On the Road, Up the Alley

Recent weekends have been good ones for U.S. second season sires, as it saw two of that group represented by their first grade I winner, and another by his first U.S. graded winner.

In 2005, the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) was captured in astonishing fashion by Bellamy Road (TrueNicks,SRO), who scored by 17½ lengths in track record-equaling time, running a Beyer Speed Figure of 120. Although he came out of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with a minor injury, Bellamy Road returned to run second in the Travers Stakes (gr. I), but he was never able to recapture that Wood Memorial form. As a son of the Florida sire, Concerto (by Chief’s Crown) out of a mare by modestly-bred Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Deputed Testamony, Bellamy Road didn’t have the most obvious stallion pedigree (although he did come from a branch of the Exclusive family, a tap-root that also produced leading sires Exclusive Native and Deputy Minister). Bellamy Road made a solid start last year with three juvenile stakes winners, and his Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) winner Position Limit looked set to establish herself as one of the best of her crop before a injury prematurely ended her career. On Saturday, the 2011 edition of the Wood Memorial (video below) fell to Bellamy Road’s son Toby’s Corner (while another son, Zoebear, took second in the Illinois Derby (gr. III).

Toby’s Corner’s dam is by Mister Frisky, who began his career in Puerto Rico, then shipped to the West Coast, where he added the San Vicent Stakes, San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Sporting an undefeated 16 race win streak, Mister Frisky started as favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but finished eighth behind Unbridled. He rebounded to finish third to Summer Squall in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), but after the race an abscess was found in his esophagus. He was a very sick horse for a while, and although he returned to the races, he never recaptured his best form. Mister Frisky was by the minor winning Damascus horse Marsayas out of a mare by Highest Tide, a son of The Rhymer, so his pedigree was not a fashionable one. At stud, Mister Frisky sired only two U.S. stakes winners, although his daughters have fared somewhat better, producing six stakes winners. Toby’s Corner is the first grade I winner out of a Mister Frisky mare, but it’s interesting to note that Toby’s Corner’s dam, Brandon’s Ride, has also produced the minor stakes winner Bushmills Best to Toby’s Corner’s sire, Concerto. They are the first stakes winners produced by any of the first four dams, although there are some minor stakes winners indented under the fourth dam. We'd have to admit the cause of the affinity between Concerto/Bellamy Road and Brandon’s Ride doesn’t exactly leap off the page. We can note that Brandon’s Ride is inbred to Round Table, and that Concerto (and therefore Bellamy Road) have Monarchy, a stakes-winning sister to that horse in their pedigree, but the distance of the connections would make one hesitant to credit it with the upswing of the family's fortunes. As so often happens, the female line does become a classic one if we go back far enough. The fifth dam, Phoenix Girl, is a half sister to Phalanx, who won a division of the Wood Memorial Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, was second, beaten a head, in the Kentucky Derby, and third in the Preakness Stakes, earning honors as champion 3-Year-Old. Phoenix Girl’s dam, Jacola, was a top-class racemare, and half sister to Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Johnstown, and to the third dam of Derby winner Decidedly. She was out of La France, a sister to champion racemare Gallorette, and to the dam of Triple Crown winner Omaha. Another current Kentucky Derby hopeful from this family is Pants on Fire, who took the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).

Also heading for Kentucky, although in her case for the Oaks (gr. I), will be Lilacs and Lace, who became the first grade I winner for her sire [Flower Alley] (whose most prestigious win came at the main expense of Bellamy Road in the Travers Stakes). Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Lilacs and Lace is out of a Seattle Slew mare, so a product of a direct cross that has produced four stakes winners by Flower Alley’s sire, Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) (who has also had the likes of Any Given Saturday (TrueNicks,SRO) and Funny Cide out of mares by sons of Seattle Slew). Flower Alley is inbred 3x3 to Mr. Prospector, and Lilacs and Lace’s second dam, Stella Madrid, is a four-time grade I-winning daughter of Alydar (genetic relative to Mr. Prospector) and the champion sprint filly My Juliet. This is a good filly family, as Stella Madrid also produced champion Japanese older mare Diamond Biko, and is a sister to another distaff grade I winner, Tis Juliet.

On the Wood Memorial undercard, second season sire Silver Train (TrueNicks,SRO) was represented by his first U.S. graded stakes winner when J J’s Lucky Train took the Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III). A crack sprinter by the prematurely deceased Old Trieste (another from the A.P. Indy line), Silver Train also has Italian 1,000 Guineas hopeful Silver Ocean to represent him as a stakes winner this year. J J’s Lucky Train (TrueNicks A), who is out of the Thunder Gulch (TrueNicks,SRO) mare Delta Sensation, has a rather fascinating pedigree, as he combines Far North (sire of the second dam of Silver Train), with his three-parts-brother Nijinsky II and their genetic relative Storm Bird.

