Monday, November 28, 2011

Irrefutable Gave It His All

Irrefutale (left) and Amazombie in the Ancient Title
Photo:  Benoit Photo/Santa Anita
Irrefutable came agonizingly close to being a top horse.  He never stopped trying, even when the effort exceeded the apparent capabilities of his cardiovascular system.  He literally ran his heart out, and though no one knew it as he rallied along the rail in pursuit of Pacific Ocean in Saturday’s Vernon O. Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park, Irrefutable had just run his last race.

To the shock of both fans and connections, the imposing grey colt collapsed in front of the grandstand within seconds after being unsaddled, and when a vet deemed that his body was in extreme cardiac distress, Irrefutable was helped to leave it.  But before he passed, an onsite observer reported that his rider, Mike Smith, touchingly "kissed his hand and then rubbed Irrefutable's head with it as he lay breathing heavily."  It was all he could do.

By Unbridled's Song out of the graded stakes-placed Kingmambo mare, Honestly Darling, five-year-old Irrefutable is from the high-class family of CCA Oaks winner, Cherokee Rose (his fifth dam), Beverly Hills-G1 heroine Reluctant Guest (his second dam), and Horse of the Year and Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-Race Ack Ack.

Irrefutable went through the sales ring twice, initially as a Keeneland September yearling, when he brought $450,000, and then at the Fasig-Tipton Calder Selected Two-Year-Olds-in-Training sale, where he was purchased by Eldon Farm and Gainesway Stable for $600,000, a price that was second only to the $700,000 paid for Zensational among Unbridled's Song juveniles sold in 2008.

It would be almost two years before Irrefutable would make his debut, and by then, he sported the colors of Kaleem Shah.  From the get-go, the patiently handled Bob Baffert trainee signaled he had a ton of talent.  He easily put away six-furlong maiden special weight foes at Santa Anita in his first start, two days after Christmas, 2009, in a final time of 1:08.25.

Irrefutable raced only twice in 2010 and didn't win again until New Year's Day of this year, when he captured an allowance sprint at Santa Anita under regular pilot Mike Smith in 1:07.27, coming whisper close to the track record (1:06.98) set by The Factor just six days earlier.

Stretched out to six and a half furlongs, Irrefutable came home victorious again against Santa Anita allowance company in March, and went on to win a six-furlong allowance optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill on the first Saturday in May, in what would be his last triumph.

But though Irrefutable never won another race, his best efforts were yet to come.  He was just a neck behind eventual Vosburgh victor Giant Ryan in the Grade II Smile at Calder in July, and three-quarters of a length shy of future Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Amazombie in the Grade I Ancient Title in October, while defeating Grade I winners The Factor and Square Eddie.

Overmatched in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, he rebounded just three weeks later in the Underwood, getting up for second with a determined late run.  It was because of the way he did it, with a fighting spirit and a fluid stride, that Irrefutable's subsequent collapse on the racetrack was so completely unexpected.  It was inconceivable that he could be gone, just like that.

Irrefutable exits the stage having won or placed in nine of his 13 career starts, with earnings of $286,980.  We will miss him.http://www.pedigreequery.com/irrefutable7

Irrefutable Gave It His All

Irrefutale (left) and Amazombie in the Ancient Title
Photo:  Benoit Photo/Hollywood Park
Irrefutable came agonizingly close to being a top horse.  He never stopped trying, even when the effort exceeded the apparent capabilities of his cardiovascular system.  He literally ran his heart out, and though no one knew it as he rallied along the rail in pursuit of Pacific Ocean in Saturday’s Vernon O. Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park, Irrefutable had just run his last race.

To the shock of both fans and connections, the imposing grey colt collapsed in front of the grandstand within seconds after being unsaddled, and when a vet deemed that his body was in extreme cardiac distress, Irrefutable was helped to leave it.  But before he passed, an onsite observer reported that his rider, Mike Smith, touchingly "kissed his hand and then rubbed Irrefutable's head with it as he lay breathing heavily."  It was all he could do.

By Unbridled's Song out of the graded stakes-placed Kingmambo mare, Honestly Darling, five-year-old Irrefutable is from the high-class family of CCA Oaks winner, Cherokee Rose (his fifth dam), Beverly Hills-G1 heroine Reluctant Guest (his second dam), and Horse of the Year and Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-Race Ack Ack.

Irrefutable went through the sales ring twice, initially as a Keeneland September yearling, when he brought $450,000, and then at the Fasig-Tipton Calder Selected Two-Year-Olds-in-Training sale, where he was purchased by Eldon Farm and Gainesway Stable for $600,000, a price that was second only to the $700,000 paid for Zensational among Unbridled's Song juveniles sold in 2008.

It would be almost two years before Irrefutable would make his debut, and by then, he sported the colors of Kaleem Shah.  From the get-go, the patiently handled Bob Baffert trainee signaled he had a ton of talent.  He easily put away six-furlong maiden special weight foes at Santa Anita in his first start, two days after Christmas, 2009, in a final time of 1:08.25.

Irrefutable raced only twice in 2010 and didn't win again until New Year's Day of this year, when he captured an allowance sprint at Santa Anita under regular pilot Mike Smith in 1:07.27, coming whisper close to the track record (1:06.98) set by The Factor just six days earlier.

Stretched out to six and a half furlongs, Irrefutable came home victorious again against Santa Anita allowance company in March, and went on to win a six-furlong allowance optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill on the first Saturday in May, in what would be his last triumph.

But though Irrefutable never won another race, his best efforts were yet to come.  He was just a neck behind eventual Vosburgh victor Giant Ryan in the Grade II Smile at Calder in July, and three-quarters of a length shy of future Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Amazombie in the Grade I Ancient Title in October, while defeating Grade I winners The Factor and Square Eddie.

Overmatched in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, he rebounded just three weeks later in the Underwood, getting up for second with a determined late run.  It was because of the way he did it, with a fighting spirit and a fluid stride, that Irrefutable's subsequent collapse on the racetrack was so completely unexpected.  It was inconceivable that he could be gone, just like that.

