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Sparkman: Ward, Hasili in spotlight at Royal Ascot
American trainer Wesley Ward has a good thing going.
Six years ago, the innovative former champion apprentice rider turned trainer suspected some of his more advanced American-bred and -trained 2-year-olds might be more precocious and advanced than their European counterparts and American riding tactics could give them a further advantage over the slower-starting Europeans. When his good older sprinter Cannonball was invited to participate in the King’s Stand Stakes at the 2009 Royal Ascot meeting, he decided to test that theory at Ascot’s prestigious June festival.
The results were a shock to the system for European racing aficionados when the Ward-trained Trippi filly Jealous Again ran away with the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, the most prestigious early-season race for juvenile fillies in England, and the trainer’s Tiger Ridge gelding Strike the Tiger scored in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Ward has since won even more prestige at Royal Ascot through the victories of No Nay Never in the 2013 Group 2 Norfolk Stakes and Hootenanny in the 2014 Windsor Castle, and he was at it again at the 2015 Royal Ascot meeting June 16-20. Ward captured the Queen Mary once again when Acapulco, by global rising star sire Scat Daddy, dominated a high-class field to win the five-furlong event by 1 1/2 lengths.
Winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Scat Daddy (out of Love Style, by Mr. Prospector) was the best son of international champion 2-year-old male Johannesburg, and he made a good impression with his first American runners, which included the Grade 1 winner Lady of Shamrock, the Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby winner Daddy Long Legs, and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike. Scat Daddy’s global profile has exploded over the last few years, though, as his progeny from annual shuttles to Chile totally dominated racing there, and his European-raced offspring such as No Nay Never began winning Group 1 races.
Wesley Ward ran Cannonball in both the King’s Stand and the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at the 2009 Royal Ascot meeting, and he was beaten only a neck when second in the latter race, but until this year, neither Ward nor any other American trainer had won a race for older horses at the meeting. This time, though, Ward’s 5-year-old gelding Undrafted outfinished the favored Brazen Beau to win the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee (formerly the Golden Jubilee).
Undrafted, out of French Jeannette, by French Deputy, is the second top-level winner sired by Purim, one of the few top milers sired by the great Dynaformer. Winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in 2007, Purim has sired only five stakes winners from 217 foals of racing age, but that number includes the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes winner Twilight Eclipse. Unfortunately, Purim died in 2012 after siring only four crops.
Few broodmares of any era can match the record of Juddmonte Farms’ Hasili. The stakes-winning daughter of the Epsom Derby winner Kahyasi produced 10 foals, of which eight raced, and seven were winners of group or graded stakes, including five Group 1 or Grade 1 winners, three champions, and two Breeders’ Cup winners.
Hasili’s hoofprints were all over the five-day Royal Ascot meeting, where 23 of the 30 races award black type, 18 of 30 carry group status, and eight Group 1 trophies are awarded, and Hasili’s name appears in the pedigree of seven of the 23 black-type winners.
All but one of those appearances is through her most influential offspring, her first foal, Dansili, by Danehill. Dansili was not one of Hasili’s five top-level winners, but he certainly was a Grade 1-quality horse. Dansili won the Group 3 Prix Messidor at 3 and the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc and Group 2 Prix de Muguet at 4. Though he never won a Group 1 or Grade 1 race, he ran second or third at that level on six occasions and probably was the best horse in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile when forced to thread his way through the pack as War Chant rallied in the clear on the outside. Dansili finished third, beaten a neck and nose.
Retired to Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor stallion station near Newmarket, England, in 2001, Dansili has been an outstanding sire from the outset and led the French sire list in 2006, when son Rail Link won the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Grand Prix de Paris. With 11 crops now age 3 and up, Dansili has sired 1,098 foals, including 106 stakes winners, a sparkling 10 percent strike rate. That number includes 62 group or graded winners, of which 19 are Group 1 or Grade 1 winners.
