08/14/2006 11:00PM

Special shows off top pedigrees


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The Travers Stakes may be Saratoga's centerpiece, usually featuring the best 3-year-olds from the Triple Crown, but in reality, the 2-year-olds rule at this racetrack.

Since opening day, July 26, nearly every open maiden race for juveniles has featured exquisitely bred babies. The Hopeful Stakes, which is run at the end of the Saratoga meet, is the big prize for 2-year-old colts, and its roster is a Who's Who of the sport's great 2-year-olds, many of whom went on to greater glory at 3.

The Sanford Stakes and Saratoga Special each has been used as a prep for the Hopeful. Scat Daddy and Teuflesberg, two colts from the first crop of leading freshman stallion Johannesburg, finished one-two in the Sanford Stakes on July 27. Teuflesberg, who set a fast pace and lost by a neck, is back for the Saratoga Special on Saturday, when he again meets Shermanesque, who has finished in front of Teuflesberg in both of their meetings.

Shermanesque won his maiden debut at Churchill Downs on June 11, drawing off to a 2 1/4-length victory, with Teuflesberg fourth. In just his second start, Shermanesque took over the lead in the stretch of the Bashford Manor Stakes on July 8 before being passed by Circular Quay, who is headed for the Hopeful. Shermanesque will make his first start since that defeat, and has been training at Saratoga for trainer Anthony Reinstedler. Based on his pedigree, he has a license to progress as he matures.

By Fusaichi Pegasus, Sherman-esque is out of the T.V. Commercial mare T.V. Countess and is a half-brother to 1997 2-year-old filly champion Countess Diana, who won the Spinaway and Schuylerville Stakes over this surface. T.V. Commercial, who won the 1967 Arlington-Washington Futurity and was a top 2-year-old behind champion Vitriolic, is having a good year as a broodmare sire. He is also the broodmare sire of recent Secretariat Stakes winner Showing Up.

A hurdle for Shermanesque is his inside post. At Saratoga, the rail is a tough place for horses sprinting six or 6 1/2 furlongs.

In addition to being by Johannesburg, the 2001 2-year-old champion, Teuflesberg is exquisitely inbred 5x4 to State, Johannesburg's fourth dam. State is also the third dam of St. Michele, the dam of Teuflesberg. Inbreeding to superior females within five generations through different individuals is called the Rasmussen Factor (RF), which is often a barometer of high class. State is most definitely a superior female. She is the dam of stakes winners Region (by Devil's Bag), Double Feint (Spectacular Bid), Announce (Forty Niner), Dibs (Spectacular Bid), and Narrate (Honest Pleasure). Narrate produced stakes winner Preach, the dam of Pulpit; Yarn, who is a full sister to Preach and is the dam of English 2-year-old champion Minardi; Tale of the Cat, a successful sire; and Myth, the dam of Johannesburg.

The Danzig-Danehill legacy lives on

Both Danzig and his son Danehill are deceased, but their story is far from over. Last Sunday, Danehill's 2-year-old colt Holy Roman Emperor avenged his loss to Hellvelyn in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes by steamrolling past Hellvelyn to win the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last Sunday. Holy Roman Emperor also won the Group 2 Railway Stakes earlier in the season and is scheduled to wheel right back in this weekend's Group 1 Prix Morny.

Holy Roman Emperor is out of the unraced Secretariat mare L'On Vite, who is a daughter Fanfreluche, a Canadian Horse of the Year and U.S. 3-year-old filly champion. L'On Vite is a full sister to D'Accord and Medaille d'Or, and a half-sister to L'Enjoleur, La Voyageuse, and Grand Luxe.

Hellvelyn, who finished second in the Phoenix, is by Danzig's son Ishiguru, who is out of multiple stakes winner Strategic Maneuver.

Miss Beatrix, who is by Danehill's son Danehill Dancer, finished third in the Phoenix.

Also on Sunday at Deauville, Librettist, a 4-year-old son of Danzig, captured the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois. Librettist, who has won 6 of 7 career starts for Godolphin, is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Dubai Destination. Librettist's dam, Mysterial, is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Agnes World, Hishi Akebono, and My Sea Castles.

Danehill, Danzig's best son at stud, died in 2003 at age 17, and Danzig was euthanized earlier this year at 29.