Irrefutable exits the stage having won or placed in nine of his 13 career starts, with earnings of $286,980.  We will miss him.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Star is Born: Disposablepleasure wins the Demoiselle

Disposablepleasure (inside) narrowly prevails over Wildcat's Smile 
in the Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct
Photo:  Adam Coglianese/NYRA

They didn’t make it easy for Disposablepleasure, but she overcame every disadvantage to prevail by a nodding nose over Wildcat’s Smile in Aqueduct’s nine furlong Demoiselle-G2, after having stumbled out of the gate, spotting the field more than 11 seemingly insurmountable lengths.

The two-year-old daughter of second crop sire Giacomo was battle tested to the extreme in this, her first attempt in stakes company, against nine other juvenile fillies.  As her ground-eating stride and cardiovascular engine propelled her forward, she displaced several rivals in her wake, and gutted out a grueling stretch drive in which Wildcat’s Smile proved a courageous and tenacious competitor. 

But even when the camera showed that Disposablepleasure had won the photo, her march to the winner’s circle was delayed for several minutes while the stewards considered, and then dismissed a claim of foul by David Cohen aboard third-place finisher Bourbonstreetgirl.  She’s now won or placed in three of her four career starts, banked earnings of $161,600, and won the admiration of a racing public eager to anoint a new star.

Her trainer, Todd Pletcher, is a big admirer of the Disposablepleasure, too.  “It was a very courageous effort by any horse, but especially a two-year-old filly,” he said, after the race.  “She’s got a lot of natural ability, but she showed she’s got some heart and desire to go along with it.  For any horse to win and overcome all that first time going a mile and an eighth was impressive, but you don’t see too many two-year-old fillies do that.”

With her victory in the Demoiselle, Disposablepleasure becomes Giacomo’s first American graded stakes winner, and his second stakes winner out of a mare by Canadian Champion With Approval.  His son, Jake Mo (out of Credit Approval), won the five-and-a-half furlong Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes at Prairie Meadows in July.  The cross worked moderately well when tried with Giacomo’s sire, Holy Bull, who sired stakes-winning Sin Toro out of the graded stakes-winning With Approval mare, Withoutapproval.

The seventh foal out of My Canada, Disposablepleasure is a half-sister to three other winners, including Romantic Hideaway (by City Zip), who won the Brandywine and placed in the Cicada-G2.   My Canada is a full sister to Canadian stakes winner Patriot Love, and a half-sister to the graded stakes-winning sprinter, Riley Tucker (by Harlan’s Holiday) as well as to Deputy Country (by Silver Deputy), a hard-knocking minor stakes winner who won 13 races and earned $341,143.

Interestingly, Riley Tucker was a $375,000 short-list auction purchase for Zayat Stables by EQB, a bloodstock consultancy team that selects racing prospects based on their cardiovascular prowess and biomechanical efficiency.  It’s interesting to speculate as to whether Disposablepleasure has inherited similar genetic attributes, though in contrast to Riley Tucker, who never won beyond six-and-a-half furlongs, she seems to be improving as the distances stretch out.

Disposablepleasure’s come-from-behind run in the Demoiselle was in stark contrast to her maiden victory last month at Belmont, in which she scored a wire-to-wire triumph by 11 widening lengths over a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.

Today, she proved she doesn’t have to have it all her way, and that she has the will—and the talent--to overcome adversity.  Those priceless traits have appeared throughout generations of Disposablepleasure’s female family, which stems from the foundation mare, Reply, whose descendants include the great Fanfreluche (dam of two-time Horse of the Year L’Enjoleur and Champions La Voyageuse and Medaille D’Or).

Whether it was that distinguished female family, her physical presence, or the advice or a bloodstock agent that prompted John Greathouse, Jr. to buy Disposablepleasure for a $45,000 out of last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale, we don’t know.  But what does seem clear is that the gray filly’s value is now far greater than her purchase price, and that her eventual place of honor in the Glencrest broodmare band is secure. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

What makes Hansen run?

In a stunner, Hansen defeated heavy favorite Union Rags
in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Photo:  Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen’s four-generation catalogue-style pedigree fits neatly on just a half page, and save for the white colt’s own record, it’s virtually lacking in black type or distinguished runners.  So where did he get the class to beat the likes of proven Grade I winners such as Union Rags, Creative Cause, Crusade, Drill and Dullahan

It’s hard to say. 

Hansen’s dam, Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat, broke her maiden in her first start in a lowly $5000 claimer at Turfway Park in February, 2005, stopping the timer in a pedestrian 1:14.02.  She was haltered out of that race by Hansen’s current owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen, and by June of that year, showed dramatic improvement, winning a $30,000 claiming race at Churchill in 1:10.29.  Stepped up to face allowance foes in a six-and-a-half furlong contest just three weeks later, Stormy Sunday finished a tiring third.  In what would be the fourth and final start of her career that August, she captured a five-and-a-half furlong starter allowance over a muddy strip at Mountaineer, finishing up in 1:04.34.

Bred to Tapit in 2007, Stormy Sunday produced a bay colt, Tapanna, who never started at two, but broke his maiden this year in his fifth start, in an eight-furlong maiden special weight test at Turfway last September. 

Hansen is the mare’s second foal by Tapit, and couldn’t be more different than his older brother, not only in color, but in ability.  Such are the vagaries of genetics.

Tapit has established an enviable record at stud by consistently upgrading the mares to whom he has been bred.  And he did it again with Stormy Sunday when he sired Hansen, the product of an oft-successful nick with mares by Storm Cat and his sons.  In addition to Hansen, Tapit has two other Grade I stakes winners bred on this pattern: Careless Jewel (out of Sweet and Careless, by Hennessy) and Tell A Kelly (out of Evrobi, by Tabasco Cat).  Like Hansen, both are inbred to both Northern Dancer and to Secretariat, maternal grandsire of the dams of both A. P. Indy and Storm Cat. 

The cross between Tapit’s sire, Pulpit, and Storm Cat has also produced Florida Derby winner Ice Box (out of Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat) and successful sire Sky Mesa (out of Caress, by Storm Cat), who captured the Hopeful.

