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Euro Classic Influences Impact Blame & Zenyatta

Only a few weeks ago we were reflecting in MarketWatch how the U.S. dirt horse–the core of the North American commercial thoroughbred– had evolved into a horse that was very different from the European turf runner. It that light, it's somewhat ironic that the two horses that fought out the heart-stopping run to the line in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) have pedigrees with notable European turf connections.

The winner, Blame (TrueNicks,SRO), probably secured himself a Horse of the Year title after a season in which he won four of his five starts, with three wins and a second in grade I events. In the third generation of his pedigree, we find Epsom Derby victor Roberto in the male line, and English Triple Crown victor Nijinsky II as sire the second dam in the female line. Blame is by Arch (TrueNicks,SRO), who won his only race at two, then won four straight at three, before ending his career running off the board in one of the strongest ever renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Awesome Again won from Silver Charm and Swain, with Victory Gallop, Coronado’s Quest, Skip Away, Touch Gold, and Gentlemen among the unplaced). Arch has not necessarily been the most fashionable stallion, but has a very solid record, which in addition to Blame, including Canadian Horse of the Year Arravale; Les Arcs, Champion Older Horse in England; Overarching, a three-time Champion Sprinter in South Africa, and the ill-fated Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) victress, Pine Island.

Arch's sire was the lightly-raced Kris S., who in addition to being by the European-raced Roberto, was out of a mare by Princequillo, who was bred in Ireland, and was an outstanding long-distance specialist (in the days when there were still significant U.S. stakes races at two miles), and later an important stamina influence as a sire. Kris S. started his career inexpensively in Florida, but moved to Kentucky after a bright start, and sired a string of good runners, among them Epsom Derby (gr. I) winner Kris Kin; Lucky Story, highweighted in England at two and three; Symboli Kris S., several times a Champion in Japan; U.S. Champions Hollywood Wildcat, Soaring Softly, and Action This Day, as well as Prized, Dr. Fong, Rock Hard Ten and Kissin Kris. He’s been less stellar as a sire of sires, and Arch would probably qualify as his best in that role. Arch’s dam, Aurora, a stakes-winning daughter of Danzig, also has antecendents that are familiar in Europe, as she is a three-parts-sister to Green Desert.

Blame’s dam, Liable, a stakes placed daughter of Seeking the Gold has also bred the minor stakes winner Tend (by Roberto’s son, Dynaformer). She is a three-parts-sister to Archipenko, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. I) in Hong Kong, the Summer Mile Stakes (gr. II) and a pair of graded stakes in Dubai. Blame’s granddam, Bound, was a listed winner and graded stakes placed in the U.S., and is by Nijinsky II out of Special, so is a sister to Number (a multiple graded winner, who is dam of three stakes winners, include Grand Criterium (gr. I) winner Jade Robbery, and granddam of Irish group winning two-year-old, Lizard Island), and three-parts-sister to Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, and Fairy King.

In general, Arch has not had a particularly good strike rate with Mr. Prospector line mares, but with Seeking the Gold, he has Blame and Pine Island, and two stakes placed horses from only 19 runners. We can note that the dam of Arch is a Northern Dancer/Raise a Native cross, and the dam of Blame is a Raise a Native/Northern Dancer cross, with the Raise a Native through the similarly-bred Alydar and Mr. Prospector. The dams of Roberto and Mr. Prospector are also very similarly-bred. Roberto’s second dam is a three-quarters relative to the broodmare sire of Nijinsky II, and Alydar’s third dam is bred on exactly the same cross (Bull Lea/Blue Larkspur) so the pedigree is more tightly-wound than a first glance might indicate. Shortly after his Breeders’ Cup victory, it was announced that Blame would retired to Claiborne Farm to stand at $35,000. As a dirt running representative of the Hail to Reason line–so free to cross with Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew–and with Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, and Fairy King in his female line, his popularity looks assured, even in a time when there has been a shift towards proven sires.

Oddly enough Zenyatta–who lost her unbeaten record, but none of her stature in defeat–has many of the same elements as Blame in her pedigree. Where Blame is by a Kris S. son out of a Mr. Prospector line mare, Zenyatta is by a grandson of Mr. Prospector (Street Cry) out of a mare by Kris S., and her second dam is by Forli, who is the sire of the third dam of Blame. As far as European turf and stamina influences are concerned, in addition to Roberto and Princequillo in Kris S., we can note that both Machiavellian and Helen Street, the sire and dam of Street Cry, raced in Europe, with Helen Street winning an Irish Oaks (gr. I).

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