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Dream Fulfilled

With Danedream flashing her credentials for a shot at back-to-back victories in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) with a score in the Grosser Preis von Baden (Ger-I) at the weekend, we thought it was worth a look back at her pedigree from this article we wrote for the International Thoroughbred after her win in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July this year...

Although Danedream is far from invincible—she has won only seven of 16 lifetime starts—she certainly knows how to get the job done when it matters. That is underlined by her quartet of group I victories, the Grosser-Preis Von Berlin, Grosser-Preis von Baden, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and most recently the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

All four of those triumphs were achieved over a mile and a half against colts, and delving into her background, one has to wonder whether such a tradition isn't embedded in her DNA. Danedream comes from a family that owes its standing to some of the greatest French breeders, and a convenient start point to contemplate the female line comes in 1914, with a young Marcel Boussac's acquisition of an interest in eight mares owned by the Comte de Catelbajac. Among this group was Diana Vernon, a three-parts-sister to the top-class colt Ossian II. The descendents of Diana Vernon would continue to produce high-class runners for Boussac over better than half a century, including one of Boussac's last top-class performers, Dankaro, winner of the Prix Lupin (Fr-I) and rated the top French 3-year-old colt of 1974.

As far as Danedream is concerned, the branch of Diana Vernon's pedigree that is of interest is that which descends from her granddaughter, Sanaa (by Asterus out of Deasy by Alcantara II), a sister to Hira, dam of the French 2,000 Guineas winner Hurnli. Sanaa's best runner was Esmeralda, a Tourbillon filly that defeated colts in the Prix Morny, but was destined to earn greater fame as dam of one of the greatest of all the Boussac colour-bearers, Coronation V. Boussac was an advocate of close inbreeding, and Coronation V exemplified that technique to an extreme degree, as she was by Djebel, a son of Esmeralda's sire, Tourbillon (thus inbred 2x2 to Tourbillon). Coronation V captured the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and Prix Robert-Papin at 2, and gained a classic victory in the French 1,000 Guineas at 3, but her claim to greatness rests on a smashing triumph in the race that Danedream was take 62 years later, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The branch of the the Diana Vernon family that leads to Danedream descends not through Esmeralda and Coronation V, but through Geranium, a daughter of the Derby winner Mahmoud, who somewhat ironically lacked the usual Boussac stamp of inbreeding, being a complete outcross at four generations. Geranium didn't produce anything near as exciting as Coronation V, although two of her offspring captured stakes, including the Pharis II filly Monrovia, who took the Prix de Royallieu, Prix de Royaumont, and Prix de Saint-Firmin, and finished second in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. The family's drift away from production at the highest level continued with Monrovia, as her best was Wage War, an Aggressor II colt who was some way removed from top-class, although he did win the Churchill Stakes and Commonwealth Stakes.

As so often happens, it took the move to another stud for this branch of the female line to revive. In this case, it was the Haras de Meautry of the Rothschild family, and through the agency of Moss Rose, who was by Mossborough out of Monrovia's stakes-placed daughter Damasi (by Djebel, so by both the same sire and from the family of Coronation V). Bred to the otherwise disappointing sire Violon d'Ingres—a half brother to the very successful stallion Luthier—Moss Rose produced Lady Berry, whose pedigree carried the parallels to Coronation V a step further, as she was inbred 3x4 to Tourbillon. Winner of the Prix de Pomone (gr. III) against her own sex, Lady Berry became another to emulate Coronation V by defeating colts in a major race over a distance of ground, accounting for the high-class colts Authi, Balompie, and Recupere in the Prix Royal-Oak-French St. Leger (Fr-I).

Good as she was on the racecourse, Lady Berry turned out to be even better as a broodmare. Four of her offspring earned stakes winner status, headed by Vert Armande, whose trio of group triumphs included the Prix Ganay (Fr-I); Le Nain Jaune, a son of Pharly who took the Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I); and the Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) heroine Indian Rose, the best runner sired by the very disappointing stallion General Holme.

