08/24/2004 11:00PM

Success runs in the family for Bianconi


LAS VEGAS - Bianconi was destined to be a good sire. For a son of Danzig, whose international influence was established long ago by his many sons who became superior stallions (Danehill, Green Desert, Polish Precedent, Chief's Crown, Anabaa, etc.), Bianconi went to stud with little fanfare in this country, standing for only $7,500 because he only won one race in England, a Group 2 stakes, as a 3-year-old. But his two victories in Ireland and a second in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes was enough for him to be named a champion at 3 in Ireland.

His sire, Danzig, was recently pensioned from stud duty at the age of 27. Danzig was a giant in the breeding industry and will forever rank among Northern Dancer's best sons at stud (along with Sadler's Wells, Nureyev, and Nijinsky II). Danzig was an immediate hit at stud, getting 22 winners from 27 starters in his first crop, including nine stakes winners and 2-year-old champion Chief's Crown.

Early success dictated higher-quality books of mares in every subsequent season, and while nearly all of Danzig's offspring were out of notable broodmares, Bianconi was one Danzig colt who truly stood out from all the others because of his dam, Fall Aspen.

By the time Bianconi came along in 1995, Fall Aspen had already been named Broodmare of the Year (1994), having produced eight stakes winners: Northern Aspen (by Northern Dancer), Elle Seule (Exclusive Native), Mazzacano (Alleged), Colorado Dancer (Shareef Dancer), Hamas (a full brother to Bianconi), Fort Wood (Sadler's Wells), Timber Country (Woodman), and Prince of Thieves (Hansel). When Bianconi won the Group 2 Racal Diadem Stakes in England, he became the final stakes winner for Fall Aspen, equaling the record of nine stakes winners set by the incomparable Grey Flight.

The true value of any great broodmare is her influence over many generations, and Fall Aspen hits home runs in every category. In addition to her nine stakes winners, her daughters - even those who were unraced or the few who didn't win stakes - produced high quality racehorses.

Elle Seule produced two Group 1 champions, Mehthaaf and Elnadim, as well as stakes winner Ashraakat.

Colorado Dancer produced multiple Group 1 winner Dubai Millennium, as well as stakes-placed Denver County and Fort Morgan.

The unraced Dance of Leaves (a full sister to Fort Wood, by Sadler's Wells) produced champion Charnwood Forest and Group 1 winner Medaaly.

Sheroog (a full sister to Colorado Dancer, by Shareef Dancer) produced two stakes winners, Kabool and Sharaf Kabeer.

Thus, it is no surprise that Bianconi is fast emerging as an exciting second-crop sire. Bianconi is an important stallion because he is the only son of Fall Aspen standing at stud in North America. Timber Country, a champion at 2 and winner of the Preakness Stakes, is a successful sire in Japan; Fort Wood (the sire of Horse Chestnut), is among the top sires in South Africa; Prince of Thieves, who was third in the Kentucky Derby, was severely injured in the Pennsylvania Derby and could not be saved; and Hamas is a sire in Ireland.

Sons of Danzig have particularly flourished as turf sires. Chief's Crown, while a champion on dirt in this country, made a name for himself especially in Europe as a sire of top grass runners, including champions Be My Chief, Erhaab, Grand Lodge, and Grade 1 winner Chief Bearhart. Chief's Crown's many stakes winners include Charlotte Augusta and Coronation Cup.

Offspring from Bianconi's first crop were at a disadvantage racing on dirt, but he still sired 27 winners from 49 starters, many of whom used their high speed to win on dirt.

Last Saturday, runners by Bianconi had a banner day, winning two stakes on dirt.

Refuse to Bend, a 3-year-old gelding from his first crop, won Woodbine's Izvestia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at 33-1. Refuse to Bend is out of a mare by Regal Intention (Vice Regent), and his second dam is by Grey Dawn II. He should be even better on turf.

Bianconi Baby, a 3-year-old filly also from Bianconi's first crop, sped wire to wire over a wet-fast track to win the 1 1/8-mile Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks at Emerald Downs. Bianconi Baby is out of the Woodman mare Pledge, and her second dam, Vouch, is a half-sister to stakes winners Bio and Order. Bianconi Baby's third dam, Resume, was a full sister to Revidere - the 1976 3-year-old filly champion - and the second successive champion filly for Reviewer, following the immortal Ruffian. This female family traces to Alanesian, the dam of multiple stakes winner Princessnesian and Boldnesian (the grandsire of Seattle Slew). Like Refuse to Bend, Bianconi Baby should prosper on turf.

Bianconi is not a "hidden" turf sire, since his success came on turf, but he is generally unknown to American horseplayers, and that is why his runners are value plays when they try grass, especially for the first time.

Cinematic is a case in point. A 3-year-old gelding by Bianconi out of the Raise a Native mare Raise a Sweetheart, Cinematic showed nothing in his debut in a March 6 maiden race on dirt at Santa Anita, finishing 12th. But it was a totally different story in his second start April 10 at Santa Anita, when he wired 11 other 3-year-olds to win a maiden race on the grass at about 6 1/2 furlongs. The surface switch resulted in a dramatic turnaround, and Cinematic paid $83.

Like his sire, Danzig, Bianconi is proving to be versatile, getting winners on all surfaces. His runners have shown speed on fast and wet tracks, but ultimately, Bianconi will make his mark as a superior sire of turf runners.