09/21/2013 9:38PM

Sparkman: The rise of Sadler’s Wells

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The most striking feature of the American breeding scene over the past decade has been the steady increase in influence of the male line of 1992 Horse of the Year and dual leading North American sire A.P. Indy as a source of North American graded stakes winners. That trend has been maintained this year, but its significance has been somewhat overshadowed by the growth in influence of another male line, that descending from 1984 Irish 2000 Guineas winner Sadler’s Wells.

Sadler’s Wells has dominated European sire lists for most of the past two decades, leading the English/Irish sire list a record 14 times and the French sire list four times. His son Galileo has led the English/Irish list in four of the past five years and is all but certain to make that five of six in 2013, and Sadler’s Wells’s sons Montjeu and Poliglote each has led the French list.

With one notable exception, though, Sadler’s Wells has always been something of an afterthought in North America, dismissed as a sire whose progeny required turf, and often soft turf at that, conditions that historically are too rare for dominance in North America. That exception was Sadler’s Wells’s 1991 Irish champion 2-year-old, El Prado (out of Lady Capulet, by Sir Ivor), who was imported to stand in Kentucky and led the North American sire list in 2002, when his son Medaglia d’Oro was one of the best dirt horses in America.

Medaglia d’Oro has since become one of America’s best sires, but the horse who has keyed the increase in Sadler’s Wells’s share of the American graded stakes landscape is El Prado’s 2004 champion turf male, Kitten’s Joy (Kitten’s First, by Lear Fan). Though largely dismissed by the breeding industry as a grass horse in a dirt-horse environment, Kitten’s Joy was tied for the lead among sires of North American graded stakes winners through last Sunday.

As shown in Table 1 (page 4), Kitten’s Joy has sired seven North American graded stakes winners in 2013 – six of those on grass – tying War Front, by Danzig, for the lead this year. His paternal half-brother Medaglia d’Oro is tied for second with six graded stakes winners, along with perennial leaders Empire Maker and Giant’s Causeway. A.P. Indy’s descendants also rank highly on the current list through Malibu Moon’s and Tapit’s five graded stakes winners apiece and Pulpit’s four.

Sadler’s Wells is, of course, a son of the greatest sire-line founder of the second half of the 20th century, Northern Dancer, whose male line has dominated North American graded stakes for more than two decades. In recent years, Northern Dancer’s share of the North American graded stakes universe seemed to stabilize at around 33 percent, but as shown in Table 2, that percentage has soared to more than 40 percent this year.

That increase can be attributed mostly to the two aforementioned grandsons of Sadler’s Wells, Kitten’s Joy and Medaglia d’Oro, with a powerful assist from the sensational young sire War Front, who is leading a similar resurgence in the importance of the Danzig branch of Northern Dancer in North America.

In other parts of the globe, Sadler’s Wells and Danzig have long been the dominant branches of the Northern Dancer male line, and Northern Dancer is far more dominant abroad than in North America. Here, Mr. Prospector accounts for around 28 percent of graded stakes winners annually, but that percentage is closer to 10 percent in other parts of the globe.

The branch of Mr. Prospector through his most important European son, Machiavellian (Coup de Folie, by Halo), also is rapidly increasing in importance in North America through his best son, Street Cry. Although Street Cry himself does not have any 2013 North American graded winners, his best son, 2006 champion 2-year-old male and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, has been a revelation this year, with five graded stakes winners (this success is undoubtedly a major factor in Darley’s decision to bring Street Sense back to the United States for 2014). Street Cry’s sons Street Boss and Street Hero also have sired graded winners this year, sharply boosting Street Cry’s profile as a sire of sires.

The success of any male line will vary somewhat from year to year, but percentages of graded winners for the supporting cast of North American male lines – principally Blushing Groom, Caro, Hail to Reason, and In Reality – remain at about the same level they have maintained for the past several years.

Broodmare sires of graded winners are always considerably more varied than the sires of graded winners. That is a necessary result of the fact that prominent sires average more than 100 foals a year, while a broodmare produces (hopefully) only one, plus the fact that far more individual broodmares, by a wide variety of broodmare sires, produce foals every year than individual stallions.

As shown in Table 3, A.P. Indy, the leader of the North American broodmare sire list, also leads all broodmare sires with seven graded stakes winners this year.

