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A Ford Too Swift to Cross

Having come within a furlong of stealing the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) off very slow early fractions, Shackleford succeeded in capturing the Preakness Stakes (gr. I, video below) after what appeared to be a suicidal first quarter.

We’d noted that the victory of the turf-bred Animal Kingdom in the Derby came in a contest which was actually run like a turf race, with the second half faster than the first (virtually unprecidented in modern Derby history, Secretariat aside), and this led us to wonder whether he could stay as close to more typical dirt fractions, and if he did, would his finishing kick be as powerful? The answer to both of those questions turned out to be “No.” Although he acquitting himself nobly, the fact is, Animal Kingdom found himself somewhere around 18 lengths behind the opening quarter of :22.69 set by Flashpoint and Shackleford. He regained around 13 of those lengths in the next half mile, as the leading pair steadied the pace, but had to run down a Shackleford who rather than tiring, was running last 3½ furlongs in a faster time than all but Animal Kingdom and Dialed In (the duo having occupied the last two places after the opening quarter). Animal Kingdom did carve into Shackleford’s lead, but was still ½ length short of the winner at the wire. Overall, given the different pace scenarios the first two finished up in a way remarkably consistent with their Derby efforts: there Animal Kingdom headed Shackleford at around nine furlongs, in the Preakness he was ½ length shy of doing so at a sixteenth further.

While Animal Kingdom, as good a horse as he is, is something of an anomaly as far as mainstream U.S. dirt racing is concerned, Shackleford is the embodiment, the fast miler type, who under the right conditions can stretch his stamina a little further. Appropriately, he is a product of a cross of two of the individuals who have helped propagate that type, Storm Cat and Fappiano. He’s by the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) winner Forestry (TrueNicks,SRO), who has stood at fees ranging from a high of $125,000 to his current $12,500, but who has sired 40 stakes winners, including other grade I winners Discreet Cat (TrueNicks,SRO), Forest Danger, and Diplomat Lady, and grade II winners Etched, Smokey Glacken, Carolyn’s Cat, and Teton Forest.

Shackleford’s dam, Oatsee, is a stakes-placed daughter of Unbridled and has turned out to be a remarkable producer, albeit a somewhat paradoxical one. She’s previously produced Baghdaria, who captured the Indiana Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. III), Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III), and Iowa Oaks (gr. III) all on dirt, to Royal Academy, predominantly a sire of turf horses. To twice champion sprinter Orientate (TrueNicks,SRO), Oatsee produced Lady Joanne, a three-time grade I winner whose most prestigious victory came in the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I). One common factor in the matings that produced Shackleford, Baghdaria, and Lady Joanne is Crimson Satan, who is sire of Crimson Saint – dam of Royal Academy and Terlingua (dam of Forestry's sire, Storm Cat) – and Flama Ardiente, dam of Mt. Livermore. A three-parts-sister to Oatsee, Christy Love (also by Unbridled), produced three stakes winners, two by Atticus (TrueNicks,SRO) (Northern Dancer/Secretariat cross like Storm Cat), including graded winner Atticus Kristy. The family goes back to Taminette (by In Reality), a sister to the English 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) hero Known Fact, and half sister to the top-class perfomer Tentam, and to Secrettame, a stakes winner who is best known as the dam of Gone West. Bred to Oatsee's grandsire, Fappiano, Taminette produced the three-time grade I-winning 2-year-old filly Tappiano, and A. P Jet, a stakes winner in Japan who subsequently stood as a stallion in New York.

As a Storm Cat half brother to a Mr. Prospector line grade I winner, and with his third dam being a three-parts-sister to the dam of Mr. Prospector, Forestry was widely expected to cross well with Mr. Prospector line mares. In fact the cross turned out to be something of a dead end. Lifetime, Forestry has sired 7.75% stakes winners to runners. From all Mr. Prospector line mares, he sired 5.3% stakes winners, and if we look at his strike rate with Mr. Prospector line mares other than Fappiano (the broodmare sire line of Shackleford), this falls to just over 3%. With the Fappiano line, the story has been rather different with five stakes winners from 48 starters (10.4%), and he has six stakes winners from 59 starters out of mares with Fappiano in the first four generations. Perhaps the preference for Fappiano is that Forestry’s second dam, Surgery, is by Dr. Fager out of Bold Sequence (a close relative to Mr. Prospector’s dam Gold Digger), where Fappiano is by Mr. Prospector out of a Dr. Fager mare. In the case of Shackleford, there is not only the double of Dr. Fager, but in the pedigree of Oatsee, a double of In Reality (out of champion My Dear Girl, a daughter of Dr. Fager’s sire Rough ‘n Tumble).

