09/04/2006 11:00PM

Two gems from Thunder Gulch line

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LAS VEGAS - Circular Quay, a son of Thunder Gulch, was impressive in his first two victories, a maiden race and the Bashford Manor Stakes, but his Hopeful Stakes victory on Monday at Saratoga catapulted him to the head of the 2-year-old class.

The Del Mar Futurity, featuring some very promising juveniles, was scheduled for Wednesday, but the outcome of that race does not matter. Circular Quay is still superior.

Off slowly and in no hurry to join the Hopeful field, Circular Quay was far off the quick fractions of 22.36 and 44.88 seconds put up during the pace battle between Irish Ace, a son of Grand Slam, and Pegasus Wind, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus. But Circular Quay got it into high gear at the quarter pole and simply mowed them all down, drawing off to an authoritative 4 1/4-length victory.

What makes Circular Quay so appealing is the fact that he is bred to be better at age 3 than 2, but he nevertheless is undefeated now in three starts. He showed surprising speed to win a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs, then rallied strongly into a sizzling pace to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths in the six-furlong Bashford Manor Stakes.

Circular Quay is by Thunder Gulch, who won seven stakes during his championship season at 3, including the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Travers, Swaps, Florida Derby, and Fountain of Youth. As a stallion, Thunder Gulch has become synonymous with stamina. From seven foal crops thus far (not including his current 2-year-olds), his best runners include Point Given, who is following in his sire's footsteps, as well as Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain; Coaching Club American Oaks winner Tweedside; Matron and Spinaway Stakes winner Sense of Style; and many Australian-bred Group 1 winners from his stint as a dual hemisphere shuttle stallion.

Circular Quay is out of the Belong to Me mare Circle of Life, who captured the 1999 Spinaway Stakes over Surfside. His fourth dam, Golden Circlet, was a half-sister to stakes winners Seaneen, Endymion, and Pashamin, the dam of Properantes.

More success for sire line

While Thunder Gulch's son Circular Quay won the Hopeful on Saratoga's closing day, Point Given's daughter Point Ashley easily disposed of her field in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

Point Ashley is from the second crop of Point Given, who not only won six major stakes en route to being named champion 3-year-old colt, but was also named Horse of the Year. Point Given, even more than his sire, is not known for getting precocious 2-year-olds, and the future indeed looks rosy for Point Ashley. If she can perform like this at 2, it is downright frightening to think of what she may do next year stretching out to classic distances.

Point Ashley gets an additional boost of stamina from her damsire, Slew o' Gold, one of Seattle Slew's best sons who was a champion at 3 and a champion older male at 4.

Point Ashley is out of the unraced Golden Thatch, and is a half-sister to the high-quality Raw Gold. While Raw Gold found success as a sprinter/miler, she was by the European miler Rahy. Point Ashley's third dam, Hurry Harriet, was a multiple stakes winner in Europe, and her many victories included the 1973 Group 1 Champion Stakes, where she defeated Allez France, generally regarded as Europe's greatest filly, as well as males.

Appealing Zophie won the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on Sunday, the East Coast equivalent to the Del Mar Debutante. Appealing Zophie is by Successful Appeal, whose offspring are sprinter/milers who have won at middle distances, and sometimes beyond. Successful Appeal's best son, Closing Argument, was second to Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby. Most importantly, Appealing Zophie gets abundant stamina from her damsire, Hawkster, and her Elmendorf Farm female family is nothing but high class. Her second dam, Sodeo Sodeo (Seattle Slew), is a half-sister to Maytide, the dam of Barbara Sue, Ide, and Super Ma. Slewpy and Diamond on the Run also come from this line.

The East Coast may have the superior 2-year-old colt in Circular Quay, who will love the distance of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over a Churchill surface on which he has already been victorious. While Appealing Zophie looked smashing in her runaway Spinaway victory, the West Coast may have the superior 2-year-old filly in Point Ashley, who will also relish the 1 1/16 miles of the BC Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 4.