Thoroughbred Daily News
Awesome Again - Tizso, by Cee's Tizzy - WinStar Farm
WinStar Farm - Versailles, KY | 2009 | Entered Stud 2014 | 2019 Fee $12,500

This Side Up: Belmont Showcases Minister Influence

|

Master Fencer is one of two grandsons of Deputy Minister in the Belmont Stakes | Horsephotos

By Chris McGrath

I’m not sure anyone really knows quite what it is that makes a great broodmare sire. Or why their daughters should, in turn, produce stallions that became potent distaff influences: think of Miswaki and El Gran Senor, both out of Buckpasser mares, and sires of Urban Sea and Toussaud respectively.

Might there be some kind of physiological inheritance: to help the nursing foal flourish, say? Or might it sooner be a matter of traits, paradoxically, sooner associated with the male; with the aspiring herd leader? Because you have to wonder what kind of unyielding toughness–whether sheer physical reserves, or a cruel ambition–might underpin their impact on the Classic that can so often prove a bridge too far.

Buckpasser sired the dams of three Belmont S. winners: Easy Goer (Alydar), Coastal (Majestic Prince) and Touch Gold. And it is the sire of the last of these, Deputy Minister, who reiterates his equivalent status for the next generation of breeders–he was born in 1979, the year after Buckpasser died–in the field assembling for the 151st “Test of a Champion” on Saturday.

Broodmare sires are necessarily a slow burn, but even their posthumous embers eventually fade. So by now it feels a real treat to have two grandsons of Deputy Minister in the same Classic: Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just A Way {Jpn}) is out of his daughter Sexy Zamurai, who was born six months before Deputy Minister’s death in 2004; and Sir Winston is by his ageing son Awesome Again. More typically, by this stage, two other runners show how his sons have followed through as broodmare sires: Intrepid Heart (Tapit) is out of a daughter of Touch Gold; and Everfast (Take Charge Indy) is out of an Awesome Again mare.

Besides the success of his son Touch Gold, Deputy Minister has–like Buckpasser-repeatedly measured the prowess of his daughters in the Belmont. Most notably through Better Than Honour, whose son Jazil (Seeking The Gold) and daughter Rags To Riches (A.P. Indy) consecutively delivered in 2006 and 2007; while the dam of Sarava (Wild Again), the 70-1 shocker in 2002, was also by Deputy Minister. (Justify (Scat Daddy) himself, of course, is out of a mare by Deputy Minister’s grandson Ghostzapper.)

Curlin, beaten only a head by Rags To Riches and sire of 2013 winner Palace Malice, is out of a Deputy Minister mare and his own terrific success at stud is helping to reinforce his damsire’s influence. In fact Curlin’s son Keen Ice, being out of an Awesome Again mare, offers Calumet clients a 3 x 3 dose of Deputy Minister. Keen Ice was third in American Pharoah’s Belmont; the runner-up that day, Frosted (Tapit), found his true metier on the same card a year later, in the GI Met Mile, and a dam by Deputy Minister is a big selling point for his new career. The same holds true for Strong Mandate (Tiznow) and Tapizar (Tapit), who likewise made their name up to a mile.

Though such dashers confirm how his daughters deal in all kinds of class, Deputy Minister’s overall impact on the Belmont is perhaps a clue to those latent qualities that make him such a linchpin. His own career on the track hardly volunteered him as an obvious source of stamina: a champion juvenile, indeed Horse of the Year at two in Canada, he was derailed from the Triple Crown trail by ankle injury and subsequently operated between seven and nine furlongs.

But he might very well have been equal to Classic distances. His dam was by a son of Canada’s outstanding prewar Thoroughbred, Bunty Lawless–whose son Windfields brings him in top and bottom, having sired the second dam of Deputy Minister’s father Vice Regent. More pertinent, perhaps, is the third dam of Deputy Minister: a half-sister to the dam of Exclusive Native, who gave us Classic standouts in Affirmed and Genuine Risk.

The other thing about Deputy Minister was that he evidently had an unusually tough disposition, not so much mean as macho. One way or another, there was a whole lot of him: both physically, standing 16.2 ½ hands with tremendous shoulder and hindquarters, and in terms of personality. The build echoed Vice Regent, who was much more substantial than his own sire Northern Dancer but critically retained the tribal balance; and similarly, it appears, a highly intelligent outlook.

One way or another, Deputy Minister has become a reassuring presence in the genetic bedrock of a modern American Thoroughbred with pretensions to Classic quality; one of those names that weigh down the flapping uncertainties of a pedigree like a great gold ingot.

And he could very well add to his Belmont legacy this weekend. The maternal family of Sir Winston, a strong Canadian one, packs down several influences shared by his grandsire: his second dam is by Affirmed (i.e. Exclusive’s grandson) out of a mare by Vice Regent’s son Regal Intention.

Intrepid Heart’s dam by Deputy Minister’s Belmont winner has already had a head runner-up in the race in Commissioner (A.P. Indy). (Another sibling, incidentally, boosted the pedigree just a few days ago through the Grade I breakthrough of her son Vino Rosso-who, being by Curlin, duly carries Deputy Minister on both sides.)

And then there is Everfast. Take Charge Lady, the celebrated dam of Everfast’s sire, is a tribute to the distaff power of another son of Deputy Minister in Dehere. Since Everfast, as noted, is out of an Awesome Again mare, that means he brings Deputy Minister 4 x 3.

His longshot Preakness second rounded off a splendid day for Calumet at Pimlico, alongside homebred Grade III and Listed winners. Everfast is no Citation or Whirlaway, but it would still be something to see those silks carried by a Belmont winner again. We have already remarked how the farm values a double dose of Deputy Minister, in Keen Ice. Obviously they, too, have recognised that there’s just no substitute for the Deputy.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.