Though the chartcaller noted that Hansen “lasted” to win the mile-and-a-sixteenth Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, with a final quarter in 25.37, his ability to compete at classic distances is still an open question.  There is an abundance of stamina flowing through the family of his maternal grandsire, the turf specialist Sir Cat, whose second second dam is the great Champion April Run (Ire), who won the Turf Classic and was third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.  And Temperence Hill, the sire of Hansen’s third dam, Tescudera, won the Belmont, the Suburban, the Travers, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. But these influences don’t appear until Hansen’s fourth generation, perhaps too far back to be of vital importance.

Based on his three races to-date, Hansen looks more like a sprinter who has been able to carry his speed up to a mile and a sixteenth than a true classic horse who has the cardiovascular and biomechanical equipment to stay a mile and a quarter.   Time will tell, of course, as it always does.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lady Shirl's descendants may be factors in Breeders' Cup turf contests

Shkspeare Shaliyah capturing the Pilgrim-G3
Photo: Adam Coglianese, NYRA
The influence of top turf mare Lady Shirl, a tough competitor who notched 18 races, including the 1991 running of the mile-and-a-quarter Flower Bowl at Belmont, will be felt again this weekend when three of her descendants contest the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the Filly and Mare Turf over the Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn course.

Lady Shirl is the dam of up-and-coming young sire, Shakespeare, a Grade I winning son of Theatrical (Ire) whose first foals raced this year.  Shakespeare won seven of his eight lifetime starts from three to six, including the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 12 furlongs, in which he defeated eventual Champion Turf Horse English Channel, and the Woodbine Mile, in which he bested the ill-fated ace turf miler Kip Deville.

Shakespeare’s son, Shkspeare Shaliyah, is by far the most accomplished member of the stallion’s initial crop to-date, having won or placed in two of his three starts—all on turf-- including the mile-and-a-sixteenth Pilgrim-G3 over soft going at Belmont.  In light of the fact that Shakespeare never even raced at two, Shkspeare Shaliyah’s precocity is a promising sign of good things to come, and he could certainly grab a share of the purse in the Juvenile Turf.

And so could outlier Fantastic Song, a son of high-class grass sire Lemon Drop Kid out of Lady Shirl’s daughter Fantastic Shirl (by Fantastic Light), who won the grassy De La Rose at Saratoga.   A morning line longshot at odds of 20-1, Fantastic Song hasn’t been an object of Breeders’ Cup buzz, but perhaps that’s an oversight.  He won his first start in dramatic rallying fashion, capturing a photo finish over future Bourbon-G3 winner Animal Spirits at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, and was only a length shy of Shkspeare Shaliyah in the Pilgrim.
Fantastic Song is one of three talented Breeders' Cup turf juveniles by Champion Older Male Lemon Drop Kid, who never even raced on the sod.  The others are Juvenile Fillies' Turf runners Somali Lemonade (out of Chic Corine, by Nureyev) and Customer Base (out of Little Cat Feet, by Tale of the Cat), who will be making her first start on the grass.
Perfect Shirl winning the Lake George-G2 at Saratoga
Photo: Adam Coglianese, NYRA
Lady Shirl’s daughter, Perfect Shirl by Champion Turf Horse Perfect Soul (Ire) will go postward in today’s mile-and-three-eighths Filly and Mare Turf over what looks to be a yielding course.  Though winless in 2011, the late-running four-year-old bay filly has placed in four of her six starts this year, but is unproven at this distance and on less-than-firm turf.  Her main claim to fame was as the heroine of last year’s Lake George-G2 at Saratoga at a mile and a sixteenth, in which she “closed in relentlessly during the run through the furlong grounds.”  She seems to have taken on a large task in this race, but could get up to get a piece of it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A. P. Indy's influence dominates the pedigrees of Ladies' Classic runners

Malibu Moon's Ask the Moon winning the Ruffian at Saratoga
Photo: Adam Coglianese, NYRA
Look no further than the entries for the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic for evidence of the extent to which Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-Race A. P. Indy has shaped the top echelons of American racing.  He appears in the second or third generations of no less than seven of the nine fillies and mares who will enter the starting gate of the mile-and-an-eighth world championship contest to be run at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 4th.

A. P. Indy's top son, Pulpit, is the sire of Pachattack (out of El Laoob, by Red Ransom), who captured the Grade III Arlington Matron in May and finished just a half-length behind Aruna in last month's Grade I Spinster at nine furlongs over Keeneland's synthetic surface.

Pulpit is also the grandsire of five-year-old Satans Quick Chick (by Sky Mesa, out of Dancing Devlette, by Devil's Bag), whose sole victory in graded stakes company came in the Grade II Raven Run at Keeneland two years ago.  Though she was third (by 14 lengths) in the Grade I Beldame last out, Satans Quick Chick 's ability to win at a mile and an eighth in this company remains in question.

The reigning Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks winner It's Tricky (out of Catboat, by Tale of the Cat) is by A. P. Indy's Champion son, Mineshaft, and is his leading money-winning daughter to-date.  Interestingly, though, she merits only a C+ rating from TrueNicks, based on the success of the cross between Mineshaft and Storm Cat and his sons, even though it also produced Grade I winner Dialed In (out of Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat).

Six-year-old Santa Margarita-G1 winner Miss Match (Arg), a daughter of A. P. Indy's son, Indygo Shiner (out of Miss Simpatia, by Southern Halo), captured the Argentine Oaks-G1 in her native country, and most recently was a creditable fourth in Game On Dude's Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita.  Indygo Shiner's dam, Navarra (by El Gran Senor) is a graded stakes-winning full sister to the great mare Toussaud, dam of Grade I winners Empire Maker, Chester House, and Honest Lady.

Six-year-old Ask the Moon (out of Always Asking, by Valid Appeal), a former claimer who ascended into greatness in the hands of trainer Marty Wolfson to capture this year's runnings of Saratoga's Grade I Ruffian and Personal Ensign, is by A. P. Indy's son, Malibu Moon, who has become best known for his exceptional fillies and mares.  His millionaire daughter, Life At Ten, achieved notoriety during last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic when she failed to extend herself due to physical ailments that are still not fully understood.

