Alpha Leads Bernardini's Weekend Classic Duo

Darley's young gun Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO) proved himself with two classic types over the weekend, one in America in the shape of Alpha, who won the Withers (gr. III) and heads towards the Wood Memorial (gr. I) in his run for the roses, and another in Dubai in the filly Gamilati, who gave the rest of the field a decent thumping in the UAE 1000 Guineas on Friday. Both were bred by Darley, but in different countries, and both are A+ TrueNicks matings, but for different reasons.

Alpha, who hails from a wonderful classic family, is an A+ based on A.P. Indy and his sons/Nijinsky II cross, and follows Reflect the Music and Grat as stakes winners bred on the cross. Gamilati is calculated on the Bernardini/Mr. Prospector and sons cross, and it is worth noting that Bernardini seems to be a stallion that despite being out of a Mr. Prospector line mare (admittedly through Fappiano who combines best with other strains of Mr. Prospector), he has done very well with mares that are breeding this stallion back into his pedigree, with Gamilati joining horses like A Z Warrior, Wilburn (TrueNicks,SRO), and another classic contender Algorithms bred on the cross.

Not to be outdone with a classic contender or two, the lads from Coolmore unearthed one of their own in Battle Hardened—a son of their premier North American stallion Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO)—who captured the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) at Tampa Bay. This colt is bred on the rather broad cross of Giant's Causeway with Northern Dancer line mares and despite their being 241 starters bred on this cross, the TrueNicks rating is a solid B+, indicating that it still well outperforms opportunity. Giant's Causeway also had the Japanese stakes winner in A Shin G Line on the weekend, who is out of a mare by a son of Northern Dancer in Danzig. Giant's Causeway is of course out of a mare by Rahy, a son of the good racemare Glorious Song. Two of her full relations played a role in a pair of stakes winners over the weekend: Game on Dude, winner of the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II), and Ultimate Eagle, winner of the Strub Stakes (gr. II). These tough racehorses are by two of our favorite stallions in Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO) and Mizzen Mast (TrueNicks,SRO), respectively, and while Game on Dude is out of a mare by Devil His Due (a son of Glorious Song's full brother Devil's Bag), Ultimate Eagle is out of a mare by Captain Bodgit (a son of Glorious Song's "other" full brother Saint Ballado, a stallion whose premature passing we have previously noted).

For no reason other than we think he is a game horse that is on his way back to bigger and better things, we were pleased to see Alternation return to the winner's circle. The colt is bred on the highly successful nick of Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) over Seattle Slew mares (TrueNicks A+), and we suspect that the team at Pin Oak are hopeful that he can continue on his winning ways and eventually stand alongside Broken Vow (TrueNicks,SRO), Cowboy Cal (TrueNicks,SRO), Bob and John (TrueNicks,SRO), and Sky Classic (TrueNicks,SRO) when it comes time to retire.

On the basis of the "sire of sires" concept, we also suspect that the Pin Oak team were happy to see Three Chimneys stallion Flower Alley (TrueNicks,SRO)—like Alternation, a son of Distorted Humor—emerge with a classic contender in surprise Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) winner I'll Have Another. This colt, while inbred to the speed influence Danzig, has plenty of strength to his pedigree with classic winners Roberto, Pleasant Colony, Caucasus, Sea-Bird, and Sadler's Wells in his pedigree. Presuming class is a constant, it will be interesting to see what part of his pedigree ultimately wins out in terms of distance should he make the field on the first Saturday in May.

Speaking of Sadler's Wells, a decade ago he looked as though his "sire of sires" credentials were going to be more prominent over jumps than the flat, but with the likes of Galileo, Montjeu, and El Prado, he has changed all that. El Prado of course had a great career in America and in turn has left us with Medaglia d'Oro (TrueNicks,SRO) and also Artie Schiller (TrueNicks,SRO), whose Mr. Commons looks to be one of the best turf milers in the country.

To finish this off with an international turn, it would be remiss of us not to mention the star Indian filly In the Spotlight, who is by Sadler's Wells' son Alnasr Alwasheek. In the Spotlight beat all-comers by a widening seven lengths in the Indian Derby (IND-I), following previous female winners Moonlight Romance (2011) and Jacqueline (2010).

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