Breeding Watch: Big winners at Belmont

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While the stardust continues to settle from American Pharoah’s seismic performance Saturday at Belmont Park we can report on hot streaks by Medaglia d’Oro, his son Warrior’s Reward, Curlin and Speightstown.

Darley’s El Prado stallion Medaglia d’Oro was all over stakes-winning pedigrees last week. His 2-year-old daughter, Moment is Right, helped kick off NYRA’s new three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with a win in the newly enriched Astoria Stakes.

Now worth a cool quarter-million dollars, the Astoria was conquered by the likes of Affectionately, Ruffian and Meadow Star in its heyday. In 2015, the race settled for being the first black-type event on the East coast for juvenile fillies.

That’s not to say that Moment Is Right, now unbeaten in two starts, doesn’t have a bright future. She’s out of a mare by the Wild Again son Vicar and is Medaglia d’Oro’s second recent stakes winner out of a Wild Again granddaughter (from six starters) after the brilliant but star-crossed Atreides (dam by Wild Rush).

Two days later it was the Medaglia d’Oro son Japan who kicked off a historic Belmont Stakes Day program with an entertaining victory over a pair of rivals in the $150,000 WinStar Farm Easy Goer Stakes. The Barry Schwartz color bearer is out of the Capote mare Maya and therefore a full brother to the multiple graded stakes winner Al Khali. Counting the additional listed winner Renda, Medaglia d’Oro is the sire a trio of stakes winners now from 10 starters out daughters of Capote, a champion son of 1977 Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew.

It was almost a year ago that Medaglia d’Oro’s son Warrior’s Reward grabbed headlines when his first four starters all bounded home in front. Since then, however, only one of his get was photographed in the winner’s circle after a stakes race. Until last weekend, that is, when his stakes winner total increased by 200 percent.

They could probably hear the roar of the Belmont Park crowd all the way down at Parx Racing, where Warriorscmoutoplay took the $75,000 Jostle Stakes. The favored 3-year-old filly is out of a mare by 1998 Belmont Stakes winner and Triple Crown spoiler Victory Gallop, a grandson of Fappiano. It’s interesting, and rather surprising, to note that Medaglia d’Oro himself has yet to sire a stakes winner with the Fappiano broodmare line.

Six of Medaglia d’Oro’s Grade 1 winners are out of mares from other Mr. Prospector branches (including Warrior’s Reward, dam by Seeking the Gold) but he has yet to click with daughters of Carson City. Warrior’s Reward took care of that oversight as well Sunday when Requite took down the $60,000 Cypress Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She’s the 115th stakes winner out of a Carson City daughter.

Warrior’s Reward’s stallion career could still go either way, but he’s also been represented in 2015 by Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes runner up Tencendur (dam by Hennessy) and Parx Oaks third-place finisher Stroke Play (Lemon Drop Kid). The Spendthrift Farm stallion currently ranks as the ninth second-crop sire and has a total of nine stakes horses from his first 72 starters (12.5 percent).

Rock Fall laid claim as the top sprinter on the East coast with his quick win in Friday’s Grade 2 True North Stakes. When he zipped past the wire 3 3/4 lengths clear, he became Speightstown’s second new graded stakes winner in six days as well as the first graded winner out of a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.

This cross has worked before for Speightstown as his North American multiple graded winner Essence Hit Man is out of a mare by Medaglia d’Oro’s sire El Prado and his South American Group 1 winner She’s Happy is out of a mare by El Prado’s sire Sadler’s Wells.

Back in late May, the Speightstown 3-year-old Force the Pass was best in the Grade 3 Penn Mile Stakes. He’s the second Speightstown stakes winner from 13 starters out of mares by Dynaformer and Speightstown’s fourth overall stakes winner with the larger Roberto broodmare line.

Belmont Day was pretty good for Lane’s End Farm’s Curlin as his daughter Curliana overcame adversity to score in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes and Keen Ice got past Mubtaahij for the show spot in the Belmont. Both are out of mare Deputy Minister-line mares, Curliana out of a mare by the Dehere son Graeme Hall while Keen Ice is out of a mare by Deputy Minister’s top son Awesome Again.

Curlin is the sire of the previous stakes winner Blue Violet out of a mare by the Deputy Minister son Silver Deputy. Graeme Hall, Awesome Again and Silver Deputy are all bred on versions of the Deputy Minister-Mr. Prospector cross, the reverse of that produced Curlin.

Curalina is inbred to Deputy Minister at 3×4 and is the 16th worldwide black-type winner and third winner at the highest level showing a Deputy Minister double.

Of course no one had a better Belmont Stakes Day than WinStar Farm’s Pioneerof the Nile and his son, the future Ashford Stud stallion American Pharoah. But really, anyone who watched that race won and won huge.

After American Pharoah’s Arkansas Derby win I wrote: “I went to the thesaurus to find alternate words to ‘effortless’ and ‘dominating’ to describe his victory, his last two really, going back to the Rebel Stakes. I finally settled on fun. It’s just fun to watch this son of Pioneerof the Nile run.”

The ride went from fun to deliriously exuberant through the first and third Saturdays in May and then that glorious first Saturday in June.

American Pharoah’s performance put an immovable smile on my face for hours after he ran past all of those Triple Crown ghosts of failures past.

And, like back in April, it’s not worth the time to search for the right superlatives or to wade through minutiae of final times and speed figures and pedigrees. All you have to do is click on YouTube and watch.

Watch that stride, that impeccable choreography of limbs and withers and hindquarters that hides the true power beneath.

That’s what makes American Pharoah special.

That’s what makes horse racing fun.