No crossing the Atlantic divide

He excelled in America, but A.P. Indy is largely lost in translation in Europe more »

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If confirmation were needed that the gulf between North American and European breeding is widening, it was surely provided by the results of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

The winners of these major events – Princess Of Sylmar and Orb – were respectively sired by Majestic Warrior and Malibu Moon, two stallions sired by A.P. Indy from Mr Prospector line mares. Orb’s successes have helped Malibu Moon take top place on America’s leading sires’ list by 2013 North American earnings – a list which also features A.P. Indy’s grandson Tapit in third place, with A.P. Indy’s sons Pulpit and Majestic Warrior also in the top 20.

It has been a similar story with A.P. Indy’s stallion sons, with the possible exception of Bernardini

Only last month, in this column, I pointed out that Malibu Moon didn’t even appear in the 2012 Statistical Record annual, covering racing in Britain and Ireland. Neither did Majestic Warrior, although this wasn’t too surprising as he was a first-season sire in 2012. Even in France, where Malibu Moon’s female line has done so well over the years, he has been represented by only three minor winners.

A.P. Indy was outstanding at virtually every stage of his career. After topping the Keeneland July Yearling Sale, he went on to land the Horse of the Year title and two sires’ championships. Even so, A.P. Indy’s impact on Europe has been minimal. From his highly impressive total of 142 stakes winners (12%), the pensioned Lane’s End stallion is directly responsible for only two European stakes winners. These were the Group 3 scorers Mingun (out of the brilliant Miesque) and Admiral’s Cruise. These came from a total of 40 runners in Britain and Ireland, and A.P. Indy has also had more than 30 runners in France, with only Glia and the English-trained Mineshaft earning black type.

It has been a similar story with his stallion sons, with the possible exception of Bernardini, who has enjoyed European Group success with Biondetti, Gamilati and Theyskens’ Theory. The only other to hit the Group target in Europe is the now deceased Pulpit, sire of the German Group 3 winner Govinda. Perhaps the French-based Muhaymin will one day change that. This two-year-old mile winner at Leicester is well-bred, as he is out of the 1,000 Guineas winner Shadayid. He sired two Listed winners and a Listed race second from ten first-crop foals, born in 2008 and has some larger crops to come.

A.P. Indy’s comparatively disappointing results on this side of the Atlantic shouldn’t be allowed to detract from his tremendous record in the US. This son of Seattle Slew owes much of his success to the Mr Prospector line. Indeed this cross did so well that A.P. Indy sired 127 foals from 71 daughters of Mr Prospector, with an impressive total of 21 black type winners, or 17%. No fewer than 15 became Graded stakes winners, which equates to nearly 12%. In today’s industry such a figure, from such a substantial sample, is extremely good.

The effectiveness of this A.P. Indy/Mr Prospector cross has also been highlighted by the success enjoyed by several of its representatives as stallions. The Graded-winning colts Pulpit, Mineshaft and Congrats, together with two less successful racehorses in Malibu Moon and Flatter, have collectively sired 26 Grade 1 winners. This suggests that New York breeders could have a considerable asset in the very well-connected Vosburgh Stakes winner Girolamo, who covered 117 mares in his first season in 2012.

Moon rises the hard way

Pulpit has been the biggest contributor to the total of Grade 1 winners, with Tapit and Sky Mesa among his total of ten, but he is rapidly being overhauled by Malibu Moon, with nine.

Having started his career as a cheap stallion in Maryland, this twice-raced horse has worked his way through the ranks to a fee high of $70,000 in 2012 and 2013. Perhaps it would have been even higher if his list of important winners hadn’t been so dominated by daughters, rather than sons. No fewer than seven of his first eight Grade 1 winners were fillies, the single exception being the champion juvenile Declan’s Moon, who was a gelding. The arrival of Orb is therefore all the more welcome, especially as he seems to have the potential to continue as leader of his generation.

Orb has now won the last five of his eight starts, starting favourite for the Kentucky Derby on the strength of his victories in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and Florida Derby.

His triumph in the Kentucky Derby was the first for the A.P. Indy male line, but his dam Lady Liberty was a useful daughter of Unbridled, a stallion who has made a considerable impact on America’s Triple Crown events. A winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby, Unbridled went on to sire winners of each leg of the Triple Crown, thanks to Grindstone, Red Bullet and Empire Maker. Grindstone later sired the Belmont Stakes winner in Birdstone, himself sire of the Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and the Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird. Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner, is another out of an Unbridled mare.

Orb is owned by his breeders, the cousins Stuart S. Janney III and Dinny Phipps, who could be described as American racing royalty. It was Janney’s parents who bred and raced the superstar filly Ruffian. This daughter of Reviewer was so majestic in winning her first ten races, including the New York Triple Tiara, that she was allowed to take on the Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure in an event dubbed the Great Match Race. Ruffian started at 2/5 to beat the colt in front of a 50,000-strong crowd and she held a narrow lead passing the half-mile mark. Then she suffered a catastrophic fracture to her off-fore sesamoids and attempts to save her failed.

Appropriately, Orb’s fourth dam, Laughter, was a three-parts-sister, by Bold Ruler, to Ruffian. Laughter and her descendants enjoyed a profitable relationship with Horse of the Year Damascus and his son Private Account. Laughter’s foal by Private Account was the Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Private Terms, and her visits to Damascus resulted in Orb’s stakes-winning third dam Steel Maiden and Laughing Look, who became the dam of the high-class American colt Coronado’s Quest.

A.P. Indy’s success story with Mr Prospector also extended to Mr P’s grand-daughters and he sired top-flight winners from mares by five different sons of Mr Prospector. His 64 foals out of Seeking The Gold mares included eight black-type winners (13%), with five of them scoring at Graded level.

The only Grade 1 winner among them was Majestic Warrior, who proved himself one of A.P. Indy’s fastest and most precocious sons when he won the Hopeful Stakes over seven furlongs at Saratoga. A half-share in him was promptly bought by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, with a view to the colt eventually joining the team at Ashford Stud. Unfortunately the unbeaten colt promptly suffered his first defeat, when unplaced in the Champagne Stakes, and his second season proved something of a disaster, as he was unplaced in four starts.

However, as a good-looking two-year-old Grade 1 winner by A.P. Indy, Majestic Warrior still had his admirers and he covered 169 mares in his first season. He had the added appeal of having Grade 1-winning mares as his first two dams. His dam Dream Supreme won nine of her 16 starts, including two Grade 1 races over seven furlongs – the Test and Ballerina Stakes – at three. Majestic Warrior’s second dam, Spinning Round, also won the Ballerina Stakes. Majestic Warrior is inbred 3 x 4 to Secretariat and 4 x 4 to another great horse, Buckpasser. Clearly his bloodlines are so good that it is no surprise that he has sired a Kentucky Oaks winner in his first crop.

Majestic Warrior drew attention to himself by siring 30 individual two-year-old winners from his 69 first-crop runners. At that stage it was more a case of quantity rather than quality, but that all changed with the emergence of Princess Of Sylmar. After winning a pair of stakes races at Aqueduct early this year, she has continued to improve and she accounted for Beholder, the champion juvenile filly of 2012, to take the Kentucky Oaks.

Like Orb, Princess Of Sylmar has two lines of Mr Prospector (4 x 4, compared to Orb’s 4 x 3), but she is also inbred 4 x 3 to Dixieland Band.

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