Breeding Watch: Bigger Giant

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There were only 21 black-type stakes events in North America over the past week as the nation’s racing appetite braced for the Thanksgiving weekend feast, but it didn’t stop Ashford Stud’s Giant’s Causeway from siring a pair of stakes winners.

Giant’s Causeway has been a remarkably consistent presence at the top of the North American general sires list for the past decade. Storm Cat’s best son was champion sire three times in a four-year stretch -2009, 2010 and again 2012 – and remained among the top three in 2013. He ranks behind only Tapit with five weeks left in 2014 and has now checked in fourth or better on the general sires list nine years running. Granted he’s had an awful lot of runners working for him courtesy of Coolmore’s aggressive breeding program, but there is plenty of quality to go with the quantity.

Case in point is Take Charge Brandi, who made her 61-1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies win look a little less shocking by scoring in the $400,000 Delta Princess Stakes Saturday at Delta Downs.

Take Charge Brandi is among the seven Giant’s Causeway stakes winners out of daughters of Seeking the Gold from 81 starters (8.6 percent). Three of those are fellow Grade 1 winners – 2008 Spinster Stakes winner Carriage Trail, 2009 Del Mar Oaks heroine Internallyflawless and 2009 Ruffian Handicap winner Swift Temper.

Seeking the Gold just happens to be the sire of the second dam of Mississippi Delta, another up-and-coming Giant’s Causeway juvenile filly. The bay filly made her stakes debut a profitable one with a win in Saturday’s $125,000 Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine. Her dam is by Purge, a son of Pulpit, by A.P. Indy.

This Giant’s Causeway-A.P. Indy cross has shown much improved results this year with Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes winner Imagining and the 2014 multiple graded-winning sophomore Protonico, who are both by Giant’s Causeway out of daughters of A.P. Indy. Mississippi Delta is the first black-type winner out a dam by Purge.

Eights were wild in the feature on the Delta Downs’ signature card as Ocho Ocho Ocho took down the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. The 2-year-old is the 10th graded stakes winner for 2006 champion 2-year-old male and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and is among his three juvenile stakes winners in 2014. Ocho Ocho Ocho is out of a mare by the Sadler’s Wells grandson Horse Chestnut. Street Sense has also sired the Japanese Grade 3 winner Fleet Street out of a mare by Singspiel, another Sadler’s Wells grandson.

Horse Chestnut is by the South African champion Fort Wood, the dam sire of Three Hearts, the latest graded winner by the Gainesway Farm stallion Hat Trick.

Three Hearts was victorious in the Grade 3 Red Carpet Stakes at 11 furlongs on the Del Mar lawn and has continued Hat Trick’s trend of siring top-class distance turf specialists this season. The Sunday Silence stallion has sired the additional graded winner Bright Thought, hero of the 10-furlong Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship in late September and Tricky Hat, winner of the 13-furlong John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga in early August.

The influence of Sadler’s Wells was on display elsewhere on the Delta Jackpot card when Yahilwa came home a 2 1/4-length winner of the $200,000 Treasure Chest Stakes. The 4-year-old filly is 64th stakes winner by the Darley stallion Medaglia d’Oro, one of the top sons of Sadler’s Wells best American stallion El Prado. Yahilwa is also the 46th black-type winner out of a mare by Smart Strike from 588 starters an impressive 8 percent strike rate.

Smart Strike also struck as a sire Saturday. His 4-year-old daughter Strike Charmer grabbed the gold in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs and is the eighth winner at the graded level in 2014 for her sire and his 58th such lifetime stakes winner.  

Strike Charmer is out of the mare Cat Charmer, a stakes winner by the great Storm Cat. Smart Strike has sired a total of 38 starters so far out of Storm Cat mares and six of them are now stakes winners (16 percent), including Grade 1 winner Streaming. Smart Strike has also sired champion My Miss Aurelia.