Breeding Watch: Still Kicking

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The *Ribot sire line is hanging on by a thread North America, but last weekend’s results reminded everyone that it’s not gone the way of the dodo quite yet.

Moonshine Mullin continued his spring bloom by earning his fifth straight win in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. The 6-year-old is by Albert the Great, a son of 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin, who traces back to *Ribot through Cormorant and His Majesty. A leading runner of his generation for owner Tracy Farmer and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, Albert the Great won the 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup and placed in six other Grade 1 events, including the Breeders Cup Classic.

Albert the Great started his stud career in Kentucky and now stands at Pin Oak Lane Farm in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. While he’s averaged only a single stakes winner in each of his first nine crops, Moonshine Mullin is Albert the Great’s third career Grade 1 winner after Wood Memorial Stakes winner Nobiz Like Shobiz and Donn Handicap and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Albertus Maximus. The former is out of a mare by Storm Cat and the second dam of Moonshine Mullin is by Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird.

The Stephen Foster winner is also the eighth Group or Grade 1 winner out of a mare by the former Juddmonte Farms Mr. Prospector stallion Distant View. Among the other Grade 1 winners produced by Distant View daughters is Afleet Alex’s 2013 Travers Stakes hero Afleet Express.

Afleet Alex sired another Grade 1 winner and his third overall Saturday when Iotapa took home the Vanity Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Afleet Express and Iotapa are both out of mares bred Mr. Prospector over Icecapade. Afleet Express’s second dam is by the Icecapade grandson Phone Trick. Iotopa is out of the mare Concinnous, by Mr. Prospector’s great grandson El Corredor and her dam is a daughter of the good Icecapade stallion Wild Again.

Afleet Alex’s sire, Northern Afleet, was one of three North American stallions with two stakes winners on their ledgers last week. His sophomore daughter Saintly Joan (dam by El Corredor) took Saturday’s Little Silver Stakes at Monmouth Park. The following afternoon the 4-year-old colt Fuzzy Dee Jay (dam by Academy Award) won the Sydney Gendelman Memorial Handicap for Ohio-breds at Belterra Park, formerly known as River Downs. The wins were the first black-type scores for both and gives the Taylor Made Farm stallion a total of 47 stakes winners in the Northern Hemisphere.

Sharp Humor was exiled to South Korea a few years ago but his progeny have been running well of late around North America. His Sharp Sensation (dam by Royal Academy) and Angelica Zapata (Evansville Slew) both won minor listed stakes last week. That makes it five stakes winners since April 12 for the son of Distorted Humor. Among the others is Marchman (dam by Indian Charlie), victorious in a pair of graded turf sprints and runner-up in another in that span.

Hall of Famer Ghostzapper has made everyone forget about the sluggish start to his second career and is another with two stakes scorers last week.

Like Moonshine Mullin, the 4-year-old filly Molly Morgan has gotten good this spring at Churchill. After a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day, the Dale Romans-trainee was much the best in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis Handicap Saturday. Out of a mare by the Forty Niner stallion Distorted Humor, it was the first stakes triumph for Molly Morgan.

The Adena Springs-based Ghostzapper has sired two other Grade 2 winners out granddaughters of Forty Niner: Arena Elvira (dam by Twining) and Hear the Ghost (dam by Coronado’s Quest). About half of Ghostzapper’s career stakes winners are out of Mr. Prospector-line mares, including Ghost Is Clear, who added his second stakes win in the Dark Star Stakes Sunday at Canterbury Park. The 6-year-old is out of a mare by Gulch.

Ramsey Farm’s Kitten’s Joy has been incredibly productive with daughters of the Gone West son Grand Slam – four stakes winners (three graded, two Grade 1) from just 11 starters. He sired another stakes winner out of a Gone West granddaughter when Proud Azteca strolled home in the English Channel Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Indiana-bred colt is out of a mare by Proud Citizen, a Grade 2 winner and classic-placed son of Gone West who stands at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky. That puts Kitten’s Joy’s strike rate with all granddaughters of Gone West at 18% (from 28 starters). Proud Azteca also signals that Proud Citizen is off to a promising start as a broodmare sire as he’s the third stakes winner from the first 36 starters out of his daughters. The others are by Indian Charlie and Cape Cross, a son of the Danzig stallion Green Desert.

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