Canford Can Get a Mile

After a spectacular win in the Coventry Stakes (gr. II) was followed by a third in the Prix Morny (gr. I) – his final outing at two – a second in the seven furlong Greenham Stakes (gr. III), and a third in the English 2,000 Guineas (gr. I), there were many who questioned Canford Cliffs’s ability to get a mile. However, his connections never wavered in their belief in the three-year-old, and they were rewarded on Saturday with a three-length triumph in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas (gr. I). Canford Cliffs stems from a uniquely Irish branch of a U.S. male line. His grandsire, the handsome Taufan, was an English two-year-old group II winner by Stop the Music out of Stolen Date, a half-sister to Best in Show. Canford Cliffs’s sire Tagula, the best son of Taufan, won the Prix Morny (gr. I) and July Stakes (gr. III) at two, and the Supreme Stakes (gr. III) at three, as well as earning thirds in the Dewhurst Stakes (gr. I) and French 2,000 Guineas (gr. I). He’s been a useful sire in Ireland, but Canford Cliffs is only his third group winner and first group I winner. If memory serves correctly, Canford Cliffs is also the first European classic winner from the Stop the Music branch of the Hail to Reason line.

Canford Cliffs is out of Mrs. Marsh, by the solid Irish sire, Marju (by Last Tycoon). She is a half-sister to minor U.S. stakes winner Pina Colada. The second dam, Drei, is by Lyphard out of the Raise a Cup mare Triple Tipple, a listed winner and group-placed in Europe, and two-time graded winner in the U.S.

Canford Cliffs is the product of a cross that’s had limited opportunities, but his pedigree is not without interest. He has the mare Stolen Hour 3 x 7, and she is combined with Buckpasser (dam Busanda is a three-parts sister to Mr. Busher, the sire of Stolen Hour). Canford Cliffs’s grandsire Taufan has Buckpasser’s sire Tom Fool close up with Stolen Hour. Overall, we can find Stolen Hour together with Buckpasser in at least 76 stakes winners, 13 grade I, including Empire Maker (TrueNicks,SRO), Redoute’s Choice, Rags to Riches, Grey Swallow, and Peeping Fawn.

The following day, Marju appeared again, this time as sire of the winner of the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I), Bethrah (TrueNicks B+ before being included in her own result). She was up by a head from Anna Salai (who nearly gave Dubawi (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO) his third classic winner from his first crop), with Noverre’s daughter Music Show third. A son of Last Tycoon, Marju won the St. James’s Palace Stakes (gr. I) at a mile, and was third in the English Derby (gr. I). His fillies have generally been his best, including Soviet Song, a five-time group winner at a mile; Sil Sila, successful in the French Oaks (gr. I); My Emma, winner of the Yorkshire Oaks (gr. I) and Prix Vermeille (gr. I); Marbye, successful in the Prix d’Astarte (gr. I); and Marju Snip, who took the Australasian Oaks (gr. I).

We recently pointed out the importance of the Djebel/Mumtaz Mahal/Lavendula axis, noting that “Sadler’s Wells, Mill Reef, Riverman, and Kenmare are still very important players in European pedigrees, we can see that ‘everything old is made new again.’” Well, Bethrah has three of those four strains in her pedigree. Her paternal grandsire is Last Tycoon, who is out of a mare by Mill Reef (by Never Bend, a Nasrullah/Djebel cross), and her broodmare sire, Highest Honor, is by Kenmare (Nasrullah/Djebel) out of a mare by Riverman (by Never Bend, and similarly-bred to Mill Reef). Her dam, Reve d’Iman, is a sister to the Prix Saint-Alary (gr. I) heroine, Reve d’Oscar, group II winner Numide, and stakes winner Sir Eric.

Still with three-year-olds, the Aga Khan-bred Sarafina (TrueNicks A++) took the Prix Saint-Alary (gr. I) in only her second lifetime start. She is from the from the second crop of Refuse to Bend, a 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) winner by Sadler’s Wells, and is his fifth stakes winner and first group I winner. She’s out of Sanariya, a daughter of Darshaan, and is the third stakes winner by Refuse to Bend out of a Darshaan mare. Sarafina’s three-parts-sister Sanaya (by Barathea) was a listed winner, and runner-up in the Saint-Alary in 2006.

Another Sadler’s Wells line three-year-old to score at the weekend was Jan Vermeer (TrueNicks A++), a group I winner last year, who took the Gallinule Stakes (gr. III) in good style on his seasonal reappearance, and should now be among the leading fancies for the Derby (gr. I). He is by Montjeu out of Shadow Song, a winning daughter of the disappointing Bering (Sea-Bird II line) stallion Pennekamp. The second dam, Evening Air, brings in Sadler’s Wells’s favorite foil Never Bend (through J.O. Tobin, Champion English Two-Year-Old, Champion U.S. Sprinter, and the first horse to defeat Seattle Slew). Shadow Song is half sister to the group-winning Midnight Air (by Pennekamp’s broodmare sire Green Dancer), who in turn produced a very good runner in the Kris S. filly Midnight Line (a four-time group/graded winner in Europe and the U.S., and also third in the English Oaks (gr. I)). Shadow Song is also half sister to Multimara, who was by Pennekamp’s grandsire Arctic Tern. When she was bred to Sadler’s Wells’s relatively little-known son Imperial Ballet, she produced Imperial Beauty, winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (gr. I). The third dam, Nellie Forbes, is a Secretariat daughter and half sister to Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Bold Forbes. Under her dam, Comely Nell, we also find such well-known performers as Saratoga Six, Lakeway, Jilbab, and Life at the Top. Via the Acorn Stakes winner Comely Nell, the female line goes back to Nellie Morse, who won the 1924 Preakness Stakes, and until Rachel Alexandra’s victory last year, was the most recent filly to capture that race.

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