Pedigree Insights: Perfectly Imperfect


Twirling Candy, sire of GI Belmont Oaks winner Concrete Rose | Lane’s End photo


Breeders operating on limited budgets can find encouragement from the pedigrees of both of the 3-year-olds which shone in last weekend’s GI Invitational turf races at Belmont. Both winners come from highly accomplished families, but both also have at least one distinctly weak link in their female line.

For Henley’s Joy, the Kitten’s Joy colt who landed the Belmont Derby, the weak link is his second dam, the Kris S. mare Killoe. Winless in France, where she was second in handicaps over 1 1/2 miles and 1 7/8 miles, Killoe was sold for only $6,000 as an 11-year-old in 2012 and for $7,000 as a 13-year-old. Although Killoe now has seven foals of racing age, none of them has so far earned black type.

However, the fact that Killoe’s price had been as high as $340,000 in January 2008, when she was sold carrying Henley’s Joy’s dam Blue Grass Music, tells us that there are plenty of smart performers to be found under the next two dams, the Grade III winner Seewillo and the Grade I-producer Perfect Pigeon.

It is a similar story with Concrete Rose, the highly progressive filly who dominated the Belmont Oaks. Her second dam, the British-bred Sky Blue Girl, never raced before producing six named foals (and two unnamed), of which only two won and none earned black type. When Concrete Rose’s dam Solerina was offered for sale as a weanling, she RNA’d at $15,000 and Concrete Rose herself made only $20,000 as a yearling, before selling for $61,000 as a 2-year-old.

On the plus side, Concrete Rose’s third dam, Nemea, produced Lover’s Knot, whose wins included the Falmouth S., a Group 2 event which now holds Group 1 status, And the next dam, the Herbager mare Donna Inez, was a tough and talented half-sister to none other than Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. Ferdinand, of course, was by the great Nijinsky, who was closely related to The Minstrel, the sire of Nemea.

It comes as no surprise that Concrete Rose has raced exclusively on turf, or that she is shining over 1 1/4 miles. Her American-bred dam Solerina may have gained all three of her wins in sprints on dirt and all-weather, but in truth she has a European turf pedigree geared to success at distances of 1 1/4 miles or more. The explanation is that the lower levels of American racing do not cater very well for fillies such as Solerina which have plenty of stamina in their pedigrees.

Solerina’s sire Powerscourt, who is closely related to the great Frankel, was first past the post in two editions of the GI Arlington Million. He was unfortunately demoted to fourth after his 2004 success, but there was no questioning his superiority after he put three lengths between himself and Kitten’s Joy in the closing stages of the 2005 race. This much-travelled son of Sadler’s Wells also won the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland and stayed a mile and a half well enough to defeat the future St Leger winner Brian Boru in the G2 Great Voltigeur S.

It was a brave step by Coolmore to stand him at Ashford Stud at a time when turf horses were generally unpopular in the U.S. and Powerscourt couldn’t be considered a success, though he did sire the GI Turf Classic winner Finnegans Wake. He also enjoyed Group 1 success in Ireland with his 2-year-old daughter Termagant, who, like Solerina, was out of a Sharpen Up line mare.

Solerina’s broodmare sire, the Diesis horse Sabrehill, managed only three starts. He didn’t enjoy much luck, although he was beaten by only one horse in those three starts. An impressive debut success was followed by a similarly imposing victory in a listed race, with the second win being taken away by the stewards, even though Sabrehill had won by four lengths. Such was his reputation that he then started favourite for the G1 Juddmonte International S. and he acquitted himself well in finishing second to the top-class Ezzoud. Subsequently found to have strained a tendon, Sabrehill was retired to stud but made little impact.

While it is tempting to attribute Concrete Rose’s talent on turf to the bottom half of her pedigree, it mustn’t be forgotten that her sire Twirling Candy was one of several sons of Candy Ride to perform well on America’s fast turf courses. Among the others are such as Ascend (GI Manhattan S.), Grand Tito (GII Mac Diarmida S.), Chocolate Ride (GII Mervin H. Muniz Jr H.) and Ride A Comet (GII Del Mar Derby). Twirling Candy also won the GII Del Mar Derby, in addition to the Oceanside S. He was very versatile, though, when it came to racing surfaces and he progressed to win the GI Malibu S. and GII Strub S. on dirt and the GII Californian S. on Cushion Track. He also failed by only a head to take the Pacific Classic over 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack.

Twirling Candy belonged to Candy Ride’s second crop, as did the Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy, and these two Grade I winners entered stud at fees of $15,000 in 2012, with Twirling Candy standing alongside his sire at Lane’s End, while Sidney’s Candy was based at WinStar. A third Grade I-winning son, Misremembered, also retired to Kentucky, based at Hill ‘n’ Dale. Seven years later Sidney’s Candy is standing in Turkey, while Misremembered has been transferred to California, but Twirling Candy’s career has been progressing very nicely.

He wasn’t immune to the ups and downs which affect so many young stallions in their early years. After being popular in his first season, even reductions in his fee weren’t enough to maintain support in his second and third years, which resulted in crops numbering 50 and 59 named foals. Fortunately, his first crop has produced Danzing Candy, winner of the GII San Felipe S. in 2016, as well as Finley’sluckycharm, heroine of the GI Madison S. in 2018, and Gift Box, who edged out McKinzie to take the GI Santa Anita H. earlier this year.

His small second crop contained the Grade III winner Morticia and this year’s GIII San Simeon S. winner Law Abidin Citizen. Although his third crop, sired at $10,000, hasn’t been as successful, Concrete Rose heads a fourth crop which also contains the recent Queen’s Plate winner One Bad Boy. Even his juveniles from his fifth crop have already started to make their mark, with Fore Left taking the Tremont S. in June.

This adds up to an encouraging start by a horse whose fee in those first five years was never higher than $15,000. Thanks to his pleasing early results, which included 25 first-crop 2-year-old winners, his 2019 yearlings were sired at $20,000 and he has been priced at $25,000 in 2018 and 2019.

Twirling Candy’s growing number of Grade I winners also bodes well for Candy Ride’s best colt, Horse of the Year Gun Runner, and for the unbeaten Mastery, two sons of Candy Ride which covered their first mares in 2018.


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