The Fappiano line also supplied the Black Eyed-Susan Stakes (gr. II, video below) – filly parallel to the Preakness – winner in the shape of Royal Delta (TrueNicks A++), a daughter of the much-missed Empire Maker. Royal Delta’s dam, Delta Princess, is a graded stakes-winning daughter of A.P. Indy, and is a sister to grade I winner Indy Five Hundred, and three-parts-sister to Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO)’s first crop Italian group I winner Biondetti. Empire Maker was turning into a very good cross for Seattle Slew in general, and A.P. Indy in particular, the specific cross producing three stakes winners and five stakes horse from eight starters.

A.P. Indy and Empire Maker’s sire, Unbridled, also came together in the pedigree of Apart (TrueNicks A+), who landed the William Donald Schaefer Memorial Handicap (gr. III). He’s by Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO)’s big brother Flatter (TrueNicks,SRO), out of an Unbridled mare.

Joining Royal Delta as a 3-year-old weekend graded winner from the Unbridled/Fappiano line was May Day Rose (TrueNicks A++), who was successful in the Railbird Stakes (gr. III) in California. She is from the first crop of Rockport Harbor (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO)), who has two stakes winners to date, both out of Danzig line mares (May Day Rose from a daughter of Pine Bluff, and Bear’s Future out of a mare by Belong to Me (TrueNicks,SRO)).

Paddy O’Prado, who preceded Animal Kingdom as a turf horse taking a crack at the Derby, and finished a good third in last year’s renewal, made his farewell as a runner in the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico. Despite suffering a career-ending (but happily, not life-threatening) injury, he scored a courageous victory. A son of El Prado (who has Medaglia d'Oro (TrueNicks,SRO) and Kitten's Joy (TrueNicks,SRO) doing well as stallion sons), Paddy O’Prado is out of Fun House, a half sister to the speedy graded winner Early Flyer (TrueNicks,SRO). This is the very good Winchell family which has also produced Olympio (a half brother to the granddam of Paddy O’Prado), Call Now, Your Call, Wild Wonder, Pyro, War Echo, Cuvee (TrueNicks,SRO), Will He Shine (TrueNicks,SRO), and Bien Nicole.

Talking of the El Prado line, Medaglia d’Oro added another graded stakes winner to his record when Super Espresso (TrueNicks A++) annexed the Allaire DuPont Stakes (gr. III). The dam, Amizette, is by Forty Niner, and there are now three stakes winners, also including Rachel Alexandra, by Medaglia d’Oro out of Forty Niner line mares, and from only eight starters. Amizette is a sister to Twining, so some of the better daughters of that sire could be candidates for Medaglia d’Oro. The granddam is Courtly Dee, also ancestress of Green Desert, Arch (TrueNicks,SRO), Althea, Acoma, Aldiza, and Balletto, to name a few.

Another older mare to tally was Awesome Maria (TrueNicks A), the daughter of Maria’s Mon and Discreetly Awesome (half sister to grade I winners Discreet Cat and Discreetly Mine (TrueNicks,SRO)), who was successful in the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Awesome Maria’s broodmare sire, Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO), was also paternal grandsire of a weekend graded winner as Ventana (by Toccet (TrueNicks,SRO) out of a Polish Numbers mare, and TrueNicks rated A++) won the Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III).

Still with the older mare division, Irish-bred No Explaining (TrueNicks A++) scored her first stakes victory by winning the Gallorette Handicap (gr. III). She is from the first crop of the promising young sire Azamour (by Night Shift, a brother to Fanfreluche), who also has this year's 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) second Native Khan in his second crop. The dam, Claustra, is by Green Desert, and No Explaining is the second stakes winner on the cross, the other being by Nicolotte. There are actually already 26 stakes winners with the two Northern Dancer sons, Night Shift and Danzig, combined.

Finally, and still with Danzig, that horse’s emerging son War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) fired in stakes winners seven and eight at the weekend with Snow Fall (out of a Caerleon mare, and inbred to Nijinsky II and Round Table, the sire and broodmare sire of Caerleon) in the Pike Creek Stakes, and Chinglish (out of a mare by Peteski, by Affirmed) in the James W. Murphy Stakes.

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