Royal Delta works at Churchill Downs on October 30th
Photo:  Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Two of the highly regarded Ladies' Classic contenders, the three-year-olds Royal Delta (by Empire Maker) and Plum Pretty (by Medaglia d'Oro), are out of A. P. Indy mares.  With earnings of $1,296,700, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty is A. P. Indy's current leading money winner in his role as a broodmare sire.

Alabama winner Royal Delta boasts an A++ TrueNicks rating, based on the fact that Empire Maker has sired two other graded stakes winners (Soaring Empire and Charity Belle) out of A. P. Indy mares, though Royal Delta herself is by far the most accomplished offspring of this cross.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Banned loses his battle

Banned winning the Del Mar Derby
Credit:  Benoit Photo
In spite of valiant efforts to save him, Del Mar Derby winner Banned was euthanized today as a result of complications from surgery to repair both sesamoids in his right front ankle, which were shattered as he pulled up from an easy half-mile workout on the Santa Anita turf on September 22nd.

Conditioned by Tom Proctor, the three-year-old Glen Hill Farm colorbearer was never out of the money this year, having won or placed in all six of his sophomore starts, including victories in the grassy Jefferson Cup-G2 and American Turf Stakes-G3 at Churchill Downs.  He lost a neck decision to Air Support in the Virginia Derby in July, and was third in Treasure Beach's Secretariat-G1 at a mile and a quarter in August.

In his most recent start, Banned captured the tragedy-marred Grade II Del Mar Derby on Labor Day weekend, eeking out a photo finish against Midnight Interlude after launching a powerful stretch rally.  That race claimed the life of Burns, who suffered a catastrophic breakdown near the first turn and was later euthanized as a result of injuries that were similar to those that ultimately led to Banned's demise.

The news of Banned death was initially reported this afternoon by Glen Hill President Craig Bernick, who said, through his Twitter account:  "Heavy hearted to report that Banned didn't make it.  He ended up foundering in his good foot this morning, and we did what's right for him."

The second leading money-winning son of Champion Turf Horse and top third-crop sire, Kitten's Joy (by El Prado), Banned was the first foal of his dam, the winning Capote mare Cardinalli, to make it to the races.  Her first foal, a 2007 full brother to Banned, died as a yearling.  Bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who raced Kitten's Joy, Banned was purchased by Glen Hill for $130,000 at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton October Yearling sale.

Barely a year later, he broke his maiden at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf at Belmont in his second start at two, after a lacklustre debut on the dirt at Saratoga.  He went on to romp by five lengths in a mile allowance test at Keeneland last October, before being put away for the year.  A model of consistency, Banned won five races and placed three times in 10 starts, while banking $599,576.  He was truly a turf star in the making.

According to Bernick, Banned will be buried at Glen Hill Farm in Ocala.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Equinome's Dr. Emmeline Hill says "Test for the Best"

It’s impossible for buyers to discern the genetic potential of racing prospects by using traditional conformation and pedigree analysis, according to equine geneticist Dr. Emmeline Hill who spoke today at the Pedigree, Genetics, and Performance Conference sponsored by The Blood-Horse in Lexington, KY.

Dr. Hill cited a study demonstrating that yearling buyers paid just as much for inferior horses as they did for the ones who were most successful on the track, noting that  a thoroughbred's genetic class is a more accurate predictor of its eventual earnings than the price it commands in the auction ring.

Dr. Hill is the Chairman and co-founder of Equinome, which has developed state-of-the-art genomic tools to evaluate the genetic potential of thoroughbred racehorses.  Based in Dublin, Equinome has identified the different sets of genetic variants critical for performance in short-distance, middle-distance, and long-distance racing, and has made this data available to thoroughbred owners, breeders, and prospective purchasers through its Speed Gene Test, which measures a DNA variant--“C” or “T”—in a gene responsible for muscle mass development.

Equinome has determined that there are three possible combinations of these DNA variants:  C:C (characteristic of fast, speedy, sprint types who best compete from distances from five to eight furlongs); C:T (characteristic of fast, middle-distance types whose best distances are from seven to 12 furlongs); and T:T (characteristic of stamina types whose best distances are 10 furlongs and over).  The T:T horses are not well-suited for success as two-year-olds.  In fact, a study of 142 two-year-olds in England who were all trained by the same trainer demonstrated that the C:C and C:T types earned the most money as juveniles.

Equinome's Elite Performance Test evaluates 80 genetic variants to measure an individual's potential racing class, ranking individuals from Class I to Class IV.   In a study of 1,051 racing thoroughbreds who had been tested, Equinome found that Class I-rated horses were six times more likely to become Grade I or Grade II winners than to be non-winners, and that 46% of the Class I runners became elite (graded or listed) stakes winners.

Matthew Binns discusses the genetics of thoroughbred pedigrees



Speaking at the The Blood-Horse-sponsored conference on Thoroughbred Pedigree, Genetics and Performance in Lexington, KY today, Dr. Matthew Binns of The Genetic Edge said that a thoroughbred’s genetics contribute 35-50% toward his athletic ability. 

A founding member of The Equine Genome Project, Dr. Binns’ company performs genetic profiles of thoroughbreds to assess four traits linked to future success on the racetrack, ranking them from A to D.  About 10% of the best bred horses—such as those typically offered on the first day of the Keeneland September sale—are A-rated, with a better-than-average chance of winning in graded stakes.  Dr. Binns noted that it is impossible for even the most experienced horseman to visually identify these genetic markers, which not only tag those horses with the best chances of succeeding in elite company but also unearth their optimal distance and surface preferences and even their eventual height.

Discussing the genetic consequences of inbreeding, Dr. Binns pointed to Zenyatta’s five-cross pedigree, which shows that she is inbred to Champion and Horse of the Year Nashua, 5x5.  What this means, said Binns, is that Zenyatta may have gotten +/-four of her 64 chromosomes—or 6% of her DNA-- from Nashua, but there is also a possibility that she have gotten none of her material from him.  The chances that this inbreeding to Nashua would recreate Nashua’s genotype in Zenyatta are quite low, he said. 