This is actually turning out to be an interesting crop of second season stallions, even if the pecking order is not exactly as one might have predicted. We have War Front (TrueNicks,SRO), Bellamy Road (TrueNicks,SRO) and Pomeroy (TrueNicks,SRO) all from the Danzig line; last year’s Leading Freshman Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO) (who had a new stakes winner up at Woodbine at the weekend) and fellow A.P. Indy son Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO) (whose son Arthur’s Tale was only just denied by Toby’s Corner in the Wood); and Flower Alley (TrueNicks,SRO) (who also had the fourth in the Ashland), Silver Train, With Distinction (TrueNicks,SRO), Bluegrass Cat (TrueNicks,SRO), Rockport Harbor (TrueNicks,SRO), First Samurai (TrueNicks,SRO), Badge of Silver (TrueNicks,SRO), and Henny Hughes (TrueNicks,SRO) all with graded winners.

On the West Coast, Midnight Interlude (TrueNicks A++), coming off his maiden win, upset a depleted Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). He is the first U.S. grade I winner and first graded winner on natural dirt for his sire War Chant (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Danzig). Rather ironically in view of that fact, Midnight Interlude's dam, Midnight Kiss (by the Blushing Groom horse Groom Dancer), made her only four starts on turf, winning twice and finishing third in the New Zealand Oaks (gr. I) at 1½ miles. The cross of War Chant over Blushing Groom line mares has been a fruitful one. It has been represented by only 17 starters but has produced four stakes winners and a total of six stakes horses (better than 35% stakes horses to starters). It’s also worth mentioning that the combination of Northern Dancer through Danzig and Night Shift which is found here already appears in 23 stakes winners, 10 graded. With a view to Midnight Interlude’s stamina potential, it’s encouraging that the TrueNicks Enhanced report shows that the average winning distance for colts bred on the War Chant/Blushing Groom cross is in excess of nine furlongs (click for Midnight Interlude's report).

Midnight Interlude’s fourth dam, Orissa, is inbred 2x3 to the great mare Hildene through her champion sons First Landing and Hill Prince, and is out of Salt Lake, a stakes winner whose grandsire and granddam, Princequillo and Knight’s Daughter, are the sire and dam of Round Table. Given that Midnight Interlude’s dam was classic-placed over 1½ miles, we’d be surprised if Midnight Interlude has any problems with the Derby trip. In view of his background, it will also be no surprise if we see him try the turf at sometime in the future.

The Illinois Derby (gr. III) went to Joe Vann, a son of Silver Deputy out of the Danzig mare Polish Flower, who tallied by 4½ lengths. Joe Vann is the first stakes winner for a Deputy Minister line horse out of a Danzig mare, but what is interesting is that his second dam is by Gulch. We tried the Gulch/Silver Deputy combination a few times in mating plans as Gulch and the dam of Silver Deputy having similar pedigrees, both by Mr. Prospector out of mares with dams by Seven Corners.

Although its first appearance was in the pedigree of champion 2-Year-Old Stevie Wonderboy (TrueNicks,SRO), it has taken a while for inbreeding to Weekend Surprise (the dam of A.P. Indy) to gain momentum. However, its strike rate has begun to improve a little, and it’s now added 2010 group/graded winners Theysken’s Theory (Bernardini three-parts-sister to Stevie Wonderboy), Mad Flatter (by Flatter (TrueNicks,SRO) out of a mare by A.P. Indy’s half brother, Honor Grades), and this weekend, 3-year-old filly Hot Summer, who took the Comely Stakes (gr. III), so there are now four stakes winners from 95 starters with Weekend Surprise 4x4 or closer. Hot Summer is by Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO) out of the Quiet American (TrueNicks,SRO) mare Summer Delight (TrueNicks rated A). Her second dam is by A.P. Indy’s half brother Summer Squall, and so she is inbred 3x4 to Weekend Surprise and Mr. Prospector, two of the four grandparents of Malibu Moon. On top of that, her fourth dam, Toll Booth, is a three-parts-sister to Lassie Dear, the dam of Weekend Surprise!

Another 3-year-old filly to tally was Joyful Victory (TrueNicks A++), who added a seven-length score over Arienza (Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO) daughter of Azeri) in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) to her previous 8½-length romp in the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III). She is the second stakes winner from five starters by Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) out of mares by Wild Again (a cross that has also found success for his sire Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO)). Her dam is a three-parts-sister to the top-class mare A Wild Bride, and is also a sister to the dam of stakes winner Charlie Papa, and to the granddam of graded winner Artie Hot. The second dam is an Alydar half sister to champion 2-Year-Old Roving Boy, going back to a sister to War Relic (who is 3x3 in In Reality, who in turn is found in the pedigree of Tapit’s broodmare sire, Rubiano).

The In Reality in Rubiano’s pedigree is via a sister to Relaunch, and the chief standard bearer for that line, Tiznow (TrueNicks,SRO), added another major winner to his record when his son Morning Line (TrueNicks A++) took the Carter Handicap (gr. I). Out of an A.P. Indy mare, Morning Line has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and boasts a win in the nine-furlong Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), so shortening up for a seven-furlong grade I was an impressive effort. Tiznow’s dam is by a son of Seattle Slew, and Morning Line is the third stakes winner from 15 starters by Tiznow out of mares by sons of Seattle Slew. The second dam is November Snow, a Test (gr. I) and Alabama Stakes (gr. I) winner by Storm Cat (a horse with whom Tiznow has enjoyed quite a lot of success). Tiznow’s granddam has some pedigree similarities to Storm Cat, and so the dam of Tiznow and Indian Snow, the dam of Morning Line, actually have some marked similarities.

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