Breeding Watch: Big 3 Rolling

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Tapit has been hogging headlines all year, Giant’s Causeway has been especially hot in recent weeks and Unbridled’s Song has emerged as an elite broodmare sire. Those three trends continued over a stakes-packed Thanksgiving weekend in North America.

Ashford Stud’s Giant’s Causeway capped off a stellar November with two more new graded stakes winners, giving him a total of five stakes winners (four graded) for the month.

Distance specialist Red Rifle struck Nov. 29 in the 10-furlong Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup and Big Cazanova came home first in Del Mar’s Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes.

Red Rifle is Giant’s Causeway’s second black-type winner out of a mare by Gulch and he’s sired at least four others black-type winners out of Gulch granddaughters that include a German Group 1 winner out of a mare by Torrential and three stakes winners out of mares by Thunder Gulch.

Big Cazanova is out of a mare by Morning Bob, a son of Blushing Groom and also Giant’s Causeway’s maternal grandsire (so a Blushing Groom double at 3×4). The Argentine-bred is the 12th Giant’s Causeway stakes winner out of a mare showing Blushing Groom within four generations and there are now a total of 109 stakes winners inbred to Blushing Groom.

Big Cazanova and Red Rifle give Giant’s Causeway a total of 13 graded stakes winners in 2014, tops among North American stallions and one ahead of Tapit.

Gainesway Farm’s Tapit didn’t yield the lead in graded stakes winners quietly.

Cassatt, winner of the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks during warmer days, kicked off her sire’s big week by shipping West to get the money in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks Nov. 26. Three days later, two more Tapit fillies, West Coast Belle and Snowbell, joined her among the ranks of graded stakes winners. West Coast Belle backed up her win in the listed Rags to Riches Stakes with a score in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs.

In New York, Snowbell made a successful stakes debut in Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Comely Stakes. Cassatt (dam by Giant’s Causeway) and Snowbell (Storm Cat) are the latest examples of Tapit’s strong affinity for the Storm Cat broodmare line.

Tapit has how sired at least nine stakes winners out of daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters of Storm Cat. All but one of them are winners at the graded level, including a trio of Grade 1 winners.

The pedigree of West Coast Bell is a little more interesting.

She out of a mare by Unbridled’s Song, a son of Unbridled and also Tapit’s damsire (so Unbridled at 3×3). There are 10 starters so far on this direct cross with West Coast Belle the first stakes winner. West Coast Belle is the fourth overall black-type winner (and third of 2014) inbred to Unbridled within four generations. The Unbridled grandson Birdstone (by Grindstone) is the sire of two of the others, including 2014 Ontario Derby winner Florida Won.

West Coast Belle, along with El Kabeir and Decision Day, gave Unbridled’s Song three Nov. 29 stakes winners as a dam sire.

The Scat Daddy colt El Kabeir took the featured Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes during Churchill’s Stars of Tomorrow II card that also featured West Coast Belle’s Golden Rod victory. The colt is out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song daughter Great Venue and is only the third starter Scat Daddy has sired out of any granddaughter of Unbridled (all three are winners). Decision Day completed the trifecta for his broodmare sire when he won the $250,000 Coronation Futurity at Woodbine in his first stakes attempt.

Unbridled’s Song is now the dam sire of 17 stakes winners in 2014 and 76 black-type winners lifetime, or 6 percent from starters. Nine of those are winners at the highest level, including the 2014 Grade 1 winners Carpe Diem and Toho Jackal.

Decision Day also is the latest stakes winner by the Adena Springs stallion Macho Uno, who was also represented by Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap winner Private Zone Nov. 29. The latter is the third horse to win the Grade 1 Vosburgh and Cigar Mile in the same year, following the champions Kodiak Kowboy and Left Bank.

Claiborne Farm’s Flatter is another stallion with a pair of holiday weekend stakes winners.

Classic Point was the game winner of the Grade 3 Go For Wand Handicap Nov. 28 November 28 for her second stakes and first graded victory. The 4-year-old is out of a mare by the Danzig son Langfuhr and is Flatter’s fifth stakes winner (second graded) out of a Danzig-line mare.

Needmore Flattery has emerged as a star on the Ohio circuit over the past year. The 3-year-old filly added a sixth stakes win to her resume with a triumph in the Nov. 29 First Lady Stakes at the newly christened Mahoning Valley Racecourse. She’s out of a mare by the Afleet stallion Left Banker.

Flatter is the sire of 10 stakes winners in 2014, the second time in three years he’s reached double-digit stakes winners in a season.

Matt O’Neil is a freelance writer and pedigree consultant based in Chicago. A former editor of Owner-Breeder International, his work has also appeared in numerous publications that include The Blood-Horse MarketWatch, The Florida Horse and Keeneland Magazine. He is currently marketing and social media coordinator for Adena Springs Farm and a partner in the fantasy horse racing game