The co-author of Thoroughbred Breeding:  Pedigree Theories and the Science of Genetics, with Tony Morris, Dr. Binns noted that top racemares are the best producers of stakes-class offspring, and also cited evidence that first foals tend to be less successful than subsequent ones because the “placentation” (the facility whereby nutrition is transmitted to an in-utero foal) is not as well developed in maiden mares.  Based on his research on Kentucky Derby winners during the last 40 years, Binns revealed the perhaps surprising fact that a full 50% of them had a genetic profile typical of a sprinter, rather than a router.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

State of Play fits the pattern of success

State of Play wins the With Anticipation-G2 at Saratoga
Photo: Adam Mooshian, Courtesy of NYRA
As he did last year, War Front sired the winner of the grassy With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga again today, and with the victory, his two-year-old son State of Play earned a berth in the upcoming Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

When Soldat won the race in 2010, the mile-and-a-sixteenth With Anticipation was a Grade III, but this year, it earned Grade II and "win and you're in" Breeders' Cup status.  State of Play has done little to suggest that he doesn't belong with his crop's top turfers:  he's perfect in two career starts, and has banked $90,000.  Among the colts he beat today were Mine That Bird's maiden half-brother, Dullahan (by Even the Score) and two promising juveniles--Captain Webb and Optimizer--from the first crop of Champion Turf Horse English Channel.

The Team Valor colorbearer was plucked out of last year's Keeneland September sale by Steven Long for a mere $13,000; it's not known how much Barry Irwin's group subsequently paid to acquire him last spring.  But according to Team Valor's website, trainer Graham Motion's confidence in State of Play soared as the summer days lengthened.  Originally planning to send him to Presque Isle to make his first start, Motion thought enough of the colt that he he entered him in the first juvenile turf race of the Saratoga meet:  a five-and-a-half furlong maiden special weight test over good ground, on July 27th.  State of Play proved a handy winner, and in doing so, became the first of War Front's two-year-old runners to win at first asking.  That feat alone marked him as something special.

Parenthetically, State of Play isn't the only reason that Team Valor is high on War Front.  The group purchased his three-year-old daughter, Summer Soiree, around the same time as State of Play joined Motion's barn, and she soon returned big dividends, capturing the Grade III Boiling Springs at Monmouth and the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in her last two starts, while adding $240,000 to her a career bankroll that now totals $331,400.

State of Play is the sixth foal out of the winning Procida mare, Valeta, who has also produced stakes-placed Knoxville (by Septieme Ciel).  He was bred on the same cross (War Front on a Mr. Prospector-line mare) that produced three of War Front's best sons to-date:  Grade I winner The Factor (out of Greyciousness by Miswaki); Grade II winner Soldat (out of Le Relais, by Coronado's Quest), and Warning Flag (out of Good Vibes, by Unbridled's Song), a listed stakes winner in Ireland.

Of course, War Front himself is a product of the successful Danzig/Mr. Prospector cross, which also produced Grade I winner Brahms (out of Champion Queena, by Mr. Prospector) and English Horse of the Year Dayjur (out of Champion Sprinter Gold Beauty, by Mr. Prospector).

On his dam's side, State of Play hails from one of the most distinguished female families in the Stud Book.  His fourth dam is the Champion Hill Prince mare, Bayou, whose descendants include Champion Slew o' Gold, Belmont winner Coastal, and more recently, Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, Aptitude.  With the abundant stamina flowing through the distaff side of his pedigree, State of Play should be well equipped, as he matures, to carry his speed beyond the eight-and-a-half furlong distance of the With Anticipation.  If he stays sound, he has the makings of a very nice turf horse, indeed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What makes Hot Summer so good?

Hot Summer bests Maple Forest in the Victory Ride
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA
With her victory in yesterday's six-furlong Victory Ride Stakes-G3 at Saratoga, Hot Summer proved that her previous triumph over eventual Grade I winner Her Smile in last spring's Comely was no fluke.  

The three-year-old Malibu Moon filly is fast cementing her credentials as a specialist at distances up to a mile, and a peak at her pedigree suggests why she was cut out to be a good one.  She has now won or placed in six of her seven career starts, and earned $245,700.

Purchased for $180,000 by current owner Harold Queen at the 2009 Keeneland September sale, Hot Summer is the third foal from the stakes-placed Quiet American mare, Summer Delight, who has also produced stakes-placed Southwest (by Cozzene).  The mare's yearling colt by Hard Spun will be offered for sale next month at Keeneland, and her two-year-old Lemon Drop Kid colt, Stirred Up, who brought $420,000 at last year's venue, is in training at Del Mar.

Hot Summer is the latest in a line of top-class fillies from A. P. Indy's son, Malibu Moon, who has established quite a reputation as a sire of good distaff runners, including Grade I winners Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Malibu Mint, Malibu Prayer, and Funny Moon.

Shortly after Hot Summer entered the winner's circle at Saratoga, Pedigree Consultants tweeted:  "Crazy good nick for Hot Summer--son of A. P. Indy over a Quiet American mare."   And indeed, the cross has produced Champion Bernardini (by A. P. Indy out of Quiet American's graded stakes-winning daughter, Cara Rafaela), Grade II winners A P Warrior and Astrology, and this year's Busanda winner, Dance Quietly.

A. P. Indy and his sons have actually done well not only with daughters of Quiet American, but also with mares by other sons of Fappiano, too.  This pattern has produced Wood Memorial winners Tapit (Pulpit/Unbridled) and I Want Revenge (Stephen Got Even/Roy), Grade I winner A. P. Adventure (A. P. Indy/Fappiano), Grade II winner Apart (Flatter/Unbridled), and the current graded stakes-placed two-year-old colt, Brigand (Flatter/Quiet American).

But in my opinion, it's not just this nick that makes Hot Summer's pedigree so noteworthy.  Rather, it's the fact that Hot Summer descends from the great foundation mare, Missy Baba, who is her fifth dam as well as the fourth dam of her grandsire, A. P. Indy.  To make it even more intriguing, Hot Summer carries two more crosses of this superior female family by virtue of the fact that she is inbred to Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise, the dam of both A. P. Indy and Summer Squall (sire of her second dam).  She beautifully embodies the "Rasmussen Factor," a pattern of female family inbreeding through different individuals that has consistently produced a higher-than-average percentage of graded stakes winners.

