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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