By Andrew Caulfield
The majority of breeders prefer not to put all their mares’ eggs in one basket, choosing instead to send them to a variety of stallions. The Coolmore partners, on the other hand, often take the attitude that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and are happy to send a mare to the same stallion on a regular basis.
One such mare was Rahy’s very smart daughter Mariah’s Storm, who was acquired by John Magnier for $2,600,000, in foal to Storm Cat, at Keeneland’s 1996 November Sale. In her first 11 years as a broodmare, this dual Grade II winner visited Storm Cat a total of ten times, producing five sons and then two daughters. Switched to Ireland, she produced a daughter by Sadler’s Wells before becoming a regular partner of the great Galileo, to whom she produced four more daughters, the last of them at the age of 23.
If ever there was a case open to sibling rivalry, this is it. Appropriately Mariah’s Storm’s second foal by Storm Cat was named Freud, after the famous Sigmund, the founder of psychoanalysis who apparently saw the sibling relationship as an extension of the Oedipus complex. According to Wiki, another famous psychologist, Alfred Adler, saw siblings as striving for significance within the family and felt that birth order was an important aspect.
With Mariah’s Storm’s progeny, they all faced a well-nigh impossible task of matching the achievements of her first born– the greatly admired Giant’s Causeway. Not only did this son of Storm Cat shine very brightly on the racecourse but also in the breeding shed. An unbeaten Group 1 winner at two, Giant’s Causeway became known as the Iron Horse during a sophomore campaign which saw him add six more wins, including five at the Group 1 level, as well as four seconds, headed by a highly creditable display in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt.
Since then, we have seen him top the Blood-Horse‘s general sires list on three occasions and the 2-year-old table on two. In the process he has sired nearly 90 Group/Graded winners in the northern hemisphere, with 26 scoring at the highest level.
So how can any of his younger siblings hope to match a record like that? The truth is that none of his brothers has come close, although all four earned black type. The reflected glory of Giant’s Causeway’s achievements meant that all four–Freud, Roar of the Tiger, Tumblebrutus and Tiger Dance–were given their chance as stallions in various parts of the world, ranging from New York and Florida to Chile and South Africa.
It has been the New York-based Freud who has done best, and he notched up his third North American Grade I winner when the dashing Sharp Azteca landed the Cigar Mile H. by more than five lengths. I will return to the topic of Freud and Sharp Azteca later, but I must first mention Giant’s Causeway’s sisters.
The first of them, the ambitiously-named You’resothrilling, is well on the way to becoming a truly extraordinary broodmare. At one stage of her 2-year-old career, she looked as though she too would enjoy Group 1 success as a racehorse. Winner of a Group 3 over six furlongs in June, when she accounted for the future two-time Group 1 winner Saoirse Abu, You’resothrilling then landed the G2 Cherry Hinton S. in July. With a bit more luck she might also have won the G3 Albany S. at Royal Ascot.
Unfortunately, You’resothrilling’s juvenile season ended after she had been hampered in the G2 Lowther S. and it was more than a year before she was seen again. Clearly, something must have been quite badly wrong with her but she was beaten little more than a length when she finally returned to action in the G1 Matron S. over a mile.
As I said earlier, the Coolmore partners are perfectly happy to stick with a stallion if he is considered the best option for a mare and You’resothrilling’s first six foals are all by Galileo. It is hard to imagine that any other stallion could have achieved better results, as the first five of this partnership’s foals have raced and all five have become Group winners. Two of them, the filly Marvellous and the colt Gleneagles, became classic winners and they may well be joined next year by Happily, who was gaining her second Group 1 success when she defeated the colts in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
The two siblings without a Group 1 win to their name are Taj Mahal and the filly Coolmore. The ex-Irish Taj Mahal, now racing in Australia as The Taj Mahal, looks certain to reach that landmark in his new home, where he recently won the G2 Zipping Classic. The equine Coolmore won a Group 3 as a juvenile and was later third in the G1 Belmont Oaks. She was bred to War Front this year, as was her older sister Marvellous, who also has a 2016 filly and a 2017 colt by Claiborne’s star stallion.
Although Pearling failed to win, she cost no less than 1,300,000gns when sold in foal to Galileo in 2011. Her Galileo foal proved to be Decorated Knight, who has recently joined the stallion team at the Irish National Stud, having added the G1 Irish Champion S. to his earlier Group 1 victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
There are almost certainly many more chapters to be added to Mariah’s Storm’s story. Her Group-placed Galileo filly Hanky Panky sold for 2,700,000gns at Tattersalls’ 2015 December Sales and has since produced two colts by Dubawi. Hanky Pank’s sister Butterflies has gone close to G3 success this year and will no doubt be given every chance as a broodmare. Then there’s Mariah’s Storm’s other Galileo fillies, Often and Fabulous. Often produced a 2017 War Front filly before being bred to Uncle Mo, while the unraced Fabulous has a 2017 colt by Zoffany.
To get back to Freud and Sharp Azteca, Freud was quite different to Giant’s Causeway. Whereas Giant’s Causeway thrived at up to a mile and a quarter, Freud was trained as a sprinter after he had tried a mile on three occasions. On the first of them he started favorite for the G1 Racing Post Trophy, but weakened to finish only seventh, and on the second he won a maiden race in good style. The drop down to six furlongs showed him to good advantage in the G2 Cork and Orrery S. at Royal Ascot, where he ran on to finish third of 21. However, his career petered out after that and he was sold to stand in New York State, where he has proved a very good servant to Sequel Stallions.
Speed seems to be the main asset of Freud’s best progeny. Prior to Sharp Azteca, he had enjoyed Grade I success with the Vosburgh S. winner Giant Ryan and the Prioress S. winner Franny Freud. Now Sharp Azteca has gained his just desserts with his Cigar Mile success coming just a month after his bold second to Battle of Midway in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The 4-year-old has now earned in excess of $1.75 million, which is pretty good going for a horse conceived at a fee of $10,000. There could be plenty more to come if he can handle the nine furlongs of the GI Pegasus World Cup.
Although he was produced quite cheaply, Sharp Azteca comes from a family which has been represented by several smart performers over the last decade. His dam, the unraced Saint Liam mare So Sharp, is a half-sister to the Grade II-placed Mint Lane and to Sister Girl Blues, a Grade II-placed mare who produced the 2015 Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line.