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Playing the Blame Game

Other work pressures have kept us off the blogosphere for most of this week, but we've finally found a minute or two for some pedigree notes on last week's stakes winners.

Last year, after his win in the Fayette Handicap (gr .II) at the end of October, we noted that Blame was developing a career arc very similar to that of his sire, Arch (TrueNicks,SRO), who took the Fayette before finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Classic. We mentioned at the time that "this year the Fayette is too close to the Breeders' Cup for history to repeat itself, but we look to Blame to make a significant impact, maybe in the Clark Handicap (gr. II), and/or next year." Well, Blame duly ended his three-year-old campaign with a win in the Clark. He returned this year in May to capture the William Donald Schaefer Stakes (gr. III), then gained his first grade I win in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).

Last weekend saw the two leaders of the older male division, Quality Road and Blame, meet in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I), with Blame  in receipt of 5 lbs.  getting up late to defeat Quality Road by a head, with the consistent Musket Man, 1¾ lengths back in third. As exciting a race as it was, we wonder what would have happened had Quality Road  who according to his jockey wasn't racing with his usual zest had been asked to open up just a little more daylight after a dawdling :48.06 opening half. As it was, he rather played into Blame's game, as that rival was able to launch his charge from much closer to the pace than anticipated.

One thing for certain is that Blame has the pedigree to make him a very interesting stallion prospect. He's filled a gap in the resume of his sire, who has also been responsible for a Canadian Horse of the Year (Arravale); an English Champion Sprinter and Champion Older Male (Les Arcs); a three-time Champion Sprinter in the Southern Hemisphere (South African filly Overarching); and a championship caliber dirt filly (the ill-fated Pine Island). Just about all that has been missing from his resume is a top quality U.S. dirt horse, and we'd have to have to say that Blame fits that description.

From the Roberto line  Arch is by that stallion's son Kris S.  Blame is out of the stakes-placed Seeking the Gold mare Liable. Rated TrueNicks A, he is bred on the same cross as Pine Island. His dam, is a three-parts-sister to grade I winner Archipenko, but more importantly is out of Bound, a stakes-winning three-parts-sister to Nureyev, and a very close relative to Sadler's Wells and Fairy King.

It was actually a good weekend for the Kris S. influence, as Zenyatta (TrueNicks A+) is by Street Cry out of a Kris S. mare (a broad reverse cross to Blame). She won the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) on the same weekend that Blame took the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), and this time completed a Kris S. related weekend double by taking her win streak to 18 in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I).

Among the "second season" three-year-old's, Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO)'s son Concord Point impressed when scoring a front-running one-length victory over Exhi coming off four straight wins on all-weather tracks  in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II). Out of a mare by Boston Harbor, Concord Point (TrueNicks A++) is bred on a Seattle Slew/Seattle Slew cross, and he's the best winner to date with inbreeding to that horse through the sire line of both parents. Funnily enough the only other graded winner with that pattern, Touching Beauty, is also by Tapit. Concord Point's pedigree is also interesting for carrying inbreeding to Moon Glitter (third dam of Tapit), and his granddam is by Relaunch, a sister to Moon Glitter. Tapit now has two stakes winners from five starters with this duplication. Concord Point comes from a family that has made good progress in the last couple of years, as the granddam, Ms. Cuvee Napa, has also produced Tasha's Miracle, a 2005 foal who won the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) and Harold C. Ramser Stakes (gr. III).

Tasha's Miracle was a daughter of Harlan's Holiday (TrueNicks,SRO), and that grandson of Storm Cat appears to have a very special sprinter in Majesticperfection, who was hugely impressive in capturing the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes (gr. I) by 2¾ lengths. This was the graded stakes debut for the four-year-old, who has won five straight in six starts, and took the Iowa Sprint Handicap (on the same day that Concord Point won the Iowa Derby (gr. II)). TrueNicks rated A++, Majesticperfection is out of a mare by Wavering Monarch, and follows Bear Holiday (dam by Maria's Mon) as the second stakes winner by Harlan's Holiday out of a mare by Wavering Monarch or a son, from just two runners. Harlan's Holiday now has 16 stakes winners in his first three crops, seven graded, and the runners from his better crops have yet to hit the track. Definitely one to keep an eye on!

Another Saratoga sprint to fall to the Storm Cat line was the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II). Secret Gypsy (TrueNicks B+), a daughter of the now-California-based Sea of Secrets, is out of a mare by Rahy. Of course, he was an excellent foil for Storm Cat for whom his daughters produced grade I winners After Market (TrueNicks,SRO), Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO), and Sophisticat. The cross has also produced seven stakes winners for sons of Storm Cat.

A cross with an even better strike-rate is that of El Prado and his son Medaglia d'Oro (TrueNicks,SRO) with mares by Saratoga Six, which has produced two graded stakes winners from two starters. One of these is Champagne d'Oro (by Medaglia d'Oro), who put up a stellar display in the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, putting away the very speedy Pica Slew in a pace duel, then drawing off to score by 4½ lengths. The dam was a listed winner at two, and ran second in the Frizette (gr. I), and she's a half sister to the ill-fated Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) victor Grand Canyon. El Prado has Northern Dancer combined with Tom Fool, and L'Enjoleur, sire of the second dam is by Buckpasser (by Tom Fool) out of a Northern Dancer mare.

The action on the juvenile front is also heating up. WinStar's J P's Gusto (TrueNicks A++) added the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) to his victories in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (gr. II) and Willard Procter Stakes. The son of Successful Appeal is out out of Call Her Magic, a Caller I.D. (by Phone Trick) half sister to the dam of Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Proud Spell. Just half a length back was Sway Away, from the second crop of the increasingly useful-looking Afleet Alex (TrueNicks,SRO), out of a mare by Seattle Slew.

On the filly side, the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) stakes went to Wickedly Perfect, who is from the first crop of Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO). Standing at Vinery, Florida, Congrats is a grade II-winning son of A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) out of Praise by Mr. Prospector, and is a brother to Claiborne's over-achieving bargain level horse, Flatter (TrueNicks,SRO). Although he wouldn't be an obvious sire of sprinting two-year-olds, Flatter is already sire of eight first crop winners, also including Check My Cheeks, a graded stakes winner in Puerto Rico. Wickedly Perfect is out of a mare by Tactical Cat, so bred on the A.P. Indy/Storm Cat cross which has worked well for Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO), who is bred on the same cross as Congrats. At Monmouth, the Sorority Stakes went to Twelve Pack Shelly, who is from the first crop of Deputy Storm out of a mare by Two Punch (TrueNicks,SRO). The sire, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Maryland, is a son of Forestry (TrueNicks,SRO) out Canadian Champion Two-Year-Old Deputy Jane West. He won the Tyro Stakes at two, and the King Cotton Stakes at four, and could turn in some sharp early fractions.

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