Interestingly, Hot Summer's breeders, Lazy Lane Farms, sought to replicate this pattern when they bred her dam, Summer Delight, to A. P. Indy's close relative, Lemon Drop Kid, a mating that produced the aforementioned two-year-old colt, Stirred Up.  By Kingmambo, Lemon Drop Kid is out of Weekend Surprise's half-sister, Charming Lassie (by Seattle Slew).  

Stirred Up is therefore inbred to Lassie Dear (dam of both Weekend Surprise and Charming Lassie), 3 x 5.  And as a result, Missy Baba appears as the fifth dam of both Lemon Drop Kid and Stirred Up, who seems to have the birthright to be as good as or better than his Victory Ride-winning half-sister.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How much more can Indian Tale take?

Indian Tale wins a $75,000 claimer at Saratoga on August 11th
Photo:  Tod Marks
www.photoshelter.com/c/todmarks
I'm praying that it doesn't rain tomorrow.

If it does, and the Grade II Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes is taken off the turf at Saratoga, trainer Richard Dutrow will send his recently claimed three-year-old filly, Indian Tale, to the starting gate for what will be her fifth race in 14 days.  What in the world is he thinking?

The controversial conditioner must not have been in the room at the Gideon Putnam last Sunday when the University of Glasgow's Tim Parkin delivered his compelling presentation on The Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database (EID), highlighting what are now becoming predictable causative factors leading to race-related catastrophic breakdowns.

Based on an analysis of 1.5 million starts between November, 2008 and October, 2010, EID researchers have been able to identify certain variables that put thoroughbred racehorses at greatest risk of fatal lower limb injuries.  Among these is the number of starts within one and six months prior to a particular race, with a positive correlation between a higher number of starts and a higher risk of injury.  Having made four starts within an 11-day period this month alone, Indian Tale seems to be moving rapidly into a high-risk category, and that's a shame.

Purchased for $65,000 by Flying Zee Stables at the 2010 Midlantic Two-Year-Old-In-Training Sale, Indian Tale had been slowly and carefully nurtured by her original trainer, Carlos Martin, who had her perfectly primed to win her debut:  a five-and-a-half furlong maiden special weight contest at Aqueduct last November.  She didn't race again until April of this year, when she finished a tiring seventh against $50,000 claiming foes at Gulfstream.

After that lackluster effort, Martin worked with the filly for three months before entering her again at Saratoga, in a five-and-a-half-furlong Allowance/Optional Claiming race on August 7th.  Indian Tale rewarded the trainer's patience with a sharp second place finish, but when she got back to the unsaddling area, she was led to Dutrow's barn, rather than to Martin's, having been haltered for $35,000.

Dutrow wheeled Indian Tale right back four days later in a $75,000 claimer at seven furlongs, and her new owner, J. W. Singer LLC (Jose Singer) collected the $33,000 winner's share of the purse after the filly demonstrated a strong closing kick and got up to win by more than three lengths.

Far from being content to have virtually broken even on Indian Tale's purchase price in a matter of days, the Singer/Dutrow team apparently figured that they could keep squeezing the lemon until the game filly ran dry.  So Dutrow waited only two days before he entered her again, this time in a one-mile contest originally carded for the turf.  And on August 15th, just four days after her second career victory, Indian Tale entered the starting gate again, in a seven-furlong allowance race that was switched to the dirt when the rains intervened.  Once again, she ran her heart out, and in spite of having been bumped at the break, she finished a willing second while contributing another $12,720 to the coffers of her connections.  But they wanted more.

As racing fans watched in disbelief, Indian Tale was led to the starting gate yet again just two days ago, on August 18th, in a one-mile grassy starter handicap.  This time, though, the filly had finally had enough.  After colliding with another horse soon after the start, she never got into the fray and was eased in the stretch, crossing the finish line some 40 lengths behind the winner.  The lemon had finally been squeezed dry, or so it appeared to everyone but the Singer/Dutrow camp.

Undeterred by the exhausted filly's performance, they've entered Indian Tale to run in tomorrow's Lake Placid, but she's listed as "main track only," and will only go if wet weather forces the race off the turf.

By Storm Cat's high-class son, Tale of the Cat, out of the A. P. Indy mare, Indy Power, Indian Tale was bred to be a good one.  Her third dam is a half-sister to influential sire, Clever Trick, and her fourth dam, Kankakee Miss, is the ancestress of Queen's Plate-G1 winner, Alydeed.

Though she may not have quite lived up to her lofty genetic heritage, Indian Tale has shown courage and heart and a modicum of talent, giving and giving until she had nothing more to offer.  She deserves better than to be run into the ground.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Union Rags impresses in the Saratoga Special

Union Rags splashes to victory in the Saratoga Special
Photo: Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA
As Union Rags drew off in the sloppy stretch to defeat five two-year-old rivals in the 106th running of the Saratoga Special, announcer Tom Durkin exclaimed, "Just a two-year-old frolicking in the mud!"  And indeed, that's how easily Union Rags won the Grade II contest, even though he veered out awkwardly as he approached the wire.  It didn't matter, because the colt was much the best.

The handsome bay son of Dixie Union, conditioned by Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz, was winning his second race in as many starts, after a successful debut in a five-furlong maiden special weight contest at Delaware last month.  Union Rags has now banked $318,800, and is on his way to repaying the $390,000 that his breeder Phyllis Wyeth (aka "Chadds Ford Stable") paid to buy him back at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Two-Year-Old Sale in March.

The colt had been pinhooked to the two-year-old venue by IEAH, which had plucked him out of the 2010 Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, where Wyeth had sold him for $145,000.  With his victory in the Saratoga Special, Union Rags earned a $200,000 bonus for Ms. Wyeth, because he was the first member of the crop sold at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale to win a graded stakes at Saratoga.

Union Rags is from one of the last crops sired by Dixie Union, a multiple graded stakes-winning son of Dixieland Band who won seven of his 12 starts at two and three, including the Grade II Norfolk at a mile, the Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs, and the Grade I Haskell at a mile and an eighth.  The rangy, long-striding colt gives every indication that like his sire, he'll have no problem going a greater distance than the six-and-a-half furlongs he conquered today.

