Seven Days: The Sophomore Kings

Justify's City Of Troy going to the postal Newmarket  | Racingfotos


We've a while to wait before any firm conclusions can be drawn about this year's crop of first-season stallions, though Darley's Blue Point (Ire) and Ballyhane Stud's Soldier's Call (GB) are pulling ever clearer in what has developed into something of a duel at the half-way stage of the Flat season. In the Coolmore camp, Calyx (GB) was the first to strike with a group winner when Persian Dreamer won Friday's G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. 

As an aside, one wonders how much the clamour to run two-year-olds at Royal Ascot affects some decent juvenile races that follow in the wake of that meeting. At Ascot the six juvenile contests drew a total of 117 runners, while the four Group 2 two-year-old races in England and France in the last week attracted just 27.

When it comes to the current batch of second-crop stallions, it is notable that a number of them in both Europe and America have featured among this year's Classics. Cracksman (GB) has the best three-year-old colt in France, if not in Europe, in the Prix du Jockey Club winner Ace Impact (Fr). Havana Grey (GB) may not have sired a Classic winner yet but he is streaking ahead with stakes winners, the latest being the G2 Kingdom of Bahrain July S. winner Jasour (GB).

Five years ago, Justify and Good Magic finished first and second in the Kentucky Derby, but the latter is now a Kentucky Derby-winning sire thanks to the exploits of his first-crop son Mage. Justify, however, has since seized the limelight, both in his native country, where he stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud, and in Europe.

Last weekend he was responsible for two head-turning juvenile group winners, first at Newmarket, where the beautifully made City Of Troy stepped up on his impressive Curragh maiden win to post an emphatic success in the Bet365 Superlative S. for the Ballydoyle team. Rain-softened conditions from a torrential day on Friday may have exacerbated the winning margin but there was no disputing the scintillating manner of his performance.

You don't need to take my word for that, however. On Monday morning, Timeform revealed its rating for City Of Troy, whose dam Together Forever (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was a smart juvenile herself as the winner of the G1 Fillies' Mile. The son of Justify was duly given a mark of 119p, the highest ever awarded to a winner of the Superlative, and six pounds higher than that of Master Of The Seas (Ire), who went on to be beaten a short-head by Poetic Flare (Ire) in the following year's 2,000 Guineas (and indeed returned at the age of five to win Saturday's G2 Summer Mile by four lengths).

On Sunday, the Justify bandwagon rolled on as his daughter Ramatuelle continued her fine season which opened on April 11 when she became the first juvenile winner of the year for her fast-rising trainer Christopher Head. The G2 Prix Robert Papin was added to her earlier win in the G3 Prix du Bois and, as night follows day,   a start in the G1 Sumbe Prix Morny on Aug. 20 is now very much the obvious target. The Deauville juvenile highlight is a race that has seen horses from this Scat Daddy sire-line play a major role in recent years, with Scat Daddy's son and daughter, No Nay Never and Lady Aurelia, triumphing in 2013 and 2016 respectively, while No Nay Never's son Blackbeard (Ire) won last year. 

Justify, a member of Scat Daddy's penultimate crop, won solely on dirt in America, and he has been represented on that surface by last month's GI Woody Stephens S. winner Arabian Lion. Back on Belmont's turf track, however, his purple patch continued with the win last weekend of the Glen Hill Farm-bred Aspen Grove (Ire) in the GI Belmont Oaks. Trained by Fozzy Stack, she races for Glen Hill's Craig Bernick in partnership with Sue Magnier, and was a Group 3 winner in Ireland last season but disappointed when last in the Irish 1,000 Guineas prior to shipping to New York. We can look forward to her resumption in the Saratoga Oaks. It is also worth noting that Justify is leading the first-season sires' table in Australia, where he has the G2 Riesling S. winner Learning To Fly (Aus).

We have of course seen plenty of examples of what members of this sire-line can do on the grass, and in fact Aspen Grove's close relative is the G1 Moyglare Stud S. victrix Skitter Scatter (Scat Daddy), who is a half-sister to the filly's dam Data Dependent (More Than Ready), who raced solely on turf.

Ramatuelle's dam Raven's Lady, whose sire Raven's Pass featured as the broodmare sire of two of the three group winners at Chantilly on Sunday, was also a turf runner who won the G2 Goldene Peitsche and G3 Summer S. for Marco Botti before being transferred to the US.

