Bobby Zen

Having long served as Champion Bore regarding the schism between gene pools either side of the Atlantic, I always find it curious that Europeans so readily shed their inhibitions about American stallions once a 2-year-old is introduced to their domestic market by a compatriot pinhooker.

That’s presumably because they are nowadays so enslaved by the clock–whatever their contrary claims–that pedigree has almost been neutralized at 2-year-old sales. Functionality is all. Admittedly an elite sire will put a premium on a bullet time. But just as unfashionable local stallions have achieved some startling dividends in recent years, so end-users in Europe have proved increasingly receptive to animals they wouldn’t have dreamt of importing from Lexington or Saratoga a few months previously.

Candidly, I know one or two agents with the budget to compete at Arqana last week who couldn’t have told you the first thing about McKinzie before a member of his first crop became the fifth most expensive lot in the sale. To be fair, it’s impossible for any of us to keep on top of every single theater of racing’s global racing. But the mutual aversion between perceived “dirt” and “turf” bloodlines over the past generation (one conspicuously not shared, incidentally, in Japan) feels especially culpable because everybody knows the past regenerations achieved, for instance, by importing Nasrullah to Kentucky or sons of Northern Dancer to Europe.

But now, thank goodness, we appear to have found a bridge-builder. For the emergence last year of a champion juvenile from his second crop has given Justify traction with even the most parochial of Europeans–so much so, that he accounted for the first, second and joint-third prices paid in Deauville last week, from six offerings.

And that’s despite City Of Troy running a shocker when odds-on for the G1 2,000 Guineas only days previously. For his efficacy on grass has been matched by the likes of Opera Singer, Ramatuelle and Satuette in Europe, Learning To Fly and Storm Boy in Australia, and of course Hard To Justify in the U.S.

This was not something anyone could have confidently anticipated of a stallion as blatantly built for dirt as Justify, whose Quarter Horse brawn would only alarm European traditionalists. But the fact is that many of the latter have been complicit in the conflation, in their local commercial market, of speed with mere precocity. And it’s precisely the relentless, devouring stride of a top-class dirt runner that can help make stamina in a European Classic horse something more than dourness. As we saw in Justify‘s Belmont, a two-turn dirt champion typically sets off fast–and keeps going fast.

Unsurprisingly, Justify as an international outcross owes much to John Magnier, whose whole empire was founded on the transferability of another Kentucky Derby winner’s genetic prowess. Justify‘s sire-line reads like a sampler of his genius, Magnier having participated in its development via Scat Daddy (whose resulting familiarity doubtless aids Justify‘s cause in Europe) all the way back to Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird, himself of course a son of Northern Dancer.

City Of Troy exemplifies Justify‘s vitalizing role for a Coolmore broodmare band dominated by Galileo (Ire). And the big money paid for his stock in Deauville emulates that model, all his big three being out of mares with Coolmore/Ballydoyle resonance.

The record-breaking €2.3 million colt is out of a sister to Ballydoyle’s Group 1-placed Johann Strauss (GB), that pair being by the stable’s Epsom winner High Chaparral (Ire). The €1 million colt is out of a sister to conspicuous Galileo achievers in dual Classic winner Churchill (Ire) and outlying Group 1 sprinter Clemmie (Ire). And the €800,000 filly is out of GI Canadian International winner Sarah Lynx (Ire), whose sire Montjeu (Ire) paralleled Galileo as a source of class and stamina at Coolmore.


New top price! Lot 1⃣1⃣0⃣, a colt by Justify?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Justify @coolmorestud from the maternal line of Gr.1 placed JOHANN STRAUSS, is knocked down for €2,300,000 to @godolphin. He was consigned by Oak Tree Farm @NormanW74303774 at the #2024BreezeUp.

— ARQANA (@InfoArqana) May 11, 2024

Quite apart from their masterful preparation of these horses, those who pinhooked them from Keeneland last September take credit for recognizing that these maternal families might cause them to fall between the cracks. Because this is a two-way street: Americans have been eschewing perceived turf blood no less than Europeans have renounced the kind of lines sowing Justify‘s family (first two dams carrying the brands of Deputy Minister and Seattle Slew).

