Cape Blanco--The European Invader

(By Lizz Kunz)

Coolmore Stud's Galileo continues to prove his power as a stallion through his progeny's ability to annihilate competitors on the track. The handsome chestnut Cape Blanco is no exception, a winner of two group I races in Ireland and a grade I stakes in the United States so far, he is a force to be reckoned with on the turf. With an extraordinary win in the Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT), Cape Blanco has begun to pave a path for himself in American racing. He was able to run down and break the early but lasting speed of Mission Approved while only digging deeper to escape the late-rallying American turf champion Gio Ponti. With an entry in this weekend's Arlington Million (gr. IT), Cape Blanco has a chance to take over the American turf division and dethrone Gio Ponti, king of the turf for the past two years.

While Gio Ponti has had an immensely positive effect on racing and has introduced many American race fans to high-level turf races, Cape Blanco can take this influence one step farther. The Aiden O'Brien-trained 4-year-old can focus more American attention on European racing and bloodlines. Truth be told, something really special is happening in Europe right now with the saturation of elite horses such as Frankel, Goldikova, Snow Fairy, So You Think, and Workforce. While we sit across the pond scratching our heads trying to figure out who our division leaders are--let's admit there is very little clarity--European race fans are up to their ears in champion candidates.

It almost doesn't make sense that America hasn't taken more interest in Galileo. The horse has been brilliant in his career at stud, including siring the current dominating 3-year-old Frankel. He is also the sire of 2011 group I winners Nathaniel, Mahbooba, Golden Lilac, Misty For Me, Roderic O'Connor, and Treasure Beach. 

Cape Blanco's running here in the States gives Americans the opportunity to consider importing the line of Galileo, who represents European influences without straying too far from the bloodlines that we are so dependent on. Galileo is by Sadler's Wells, whose pedigree includes American mainstays Northern Dancer, Bold Reason, Mr. Prospector, and Native Dancer, as well as being an influential stallion himself. Dam Urban Sea proved herself as a sire- and stakes-producing dam--she also threw European Horse of the Year Sea The Stars--after leaving her mark on the race track by winning the CIGA Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). Urban Sea also brings in the speed of Mr. Prospector through her sire, Miswaki, a branch less common in the sire lines of American stallions. Most of the actual European bloodlines on the sire side come through Allegretta, the second dam of Galileo. She is by Lombard, a German group II winner, champion older horse in Germany for three years in a row, and influential sire, though he never managed to produce a graded/group I winner.

Cape Blanco is out of Laurel Delight, who raced until the age of 7, winning four of 25 starts. Though she didn't do anything outstanding on the race track, she was named 2010 broodmare of the year in Ireland, having also produced U.S. grade II-winning and grade I-placed Mr O'Brien. The broodmare sire of Cape Blanco is Presidium, a stallion who has had little impact but who represents Secretariat through his, General Assembly. Further American influence comes through the second dam, Foudroyer, a grandson of Round Table. Cape Blanco's only inbreeding is a 5x5 cross to Native Dancer.

Galileo has proved himself to be a sire of sires, Europe's version of Storm Cat. Many American breeders are seeking European blood to create those strong but rangy horses that never seem to run out of speed or competitiveness. Cape Blanco can bring that to the United States if he stands at stud here. Some signs point to the possibility that he will. He won the Man o' War Stakes, he's about to take on top U.S. turf horses in the Arlington Million, and he is nominated for the Breeders' Cup--which has a history of producing top sires (such as Tiznow and Giant's Causeway). His race record is appealing to American breeders and so is the opportunity to bring over the influence of Galileo. Additionally, Coolmore would be wise to consider standing him in Kentucky, as England and Ireland are about to have nearly as many stallions by Galileo as they do by Danehill.

Our European Invader doesn't look like he will let up on his American rally any time soon.


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Criminal Type

There is a nice Galileo colt going through the ring tonight at the Saratoga sale. I watched his walking video and he is a real looker. It DOES seem like every stallion on Coolmore's roster, and a lot of Darley Ireland are Danehill/Galileo/Sadlers Wells over Danehill/Galileo/Sadlers Wells with a few varibles thrown in. It's really just another branch of the Northern Dancer and Danzig line isnt it? Are they really so different when they trace back to the same original horses? There have been years where the US too has had many standout horses from the same crop. One thing for sure, there is no arguing that Frankel is the best 3 year old of any sex in training right now. He is amazing. Im sure Bobby is smiling down on him every time he runs.

09 Aug 2011 4:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

Sadler's Wells would probably have been a total bust if he had stood in his homeland, the USA; his offspring have shown little liking for dirt tracks. The racing conditions, however, are different across the Atlantic and his offspring were extremely well suited to them. Different racing conditions result in different sorts of horses being those chosen for breeding the next generation.

However it is impossible to know which turf sires will sire good dirt runners. Blenheim II did just fine (Leading sire, 1941, when his Whirlaway won the Triple Crown) but his son Bahram, who was a leading sire in Britain, bombed in the US. We used to import turf-raced and/or turf-blooded stallions all the time and many did just fine - leading sires Star Shoot, Sickle, Sir Gallahad III, Bull Dog, Mahmoud, Nasrullah, Heliopolis, Princequillo, Ambiorix - even the first great North American sire, Diomed, who was the first Derby S. winner. By marginalizing first-class racing stallions who don't fit the current commercial paradigm, like Leroidesanimaux, Redattore, and Prized, we lose the genetic variety that the breed in this country desperately needs.

11 Aug 2011 10:17 AM

I struggle to understand us breeding for the turf. the roles have been totally reversed. us horses' lines back in the day were chock full of euro influence. now the euro lines are full of us influence but it is 3 or 4 generations back down the line. there are so few influential us turf influences now, dynaformer, elusive quality and a few others. they produce good european performers so why not breed from them to produce good us turf performers.

or is turf racing so irrelevant to us breeders that they just don't bother. there are so many high-stakes races in the us over turf and so many euro imports or invaders cleaning up every week. us turf racing for euro invaders has become like a jaunt across the channel to germany or italy to pick up a prize. us turf racing is at its lowest ebb ever. sort it out america. start breeding from european sires and dams to win turf races, or your turf racing will just fall further down.

one final point, I am actualy amazed with the us breeding dirt horses for many decades and euros breeding turf horses that we actually have the same breed. any more years of this and they will be incompatible. we need a strong us turf scene, so someone do something.


17 Aug 2011 6:21 PM
Lizz Kunz

Vince, I completely agree with your reasoning, there are a vast amount of quality turf races  that Americans just don't seem to pay attention to. Gio Ponti and Goldikova and others such as Winter Memories have helped draw eyes off the dirt.  However, since the Classics are so vital to American racing I fear that the turf will never get the respect that it does in Europe.  Therefore, neither will a lot of their bloodlines.

Like Ann says above, a lot of stallions that stand outside of their homelands gain success because they have qualities that only certain regions desire.  I think American bloodlines are missing out on the amazing pedigrees that horses like Galileo or the lines of Danzig have to offer.  

29 Aug 2011 1:34 PM

I would LOVE to see some more classic turf pedigrees, but I wonder how marketable Cape Blanco will be.  I'm looking at sales results for two new sires, HenrytheNavigator and Raven's Pass, who have more recognizable names in their pedigrees, but aren't exactly lighting up the sales ring.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

13 Sep 2011 8:37 PM

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