Unsurprisingly, Justify's European feats have not gone unnoticed by the team at Ashford Stud, particularly as both City Of Troy and Ramatuelle were raised there. Coolmore's Adrian Mansergh Wallace said on Monday, “City Of Troy getting seven furlongs so comfortably early on as a two-year-old bodes very well for him being effective over a mile as a three-year-old.

“Versatility is what this business is all about. If you look through his best runners so far, Arabian Lion is out of a Distorted Humor mare, Aspen Grove is out of a More Than Ready mare, Learning To Fly is out of a Fastnet Rock mare, City Of Troy is obviously out of a Galileo mare, and Verifying is out of a Repent mare. I think the fact they they are winning on all surfaces will only add to his legacy, and that was something that was very apparent with Scat Daddy, who was probably the best stallion we've ever stood here at Coolmore America.

“The line that is most synonymous with our farm here is the Storm Bird line and now we are very privileged to be standing the sixth and seventh generation of that line. It was noted for horses with precocious, two-year-old speed, but who trained on and got the Classic distances, as Justify obviously did in winning the Triple Crown.”

He added, “He's going to be leading freshman sire in Australia, he was one of the leading freshman sires up here last year in a strong group, and he's well on his way to perhaps being the leading second-crop sire up here. Hopefully the European runners will keep coming, but having Arabian Lion win a race as prestigious as the Woody Stephens on Belmont day is also very encouraging, then our own Verifying was second in the Blue Grass and won the Indiana Derby, and that keeps the dirt aspect of his career open.”

Take Note of Seabhac

Another son of Scat Daddy who entered the stallion ranks at the same time but with far less fanfare than Justify is Seabhac, and he should not be overlooked. He won the GIII Pilgrim S. on turf as a juvenile and joined Larissa Kneip's Haras de Saint Arnoult in 2019, with 58 foals resulting from that first crop.

Kneip sadly died last year but, ever the enthusiast in her varied roles in the business, it is easy to imagine that she would have taken great pride in Seabhac's success so far this year. Leading the way among his offspring is the G2 German 2,000 Guineas winner Angers (Fr), and his success was followed by that of Rue Boissonade (Fr) in Friday's G2 Prix de Malleret. The Mikel Delzangles-trained filly was bred by Kneip in partnership with United Breeders and was one of five group winners out of Galileo mares in Europe in the last week including the aforementioned Persian Dreamer and City Of Troy, and the G1 July Cup winner Shaquille (GB) (Charm Spirit {Fr}).

Seabhac, whose name is pronounced 'Shoke' and means hawk in Gaelic, has subsequently been moved to Haras du Taillis, where he stands alongside Fantastic Moon (GB), though this Group 3-winning son of Dalakhani (Ire) should not be confused with this year's German Derby winner of the same name but different suffix.

Diamond Days

There was plenty to enjoy both at Newmarket's July meeting and in France over the last week, and no horse was given a greater reception, even in the ceaseless rain, than Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}). It is always a joy to see Classic winners remain in training past the age of three, but Nashwa's owner/breeder Imad Al Sagar could have been forgiven if he had started to wonder if he had done the right thing after his burly filly suffered two defeats in her first two starts of the year. 

Nashwa, however, simply saved her best for top-class company on her home track where she returned to a mile for the first time since April of last year, and she blitzed her rivals to win the G1 Tattersalls Falmouth S. For the Gosden team by five lengths. 

Extra glory was to come for Al Sagar's Blue Diamond Stud when Nashwa's half-brother Louganini (GB) (Zoffany {Ire}), a treble winner in England, added to his tally with a victory at Ta'if in Saudi Arabia. Then on Sunday, the Blue Diamond-bred Araminta (GB) (Gleaneagles {Ire}) won the G3 Prix Chloe at Chantilly for Henry Candy, who mooted the possibility of the three-year-old filly heading next to Glorious Goodwood and the G1 Nassau S., in which Nashwa will attempt to defend her title. 

Bought as a yearling from Tattersalls for 82,000gns, Araminta hails from a family which has been successful for various members of the Rothschild family over the decades, most recently for Lady (Serena) Rothschild, who died in 2019, prompting a dispersal of her Waddesdon Stud stock. It was from there that Araminta's dam, the Group 3 and treble Listed-winning sprinter Mince (GB) (Medicean {GB}), was purchased by Blue Diamond Stud. Sadly she produced just the one foal for the breeder as she died the following year at the age of 12.

