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Street Cry, E Dubai boost Jonabell
Major stakes winners Street Cry and E Dubai are the first horses from Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin racing stable to retire to Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., but they certainly will not be the last. The sheikh acquired Jonabell last fall as the flagship farm for his expanding American operation, and the two new stallions are his opening move in a plan with significant long-term objectives. Sheikh Mohammed's stated goal the past few years has been to race a winner of the Kentucky Derby and to winter and prepare that horse for the classics in Dubai.
Jimmy Bell, whose family developed Jonabell and owned it for nearly 50 years, is now a director of Darley, Sheikh Mohammed's international breeding operation.
"Sheikh Mohammed is very keen on racing, especially for the top prizes," Bell said, "and with their increasing emphasis on American racing, there was a natural progression" to have more emphasis on breeding in America.
Although Sheikh Mohammed already owned Raceland, a substantial property in Bourbon County, Ky., he had no stallion operation in this country until the purchase of Jonabell. The farm already stood Horse of the Year Holy Bull, champion sprinter Cherokee Run, and the promising young sire Old Trieste, and the addition of Street Cry and E Dubai adds another dimension to the Jonabell stallion roster.
Both Street Cry and E Dubai stallions are from the Mr. Prospector sire line. Street Cry is by Mr. Prospector's champion son Machiavellian, and E Dubai is a son of the great stallion himself. Both stallions showed speed and the quality to carry it a classic distance.
Winner of this year's Dubai World Cup and the top-ranked money earner this year ($4.3 million), Street Cry showed high-class form each year he raced. In addition, he was one of the first of Sheikh Mohammed's European-bred 2-year-olds sent to train and race in America under trainer Eoin Harty in 2000, with a view to challenging for the next year's classics.
Street Cry placed in the Del Mar Futurity, Norfolk Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 2, and then won the UAE Guineas at 3 as part of his winter preparation for the American classics. Unfortunately, the colt had an injury that kept him from racing in the Kentucky Derby, but he came back better than ever this season.
Out of the Irish Oaks winner Helen Street (a daughter of English and Irish Derby winner Troy), Street Cry has a pedigree that emphasizes quality and classic performance. The horse also has the heritage to show a good deal of versatility. Untried on turf, Street Cry's sire and dam excelled in Europe over that surface.
His sire is the former top 2-year-old Machiavellian, who was bred and raced by the Niarchos family and was unbeaten in three starts in France as a juvenile, including the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre and Prix Morny. At 3, Machiavellian also ran second in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The only stallion to have sired two winners of the Dubai World Cup, Machiavellian is consistently gaining commercial market recognition in this country.
Whereas Street Cry is a homebred, E Dubai was one of Sheikh Mohammed's elite sales purchases. Bred by Arthur Hancock and Stonerside Stable, E Dubai brought $1.35 million at the Keeneland September yearling sales in 1999.
E Dubai showed his speed at 3, winning the Dwyer and running second in both the Grade 1 Travers and Super Derby. This year E Dubai won the Suburban.
A son of Mr. Prospector, E Dubai is the second foal and second graded stakes winner from his dam, the stakes-winning Lord at War mare Words of War.
Street Cry and E Dubai will stand for $30,000 and $15,000, respectively, payable when the foals stand and nurse.
"We have been delighted with their reception," Bell said. "With their combination of pedigree and performance, they really do have a lot to offer, and we're in the luxurious position of taking a good look at the mares available and trying to recruit the best possible mares for them."
The global Darley operation is trying to catch the brass ring. "The team concept is primary to our whole approach," Bell said. "Sheikh Mohammed is very enthusiastic and committed, and we are trying to build a good working relationship with breeders. Making these horses available on stand-and-nurse terms is high on Sheikh Mohammed's list of priorities. We realize the importance of breeders and try to support that. Those relationships are an important part of what we're trying to accomplish."
A comfortable working relationship with breeders isn't developed overnight. And that was one of the considerations behind Sheikh Mohammed's purchase of the farm. In addition to acquiring the land and making improvements, he also bought the brand.
"The farm wasn't for sale when they started talking about it, and we weren't looking to sell," said Benny Bell Williams, Jimmy Bell's sister and one of the past owners of Jonabell. "But as the discussions developed, it was important that we knew they were good stewards of the land and very committed to the welfare of their horses. We had developed a relationship with the Darley folks, had sold them a few nice horses [notably Super Derby winner Essence of Dubai]. And our company had a certain way of doing business" that was complementary to the way Darley was operating.
Honesty, integrity, common-sense horsemanship, and care for the horses and the land are all qualities that John A. Bell, Jonabell's founder and the father of Benny Bell Williams and Jimmy Bell, had cultivated in developing the farm and in his family's approach to the horse business.
As a result, Jonabell had become a significant part of the fabric of the Lexington horse breeding community. And clearly, this is part of what Sheikh Mohammed and his team of advisers at Darley sought when making Jonabell the launching pad for their American adventure.
They chose Jonabell, at least in part, because of what it symbolized to breeders and owners in the local community. Although working on a more global scale, the operation of Darley at Jonabell appears to be focused on smoothly integrating this established brand recognition with the Godolphin zeal for sport at the highest level.
Their similar and compatible business philosophies made Jonabell a natural fit for Darley, and the keystone of their operation is using local people with roots and networks of communications in getting breeders to appreciate how much the larger operation needs them.
Darley's long-term commitment to the sport depends on this.
"We're putting down the building blocks but have a good foundation, and it's up to us to make it grow and prosper," Jimmy Bell said. "I've enjoyed the former challenges but really look forward to some larger ones. What drives you is the hope and anticipation of seeing some significant young horses compete in the best races."