnier paid a sale-topping $3 million for a Scat Daddy colt who was half-brother to champion Beholder, but, perhaps more importantly, also half-brother to hot young sire Into Mischief.

Magnier and the Coolmore partners knew that was the kind of pedigree they could sell as a stallion if the colt cooperated by winning a Grade 1 race or two, and Mendelssohn’s Breeders’ Cup win sealed the deal. You could practically see the Coolmore team counting future stud fees in the winner’s circle as they talked about Mendelssohn replacing his late sire at stud.

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In 1971, though, you can be sure that Savin and Croll gave not a thought to the possibility that 46 years after they purchased their promising Raise a Native colt his male line descendants would win seven of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races. Mr. Prospector turned out to be a supremely fast but not particularly sound racehorse, though his seven wins in 14 starts reads like a full career for the contemporary racehorse. He led the North American sire list three times in the 1980s after his transfer to Claiborne Farm, but he was an even better sire of sires, and that aspect of his greatness was on display at Del Mar.

Mr. Prospector’s seven 2017 Breeders’ Cup winners descend through five different sons: Mile winner World Approval, by Northern Afleet, is a grandson of Afleet. Classic winner Gun Runner, by Candy Ride, and Distaff winner Forever Unbridled, by Unbridled’s Song, descend from Fappiano. Juvenile Fillies winner Caledonia Road, by Quality Road, is a great-granddaughter of Gone West. Filly and Mare Turf winner Wuheida, by Dubawi, descends from Seeking the Gold. Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway is a son of Smart Strike, while Juvenile winner Good Magic is by Smart Strike’s best son Curlin.

That kaleidoscope of winners demonstrates how the Mr. Prospector male line has adapted to different conditions around the globe. Wuheida’s grandsire, Dubai Millennium, by dirt Grade 1 winner Seeking the Gold, won the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on dirt and the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois on soft turf. Wuheida’s sire, Dubawi, was Dubai Millennium’s best son and a Group 1 winner on turf.

Mr. Prospector’s only real rival among contemporary sire-line founders, Northern Dancer, accounted for four Breeders’ Cup winners, three of them on turf, where his descendants excel, including, of course, Mendelssohn. Northern Dancer’s great-grandson Medaglia d’Oro sired both Turf winner Talismanic and Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold, and may have been deprived of a triple only by the outside post position drawn by Juvenile third-place finisher Bolt d’Oro. More Than Ready, a great-grandson of Hail to Reason, also sired two winners in Juvenile Fillies Turf victor Rushing Fall and Sprint winner Roy H.

The count among successful broodmare sire lines was reversed, with seven of the 13 winning broodmare sires hailing from the Northern Dancer male line, four from Mr. Prospector, one from Icecapade, and one from Caro.

Although the 13 Breeders’ Cup winners were produced by 13 different broodmares, two broodmares recorded the extraordinary feat of producing a second Breeders’ Cup winner. Win Approval, by With Approval, is also dam of 2006 Mile winner Miesque’s Approval, by Miesque’s Son. Even more impressively, Mendelssohn’s dam, Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek, now holds the record for Breeders’ Cup wins by the offspring of a broodmare, since her daughter Beholder won the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 as well as the Distaff in 2013 and 2016.