09/20/2007 11:00PM

Theatrical as versatile and durable as ever

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - A champion racer 20 years ago and a well-proven sire of high merit, Theatrical continues to succeed at stud, even without the backing of the large, high-quality band of broodmares that the late Allen Paulson put together to support his home stallions.

In fact, Theatrical, a 25-year-old son of Nureyev, is as good a sire as ever, and to prove the point over the weekend, his son Shakespeare won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and his daughter Mrs. Lindsay won the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.

Both races are stakes of high significance. And the victories of Theatrical's son and daughter emphasized the traits that have made the stallion such a success as a high-quality sire of racehorses: outstanding athletic ability and the finishing kick necessary to win at the highest level on turf.

Theatrical showed the ability to make the pace or lay off it and finish effectively, and his best offspring have a similar balance of athletic talents. Theatrical used his ability well, winning six Grade 1 stakes and running second or third in another half-dozen. He earned $2.9 million and was champion turf horse in 1987.

Although a classic horse, Theatrical has been an outstanding sire because he had speed and has passed along his pace, as well as the stride and finesse that allowed him to race a distance so well.

Shakespeare, in particular, has shown the versatility for adapting to differing distances that is found in truly outstanding racehorses. The bay horse has performed at his best from a mile to 1 1/2 miles and has won 7 of his 8 starts.

Like his ability to adapt to different racing situations, Theatrical also has shown versatility in his capacity to sire top-class racers from a wide variety of bloodlines, whether highly fashionable or largely distinguished by racing ability.

Theatrical has crossed successfully with mares by such important stallions as Arc de Triomphe winner Vaguely Noble, Horse of the Year Ack Ack, Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and Mr. Prospector. Frequently, there is some evidence of turf performance in the pedigree of the stallion's successful progeny, which is the case with Shakespeare and Mrs. Lindsay.

Bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm, Shakespeare is out of the That's a Nice mare Lady Shirl, who won 10 stakes, including the Grade 1 Flower Bowl on turf. Lady Shirl earned slightly more than $1 million racing from 2 through 7, and Shakespeare is the best of her offspring.

The mare has a yearling full sister to Shakespeare and a weanling filly by Perfect Soul. Dell Ridge sold Lady Shirl for $485,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, and Jack Werk purchased Lady Shirl as agent when the mare was carrying the yearling full sister to Shakespeare. Both that filly and the weanling were bred by Charles Fipke, owner of Perfect Soul.

While Lady Shirl was a splendid racemare and has been a good producer, she has anything but a mainstream pedigree. Her sire is the hardy stakes winner That's a Nice, by a precocious sprint sire named Hey Good Lookin, a little-known son of the Australian-bred stallion Noholme. Lady Shirl is out of the stakes-placed Canonization, a daughter of the Raise a Native stallion Native Heritage.

While both Lady Shirl's sire and broodmare sire, Native Heritage, are far from household names in pedigrees, her female line is far more recognizable, tracing back through Glamour to La Troienne, who founded the most famous modern family in the stud book.

In contrast to Lady Shirl's immediate ancestors, the family of Mrs. Lindsay is highly commercial and internationally recognized. It was developed by the late Marshall Jenny of Derry Meeting Farm and his wife, Bettina.

Bettina Jenney bred Mrs. Lindsay at Derry Meeting in Pennsylvania and races her. Mrs. Lindsay's fourth dam is Mrs. Penny, a daughter of Great Nephew who was a highweighted racer and classic winner in Europe and also a winner of the Prix Vermeille. And the pedigree between these two Vermeille winners is studded with some of the best international stock.

A winner three times at Group 1, Mrs. Penny took the laurels in the Cheveley Park at 2, then the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille at 3.

Among Mrs. Penny's foals, her daughter Mrs. Jenny (by The Minstrel) was a minor stakes winner but produced more successfully than her high-class dam.

Mrs. Jenny produced two good stakes winners from her only two foals. The first was Grade 1 winner Unaccounted For, and the second was listed stakes winner A Votre Sante (Irish River).

A Votre Sante, the second dam of Mrs. Lindsay, had reproductive problems and produced only three foals. But her first was the Woodman mare Vole Vole Monamour, who won her only start and has produced a Group 1 winner in Mrs. Lindsay as her second foal.