Dansili sired only one winner at Royal Ascot, the undefeated Mahsoob (out of Mooakada, by Montjeu), who won the listed Wolferton Handicap, but his Group 1-winning daughter Passage of Time (Clepsydra, by Sadler’s Wells) is the dam of perhaps the most visually impressive winner of the entire meeting. Juddmonte’s Time Test, by Dubawi, displayed an exciting turn of foot to win the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths in a time that was two seconds faster than Free Eagle’s win in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. The Tercentenary was Time Test’s third win in five starts, and he is likely to move up to Group 1 company next time out, perhaps in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes or the Juddmonte International.
Another daughter of Dansili, the stakes-placed Winter Silence, a half-sister to four stakes winners, including the Group 1 winner Polish Summer, by Polish Precedent, is the dam of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes winner Snow Sky, by Nayef.
The most prolific conduit of Hasili’s genes at Royal Ascot, though, was Dansili’s son Zoffany, who sired three first-crop juvenile stakes winners at the meeting, duplicating the feat of Galileo’s son New Approach at the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting. The star of the trio, visually at least, was the filly Illuminate (Queen of Stars, by Green Desert), who drew away to an easy 1 1/2-length win in the six-furlong Albany Stakes. Waterloo Bridge (Miss Childrey, by Dr Fong) captured the Group 2 Norfolk by a half-length over five furlongs, while Washington Dc (How’s She Cuttin’, by Shinko Forest) just got up to win the five-furlong Windsor Castle Stakes by a head.
A descendant of Hasili also won the meet’s longest and most traditional race, the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 Gold Cup, when Trip To Paris, by Dansili’s full brother, Champs Elysees, outlasted the favored Forgotten Rules, who faded to third in the last strides. Dansili was a miler, but Champs Elysees required longer distances to be seen at his best, so it is no surprise he would sire a Gold Cup winner. Winner of the Group 2 Prix d’Hedouville over 2,400 meters at 4 in France, he captured the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes in Canada and the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup at 5 and the Canadian International at 6 (all at 1 1/2 miles) in 2009, when he was Canada’s Horse of the Year. Trip To Paris is Champs Elysees’s eighth stakes winner and first Group 1 winner.
That was the only Group 1 victory for Hasili’s descendants at Royal Ascot, but another Juddmonte-bred who stands alongside Dansili and Champs Elysees at Banstead Manor accounted for two of the eight top-level winners. Oasis Dream, champion European sprinter of 2003, has been considered a top-five European sire for most of the last decade, and two of his sons, Goldream and Muhaarar, showed they have inherited their sire’s brilliant speed at Ascot. The 6-year-old gelding Goldream (Clizia, by Machiavellian) won his first Group 1 in the five-furlong King’s Stand on opening day, barely heading the 50-1 shot Medicean Man at the wire. The inaugural Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs was invented to fill a gap in the European program for 3-year-old sprinters, who heretofore had been forced to race against older horses to earn Group 1 honors. The race confirmed the class of Muhaarar (Tahrir, by Linamix), who had shown considerable promise last year with a victory in the Group 2 Gimcrack.
Goldream and Muhaarar were the 12th and 13th Group 1 or Grade 1 winners for Oasis Dream, a list headed by daughter Midday (Midsummer, by Kingmambo), who counted the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf among her six top-level wins. Overall, Oasis Dream has sired 99 stakes winners from 956 foals age 3 and up, an outstanding 10 percent strike rate.
With the exception of Undrafted’s victory in the Diamond Jubilee, all of the Group 1 events at Royal Ascot went to male-line descendants of Northern Dancer, whose scions captured 19 of the 23 black-type races. Mr. Prospector was represented by Time Test, by Dubawi; the Group 2 Hardwicke winner Snow Sky, by the Gulch stallion Nayef; and the Group 3 Jersey Stakes winner Dutch Connection, by Machiavellian’s grandson Dutch Art. Undrafted was the sole representative of the Hail to Reason male line through his Epsom Derby-winning son Roberto.