Planets Aligned

It would be reasonable to suggest that while time may prove Coolmore stallion Galileo superior to his breed-shaping sire Sadler's Wells, with the exception of siring a group I winner over 4000m (which Sadler's Wells did in the form of the brilliant Yeats), right now Galileo is every bit as good a classic sire as his father.

Like many elite stallions, Galileo suits a wide variety of broodmare sires but tends to benefit from one or two in particular. In Galileo's case, one of these strains is that of his one-time stablemate Danehill, a dual-hemisphere breed-shaper whose daughters have heavily influenced the making of Galileo at stud. With the group I winners Frankel, Teofilo (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO), Golden Lilac, Cima de Triomphe, Maybe, Roderic O'Connor, and eight other stakes winners bred on the direct nick, it is safe to say that there will be a lot of Danehill mares visiting Galileo's court in years to come. In fact, just this week we were given a timely reminder of this prolific cross in the shape of Mars (Galileo–Massarra, by Danehill), who was cut to as low as 10-1 for the 2013 Epsom Derby (Eng-I) following his facile maiden victory at first asking. Mars represents quite an interesting prospect, and one whose pedigree tells a considerable story in more ways than one.

It would be incorrect to assume that just because we were involved in the creation of TrueNicks that we slavishly follow it as gospel or don't look at the pedigree in its entirety—in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, within the framework that "paper doesn't run very fast," and that physical considerations are just as important as any pedigree considerations, we are acutely aware that context (what names are present) and content (how good are they as racehorses and producers) are key determinants of both planning matings and selecting elite racehorses. With this in mind, we come back to the case of Mars and the concept that the names on the page, no matter where they fall, can influence the outcome. While the prolific Galileo/Danehill nick sits front and center in his pedigree and is a key consideration, the pedigree also shows how a prolific nick along with other pedigree elements can be grounds for the most effective conditions to produce elite racehorses.

Mars is out of the speedy stakes-winning mare Messarra, a daughter of Danehill out of the classic-winning Rafha, making her a close relation to the top class sprinter and leading sire Invincible Spirit. Rafha aside, this has generally been quite a quick and precocious family, so the early maturing speed that Mars has shown to date comes as no surprise, and it should be noted that this is a pedigree of considerable racing class. Rafha is a daughter of the leading sire Kris, a brother to Diesis and Keen and a half brother to Presidium, being out of the good producer Doubly Sure. For whatever reason, Doubly Sure has been a key ancestor in the success of Galileo at stud. Within seven generations of the foal (six of the dam of the foal), she has appeared in the pedigrees of 58 foals of racing age with 44 getting to the racetrack, 25 winning races, and 11 becoming stakes winners (25% stakes winners to runners). These 11 stakes winners include the likes of Cape Blanco (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO) (out of a Presidium mare), Sixties Icon (Diesis), Roderic O'Connor (like Mars by Danehill out of a Kris mare), and Lush Lashes (whose third dam is by Kris). It is interesting that, as Roger Lyons noted a while ago, it is Doubly Sure (we note that the high-class brothers Match II, Reliance—Doubly Sure's sire—and Relko appear frequently in superior runners by Galileo) but not Sharpen Up (sire of Kris and Diesis) that is the key ancestor here, as excluding her union with him via Kris and Diesis, Sharpen Up appears in the pedigrees of 65 foals of racing age, 43 runners, 28 winners, and just three stakes winners by Galileo (Gatewood, King of Wands, and Quest for Peace).

Cape Blanco also links us into another important element for Mars, and one that Galileo seems to have particular affinity for: the leading sire Round Table. Again, the presence of Round Table in the dams of his superior runners is significant with the likes of Cape Blanco, Sixites Icon, Mahbooba, Allegretto, Treasure Beach (who has another key ancestor for Galileo in Darshaan), Incanto Dream, Kite Wood (Darshaan again), and Mikhael Glinka (Darshaan again), with the dams of Cape Blanco, Sixites Icon, and Mahbooba containing both Doubly Sure and Round Table in their pedigrees. There are of course other names outside of Danehill, Doubly Sure, and Round Table that appear to be key ancestors for Galileo, such as the aforementioned Match II, Reliance, and Relko, as well as Blushing Groom, Vaguely Noble, Roberto, Darshaan, Ahonoora, and Bering. Like Mars may well show in his races to come, containing two or more of these ancestors does seem to create the most effective conditions for elite performers to be found.

The utility of this information for the average breeder is of course very little. There is a relatively small population of people who are able to either breed or buy a son or daughter of Galileo, and the value of his "key ancestors" only becomes apparent when his stud career is mature. However it is possible, with a large database and some clever computations, to flip the equation completely from stallions to mares and discover the key ancestors for individual mares and extend routine pedigree analysis to a place generally reserved for experienced pedigree analysts. The offspring, both stakes winners and non-stakes winners, of a group of like-bred mares with similar pedigree structure to an individual mare will provide a list of key ancestors, and then from there one would be able to select stallions that—like Galileo for Massarra—not only satisfy a prolific nick but provide the resultant offspring with other key ancestors for their pedigree.

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