06/26/2017 11:27AM

Sparkman: Requiem for Scat Daddy

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Barbara D. Livingston
The late Scat Daddy was the sire of four winners from only eight starters at last week's Royal Ascot meeting.

In a racing milieu dominated by Europe’s two best sires Galileo and Dubawi, the undoubted star sire of last week’s Royal Ascot meeting was the late, much lamented Scat Daddy. Winner of the 2007 Grade 1 Florida Derby, Scat Daddy died Dec. 15, 2015, at Ashford Stud, only 11 years old, just as his stud career was hitting high gear on the international stage.

Scat Daddy’s record has gotten better and better since his early death, and he demonstrated his prowess as a sire of fast, precocious horses at Royal Ascot, leading all sires with four winners (from only eight starters), while Dubawi and Galileo each sired three winners from the 30 races at the Royal meeting from a much higher number of runners. Two of the four won Group 1 sprints, the phenomenal filly Lady Aurelia, who demolished older males by three lengths in the five-furlong Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, and the undefeated Caravaggio, who overcame adversity to score impressively in the six-furlong Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.

Bred in Kentucky by Axel Wend, Scat Daddy, by far the best son of world champion 2-year-old Johannesburg, was half-brother to Grade 3 winner Antipathy, by A.P. Indy, and full brother to stakes winner Grand Daddy. His dam, Love Style, by Mr. Prospector, was unraced but a half-sister to stakes winner Grat, by A.P. Indy, out of Grade 1 winner Likeable Style, by Nijinsky II, from a family developed by Greentree Stud.

Purchased for $250,000 by trainer Todd Pletcher on behalf of James Scatourchio as a yearling at Keeneland September, he won the Grade 2 Sanford and ran second to Coolmore’s Circular Quay in the Grade 1 Hopeful before Coolmore partner Michael Tabor purchased an interest. Scat Daddy promptly won the Grade 1 Champagne, but finished only fourth, beaten 15 lengths by Street Sense, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Scat Daddy ran second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull to Nobiz Like Shobiz, but turned the tables in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and then beat Notional in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Scat Daddy started third favorite at 7-1 in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, but he strained a tendon and finished 18th behind Street Sense.

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Scat Daddy never ran again and retired to Ashford Stud in 2008 with little fanfare. He was an immediate though somewhat under the radar success, siring Grade 1 American Oaks winner Lady of Shamrock (out of Blushing Issue, by Blushing John), Group 2 UAE Derby winner Daddy Longlegs (Dreamy Maiden, by Meadowlake), Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike (Classic Strike, by Smart Strike), and seven other stakes winners in his first crop.

Scat Daddy began shuttling annually to Chile in 2009 and became an even bigger hit there, leading the sire list in each of the last four years and siring nine Chilean champions, including Horses of the Year Il Campione (Global Gold, by Pleasant Tap) and Solaria (So Linda, by Seeker’s Reward).

Scat Daddy’s stud career took off internationally though, with the victory of the Wesley Ward-trained No Nay Never (Cat’s Eye Witness, by Elusive Quality) in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Prix Morny in 2013. His two best performers to date, however, arrived in style last year at Royal Ascot, when Lady Aurelia ran away with the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes and Caravaggio won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.

Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio possess very different pedigrees. Lady Aurelia is a daughter of Puerto Rican champion D’Wildcat Speed, by D’Wildcat, who was talented enough to win the Grade 2 Rampart Stakes in the United States. She is half-sister to stakes-placed Titletown Five, by Tiznow, and her second dam, Velvet Panther, by the obscure sire Pentaquod (by Tom Rolfe’s good son London Company), also was a Puerto Rican champion from a family that traces to one of the less successful branches of the famous Affection family.

Lady Aurelia, though is inbred 4x3 to the powerful speed influence Storm Cat, a duplication many breeders avoid because of the well-known flaws (offset knees and throat problems) that Storm Cat passed on regularly along with abundant class. The undefeated Caravaggio, by contrast, is almost a complete outcross within the first six generations with a 6x6 double of Count Fleet the only duplication.

Caravaggio is half-brother to Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes winner My Jen, by Carson City, out of listed stakes winner Mekko Hokte, by Holy Bull. Mekko Hokte’s second dam, stakes winner Silver in Flight, by Silver Series, a half-sister to stakes winner Stark Winter, by Graustark.

Scat Daddy himself was inbred 4x2 to Mr. Prospector and has now sired 87 stakes winners from 777 foals age 3 and up, an 11.2 percent strike rate that compares favorably with virtually all of his contemporaries. With one more crop of yearlings for sale this year, his future contributions will be missed.