Norman Williamson, who bought the sale-topper for $150,000 from the peerless Nursery Place consignment, said that he looked like a turf horse with much High Chaparral about him. By the way, Williamson does a lot of work with Mags O’Toole, who signed for both the Lynn Lodge duo for $135,000 and $110,000 respectively.

In contrast to Williamson, Eddie O’Leary thought his colt was “a double of his dad.” Contrasting messages, then, that could perhaps be best reconciled in the surest way to top the sale next September: for O’Toole simply to auction her catalogue notes.

Preservationist | Sarah Andrew

Preserving A Chic Legacy

One of many things I have admired from the outset about Preservationist is that his sire (Arch) and dam respectively combine lines of King Ranch royalty, with Courtly Dee and Too Chic facing each other in his fourth generation. Colleague Jill Williams rightly features the Airdrie stallion in her Saturday Sires series, now that a first crop already punching way above weight–remember he’s standing at just $5,000–includes a legitimate GI Belmont S. contender.

But Saturday also produced parallel evidence of the continued fertility of the dynasty tracing to Too Chic through her daughter Chic Shirine (Mr Prospector). For Preservationist‘s third dam also surfaces as the fifth dam of Joey Freshwater (Jimmy Creed), winner of the GIII Runhappy S.

Emory Hamilton cultivated Joey Freshwater’s family right through to his dam Lake Turkana (More Than Ready), culled from her program for $47,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale after needing nine attempts to break her maiden. Her mother, an unraced daughter of Empire Maker, had not really rewarded some purposeful matings, though a son of Candy Ride (Arg) did make $410,000 as a yearling and proceeded to win a Grade III on synthetic. But the next dam is GI Go For Wand scorer Serra Lake, by Seattle Slew out of Chic Shirine’s graded stakes-winning daughter Tara Roma (Lyphard).

With those genes behind her, albeit tapering away, Lake Turkana was claimed for $25,000 on her final start at Belterra Park by Dr. Naoya Yoshida, who co-bred Joey Freshwater with Dr. Aaron Sones and Dr. Eric Crawford. Having gone through the ring as a weanling ($6,000 RNA), yearling ($45,000) and juvenile ($35,000), the colt has come a long way since being recruited for $50,000 out of a Churchill maiden claimer on his second start.

His dam has meanwhile been given some good covers (got to Gun Runner early, while her latest colt is by the rock-solid Hard Spun) and is still only 11. But if her son is now bringing her up in the world, really they’re only going back to their roots.

Cross Traffic | Sarah Andrew

Green Light For Stop-Go Sire

No surprise that Cross Traffic’s latest graded stakes scorer should have been another 4-year-old. Neecie Marie, winner of the GIII Beaugay S., joins GI Ashland S. winner Defining Purpose and the tragic Maple Leaf Mel, denied her own elite success in harrowing fashion, as graduates of the bumper book of 188 mares at $25,000 (up from 60 at $7,500) secured by Cross Traffic after Breeders’ Cup champion Jaywalk led his first crop to freshman laurels the previous year.

As juveniles, these 2020 foals put Cross Traffic second in the all-comers’ 2-year-old table. Yet he had drawn such opportunist commercial support that his next book plunged by two-thirds, yielding only 28 live foals. So he must ride out a couple of quiet years before getting back onto a rising curve, having rallied to 84 mares last year. At least the way Neecie Marie is thriving with maturity appears typical of his stock, which can help keep his name in lights meanwhile. Remember how Ny Traffic, though somehow missing a graded score, spread his millionaire career across five campaigns, while Cross Traffic himself didn’t even race until he was four.

Cross Traffic is a real victim of the fleeting attention span of commercial breeders. Mind you, he’s had more help from the dam of Pennsylvania-bred Neecie Marie than might be surmised: Lode Lady (Posse) is a half-sister to none other than Rich Strike (Keen Ice)–who had recorded his 17-length maiden claimer romp shortly before Milam Racing Stable gave $25,000 for this filly at Fasig-Tipton’s Timonium Yearling Sale in 2021.

Doubtless his purchasers were disappointed when Rich Strike was beaten on his first start for his new barn five days later. But, boy, has he meanwhile given Neecie Marie some residual value even before her own breakthrough as a black type operator in her own right.

The post Breeding Digest: Justify Straddling The Seas appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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