The Weekly Wrap: The Derby Sire

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Frankel | Bronwen Healy

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Coming into 2021, there was little Frankel (GB) hadn't yet accomplished in his rise to the top of the stud ranks. In four crops of racing age he could already claim a world's highest-rated horse, a champion middle-distance horse and champion 2-year-old, Group 1-winning milers and stayers, and an Oaks winner.

This weekend, the Juddmonte sire exceeded even his own lofty standards by siring Godolphin's Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane (Ire), and thus giving him victory in both the English and Irish Derbys following on the heels of Adayar (Ire) at Epsom–a feat Frankel's sire Galileo (Ire), who has become synonymous with Derby success, has thus far been able to accomplish only once with two different horses, Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) and Sovereign (Ire) in 2019. Since the turn of the century, the only other sire to have done so is Montjeu (Ire) in 2005 with Motivator (GB) and Hurricane Run (Ire).

While the last four weeks have seemingly answered any lingering questions about Frankel's scope as a sire, they have also reignited the what-could-have-beens of his racing career. Could he himself have excelled at a mile and a half? Doing so at Epsom or The Curragh in June seems a much greater question mark, given his early exuberance, but as he settled into the finished product and got the mile and a quarter at York and Ascot with ease, it is difficult to imagine that he didn't have a G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. or G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory within him. Now, we'll have to rely on his sons and daughters to fill those voids, and Adayar and Hurricane Lane could be among those to get the chance. Charlie Appleby, trainer of both horses, noted after the Irish Derby that future targets for both colts would depend upon how Adayar performs against older horses in the July 24 King George. While Adayar has remained ensconced at Moulton Paddocks since his blue riband win, Hurricane Lane has given him a significant boost, having himself been third at Epsom.

As it had been when Adayar and Essential Quality (Tapit) won Classics for Godolphin on opposite ends of the Atlantic on June 5, Saturday was another red-letter day for the royal blue transatlantically, with Maxfield (Street Sense) easily winning the GII Stephen Foster H. at Churchill Downs. He forms part of an enviable squad that Godolphin America will have for that country's marquee middle-distance races this summer and autumn, joining Essential Quality and G1 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper), who makes his return in Saturday's GII Suburban H. at Belmont Park. Godolphin's stallion arm, Darley, will have some serious ammunition to add to its stud ranks on both sides of the Atlantic in the coming years. While Appleby has already left the door cracked open for 4-year-old campaigns for both his Derby winners, they will surely eventually take up residence at either Dalham Hall or Kildangan Stud, and likely alongside Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Space Blues (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). And while Godolphin and Appleby's 3-year-old ranks have been fast off the blocks this year, the divisional ranks are far from decided within Moulton Paddocks, with talented Dubawi (Ire) colts like Master Of The Seas (Ire), Highland Avenue (Ire) and Naval Crown (GB) still in with a chance to make their mark at the highest level.

Big Day For Night Of Thunder

Those sons of Dubawi will have lofty footsteps to follow in thanks to Night Of Thunder (Ire). The standout young Darley sire reached an important milestone this weekend, with the progressive 4-year-old filly Thundering Nights (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) giving him his first European Group 1 winner in Sunday's G1 Pretty Polly S. at The Curragh. Victorious over the Group 1-winning Albigna (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) in last summer's G3 Snow Fairy Fillies S. at The Curragh, Thundering Nights was beaten a head in the GII New York S. at Belmont Park just three weeks ago, and bested the highly regarded Santa Barbara (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) on Sunday. Thundering Nights is owned by Shapoor Mistry, whose Manjri Farm is one of the most renowned studs in India. Thundering Nights's dam, Cape Castle (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), was exported to India in foal to Dawn Approach (Ire) after being bought by Mistry for 32,000gns-the same price Night Of Thunder cost as a yearling–at the Tattersalls February Sale in 2017 while carrying Thundering Nights. Thundering Nights was herself offered as both a foal and yearling and failed to sell for €17,000 and €19,000.

The G1 2000 Guineas and G1 Lockinge S. winner Night Of Thunder burst onto the scene as a freshman sire in 2019 with seven stakes winners in his first season, equaling a 19-year-old record. His upward trajectory continued last year, with three of his first-crop 2-year-old stakes winners adding black-type success at three and eight additional members of that crop winning stakes races. Night Of Thunder's fee was hiked to €75,000 from €25,000 for 2021, so without a Group 1 winner upon the completion of his first crop's 3-year-old season it was crucial that he achieved that feat this year. He accomplished it Down Under on May 29 with the New Zealand-bred Kukeracha (NZ)'s win in the Queensland Derby, with Thundering Nights continuing the momentum up north.

Night Of Thunder remains his sire crop's leader across most parameters, with Gleneagles (Ire) closing the gap on the heels of a highly productive first half of 2021. Gleneagles has 14 overall stakes winners compared to Night Of Thunder's 17, but one more stakes winner (six) in 2021 alone. Novemba (Ger) became his first Classic winner in the May 30 G2 German 1000 Guineas, while Loving Dream (GB) burst onto the scene with victory in the G2 Ribblesdale S. at Royal Ascot and 2-year-old filly Velocidad (GB) won the G2 Airlie Stud S. at The Curragh on the weekend.

Japan's Arc Dreams Alive

Chrono Genesis (Jpn) (Bago {Fr}) looked the real deal when winning Hanshin's G1 Takarazuka Kinen for the second consecutive year on Sunday. It was the fourth Group 1 win for the 5-year-old mare since her victory in the 2019 G1 Shuka Sho, and she is firmly on course to be the latest Japanese challenger in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 3. Can she at last break her country's hoodoo in the race they most want to win? Her sire, Bago, won the 2004 Arc, she has won over 2400 metres and looks versatile ground-wise. In the realm of racing, however, the Arc is still eons away, and with more immediate implications is the fact that Chrono Genesis and her compatriot Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), second and third in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March, have both flattered the winner, Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}), with Group 1 wins since. Mishriff returns in Saturday's G1 Eclipse S.

Also from the Takarazuka Kinen, it is also worth noting the excellent second-place performance of Unicorn Lion (Ire) (No Nay Never). An 850,000gns Tattersalls October Book 1 yearling purchase by JS Company, Unicorn Lion was his sire's most expensive first-crop yearling and while the 5-year-old has been slow to come to hand, he has shown marked improvement in 2021, earning a first black-type win in the G3 Naruo Kinen earlier this month and holding on valiantly after setting the pace on Sunday.

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