Araminta's co-owner Alex Frost, CEO of the Tote, posed the question as to whether there has been a more veteran trainer-and-jockey combination to land a group race than Henry Candy and Gerald Mosse at 78 and 56 respectively. We think that prize may go to Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning with Poetic Flare but, nevertheless, it was noteworthy teamwork by the highly respected duo. Candy also saddled the July Cup runner-up Run To Freedom (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) during a memorable weekend for his stable. We'll hear more about that horse's conqueror, Shaquille, in tomorrow's TDN.

As for Araminta, she is owned by a partnership consisting of Frost, his fellow owner-breeder Andrew Stone of St Albans Bloodstock, and old friend Alex Acloque, who is a grandson of the noted Classic-winning breeder Lord Howard de Walden.

“It's just wonderful for Henry and for everybody, especially considering she only made her first start in April,” Frost told TDN. “This is the third Group 3 winner we've had and by some considerable way she was the most expensive.”

Araminta, who has been beaten only once in four starts when third in the Listed Conqueror Fillies' S. at Goodwood, subsequently returned to the Sussex track to win the Listed Height Of Fashion S. before heading to France.

“The way she races you would be mad keen to go to a mile and a half with her but it doesn't make any sense on paper, though Gleneagles does seem to be imparting plenty of stamina to his offspring,” said Frost, who owns Ladyswood Stud in Gloucestershire.

He added of the partnership, “Alex is an absolute racing nut and he has always been involved in horses with me, and Andrew got involved in this filly. The idea was to buy a broodmare together but we kept getting priced out of the broodmare market so we thought we'd have to try to make one, which can often be an expensive mistake. But so far, so good.

“We all live very close to each other. Andrew is a good mate and a Tote investor, and he's always been very supportive. Alex I've known since I was six or seven; we grew up together.”

Frost and his father have been long-term supporters of Henry Candy's stable at Kingstone Warren. He said of the trainer, “Henry understands every inch of a horse. That's what it's all about really, the total appreciation of an animal. He's a trainer who goes to see his horses every night, day, morning, feels every leg. There's nothing he wouldn't know about each horse.

“We were very tempted to push to run her at two but he said, 'She'll tell us when'. What I love about her is that she does nothing at home and it's only when she gets to the racecourse that she gets really stuck in. I always think that's a sign of a good horse.”

Juddmonte Sires to the Fore

Juddmonte Farms celebrated a Grade 1 winner at Saratoga in the Diana S. with the former Roger Charlton-trained Whitebeam (GB) (Caravaggio), and the operation's stallions Frankel (GB) and Kingman (GB) were also each represented by Group 1 winners in the past week. 

The aforementioned Nashwa claimed her third and became the eighth Group 1 winner for Frankel this year, while Kingman's Feed The Flame (GB) delivered on his early promise this season with victory in the Grand Prix de Paris on just his fourth start. He continued a fine year for his co-breeder and vendor Ecurie des Monceaux, which is also co-owner of Ramatuelle, and raised and sold the treble Group 1 winner Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) for the Wildenstein family's Dayton Investments. Incidentally, both Feed The Flame and Paddington are out of mares by Montjeu (Ire). To add a cherry on top of this good run, Monceaux also bred Shaquille's sire, Charm Spirit (also from a Montjeu mare).

There was also a welcome return for another Kingman three-year-old, Nostrum (GB), a one-time 2,000 Guineas fancy who made a successful belated seasonal return in the Listed Sir Henry Cecil S. and will surely be back in group company before long. 

But it was two longstanding Juddmonte names, Oasis Dream (GB) and the late Dansili (GB), who combined in the pedigree of arguably the most notable performer of the week. The Gestut Fahrhof-bred Quinault (Ger) has been a revelation this year since joining the stable of Stuart Williams from Godolphin, and the three-year-old has now won six handicaps on the bounce, starting on a rating of 59, and claiming his most recent success on the July Course off a mark of 90. An expensive purchase at the Craven Breeze-up Sale for 310,000gns, Quinault returned to the same ring a little over six months later to fetch 25,000gns to TJE Racing. He has proved worthy of every penny of that outlay at the Horses-in-Training Sale, with his earnings now closing in on £150,000 and a shot at stakes company clearly not beyond the realms of possibility. 

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