Saturday, March 31, 2012

To the Derby, via Dubai

Daddy Long Legs wins the UAE Derby-G2
Photo:  Andrew Watkins, Dubai World Cup

Daddy Long Legs, a Kentucky-bred son of red hot sire Scat Daddy, bested a stellar international field of 13 other three-year-olds to win the mile and three-sixteenths UAE Derby-G2 on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan today.   He was the only U.S.-bred runner to capture one of the prestigious contests on World Cup day.

With his victory over Meydan’s synthetic Tapeta surface, in his first start of the year, the long-striding chestnut avenged his 12th place finish in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which was captured by eventual Two-Year-Old Champion Hansen.  He also defeated the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf  hero, Wrote, who finished third.  All three colts are likely to meet again in the Kentucky Derby, to be run at Churchill Downs on May 5th.

The lightly raced Daddy Long Legs, who runs in the Coolmore colors of John Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor, has now won three of his five starts, and amassed earnings of $1,308,909, including the $1.2 million winner’s share of the UAE Derby.  That will be more than enough to ensure that he’ll get a place in the Derby starting gate, if his connections want one.  And based on the comments of his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, immediately after the race, it sounds like that’s where Daddy Long Legs is headed.

Daddy Long Legs’ stylish performance in the UAE Derby makes him the current leading earner among members of the precocious initial crop of Scat Daddy, a multiple Grade I stakes-winning son of Johannesburg who stands for $17,500 at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky.  With 23 winners and three two-year-old stakes winners last year, Scat Daddy was 2011’s leading first crop sire.  And it looks like his progeny’s early success was no fluke.  Commenting after Daddy Long Legs’ victory today, Aidan O’Brien said, “the Scat Daddys are doing very well this year and it’s interesting that they’re improving from two to three.” 

Indeed, Scat Daddy now has two sons on the Derby Trail.  Another colt, Daddy Nose Best (out of Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch), notched last week’s $800,000 Sunland Derby-G3 in rallying style and has earned enough to guarantee his place in the Kentucky classic.

Out of the stakes-winning Meadowlake mare, Dreamy Maiden, Daddy Long Legs is bred on the same pattern as crack sprinter Henny Hughes (by Scat Daddy’s grandsire, Hennessy, out of Meadow Flyer, by Meadow Lake), who is now standing at Darley’s Lexington division.  And, like all but one of Scat Daddy’s current stakes winners, Daddy Long Legs is inbred to Northern Dancer.

He descends from the French mare, Affection, the ancestor of influential Broodmares of the Year Delta and Levee (dam of multiple Champion Shuvee).  This is also the family of Slew o’Gold, Coastal, and Aptitude.  Daddy Long Legs is the seventh foal and sixth winner from his dam, who previously produced the multiple stakes-winning Chester House filly, Tres Dream.  Dreamy Maiden brought $170,000, in foal to Street Sense, at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton November sale, while her weanling Giant’s Causeway colt RNA’d for the same price at Keeneland November. 

Daddy Long Legs was plucked out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton July Select sale by Ashford Stud for $100,000, a price that now looks like a very smart bargain.

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