Royal Ascot Day 2: Rethink

New Zealand-bred So You Think (NZ) (TrueNicks) came to the yard of Aiden O'Brien with a ranking as the official high-weight on the International Classifications in the long-distance category, as well being highly-rated at shorter distances. However, that long-distance rating, which was earned with a brave third under top weight in the Melbourne Cup (gr. I), was a triumph of class over natural aptitude, and in reality So You Think seems best as a middle-distance runner.

Last year his results were something of a mixed bag. He did win a trio of group I's, including when defeating Workforce in the Eclipse Stakes. Given his reputation at home, though, defeats in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (gr. I) at Royal Ascot; the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (gr. I), where he finished fourth; the Champion Stakes (gr. I); and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) were at odds with his perceived ability.

After a fourth in the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) this year, Racing Post was moved to state that "he's high class on his day, but he's never convinced as a real top-notcher—not in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, and it's got to be doubtful he'll ever reach such heights after this display." Happily, So You Think hasn't been reading his own press, and he rebounded with a six-length score in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (gr. I). At Royal Ascot, So You Think started favorite for the Prince of Wales's Stakes (gr. I) for the second year in succession. Last year he made a long run for home, only to be worried out of a win. This year, ridden for a turn of foot, he quickly got the better of a battle with Royal runner Carlton House before going clear for a convincing 2 1/2-length triumph. After the race, with impressive candor, Aiden O'Brien admitted that it had taken him a long time to come to grips with So You Think, and that he'd worked the horse too long and too often, working to get him to stay 1 1/2 miles. It does show just how hard it can be sometimes to work out exactly what a horse is physiologically. So a horse like So You Think, who perhaps allies a good proportion of fast-twitch muscle fiber to a superior cardio-vascular system, can give the impression that he is a horse with plenty of stamina.

So You Think is a member of a stellar first Southern Hemisphere crop sired by High Chaparral (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO), a Sadler's Wells son who retired to stud as a winner of six group/grade I events, including the English and Irish Derbys and two renewals of the Breeders' Cup Turf. He somewhat stood in the shadow of stud-mates Galileo and the late Montjeu, but has a emerged as a very smart sire in his own right, with his four Southern Hemisphere-sired group I winners being joined by European-conceived group and grade I winners Redwood (GB) (TrueNicks), Wigmore Hall, and Wrote. TrueNicks rated A++,So You Think is out of the New Zealand group winner Triassic, a daughter of the U.S.-raced Nijinsky II horse Tights.

The day opened with 3-year-olds going seven furlongs in the Jersey Stakes (gr. III), an event that went to So You Think's stablemate, Ishvana. She is from the second crop of Holy Roman Emperor, a Danehill son out of a daughter of Fanfreluche, and three-parts-sister to Australian standout sire Flying Spur (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO). A top 2-year-old, Holy Roman Emperor started his stud career at 3, replacing fellow Danehill son George Washington, who had proved to be virtually infertile. He's off to a very solid start, and had a 2009 Royal Ascot winner from his first crop of 3-year-olds in the admirably tough Banimpire, who took the Ribblesdale Stakes (gr. II). His second crop includes not only Ishvana—who'd previously been runner-up in the Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I)—but also the runaway English 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) winner, Homecoming Queen. Ishvana (TrueNicks A++) is out of the Bering mare Song of The Sea, going back to a sister to the very good runner and sire Reform. This is an example of the Danehill/Bering cross that has produced 10 stakes winners from only 60 starters, the best being Harbinger.

The Windsor Forest Stakes (gr. II) for older fillies and mares going a mile went to Joviality, who has pedigree links to Ishvana, as she is by Cape Cross (by Green Desert, a son of Danzig) out of a mare by Night Shift (brother to Fanfreluche, who we've just mentioned as the granddam of Holy Roman Emperor, who of course is also grandson of Danzig). Joviality (TrueNicks B+) is one of at least 24 stakes winners with Danzig in the sire and Night Shift in the dam, and Valyra, who won the French Oaks (gr. I) last week has that combination in reverse, as she's by a son of Night Shift (Azamour) out of a mare with Danzig. A half sister to this year's Dante Stakes (gr. II) winner, Bonfire, is coincidentally, like Valyra, from the Lagardere family, that goes back to a daughter of the French Derby (gr. I) winner Bikala. This family is the one that goes back to Miss Satin, the ancestress of a slew of good winners, among them Blue Bunting, winner of the 1,000 Guineas (gr. I), Irish Oaks (gr. I), and Yorkshire Oaks (gr. I) last year.

The Queen Mary Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies fell to Ceiling Kitty, a daughter of the prematurely-deceased Red Clubs, a Red Ransom son who won the Coventry Stakes (gr. II) at Royal Ascot (actually ran at York that year), as well as the Greenham Stakes (gr. III), Diadem Stakes (gr. II), and Haydock Sprint Cup (gr. I). Red Clubs was shaping as if he might have been a useful sire, as he now has four stakes winners, including three group winners, from his first two crops.

The dam, Baldovina, is by Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO), and so this is the reverse of the Tale of the Cat/Red Ransom cross that has produced three stakes winners from only 14 starters. The second dam, Baldwina (by the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (gr. I) winner, Pistolet Bleu, a son of Top Ville) won the Prix Penelope (gr. III), and is the dam of the Japanese group winner One Carat. The family has been a French one for several generations, and goes back to the mare Brescia, the third dam of Balbonella, a fast French filly who won the Prix Robert Papin (gr. I), Dahlia Handicap (gr. III), and Prix de la Porte Maillot (gr. III), and subsequently produced Anabaa.

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