Breeding Watch: Gold Standard

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The influence of the late Claiborne Farm Seeking the Gold was especially prominent around the globe last weekend while sires from some other Mr. Prospector lines launched major contenders into Kentucky Derby orbit.

The racing world was again mesmerized by the Meydan Racecourse oasis last Saturday with the rich Dubai World Cup program and Seeking the Gold’s grandson Dubawi was the star stallion.

Dubawi scored a significant stakes double as Prince Bishop fended off American invaders California Chrome and Lea in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and Mubtaahij posted a geared-down win in the $2 million UAE Derby.

Dubawi is the only Group 1 winner from the lone crop of Seeking’s the Gold’s best male runner, 2000 World Cup winner Dubai Millennium. Dubawi earned multiple championships and took down some of most important mile fixtures on the continent during his time on the European gallops.

Retired to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket in 2006, Dubawi has been even more sensational. Prince Bishop is his 17th worldwide Group 1 winner and he’s one of his sire’s 58 group stakes winners.

Mubtaahij, who now has the Kentucky Derby squarely in his sights for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and leading South African trainer Michael de Kock, is Dubawi’s first group stakes winner on dirt.

While there is nothing to suggest a top-class dirt runner in the pedigree of Mubtaahij, Prince Bishop is out of a mare by the American-raced speedster Prospect Bay, a son of Crafty Prospector. On the other hand, Mubtaahij’s first two dams are by the Group 1-winning turf milers Pennekamp and Last Tycoon. He’s a half-brother to a pair of stakes-winning siblings on the grass, one a Group 1 winner over 10 furlongs, the other a black-type sprinter.

Seeking the Gold’s second most successful son, Mutakddim, was far more accomplished in South America so, sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a Seeking the Gold-line heir in North America. If one prefers to be optimistic, the Seeking the Gold grandson Two Step Salsa (by Petionville) is currently a top five third-crop sire.

One of Seeking The Gold’s disappointing sons, the former Overbrook Farm stallion Cape Town, enjoyed a productive weekend as a broodmare sire. Cape Town’s daughters were responsible for the stakes winners Competitive Edge and Pants on Fire.

Competitive Edge won last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and kicked off his 2015 campaign with a dominant win in last Friday’s Tamarac Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The 7-year-old multiple graded winner Pants on Fire was victorious in the Sir Shackleton Stakes the following afternoon. Cape Town is out of mare by Seattle Slew and both runners show a double of the great Triple Crown champion.

Competitive Edge is by WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, who is by Maria’s Mon out of a mare by Seattle Slew’s best son A.P. Indy, while Pants on Fire is out of a mare by the A.P. Indy stallion Jump Start (Northwiew Stallions).

There was a brief moment in 2005 when, standing in the middle of the chaotic Churchill Downs infield, I thought Afleet Alex had won the Kentucky Derby. He didn’t win, losing by just a length as Giacomo edged Closing Argument in the final strides. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red came into the year with a good chance to avenge his sire’s Derby defeat, but he’ll miss the Triple Crown with an injury. The task now falls to Materiality (dam by Langfhur), who remained undefeated in three starts last weekend with his smart victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Besilu Stables Florida Derby.

He’s the third Grade 1 winner in the past six months for Afleet Alex, who lives in the shadow of Tapit at Gainesway Farm. The aforementioned Texas Red and multiple Grade 1 winner Iotapa (a $2.8 million racing/breeding prospect last fall) are the others and they join 2010 Travers Stakes winner Afleet Express, 2009 Hopeful Stakes winner Dublin and Puerto Rican Grade 1 winner Advier as top-level winners for their sire.

We mentioned last week that Fusaichi Pegasus is the last major Mr. Prospector son left in Kentucky after the passing of Smart Strike.

The Ashord Stud stallion now has a chance to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to sire a Derby winner since Unbridled.

Fusaichi Pegasus’ son, International Star, completed the Fair Grounds Derby prep trifecta with another professional victory in last weekend’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Fusaichi Pegasus never did fulfill lofty expectations as Mr. Prospector’s only Derby-winning son, but has had his moments as a stallion. He’s done especially good work with the Deputy Minister broodmare line. International Star is out of a mare by the Deputy Minister son French Deputy and Fusaichi Pegasus has sired Grade 1 winners out of mares by two other Deputy Minister stallions, Salt Lake (Champ Pegasus) and Silver Deputy (Roman Ruler).

Also on Saturday, the Fusaichi Pegasus son Heitai (dam by Mr. Sparkles) earned his 10th stakes victory in the Costa Rising Stakes and Chilean Group 1 winner Bronzo (dam by Memo) nabbed third in Santa Anita Park’s Grade 3 Tokyo City Stakes to earn his first Northern Hemisphere black type.

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