The Long and the Short of It

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(By Avalyn Hunter)

Day two of Royal Ascot saw racing fans treated to both youthful brilliance and raw staying power. The former was contributed by No Nay Never, who became the latest in a series of triumphant juveniles for American trainer Wesley Ward when he ripped off a new juvenile course record of :58.80 while capturing the Norfolk Stakes (Eng-II). The latter was courtesy of the Queen's filly Estimate, a game and popular victor in England's premier race for top stayers, the Gold Cup (Eng-I).

Like Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) winner Declaration of War (see Americans Abroad post on Royal Ascot's opening day), No Nay Never is American-bred top and bottom, though European success is not unprecedented in his male line: His grandsire, Johannesburg, was Europe's champion juvenile in 2001 (he was also champion juvenile in the United States after a decisive victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile, gr. I). No Nay Never's success certainly will not hurt the international appeal of his sire Scat Daddy, who now has sired graded or group winners on three continents this year; besides No Nay Never and American graded stakes winners Lady of Shamrock, Scatman, Handsome Mike, and Dice Flavor, Scat Daddy is the sire of El Bromista, winner of the Premio Alberto Vial Infante (Chi-I).

Where No Nay Never represents the new and exciting, Her Majesty's Estimate represents traditional excellence and a compilation of staying bloodlines rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic. Bred by the Aga Khan and given as an 80th birthday gift to the Queen, the 4-year-old filly is a daughter of the late German sire Monsun, a proven source of stamina whose influence has spread far beyond his native land. Estimate's dam Ebaziya, by the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Fr-I) winner Darshaan, is a stakes winner in her own right and produced four group I winners including the 1999 Gold Cup winner Enzeli (by Kahyasi). Ebaziya's dam Ezana is a winning daughter of the doughty Ela-Mana-Mou, champion older male in both England and France in 1980 after winning four group races including the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I).

Both speed and stamina are needed to produce the champions of champions--the Man o' Wars and the Secretariats and the Ruffians and the Zenyattas--and here, perhaps, the Europeans have an advantage over their American counterparts in that there are substantially more opportunities for staying stock across the pond than here. Most American breeders would not even try to produce a horse with stamina-laden breeding similar to Estimate's; with few racing opportunities and little commercial value for a foal so bred, the only breeders able to afford the experiment would be those with money and patience enough to use such a mating as part of a plan of balancing speed and stamina over multiple equine generations. But if American racing could turn back the clock to expanding instead of shrinking the number of races available for horses that like more than nine furlongs to really get rolling, American breeding might be able to turn back its own clock to the days of only a decade or so ago when American-bred runners were regular contenders--and not uncommonly winners--in the great European classics.

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