07/22/2003 11:00PM

Stravinsky's first crop firing early


LAS VEGAS - Two-year-old racing doesn't really begin in earnest until June, so it's quite amazing that freshman sire Stravinsky already has 13 winners and it's only late July. While most of these winners were in Europe, members of Stravinsky's first crop of juveniles have also appeared in the United States.

Stravinsky was a champion sprinter in England at 3, when he captured two prestigious Group 1 races, the July Cup and the Nunthorpe Stakes. In the July Cup, he set a course record, winning by four lengths over Bold Edge, Bertolini, and Arkadian Hero.

Stravinsky is by Nureyev, whose career as a stallion mirrored his brilliance as a racehorse. Among Nureyev's classiest runners is a European Horse of the Year, Zilzal, whose only loss was in the Breeders' Cup Mile when the high-strung colt became unglued in the Florida heat at Gulfstream Park. Nureyev's champions include Theatrical and two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Miesque (the dam of Kingmambo as well as stakes winners Miesque's Son, East of the Moon, Moon Is Up, and group-placed Inventing Paradise).

Generally, Nureyev's offspring inherited his brilliance and were usually at their best up to one mile, like Spinning World, but occasionally, as with Breeders' Cup Turf winner Theatrical and French champion Peintre Celebre, who dazzled in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, they were just as imposing going longer. Like Theatrical, who failed in his first two tries in the Breeders' Cup Turf before winning it in his third try, Spinning World did not win his first BC Mile. He returned the following year to win it.

Nureyev was undefeated in just two races at 2, but they were more than enough to earn him championship honors in France. At 3, he finished first in the 2000 Guineas but was disqualified for interfering with Known Fact, who was declared the winner. Nureyev's stud career was in full bloom in 1987, when he had a near-fatal accident in his paddock. It is a testament to an enormously dedicated team of surgeons, therapists, and farm personnel, as well as to Nureyev's courage, that he survived at all. His ordeal made him even more beloved.

Northern Dancer had numerous high-class runners, and in 1977 he produced two of his most influential sons, Danzig and Nureyev. Nureyev was out of Special, whose name truly befit her place in history. Like so many exceptionally bred fillies who did not succeed on the track (she was unplaced in just one start), Special became a superior broodmare, producing not only Nureyev, but also Fairy Bridge (by Bold Reason), the dam of Sadler's Wells. Nureyev was the result of crossing Northern Dancer with the high-quality female family of Rough Shod II, who was one of the best broodmares of the last century. Her offspring included 1965 co-Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old filly, Moccasin, and her full siblings Ridan, Lt. Stevens, and Thong, the dam of Special. Rough Shod II also produced Gambetta, the dam of a champion, Gamely.

From Native Street line

Stravinsky's female line has as much quality as his sire line. His dam, Fire the Groom (Blushing Groom), was a champion at 4 in France, and her victories include the Beverly D. Stakes. His second dam, Prospector's Fire (Mr. Prospector), placed in only two starts, but produced Dowsing, a Group 1 winner in England. Prospector's Fire was a daughter of Native Street, one of the best fillies from the remarkable crop of 1963, which also yielded Moccasin, Lady Pitt, Natashka, and Marking Time. All of these fillies achieved success at the highest level as broodmares. Moccasin's seven stakes winners include a European champion, Apalachee. Lady Pitt produced stakes winners The Liberal Member and the blue hen Blitey. Natashka's descendants include champion Anees and Elusive Quality. Acorn Stakes winner Marking Time produced champion Relaxing, the dam of Easy Goer.

Native Street won 10 races, including the Sorority Stakes at 2 and Kentucky Oaks at 3. Like other prominent members from her foal crop, Native Street had an illustrious career as a broodmare, producing the full stakes-winning brothers Royal and Regal and Regal and Royal to the cover of a European champion, Vaguely Noble. Bred to Dr. Fager, Native Street produced I Understand, a modest winner who is the dam of four stakes winners. Another daughter, Mr. P.'s Girl (Mr. Prospector), a full sister to Prospector's Fire, produced stakes winner Thunderdome, and is the granddam of three stakes winners. Bred to Buckpasser, Native Street produced Native Admiral, who finished second in the 1971 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Especially bred for grass

While Stravinsky's 2-year-olds have shown high speed on dirt, they are bred to be superior turf runners, as evidenced by his many European winners.

Venables, a colt out of the Briartic mare Hope for a Breeze, won the Shadwell Stud Rose Bowl Stakes and is Stravinsky's first stakes winner. His stakes-placed offspring include Acciacatura, a filly out of the Woodman mare Lady in Waiting (whose dam is champion Princess Rooney) who was second in the Silver Flash Stakes (Ireland); Looking Back, a filly out of the Don't Forget Me mare Mustique Dream who finished second in Premio Luciano E. Gino Mantovani Stakes (Italy); and Steel Light, a colt out of the Indian Ridge mare Idilic Calm who finished third in the Isobelle Morris Memorial Marble Hill Stakes (Ireland).

Stravinsky's leading earner, however, is the U.S.-based Korsakoff, a son of a multiple stakes winner, Love Lock (Silver Ghost). Korsakoff is one of a slew of promising juveniles Todd Pletcher is taking to Saratoga.

Based on early results, Stravinsky is transmitting his considerable speed to his offspring, and they may still provide value because he is better known in Europe than the United States.