Passion Flowers

Considering we’re some way up the road to the Triple Crown, a surprising proportion of this weekend’s graded stakes activity was for older mares. Among that group, none were more impressive than Hilda’s Passion, who led throughout the Inside Information Stakes (gr. II, video below) at Gulfstream Park, to score by 5¼ lengths, while setting a new track record of 1:20.45 for the seven furlongs (the previous mark was owned by Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Eclipse Award winner Big Drama).

Hilda’s Passion is from the second crop of the Gone West horse Canadian Frontier (TrueNicks,SRO). He didn’t win until he was 4, when he took a maiden over six furlongs from three starts, but at five captured three stakes events, including the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III), which he took while running six furlongs in 1:08.97. Retired to Airdrie Stud, Midway, Kentucky, Canadian Frontier has had only 111 foals in his first three crops, and 80 starters. From that relatively small sample, he has sired seven stakes winners, and in addition to Hilda’s Passion, they also include the Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) heroine No Such Word and Puerto Rican juvenile Champion Frontier Tour. Hilda’s Passion, No Such Word, and Frontier Tour are three of the four stakes winners from only 44 foals in Canadian Frontier’s second crop. Canadian Frontier is advertised at just $3,500 live foal for 2011, and at that he has to be a horse worth considering for those breeding to race.

Hilda’s Passion (TrueNicks A++) is the first stakes winner to be produced by any of her first three dams. Her third dam, Full Virtue, is a stakes-winning half sister to the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (gr. I) victress All at Sea, group winner Over the Ocean, and to listed scorer Quandry (granddam of Twice Over, the likely favorite for the coming weekend’s Dubai World Cup (gr. I)). Another half sister, Quack a Doodledoo, is granddam of U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Banshee Breeze. Fifth dam is Aunt Tilt, stakes-placed half sister to Damascus. From a pedigree pattern standpoint, Hilda’s Passion is most notable for combining the three-parts-brothers Nureyev (sire of the granddam of Hilda’s Passion), and Sadler’s Wells (sire of Hilda’s Passion’s broodmare sire, El Prado).

Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO), who had such a great run with his fillies last year, scored with another distaffer, when Malibu Pier, who's been threatening to win a good race for a while, broke through in the Santa Ana Stakes (gr. II). TrueNicks rated A, she is out of a mare by Lomitas (German-bred son of Niniski, by Nijinsky II). The second dam is by Rainbow Quest (by Blushing Groom), and since Malibu Moon’s second dam is by the Nijinsky II horse, Green Dancer, she has a double of Nijinsky II to combine with his frequent ally Blushing Groom.

Malibu Pier’s broodmare sire, Lomitas, provides a link to another German-influenced weekend older filly and mare stakes winner, La Luna de Miel (TrueNicks A++), who took the Orchid Handicap (gr. III). Lomitas is by Niniski out of the Surumu mare, La Colorada. La Luna de Miel’s dam, La Hermana, is by Hernando (by Lomitas) out of La Candela (out of La Colorada). La Luna de Miel is by the great German sire, Monsun, who is out of mare by Surumu, who appears 3x4. Monsun is from the only surviving branch of a male line that goes back to the 1935 English Triple Crown winner Bahram, and funnily enough he has an excellent strike rate when crossed over mares descending from Nijinsky II, who of course is the only English Triple Crown winner since Bahram.

Last year’s Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Blind Luck shipped to Oaklawn looking for a surface that might suit her closing style better than Santa Anita, but she couldn’t get any nearer than 3¼ lengths back of her old rival, Havre de Grace, in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III). Havre de Grace is one of four stakes winners from the only crop of Horse of the Year Saint Liam, who was also represented by the ill-fated grade I winner Buddy’s Saint, and graded winner Liam’s Dream. Havre de Grace (TrueNicks A++) is out of a mare by Carson City, and bred on a cross that has produced three stakes winners, and seven stakes horses from just 12 starters by Saint Ballado and sons out of Carson City mares. Havre de Grace has the family to go with her race-record as her granddam, stakes-winning and graded-placed Toll Fee, is also granddam of multiple grade I winner Riskaverse, and three other graded stakes winners. Toll Fee is herself half sister to Champion Sprinter Plugged Nickle and grade I winner Christiecat – to name but two – and the fourth dam is that great foundation mare Missy Baba.