Lady Berry's best producing daughter, however, turned out to be one who got away. The Lyphard daughter Featherhill, who was a winner in France and stakes-placed in the U.S., began her stud career for the Warner family producing the Prix Lupin (Fr-I) victor and successful sire Groom Dancer; Tagel, winner of the Prix Saint-Roman (Fr-III) and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I); and Slew the Slewor, a stakes winner in France and the U.S. and group- and graded-placed in both countries. Offered at the 1989 Keeneland November Sales, Featherhill was purchased by another of France's great breeding dynasties, the Wertheimer family (as Hagyard Farm) for $1.3 million. Featherhill never produced another stakes winner, but two of her daughters have made an outstanding contribution to the Wertheimer program. Featherquest is dam of Plumania—a filly who proved a worthy heir to the tradition of Coronation V and Lady Berry, defeating Youmzain for the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I)—and group winner Balladeuse; and Sea Hill is dam of Legerete, a two-time group winner who was also multiple group I-placed and granddam of the French 2,000 Guineas (Fr-I) winner Falco and group winner Iron Lips. Another of Featherhill's daughters, Keltshaan, made her way to Australia, and she appears as dam of Kinshasa no Kiseki, champion sprinter and champion miler in Japan, and granddam of Absolutely, who had the distinction of breaking her maiden in the AJC Australian Oaks (Aus-I).

Another mare from this family culled from the Haras de Meautry broodmare band was Rose Bonbon, a black-type-placed daughter of High Top and Lady Berry. She was sold to a partnership of Tommy Stack, Sue Magnier, and Swettenham Stud for 85,000 gns. at the 1994 Tattersalls December Sales. Rose Bonbon failed to produce a runner of note from 10 foals to race, but does now figure as granddam of the Prix de Yacowlef winner Roseanna, and the Italian black-type scorers Saratoga Black (a group winner who was also third in the Gran Premio di Milano (Ity-I) and Derby Italiano (Ity-II)) and Warder. Danedrop, Rose Bonbon's 1999 filly by Danehill, never made it to the racetrack and was bred to first year sire King Charlemagne and sold to Herbertstown Stud for 21,000 Euros at the 2002 Goffs Novermber Sales. The following year, Danedrop was offered in foal to Val Royal at the Tattersalls November Sales, but was bought back in for 40,000 gns.

The King Charlemagne filly was never named, but the Val Royal mating resulted in a colt that fetched 20,000 Euros as a Goffs November weanling and subsequently won five of 78 races. The following year the mare produced Accused, a son of Xaar, who was a success in the sale ring, realizing 75,000 Euros as a weanling and 360,000 at the Goffs Million Yearling Sale, but a disappointment as a runner, managing one third from five outings. Returned to the ring at Goffs November 2005, Danedrop was knocked down to the BBA Germany, acting on behalf of Gestut Brummerhof for 47,000 Euros. For them she produced Danestorm, a Soviet Star colt who never ran; Danestar, a son of Medicean, who was exported to Hungary where he was won twice; and Danedream, who realized only 9,000 Euros at Baden-Baden as a 2-year-old. Danestorm then changed ownership once more. Consigned to the 2007 Arqana Sale, in foal to Soldier Hollow, Danedrop—whose record at the time showed just one winner from her first four foals—realized 17,000 Euros to the bid of Tony Clout, who was familiar with the family having trained Groom Dancer, and was acting on behalf of heart specialist Askam Khaddam, a native of Martinique.

If it came down to finding the right mating to revive the fortunes of Danedrop and her branch of the famous family, Danedream's sire, Lomitas, was a good choice. Champion 3-year-old colt, champion older horse, and Horse of the Year in Germany, Lomitas sired more than 50 stakes winners, including other group I winners winners Belenus, Meridiana, and Shalanya. Although it wasn't evident at the time, it's clear that Lomitas has something of an affinity for Danehill line mares. A look at a TrueNicks Enchanced Report shows that there are only 10 starters by Lomitas out of mares by Danehill and his sons. Eight of them are winners, with Danedream and Salomina winning at the group I level, and three others, including group I-placed Rose di Brema, earning lowercase black-type, for a tally of 50% stakes horses to starters. The affinity extends to Lomitas' son Silvano, who also has a stakes winner out of a Danehill mare, while Hernando, like Lomitas a son of Niniski, has group winner Indian Daffodil from a daughter of Danehill. We wonder if the key might be the fact that both Niniski and Danehill are by sons of Northern Dancer out of mares by sons of Ribot. More evidence for that assertion comes from the fact that there are eight stakes winners by Danehill line stallions out of mares carrying Niniski, four of them group or graded.

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