11/20/2015 4:29PM

Sparkman: On song in the Mrs. Revere

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Isabella Sings won the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.

One of the most attractive yearling fillies to enter the training barn at Windfields Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., in 1973 was Ballade, a $55,000 purchase at the Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings. Though she still was very narrow at that stage, she exemplified the extraordinarily long shoulder and deep girth so notable in the conformation of her sire, French champion Herbager.

The first foal out of the very fast multiple stakes winner Miss Swapsco, by Cohoes, a daughter of Darby Dan Farm’s foundation mare Soaring, by Swaps, Ballade won 2 of 8 starts, earning just $12,670, but she proved a great broodmare for Windfields. Ballade produced two champions and a leading sire, and her family, like many great families developed in America, spread internationally through the globalization of racing over the past 40 years. 

Thus, it was rewarding to see a tail-female descendant of Ballade out of a British-bred mare by a German-trained broodmare sire, Isabella Sings, win the most prestigious event available last weekend, the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill.

Bred in Kentucky and still owned by Anthony Manganaro’s Siena Farm, Isabella Sings is by Eskendereya out of Isobel Baillie, by Lomitas, and is a fifth-generation tail-female descendant of Ballade. Isabella Sings is the fourth foal out of Isobel Baillie, a stakes-placed filly by German champion Lomitas, who was British by birth only because his dam, 1983 German champion 2-year-old filly and 1991 German Broodmare of the Year La Colorada, by leading German sire Surumu, was in England to be covered by English-based sire Rousillon. Lomitas earned German Horse of the Year honors at 3, led the German sire list in 2001, and led the French sire list in 2011, when his champion daughter Danedream won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Bred by Darley, Isobel Baillie was a decent racemare in France, winning twice from 11 starts, mostly in the provinces, and running third in the Prix Madame Jean Couturie at Vichy. She did not bring that good form with her to the U.S. and was claimed in her final American start for only $40,000 by Siena at Santa Anita.

Her first foal, Alaura Michele, by Arch, was a good filly, winning 4 of 18 starts and $229,179, including the P.G. Johnson and Nani Rose stakes at Saratoga, and placing in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx. Isobel Baillie’s second foal, Bling Queen, by First Samurai, did not win, and her third dam, Claymaker, by Arch, has won 2 of 15 starts to date. Isabella Sings is her fourth foal, and she since has produced the unraced 2-year-old Hard Spun colt Sport, a yearling colt by Hard Spun (sold for $250,000 to Bill Clifton at the 2015 Keeneland September sale), and a weanling colt by Animal Kingdom. She was bred to Quality Road this year.

Isobel Baillie is the best of six winners produced by her dam, the unraced Dubai Soprano, by Zafonic, but her half-sister Marine Winner, by Fuji Kiseki, is the dam of the Japanese stakes winner White Fugue, by Kurofune. Dubai Soprano was a half-sister to the sturdy campaigner Campanologist, by Kingmambo, who won four Group 1 races in Germany and Italy for Godolphin and earned $1,691,040. Campanologist’s full sister Peace Bell is a graded stakes producer in South Africa, and his half-sister Armilla, by Rainbow Quest, has met the same standard in Australia.

Dubai Soprano’s dam, Ring of Music, by Sadler’s Wells, also was unraced, but she was a three-quarter sister to the globe-trotting Eclipse Award champion turf male Singspiel, by Sadler’s Wells’s son In the Wings, who won top-level races in North America, England, and Japan, as well as the second Dubai World Cup. Singspiel and his Grade 2-winning half-brother Rahy, by Blushing Groom, both became influential international sires. Singspiel has sired 107 stakes winners, including champion turf female Lahudood and Solow, who is certain to be rated Europe’s champion miler this year. The diminutive Rahy has sired 96 stakes winners, including champion turf male Fantastic Light and champion 3-year-old filly and great broodmare Serena’s Song. Their stakes-winning half-brother by Northern Dancer, Rakeen, was a good sire in South Africa.

Morn of Song, a full sister to Rahy, is the dam of English highweight Mezzo Soprano, by Darshaan, and the third dam of Japanese Group 1 winner Verxina, by Deep Impact. Another half-sister, Chansonette, by Mark of Esteem, is the dam of Japanese Group 1 winner Danon Chantilly, by Fuji Kiseki.

Glorious Song, by Halo, the dam of Singspiel, Rahy, and Rakeen, was the first foal out of Ballade.

Purchased as a yearling by John Sikura Sr., Glorious Song won 17 of 34 starts and was voted Horse of the Year in Canada and champion older mare in both Canada and North America in 1980. Glorious Song defeated males in the Grade 2 Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap and ran second to Winter’s Tale in the 1980 Marlboro Cup Handicap.

Ballade did not produce a live foal for four consecutive years after Glorious Song, but when she got back on track, her second foal was the champion mare’s full brother Devil’s Bag, who was purchased for $325,000 by Hickory Tree Stable at the 1982 Keeneland July sale. One of the most brilliantly dominant champion juveniles in American racing history, Devil’s Bag won all five of his starts at 2, breaking stakes records set by Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid in the process. Devil’s Bag was syndicated for a record $36 million after his 2-year-old season and won 3 of 4 starts at 3 but suffered a fractured knee and missed the classics. Devil’s Bag was a good but not great sire at Claiborne Farm.

The great sire out of Ballade was Saint Ballado, a full brother to Devil’s Bag and Glorious Song who won the 1992 Grade 2 Arlington Classic and Grade 3 Sheridan Stakes. Saint Ballado led the American general sire list in 2005, when his best son, Saint Liam, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and was voted Horse of the Year.

Isabella Sings’s sire, Eskendereya, was one of the most talented sons of three-time leading sire Giant’s Causeway. A half-brother to English Group 1 winner Balmont, by Stravinsky, from the great family tracing to foundation mare Cosmah that includes Glorious Song’s sire, Halo, Eskendereya won the Pilgrim Stakes in his second start at 2 but was well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Vale of York and Lookin At Lucky.

Eskendereya looked vastly improved at 3, beating Jackson Bend by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and again by 9 3/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Eskendereya was certain to start as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was withdrawn less than a week before the race with a soft tissue injury and soon retired to stud.

A medium-sized, attractive horse with the long, angular hip typical of descendants of Storm Cat, Eskendereya also inherited Storm Cat’s offset knees and toes out somewhat. Isabella Sings is his fourth stakes winner from 195 foals in his first two crops, including 2-year-olds of 2015. She also is his first graded stakes winner, although his daughter Eskenformoney ran second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.

Eskendereya also has sired good current 2-year-olds in the Landaluce Stakes winner Right There (out of Elrose, by Deputy Minister) and the 2015 Toronto Cup winner Conquest Pacemaker (Heart Rate, by Mr. Greeley). Although his first runners have taken some time to light up the headlines, there are enough talented runners there to believe Eskendereya may yet fulfill his promise, but if he does, he will be overseas when it happens. He was bought in late September by the Japanese Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association and will stand in Japan in 2016. He had stood at Taylor Made in Nicholasville, Ky., since his first season in 2011.

Ballade did not excel as a racemare, but her descendants have preserved a place for her in racing history.