I thought it would be fun to look at two mares and have everyone vote for the "better broodmare." To keep it fair, I selected two mares recently offered for sale at about the same price and both located in Kentucky. I guess I was inspired by Alan Porter's recent comments about Runaway Groom -- both of these mares have connections to Vinery's son of Blushing Groom (FR). (I've always liked Runaway Groom because his damsire line is that of Better Self -- sire of blue hen Aspidistra -- who descends from the Black Toney branch of Peter Pan and Domino.)
First up is Barb's Promise (pedigree). This 2000 mare by the Damascus-line sire Skip Trial ran 29 times from 2 to 5, though it took her until the final race of her career to break her maiden. Durability shouldn't be a concern with Barb's Promise: her sire ran 38 times for $1.8 million in earnings, and her dam went to the post 48 times and retired with over $300,000 in winnings. Class isn't an issue here either. Skip Trial was a grade I winner at 3, 4, and 5, while Skylak was a six-time stakes winner who earned black type every year from 2 to 5.
Barb's Promise's dam, Skylak, seems to have preferred distances under a mile, although she fared admirably well in her eight-furlong-plus efforts. On the flip side, Skip Trial never ran less than 8 1/2 furlongs after his juvenile campaign and seemed to want a route all along. Unfortunately, Barb's Promise didn't get much opportunity at running around two turns, but it was clear in the sprints that she could not compete with any but lower-level runners.
Barb's Promise descends from the 9-c Thoroughbred female family of Miss Larksfly, who is also dam of Skylak's great-grandsire T.V. Lark. Skip Trial didn't introduce any further inbreeding but did add a couple of additional strains of Plucky Liege, to whom Skylak was already line-bred.
Foals in 2006 (a colt by With Approval) and 2007 (a filly by Runaway Groom) would seem to have been bred with racing (rather than sale) in mind, as both stallion choices were older, solid horses but clearly not commercially exciting studs. (It should be noted that Barb's Promise has a With Approval half-brother that was a grade III-winning earner of nearly $400,000 from 72 starts -- kudos to the breeder for replicating the successful cross for Barb's Promise's first mating.) Both stallions had a tendency to throw late-maturing progeny, a reality that probably doesn't help Barb's Promise's value as neither of her foals on the ground has yet made it to the starting gate.
The for-sale price of $2,500 on Starquine reflects her recent produce record: Barb's Promise did not produce a foal in 2009 and is barren this year; her 2008 Strong Contender (SRO) foal died.
Next up is Jaggered Dreams (pedigree), a 2001 mare by Runaway Groom. I mentioned above that I like Runaway Groom in part because of his damsire line; I'm also a big fan of this mare's tail-male broodmare sires. Hagley seemed for quite a while to be the best hope to continue the Olden Times branch of War Relic that is now clearly controlled by In Realty's grandsons.
Jaggered Dreams had 13 opportunites but never crossed the finish line first. She also never raced past 6 1/2 furlongs, which seems ill-advised when considering Runaway Groom's classic tendencies and dam Haggles 'n Hassles' preference for distances of about a mile. Runaway Groom was champion 3-year-old in Canada and his big wins came in the Travers (gr. I) on dirt at Saratoga, and the Breeders' Stakes (Woodbine) and Prince of Wales Stakes (Fort Erie) on turf in Canada, all at age 3. Haggles 'n Hassles was a juvenile standout, winning three times and placing three others from 10 races at 2, including black type on both dirt and turf.
This background gives me the idea that Jaggered Dreams' foals will be able-footed on all surfaces including synthetics -- a huge advantage in the future of racing.
Thus far, Jaggered Dreams has one foal to race, the 2009 winner Restless City. This 3-year-old gelding is the mare's first foal and is a son of Slew City Slew (SRO). Slew City Slew was an inspired choice for a first mate for Jaggered Dreams: he's a well-bred stallion standing for a low fee, and as a top breed-to-race sire, he would increase the likelihood that the mare's first foal would be a winner and thus improve her catalog page. The Slew City Slew/Jaggered Dreams pairing introduced a somewhat rare inbreeding, that of Jet Action -- a son of Kentucky Derby winner Jet Pilot and from the La Troienne female family -- who appears as broodmare sire of Hagley and of Seattle Slew's dam. Again, it's frustrating to see a horse that seems bred for middle distances to be limited to sprints; of Restless City's 16 starts, only four have been contested at more than 6 1/2 furlongs.
Jaggered Dreams has two other colts still to race, a 2-year-old by the Danzig son Monashee Mountain and a yearling by Yankee Gentleman (SRO). Her 2008 breeding to Candy Ride (ARG) (SRO) unfortunately did not produce a foal -- it would have yielded Blushing Groom in both the damsire line of the foal and of Candy Ride, a pedigree pattern that proves successful over and over again. Jaggered Dreams's listing of $3,000 on Starquine includes her 2009 cover by Spellbinder (SRO),
So -- if you were presented with these two mares and had to choose between them, which do you find to be the better pick?