Union Rags has a strong infusion of stamina from the family of his dam, the winning Gone West mare, Tempo, who has produced six other winners, including Union Rags' full brother, the stakes-placed Geefour.  His second dam, the superior turf mare, Terpsichorist (by Nijinsky II) is herself a multiple stakes producer, out of the influential Glad Rags (GB), a Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Ireland.  She is the ancestress of many good horses, including Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Colonial Affair.

While Union Rags represents Dixie Union's first stakes winner from a Gone West mare, he is but one of several stakes winners produced by the stallion when he was bred to mares by Mr. Prospector and his sons.  Other successful examples of this nick include last year's Demoiselle-G2 winner, Dixie City (from City Sister, by Brilliant/Intermediate Chef-de-Race Carson City), multiple graded stakes winner, Gone Astray (from Illicit, by Mr. Prospector), and Astarita-G3 winner Sensation (from Ryn, by Mr. Prospector).

As for what lies ahead for Union Rags, trainer Matz is considering his options.  "Obviously, our main goal is for next year," he said, "but we'll just have to see how he is and look for something in about a month or five weeks."  After the way he ran today, it's hard not to believe that the best of Union Rags is yet to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Broken Vow colt stands out at the Saratoga sale

Hip #103 at the 2011 Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale
Credit:  Fasig-Tipton
The buzz at the Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale may be all about the Bernardinis, but if you judge success by a seller's return on investment, and how far a horse exceeds the expected norm, look no further than Hip #103, the Broken Vow colt--the only one by his sire at this venue--who brought $440,000.

The colt had previously sold as a Keeneland November weanling for $165,000 (more than six times his $25,000 stud fee), by far outshining the other members of his crop, who as a group averaged $62,600.

Consigned at Saratoga by Gainesway, as agent, and purchased by Mark Casse, as agent, the dark bay or brown colt out of the graded stakes-placed Copelan mare, Copelan's Angel, must be a physical standout to command these prices.  In 2010, Broken Vow's 47 sale yearlings averaged $44,964, with a filly out of the stakes-winning Cat Thief mare, Cohiba Miss, fetching the highest price--$240,000--at last year's Keeneland September sale.  Subsequently named, "Lady Cohiba," the now two-year-old filly, purchased by Live Oak Plantation, is currently in training at Belmont.

Trainer Mark Casse knows Copelan's Angel well, having consigned her to two OBS Two-Year-Old-in-Training sales back in 1997, where she was sold for $55,000.  She went on to win or place in eight of her 11 starts, including a third in the Grade III Selima, while earning $134,195.

Copelan's Angel's previous foal, a 2009 colt by Corinthian (who stands for $25,000), had caught the eye of EQB's Patrice Miller, who bought him at last September's Keeneland sale for $100,000.  In order to qualify under EQB's stringent selection criteria, a yearling must have an excellent cardiovascular system, and meet other rigid biomechanical benchmarks, so it certainly appears that Copelan's Angel is producing some athletic-looking foals.

But her foals don't just look good, they run well, too.  Five of the mare's eight foals of racing age are winners, including the stakes winning Skip Away filly Fly Away Angel, and stakes-placed In the Paint (by Tiznow).

Broken Vow, a multiple graded stakes-winning son of Champion Unbridled, out of the Nijinsky II mare, Wedding Vow, is perhaps best known for his outstanding fillies, having sired Grade I winners Unbridled Belle, Sassy Image, Cotton Blossom, and Panamanian Champion Broken Wedding.

The colt by Broken Vow out of Copelan's Angel is bred on a pattern similar to that which produced Grade II stakes winner Rockport Harbor (by Unbridled's Song out of a Copelan mare).  The match merits an A+ TrueNicks rating.  With a solid record of performance in the sales arena, and the pedigree and conformation to match, this free-striding colt will be one to watch when he hits the racetrack.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winter Memories lives up to her lofty heritage in the Lake George

Winter Memories blew by the field to capture the Lake George
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Courtesy NYRA
Anyone who is trying to figure out who might be the best turf filly or mare in the country right now need look no further than the phenomenal Winter Memories, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lake George-G3 at Saratoga today in truly spectacular fashion.  She deserves all of the superlatives that will be used to describe her scintillating performance.

It wasn't only that she trounced some very nice fillies--including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, More Than Real--it was the way she did it, after jockey Jose Lezcano had to slam on the brakes as he attempted to guide the gray El Prado filly around the far turn from the back of the pack because another horse suddenly swung out in front of him.

But then Lezcano simply pushed an invisible button and Winter Memories effortlessly turned on the afterburners and overtook the leaders in what seemed to be only a handful of strides, crossing the finish line some four lengths ahead of her stunned rivals, while being geared down.  She stopped the timer in 1:41.57 as track announcer Tom Durkin exclaimed, "What a Filly!  A dazzling performance at the Spa today!"  Yes, indeed.

When people talk about great racehorses, they often mention heart.  What they usually mean is that intangible character of courage and determination that is difficult to measure.  But it's the other kind of heart that comes to mind when you watch Winter Memories accelerate.  Only a horse with a finely tuned internal combustion engine, in the guise of a superior cardiovascular system, coupled with biomechanical finesse, could do what Winter Memories did in the Lake George.  With her victory today, the Phillips Racing Partnership homebred remains perfect in her three starts at three different tracks this year.  She has compiled an enviable career record of 5-1-0 in six starts, with earnings of $540,000.

Winter Memories is just the latest in a long line of high-class turf performers descended from the revered Darby Dan mare, Golden Trail, ancestress of Champion Turf Mare Ryafan, Champion Turf Male Sunshine Forever, and Winter Memories' own dam, the distinguished Silver Hawk mare, Memories of Silver.  A tough and talented multiple grade I stakes winner who earned over $1.4 million during three seasons of racing, Memories of Silver notched her initial graded stakes score in the second running of the Lake George, and went on to capture the Queen Elizabeth-G1 at Keeneland in course-record time, as well as the Beverly D.-G1 and the Diana-G2.

Winter Memories is the eighth, and by far the most successful of Memories of Silver's foals.  She is bred on the same stamina-strengthening cross as the graded stakes-winning turf stars Kitten's Joy, Senor Swinger, and Paddy O'Prado, all of whom are by El Prado out of Roberto-line mares.

