Pedigree Insights: Lady Eli

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Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can tell you that December 1, 1971was a day that many would prefer to forget–it was the day that John and Yoko’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” was released in the U.S. 

But over in England it was the day that a batch of 3-year-old fillies was offered by the Aga Khan at Tattersalls’ December Sales. It is worth pointing out that the average price in 1971 for a house in the UK was apparently £5,632, so the 4,100gns paid for the unraced Khazaeen wasn’t as insignificant as it sounds to modern ears. Her price, though, fell well short of the 38,000gns–a new record–paid for another 3-year-old filly, Prudent Girl. 

Although Prudent Girl went on to produce Providential (Washington D.C. International) and Play It Safe (Prix Marcel Boussac), Khazaeen’s legacy has arguably been even more opulent. She produced three notable broodmare daughters in The Dancer, her sister Kazadancoa and Beaming Bride, who collectively have provided Khazaeen with seven GI-winning descendants. There is also the Japanese Derby winner King Kamehameha, a former champion Japanese sire who is giving Deep Impact a very good battle for the 2015 title. 

Of course one of those seven Grade I winners is that excellent young turf filly Lady Eli, who retained her unbeaten record in style in Saturday’s Belmont Oaks 

Invitational. The seven also include four others which scored at the top level in North America. Two of them–Beaming Bride’s sons Alwuhush and Husband–were also turf performers, while Spring In The Air won the Alcibiades S. on all-weather and The Deputy took the Santa Anita Derby on dirt. 

The question which needs answering is whether Khazaeen’s potential was obvious at the time of her sale. The fact that she never made it to the racecourse will surely have deterred some buyers, fearful that she had either had physical problems or had failed to display any talent. 

Her bloodlines, on the other hand, were very attractive. Her sire, Charlottesville, had earned a Timeform rating of 135 with a sequence of victories which featured the Prix Lupin, Prix du Jockey-Club and Grand Prix de Paris. Charlottesville was to die at 15, but not before he had sired the Derby winner Charlottown. One of Charlottesville’s broodmare daughters was to become the dam of Top Ville, a leading racehorse and sire. 

It was Khazaeen’s female line, though, which was enough to get the pedigree purists purring. Her fourth dam, Black Ray, was foaled nearly 100 years ago, but her name lives on thanks to the continued success of her descendants. Black Ray’s first notable feat was to produce Jacopo and Foray, two colts which headed Britain’s Free Handicap for 2-year-olds, and her daughter Eclair was also well above average. If Eclair’s name seems familiar, it is because she produced Khaled, a Middle Park S. winner who was to find fame in the U.S. as the sire of Horse of the Year Swaps. 

Eclair is the third dam of Khazaeen, who had an older half-sister called Runaway Bride. The Aga Khan made a rare venture to the sales ring to buy Runaway Bride’s 1974 Red colt for 16,500gns as a weanling, and never had cause to regret the decision. The colt was Blushing Groom, the outstanding French 2-year-old of 1976. It was Blushing Groom’s sale to Gainesway which helped fund the Aga’s purchase of the Boussac stock in 1978. 

Blushing Groom is by no means the only exceptional performer tracing to Black Ray. A return visit to Eclair’s sire Ethnarch resulted in another notable filly called Infra Red. This mare became the fourth dam of the truly brilliant Mill Reef, who had won the Derby, Eclipse, King George and Arc in the months prior to Khazaeen’s appearance at Tattersalls. Infra Red was also the third dam of Wollow, a champion 2-year-old who progressed to win the 2,000 Guineas and several other top events in 1976. 

Lady Eli therefore has a highly distinguished female line for a filly who was sired at a fee of only $10,000. Her dam Sacre Coeur was bred by Runnymede Farm and Catesby W. Clay, who also bred Lady Eli. Sacre Coeur managed only three starts, all as a juvenile, but she won on turf and was well worth retaining by her breeders. She was foaled when her dam Kazadancoa was 22 and was the last of her 13 named foals. No fewer than three of Kazadancoa’s earlier foals–Jacodra, Jacodra’s Devil and Changing Ways–had become Graded winners. 

Sacre Coeur is keeping up the good work, Lady Eli being her second Graded winner following Bizzy Caroline, a dual Grade III winner at up to nine furlongs on turf. Both are by Mr Prospector line stallions–Bizzy Caroline by a great-grandson in Afleet Alex and Lady Eli by a grandson in Divine Park. 

Together with Include and Majesticperfection, Divine Park is one of three members of the Airdrie stallion team which has exerted a powerful influence on this year’s top prizes for America’s 3-year-old fillies. It is well worth adding that Include Betty’s sire was priced at $7,500 in 2011, whereas the sires of Lovely Maria and Lady Eli were both available for $10,000. Divine Park’s fee this year was only $7,500, which is a reflection of the difficulty he has had in attracting mares. None of his first four crops has numbered as many as 50 foals and he covered only 25 mares last year. Hopefully Lady Eli’s exploits as a juvenile will have changed all that. 

As a $20,000 yearling whose first two dams are daughters of Ascot Knight and Czaravich, Divine Park’s pedigree could be said to lack a bit of glamour. However, there is no fault to be found with his sire Chester House. This son of Mr Prospector was undoubtedly a serious loss to Kentucky breeders, as his death at the age of eight in 2003 meant that he left just 223 foals. As many as 28 of these 223–13%–became black-type winners and Chester House’s Average Earnings Index of 2.14 was considerably higher than his mares’ Comparable Index. 

Divine Park was one of the best of the black-type winners, together with that very fast mare Ventura and the high-class middle-distance horse Phoenix Tower. A winner of six of his nine starts, Divine Park enjoyed his finest moment in winning the GI Metropolitan H. 

It is worth mentioning that Chester House was a half-brother to Empire Maker, grandsire of American Pharoah, and to that very smart filly Honest Lady. Although Honest Lady’s Grade I-winning son First Defence is responsible for that top filly Close Hatches, he is another who hasn’t always found it easy to win widespread support from breeders. First Defence has fewer than 30 three-year-olds this year, but three of them have enjoyed stakes success, one being that fast filly Irish Jasper, a $12,000 yearling who is now a dual GIII winner with earnings in excess of $300,000.

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