10/16/2008 11:00PM

Speedy daughters of Orientate to face off

Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. - As a versatile and talented athlete who won the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint and Eclipse Award as champion sprinter, Orientate has every reason to sire some really fast horses.

And he has.

Two of the quickest are multiple Grade 1 winner Intangaroo and multiple Group 1 winner Lady Sprinter. Both of these 4-year-old fillies are entered in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday, and they will be among the favorites.

Some of their most important competition will come from likely favorite Indian Blessing and Indyanne, both daughters of top stallion Indian Charlie. This important sire stands at Airdrie Stud and has earned his way into the elite of the Kentucky stallion corps.

Among the outstanding competitors in the Filly and Mare Sprint, only Indian Blessing has four Grade 1 victories, one more than Intangaroo.

All three of those victories at the premium level have come this year for Intangaroo, who has improved mightily with time and training.

In fact, Intangaroo had not even started in a stakes until 2008 and is one of most impressive developments of the racing season.

A bay daughter of Tasso's Magic Roo (by Tasso), Intangaroo was bred in Kentucky by Pollock Farms and Taylor Made Farm, who sold her for $37,000 as a yearling to Tom Grether. A bit small at the time of her sale, but a good-looking and typically well-balanced daughter of Orientate, Intangaroo has grown into a top competitor, especially at her preferred distance of seven furlongs.

Lady Sprinter did not bring a vast sum at the yearling sales. The bay filly sold for only $35,000 as a yearling and went to race in South America for the Dama Group.

Michael Hernon of Gainesway Farm recalled that "Lady Sprinter was a good-bodied filly, slightly on the leg, with a big hindquarter. So it doesn't surprise me that she has a lot of early speed."

As a horse bred on Northern Hemisphere time, Lady Sprinter was a half-year behind her Southern Hemisphere competition.

That consideration did not slow down Lady Sprinter. She blasted a maiden field by seven lengths, a group of overmatched allowance foes by six, and then began a march through the sprint stakes in Argentina with a trio of victories by three lengths each.

For her first go at Group 1 company, Lady Sprinter encountered sprinters age 3 and up in the Gran Premio Maipu, which she won by two lengths.

Next came the filly's only attempt at turf, in the Group 1 Gran Premio Felix de Alzaga Unzue, and it is Lady Sprinter's only loss from nine starts.

Lady Sprinter returned to the winner's circle in her two subsequent starts, winning the Group 1 Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires on May 3, which gives her a pair of Group 1 victories. The Ciudad de Buenos Aires was her last start in Argentina.

She was then returned to race in the United States, where she will enter the Breeders' Cup after a layoff of 5 1/2 months.

Although Lady Sprinter will certainly have a major assignment to outrun the fastest fillies and mares in the country, she has faced adversity before.

In addition to giving away six months of maturity to her South American competitors, Lady Sprinter has carried 131 pounds in three starts, and her running line in all her starts is "led throughout," as she dares her opponents to match her for speed.

Is there any question about her tactics for the big race on Friday?

In complete contrast, Intangaroo will be lagging behind, waiting on the front-runners to reach the stretch before trying to catch them.

Hernon said that Orientate's "primary characteristics are great natural speed and determination in battle. He was a horse who vied for the lead and nearly always got it, and then he had great will and determination when challenged."

Those qualities are coming through in his offspring. Hernon said, "Physically and genetically, Orientate throws to his dam, Dream Team, a big, rangy mare by Cox's Ridge, and I believe he inherited his battling qualities from his sire, Mt. Livermore."

Out of the Dixieland Band mare Passionate Player, Lady Sprinter was bred by Gainesway, like her sire.

Orientate is one of three champions by leading sprinter and leading sire Mt. Livermore, who is a son of champion Blushing Groom and who also sired Eclipse Award winners Housebuster and Eliza.

Orientate is the third generation of this sire line that has stood at Gainesway, beginning with the importation of Blushing Groom in the late 1970s by John Gaines, who originated the concept of the Breeders' Cup.

Gaines sold the farm to Graham Beck of South Africa, and under the Beck's management, Gainesway bred Orientate and sold him as a yearling for $250,000 to Bob and Beverly Lewis, who sent the handsome colt to Wayne Lukas for training.

Lukas liked Orientate's scope and great balance, which led him to prepare him for the classics. Although he won the Indiana Derby, Orientate did not hit his best form until tried sprinting as a 4-year-old, when he won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and Forego, as well as the Vanderbilt, Commonwealth, Aristides, and Smile during his championship season.

The trainer's inclination that Orientate would have a classic aptitude has been borne out by his stud record. In addition to siring graded winning juveniles and sprinters, Orientate was also responsible for one of the leading classic-distance fillies of 2007, Alabama winner Lady Joanne.