Royal Ascot Day 1: War Time

At around halfway in the opening day's Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I), Animal Kingdom (TrueNicks) and Declaration of War were about the same distance off the lead. From that point, however, the duo went in opposite directions: Animal Kingdom, who had pulled hard in the early stages and found no cover, fading out of contention, while Declaration of War stormed up the Ascot hill to gain his first group I success.

It's not surprising that Declaration of War should come home as strongly as he did over a mile, since he'd won over nine furlongs as a 2-year-old, when he was two-for-two racing in France. Last year, he'd gained his first stakes victory in the 11-furlong Diamond Stakes (Ire-III). Declaration of War is yet another credit for his young sire War Front (TrueNicks) (by Danzig), who now has 20 stakes winners from his first three crops, including other gr. I winners The Factor (TrueNicks), Data Link, Summer Sonnet, and Warning Flag.

Declaration of War's dam, the Rahy mare Tempo West, is a half sister to last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Union Rags (TrueNicks). She had previously produced the Dynaformer colt Vertiformer, a stakes winner in France and graded-placed in the U.S., and Declaration of War's stakes-placed brother War Pact. The second dam, Tempo, is by Gone West out of Terpsichorist, an excellent turf stayer by Nijinsky II from the English One Thousand Guineas heroine Glad Rags II.

Declaration of War is TrueNicks rated A on the basis of the Danzig/Rahy cross. He has a double of the Mr. Prospector/Nijinsky II cross through Rubiano (broodmare sire of War Front) and through Tempo.

Beaten twice by South African star Shea Shea in Dubai this winter, Sole Power reversed that form to take the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I). Sole Power is a son of the Pivotal stallion Kyllachy, who himself snagged a group I five-furlong event in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Kyllachy has been a good sire of sprinters and in addition to Sole Power, who also has a Nunthorpe to his name, they include the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) victor Krypton Factor and the Chairman's Sprint Prize (HK-I) captor Dim Sum (Algol).

A half brother to a couple of black-type-placed horses, Sole Power is out of the Distant View mare Demerger. The second dam, Merida (by Warning), is a half sister to Tychonic, a winner of six stakes events in the U.S., two of them grade II. A complete outcross at five generations, Sole Power is TrueNicks A on the basis of the Kyllachy/Mr. Prospector cross, which has produced four stakes winners from 52 runners (an 8% stakes winners to runner strike rate, against a 3% strike rate for Kyllachy's starters out of all other mares).

Cutting back from the 1 1/2 miles of the Epsom Derby (Eng-I), where whatever slim chances of staying the trip went out the window when he refused to settle, the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Dawn Approach took the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) by a nostril from High Chaparral (IRE) (TrueNicks)'s highly-rated son Toronado.

Dawn Approach's win in last year's Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) was one of a trio of Royal Ascot stakes victories which suggested then freshman sire New Approach (TrueNicks) had the potential to become an outstanding stallion. The events of 2013 have borne out that promise, with in addition to Dawn Approach's Guineas triumph, New Approach's daughter Talent capturing the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I), and another son, Libertarian, having won the Dante Stakes (Eng-II), was second in the Epsom Derby.

Dawn Approach's dam, Hymn of the Dawn, is a daughter of crack U.S. sprinter Phone Trick, a horse whose influence on Dawn Approach appears to have been considerable. The next two dams, Colonial Debut and Kittihawk Miss, daughters of Pleasant Colony and Alydar, achieved little of note on the track or as producers, but Kittihawk Miss is a sister to U.S. champion 2-year-old filly Miss Oceana. She's also a half sister to group I winner Kitwood, and others descending from her dam (the excellent runner Kittiwake) include gr. I winners Magic of Life, Aruna, and Joshua Tree. TrueNicks rated A++, Dawn Approach has Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector in his grandsire, and their close relatives Icecapade and Alydar in the dam.

Following the victory of Declaration of War earlier in the day, trainer Aidan O'Brien and sire War Front teamed up to provide the dominant Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) winner War Command.

Rated B+ by TrueNicks prior to his win, War Command is out of the Red Ransom mare Wandering Star, winner of the E. P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IIT). She's also dam of Naval Officer, a French 2-year-old group winner by Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks), and granddam of French black-type scorers War Officer and Doo Lang. Wandering Star is similarly-bred to the good sire Silver Hawk, as she is a granddaughter of that horse's sire, Roberto, and her dam is a half sister to that horse. Wandering Star is also a half sister to the dam of the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (NZ-I) victress Rollout the Carpet. Given that his dam was a graded winner at 10 furlongs, War Command should see out a mile with no problem, and he looks a bright early prospect for the 2014 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I).

The Windsor Castle Stakes for 2-year-olds provided a first stakes winner for Irish-based freshman sire Dandy Man in the shape of Extortionist . A son of Mozart (by Danehill out of a daughter of Glowing Tribute), Dandy Man was a group III-winning and group I-placed sprinter. Extortionist's dam, Dream Date, is a daughter of Oasis Dream, who is by Green Desert, which means that Extortionist is a Danzig/Danzig cross. Out of Fairy King's juvenile stakes-winning daughter Femme Fatale, Dream Date is three-quarters related to Neebras, an Oasis Dream son who was a stakes-winning miler at 3, and also second in the six-furlong July Stakes (Eng-II) at 2. The family eventually goes back to the 1951 One Thousand Guineas heroine Belle of All.

Extortionist is not only a Danzig/Danzig cross, but his sire and dam are both Northern Dancer/Northern Dancer crosses, and Extortionist has Northern Dancer 5x4x5x6x4 (and his dam Natalma 6x6x5x6x7x5). He also has a double of Goofed, the dam of Lyphard, and most unusually, two crosses of the good miler Sallust (the first time we can find that this has happened).

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