Full Circle: First Yearlings for Arqana-Grad Sottsass Sell at Deauville

Sottsass | Sue Finley photo


In the summer of 2017, Peter Brant was just at the beginning of his remarkable run with Sistercharlie (Ire) (My Boy Charlie {Ire}), who would go on to win seven Group 1 races for him, but he already knew how special she was.

“We were campaigning Sistercharlie at the time, and we knew how good she was because she had run second in the Prix Diane after getting into a lot of trouble. She almost got knocked down, and then looked like she would be absolutely nowhere. And then she came flying and made second. I knew then she just had to be a really good horse. We owned her going into the Prix Diane. And so we were very encouraged and then we brought her back to the United States and she ran in the Belmont Oaks. She lost by a nose. And she had just arrived and really never even had the chance to work or anything.”

Michel Zerolo had recommended Sistercharlie to Brant after her win in a conditions race at Saint-Cloud in April, and bought her for him after her win in the G3 Prix Penelope later than month. It was the first horse he had recommended to him.

Sistercharlie was the first foal out of Starlet's Sister, who has gone on to be a remarkable producer for Henri Bozo's Ecurie des Monceaux. Sistercharlie, the champion turf female in America, was followed by the multiple-group winner and $1 million-plus earner My Sister Nat (Fr) (Acclamation {GB}), and Sottsass (Fr), driving the prices for her subsequent foals into the stratosphere in the Arqana sales ring.

But that hadn't yet happened when Sottsass came up for sale that summer at Arqana, and Brant asked Zerolo to take a look. “Monceaux was selling him; they have the mare, Starlet's Sister, and so Michel Zerolo went to see him and he said he was really beautiful. He was a really big, strong, beautiful horse.”

Champion Sistercharlie wins the 2018 Breeders' Cup F/M Turf | Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

Recalled Zerolo, “The obvious thing was that I was going to look at a brother of Sistercharlie, so it was a fairly easy pick. He was a very good-looking horse. He was very athletic. He was he was a good mover. The pedigree was a happening pedigree at the time. And Siyouni was a sire that I love.”

They purchased him for €340,000. Brant left him in France with trainer Jean-Claude Rouget.

Sottsass would go on to wins at two, and three, and four, including three Group 1s. He broke the track record in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at a mile and a quarter, won the Prix Ganay, and then Prix de l'Arc Triomphe at four in his final career start. He won at distances from eight furlongs to a mile and a half.

This week, 11 of his first yearlings are expected to pass through the ring at the Arqana August sale. Six of them will be offered by Zerolo and Eric Puerari's Haras des Capucines.

“I've seen a reasonable number of his first yearlings,” said Zerolo. “I wouldn't say they're all of a type. He does get some bays, he gets some chestnuts. I've seen a few that are on the smaller side, more on the Polar Falcon side. Otherwise, they all seem to have a good disposition, good mind, easy horses to be around, good-looking, scopey, correct. Very correct, the way he was.”

Brant named the horse after his friend, Ettore Sottsass, a well-know Austrian-Italian architect, furniture, glass, and home-products designer, whose bright red Olivetti Valentine Portable Typewriter has earned a spot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “He was one of the great people in design in the 20th century,” said Brant. “And I knew him very well. I collected his furniture and his glass. I like to try to name my horses after 20th and 21st century culture.”

And though Sottsass the horse remained in Europe for his racing career, Brant was on hand for some of his best moments.

“I was there at the French Derby and it was a very, very impressive race,” he recalled. “Jean-Claude Rouget thought he was going to run very well. There were some great horses in there. Persian King was the favourite and there were a number of really well-bred French horses from the big barns and families in France as well as from England. And he just ran a powerhouse.”

The Arc took place during the first fall of the Covid pandemic in 2020, forcing Brant and his wife, Stephanie Seymour, to miss the race.

“My wife and I watched it in Connecticut and we got all dressed up as if we were there,” he said. “But it was a great thrill. I mean, if there were any neighbors close by, they could hear us yelling, that's for sure.”

Sottsass winning the Arc | Scoop Dyga


Brant-currently in the midst of an epic season with another son of Siyouni, Paddington (GB), who he owns in partnership–has heavily supported his stallion with some top mares, including sending him to his Eclipse Award-winning mare Uni in his third year at stud. His pedigree deserves those mares, he said.

“Very few mares have thrown horses like Sistercharlie, Sottsass, My Sister Nat. My Sister Nat (whom Brant purchased privately in October, 2018) lost the Breeders' Cup by a neck and she lost the Flower Bowl by a nose. She was also very, very good. But I think that Sistercharlie could be the best horse that I ever owned. They were all really good-looking. So I'm very anxious to see his babies run next year. We bred 12 mares to him because we really believe in him.”

His offspring will go to Jean-Claude Rouget, Aidan O'Brien and Chad Brown in the U.S., Brant said.

“I'm getting very good reports from the French, English and Irish breeders,” he said. “They look a lot like him. They're scopey, the majority of them are chestnut, as he is. They're very handsome horses with a good head. He stamped that in them. And they look like horses that are going to be Classic kind of horses, seven-furlongs to a mile-and-a-quarter, maybe a mile-and-a-half horses.”

Brant is in Saratoga this week keeping an eye on his U.S. runners, but has an affinity for European racing, and keeps about half his mares in Europe, primarily at Coolmore Ireland.

“I like the racing in Europe very much,” he said, sitting outside Chad Brown's Saratoga barn. “I feel like the facilities where you're training are superb. And I like the way they train those babies going straight and not doing too many turns at the beginning. I believe that horses need to run when they're two years' old and you have less risk of hurting them if there are no turns at the very, very beginning as their bones are getting set. And so I do like it.

“But I come from America and I grew up in Queens, near Aqueduct, and we used to sometimes skip school and go there. I really learned a lot about American horse racing and watched horses like Kelso and Carry Back, the great Dr. Fager, all the great, great horses running against each other. And I really love dirt racing as well. And of course, winning the Kentucky Derby (in partnership) with Claiborne in 1984 with Swale was one of the great thrills of my life. It's hard to top that,” he says, and then laughs a wry laugh. “But the Arc de Triomphe was pretty close.”

And while Sottsass won at two, Zerolo isn't sure that his yearlings are going to be “super-precocious,” he said. “They're going to cater to a type of buyer, people who want Classic horses. But I think they should sell very well. I think they'll make us as proud, and I think they should make Peter and Coolmore proud.”

Additional reporting by Katie Petrunyak

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