The prowess of Deputy Minister and his sons as sires of broodmares also is well documented, with Deputy Minister himself represented by six graded stakes-producing broodmares, and his sons Dehere, French Deputy, and Touch Gold by five apiece. The appearance of Touch Gold, the winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes, is particularly interesting since, unlike almost all highly ranked broodmare sires, he never gained correspondingly high renown as a sire of racehorses.

Dehere is the sire of the likely front-runner for 2013 Broodmare of the Year honors, Take Charge Lady, one of four broodmares with two graded stakes winners this year. Another is 2012 Broodmare of the Year Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power, the dam of 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, by Wiseman’s Ferry, and multiple Grade 2 winner Successful Dan, by Successful Appeal. Both have won graded stakes this year, but no Broodmare of the Year has ever repeated.

Take Charge Lady, a multiple Grade 1 winner herself, is the dam of 2013 Grade 1 Travers Stakes winner Will Take Charge, by Unbridled’s Song, and 2013 Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes winner Take Charge Indy, by A.P Indy, who also won last year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Only two other mares have produced more than one 2013 graded stakes winner with the racing season rapidly approaching its conclusion. Afleet Summer, by Afleet, is the dam of Grade 2 La Jolla winner Dice Flavor, by Scat Daddy, and of Swift Warrior, by First Samurai, who has won two Grade 3 stakes this year. Preserver, by Forty Niner, is the dam of Grade 3 Transylvania winner Jack Milton and Grade 3 Noble Damsel winner Peace Preserver, both by War Front.
 

Table 1
Leading sires of 2013
graded stakes winners

Sire                                                    GSW

Kitten’s Joy........................................... 7

War Front.............................................. 7

Empire Maker...................................... 6

Giant’s Causeway............................... 6

Medaglia d’Oro.................................... 6

Ghostzapper........................................ 5

Indian Charlie...................................... 5

Malibu Moon........................................ 5

Speightstown....................................... 5

Street Sense........................................ 5

Tapit....................................................... 5

Discreet Cat......................................... 4

Pulpit..................................................... 4

Scat Daddy........................................... 4

Unbridled’s Song................................ 4

 

Table 2

2013 Graded stakes winners
by sire line and branch

Sire line/branch                          GSW

A.P. Indy............................. 27 (10.3%)

   Pulpit............................................... 11

Blushing Groom.................... 7 (2.7%)

Broad Brush........................... 1 (0.4%)

Caro...................................... 10 (3.8%)

   Cozzene........................................... 4

   Indian Charlie.................................. 6

Kalamoun.............................. 1 (0.4%)

Hail to Reason.................... 13 (4.9%)

   Halo .................................................. 6

   Roberto............................................. 7

Icecapade.............................. 4 (1.5%)

In Reality.................................... 8 (3%)

   Relaunch ......................................... 6

Mr. Prospector..................... 5 (28.5%)

   Carson City...................................... 4

   Fappiano........................................ 23

   Forty Niner....................................... 7

   Gone West .................................... 17

   Kingmambo .................................... 4

   Machiavellian ................................. 8

   Smart Strike .................................... 6

Never Bend............................ 1 (0.4%)

Northern Dancer ........... 109 (41.4%)

   Danzig............................................ 24

   Deputy Minister............................. 17

   Sadler’s Wells............................... 18

   Storm Cat....................................... 44

Raise a Native....................... 1 (0.4%)

Ribot........................................ 2 (0.8%)

Rough’n Tumble................... 3 (1.1%)

Sharpen Up........................... 1 (0.4%)

 

Table 3
Leading broodmare sires of 2013 graded stakes winners

Broodmare sire                              GSW

A.P. Indy................................................ 7

Deputy Minister................................... 6

Dehere.................................................. 5

Distorted Humor.................................. 5

French Deputy..................................... 5

Seeking the Gold................................ 5

Storm Cat............................................. 5

Touch Gold........................................... 5

Kingmambo......................................... 4

Saint Ballado....................................... 4

Citidancer............................................. 3

Clever Trick.......................................... 3

Cryptoclearance.................................. 3

Forty Niner............................................ 3

Grand Slam.......................................... 3

Maria’s Mon......................................... 3

Seattle Slew......................................... 3

Smart Strike......................................... 3

Wild Again............................................ 3

zolaism More than 1 year ago
cannot take the heat even at the DRF which is obsolete !