The one major event for 3-year-old colts last weekend, the Rebel Stakes (gr. II, video below), caused some preconceptions to be revised. After a six furlong maiden win in 1:06.98, and a 1:20.34 clocking while taking the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II), it was clear that The Factor was fast. However, there had to be a serious question about how far a lightning quick son of the sprinter War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) was going to want to run. It turned out that the 8½ furlongs of the Rebel was not a problem, as The Factor dominated throughout, drawing away in the closing stages for a 6¼ lengths triumph.

War Front – with his first crop only three – now has two horses who have to be taken seriously as classic candidates, The Factor, and the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) victor, Soldat. As we’ve mentioned, War Front was predominantly a sprinter, winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeder’s Cup Handicap (gr. II), and taking second in five other graded sprints, including the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) and Forego Stakes (gr. I), all at four. However, he did win a minor stakes at 8½ furlongs at three. War Front does have a lot of stamina in the distaff side of his pedigree. His dam, Starry Dreamer, is by Champion Sprinter Rubiano, but although she had second in the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) on dirt – Starry Dreamer turned out to be at her best going long on the turf, winning three stakes, including the Palisades Stakes at nine furlongs, and placing in several major events, including seconds in Long Island (gr. II) and La Prevoyante (gr. III) Handicaps at 12 furlongs. War Front’s second and third dams are by Forli and Round Table, who could run all day.

The Factor’s dam, the Miswaki mare Greyciousness, won at up to 8½ furlongs, as did her dam, the minor stakes winner, Skatingonthinice. Skatingonthinice never bred a stakes winner, but her Seattle Slew son, Chief Seattle was a very talented juvenile, who was second in both the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Skatingonthinice was also half sister to Showering (by Greyciousness’s sire, Miswaki), who was a stakes winning Canadian speedster, scoring from 4½ to seven furlongs. When bred to Perfect Soul (a son of Sadler’s Wells who did his best work as a miler), Showering produced Perfect Shower, winner of the Canadian classic Breeders’ Stakes at 12 furlongs on the turf, so a three-parts-sister to the dam of The Factor, did produced a good 12 furlong horse to a miler with stamina in his background. That said, this is is never going to look like a true 10-furlong pedigree, but it wouldn’t be the first time that quality speed, perhaps aided by efficient biomechanics, and an above average cardio-vascular system, has seen a stretching out miler type prevail in the Derby.

Not heading to the Derby, but a possible for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), is Bandbox, a son of Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) who won the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel. Bandbox and current grade I winner Zazu, are both by Tapit out of mares by sons of Gone West (Grand Slam (TrueNicks,SRO) and Mr. Greeley). Interestingly enough, A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) line stallions (excluding Tapit) with mares by Gone West and sons has two stakes from 160 starters. Tapit with mares by sons and grandsons of Mr. Prospector (other than Gone West) has one stakes winner from 31 starters. Tapit with Gone West line mares has two stakes winners from eight starters, so maybe he’s charting his own course here.

Also among the three-year-old colts, Maclean’s Music made headlines on his debut winning by 7¼ lengths at Santa Anita, clocking 1:07.2, and notching a 114 Beyer. Maclean’s Music (TrueNicks A++) is by Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) out of Forest Music, by Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO), and there are already three stakes winners from only eight starters by Distorted Humor out of Unbridled line mares. The dam, a multiple graded stakes-winning sprint stakes winner is out of the Gone West stakes winner Defer West, which means that Maclean’s Music is a Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross, who is out of a mare who is also a Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross.

Another Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross is the 4-year-old Juniper Pass (TrueNicks A+), winner of the San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. III). He is by Lemon Drop Kid (TrueNicks,SRO) out of Child Bride, a daughter of up-and-coming broodmare sire Coronado’s Quest. The second dam, Chapel of Dreams, is a graded winner by Northern Dancer out of Terlingua, and so is three-parts-sister to Storm Cat, which should earn Juniper Pass a home at stud somewhere in the world.

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