Oppenheim: Scat Daddy

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Lady Aurelia | Racing Post photo

By Bill Oppenheim

After the first race at Royal Ascot Thursday, the five-furlong G2 Norfolk S. for 2-year-olds, Coolmore Ashford’s late great Scat Daddy had already chalked up three winners in the first 13 races–one a day, so far. Two were for 3-year-old fillies for trainer Wesley Ward: Lady Aurelia, whose second 5-furlong Royal Ascot win came in the G1 King’s Stand on Tuesday; followed by Wednesday’s last-race winner Con Te Partiro in the Listed Sandringham H. at a mile. In Thursday’s opener, Sioux Nation, trained by a certain Aidan O’Brien, became Scat Daddy’s fourth Royal Ascot 5-furlong 2-year-old Group winner, his fifth 2-year-old Group winner total, and marked the seventh win for Scat Daddy at Royal Ascot in five years. Five have been trained by Wesley Ward, two by O’Brien.

In 2013, No Nay Never, from Scat Daddy’s third crop, won the Norfolk. Two years later, Acapulco won the G2 Queen Mary S. Last year Scat Daddy scored a 2-year-old double as Caravaggio won the G2 Coventry S. at six furlongs and Lady Aurelia became Scat Daddy’s second successive Queen Mary winner.

At the end of 2016, Scat Daddy had a 5.68 European A Runner Index. Our mid-year APEX ratings will be out in a couple of weeks, and with three Royal Ascot winners already this year, that index is liable to be somewhere around 8.00.

The odds board suggests he’s not done yet. Caravaggio, now unbeaten in five races, is odds-on for Friday’s G1 Commonwealth Cup facing two salty Godolphin 3-year-old sprinters, Blue Point (Shamardal) and Harry Angel (Dark Angel). Before that, Scat Daddy has no fewer than three runners in Friday’s opener, the G3 Albany S. at six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies: Ward trainees Fairyland (second favorite) and Princess Peggy, and the Jeremy Noseda-trained Take Me With You, an $800,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-year-old this March.

Scat Daddy was from the first crop by Johannesburg, who himself went seven-for-seven as a 2-year-old in 2001, winning three Group 1 races in Europe before doing an Arazi to win the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the dirt at Belmont Park. Scat Daddy, who is himself inbred 3×2 to Mr. Prospector, looked like he was kicking his sire off the right way by winning the GI Champagne as a 2-year-old and the GII Fountain of Youth and GI Florida Derby at three in 2007. But he finished only 18th of 20 in the GI Kentucky Derby in which the first three finishers were Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin, and never ran again. Scat Daddy retired to Ashford for the 2008 season for a $30,000 stud fee, but between the world financial crisis and not being a first-crop stallion any more, by 2011 he was standing for $10,000, with second- and third-crop named foal numbers of just 62 and 53, respectively.

But his first-crop yearlings had made enough of an impression, in conjunction with his cheap $10,000 stud fee, that his 2012 crop included 119 named foals. He narrowly edged Hard Spun as leading freshman sire in North America in 2011, and by 2013 his stud fee was back up to $30,000. Meanwhile he had also been shuttling to Chile, and between No Nay Never and basically rewriting the Chilean record book when his first foals were 3-year-olds in the 2013-14 Southern Hemisphere season, his stud fee was set at $35,000 for 2015, and The Jockey Club lists him with 159 foals of 2016.

After Acapulco became his second Royal Ascot 2-year-old winner, he finished 2015 with 21 Black-Type Winners, nine of them Graded/Group SW. He had been announced as standing for $100,000 for 2016, and Coolmore looked set to send him some of their seriously good Galileo mares, but fate intervened like it sometimes does, and Scat Daddy succumbed to a heart attack at the age of just 11 in December 2015. So there was no 2016 season, and Scat Daddy’s final crop are yearlings of 2017. He topped the American yearling sales when the Scat Daddy half-brother to Beholder and Into Mischief bred by Fred and Nancy Mitchell’s Clarkland Farm sold to M.V. Magnier last September for $3 million. There’s no telling what his yearlings might bring this year, but there are sure to be some very good returns on his $35,000 stud fee in 2015.

An opening-day treble, including Group 1 one-mile winners Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}) and Barney Roy (GB) (Excelebration {Ire}, first crop) and Windsor Castle S. winner Sound And Silence (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), sire also of Excelebration), plus yesterday’s double of G3 Hampton Court S. winner Benbatl (GB) (one of two consecutive winners by Godolphin’s top sire, Dubawi {Ire}) and King George V H. winner Atty Persse (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) puts Godolphin at the top of the owners’ list with five winners with two days to go. They’ve also had six placings, plus there have been placings for family members, including Princess Haya and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Sheikh Mohammed’s son. Coolmore has won just two going into Friday’s racing, but they have hit the crossbar with five further seconds and two thirds. Qatar’s Al Shaqab had Qemah (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), the winner of the G2 Duke of Cambridge, while Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing had Brittania H. winner Bless Him (Sea The Stars {Ire}) yesterday.

Contact Bill Oppenheim at [email protected] (cc [email protected]).

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