Assuming that Winter Memories comes out of the Lake George in good shape, her trainer, Jimmy Toner, expects her to make her next start in the mile-and-an-eighth grassy Lake Placid-G2 at Saratoga on August 21st.  Like the thousands of racing fans who were awed by the filly's exploits today, I can't wait.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Georgie's Angel wins the Schuylerville and breaks the mold

Georgie's Angel runs away with the Schuylerville-G3
Photo:  Courtesy of NYRA, Adam Coglianese
With her convincing victory in yesterday's six-furlong Schuylerville, two-year-old Georgie's Angel became not only the first graded stakes winner at Saratoga's 143rd summer meet, but a rising star for her second-crop sire, Bellamy Road.

The diminutive bay filly looks like she's all business, having banked $95,820 in her two perfect starts.  "She's always been a pretty straightforward, professional filly," said her trainer, Todd Pletcher, in an article in The Saratoga Special.  "She's a kind of filly that wants to please everybody."  If all goes well, we'll get to see her at Saratoga again at the end of the meet, in the marquee two-year-old filly contest, the seven-furlong Spinaway-G1.

Georgie's Angel is the second two-year-old graded stakes winner for Bellamy Road, a Kinsman Stud colorbearer who was himself a precocious juvenile, capturing two of his three starts in his debut season, including the Grade III Cradle Stakes at River Downs, under the tutelage of Michael Dickinson.  

Sent to Nick Zito for his three-year-old season, the son of Concerto triumphed in the Wood Memorial in spectacular fashion, equaling the track record for a mile and an eighth and besting his rivals by more than 17 lengths.  He suffered a splint injury while finishing unplaced in the 2005 Derby, but earned runner-up honors in Flower Alley's Travers, which would turn out to be his final start.  A comeback attempt at four was quashed by a recurrence of his old injuries, and Bellamy Road entered stud at Ben Walden's Hurricane Hall (now Pauls Mill) in Lexington, where he stands for $10,000.

Bellamy Road's first foals arrived in 2008, and they came out running.  At last summer's Saratoga meet, his undefeated daughter, Position Limit, won the Grade II Adirondack at six-and-a-half furlongs.  And earlier this year, Bellamy Road's son, Toby's Corner, emulated his sire's exploits by winning the Wood Memorial, and was considered a top Derby contender before an injury cut his campaign short.

Named for Bellamy Road's charismatic owner, George Steinbrenner, Georgie's Angel is the fifth foal from the Dynaformer mare, Lalka, who has produced three other winners, all by sprint specialist Richter Scale.  Her female family is chock full of distinguished Canadian stakes winners, including Lalka's half-sisters, Buffalo Jump and Gumboots.  Her third dam is the Canadian Two-Year-Old Champion, Ada Prospect, and she descends from the influential mare, Ormonda, granddam of Champion, Triple Crown Winner, and Horse of the Year Whirlaway, and ancestress of Roman Ruler.

When it comes to genetics, there are indications that Georgie's Angel is breaking the mold.  As Sean Clancy observed in his piece in The Saratoga Special, "By Bellamy Road, out of the Dynaformer mare, Lalka, Georgie's Angel should be big and should go long.  Instead, she's small and goes six furlongs on Opening Day at Saratoga faster than any of her rivals."  

And not only that.  Georgie's Angel is actually the second Bellamy Road filly produced by Lalka.  There were high hopes for the first one, a current three-year-old named Electric Boots, who sold for $125,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Sale in 2009.  But Electric Boots has failed to live up to expectations, or to her lofty price tag.  She has been unplaced in two starts, and finished a well-beaten ninth in a $20,000 maiden claimer last out at Churchill, on May 28th.  Notwithstanding the elder sister's lackluster record, though, it's clear that because of Georgie Angel's talent, the family's fortunes are on the rise.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Unrivaled Belle retired too soon

Unrivaled Belle preparing for the 2010 Breeders' Cup Distaff
at Churchill Downs

Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Unrivaled Belle, the late-developing filly who made racing fans take notice when she upset Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in last year's La Troienne-G2 at Churchill Downs, was retired today after flipping in the Belmont paddock prior to the Ogden Phipps-G1, in which she had been second choice in a field of five other handicap mares, including eventual victor Awesome Maria and Life at Ten, who won last year's running.  She fractured her withers in the unfortunate accident, but was able to walk back to trainer Bill Mott's barn under her own power.

When Unrivaled Belle recovers, she'll bring power and an enviable pedigree to the breeding shed.  She exits the racing stage with a bankroll of $1,854,706, with six wins in 14 starts, including the 2010 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic-G1, in which she defeated Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Blind Luck and the highly regarded Saint Liam filly, Havre de Grace.  Though she was winless in her two starts this year, she had placed to Blind Luck in the La Troienne on the Kentucky Derby undercard, and was third to Awesome Maria in the Rampart-G3 at Gulfstream.  All in all, Unrivaled Belle was a model of consistency, hitting the board in 13 of her 14 starts; her lone miss was in her sole start over synthetics, when she was fourth in the La Canada-G2 at Santa Anita.

The second foal out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Bertrando mare, Queenie Belle, Unrivaled Belle was listed as a $260,000 sale at the 2007 Keeneland September sale, but she subsequently raced in the colors of her breeders, Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler.  With more than $1.6 million in earnings during her four-year-old season, she was the top earner for her sire, Unbridled's Song, in 2010, and his second best earner (behind Japanese stakes winner La Verita) ever, from 12 crops to race.

Interestingly, both Unrivaled Belle and Unbridled Elaine, another Breeders' Cup Distaff-winning daughter of Unbridled's Song, were produced from In Reality-line mares.  The cross also produced the Peter Vegso-raced Splendid Blended, who captured the Grade I Hollywood Starlet at two and the Vanity Handicap at three.  All three fillies are inbred to In Reality, a Brilliant/Classic Chef-de-Race who is the sire of Unbridled's second dam, Charedi.

Bill Mott described Unrivaled Belle as "a very talented race horse," and said that she will be sound for breeding.  We wish her the best.