In looking at the winners of the two Group 1 races for juveniles at Newmarket, Iridessa (by Ruler of the World) in the Fillies Mile and Too Darn Hot (Dubawi) in the Dewhurst, I was immediately tempted to paraphrase Charles Dickens.
We shouldn't say that “it was the best of pedigrees; it was the worst of pedigrees” because Iridessa is from the first crop of English Derby winner Ruler of the World (Galileo), and the grandly bred chestnut son of the great sire Galileo is half of Iridessa's pedigree. But even though the pedigree of the filly's sire is world-class, there's no escaping the fact that Iridessa is only the second G1 winner in the female line for 10 generations.
The other is Iridessa's granddam Starine. This French-bred mare was a listed stakes winner at 2, then was purchased near the middle of her 4-year-old season and imported to the U.S. by trainer Bobby Frankel. The mare immediately placed in a graded event, and Starine improved enough to win the G1 Matriarch at 4 and then the Breeders' Cup Filly Turf in her last start as a 5-year-old.
Frankel rarely bred horses and sent his star mare to the 2002 Keeneland November sale, where she sold for $1 million out of the Mill Ridge Sales consignment. Klaus Jacobs of Newsells Park Stud in Newmarket was the buyer, and the gray mare produced two foals for Newsells Park, the unraced Danehill mare Senta's Dream in 2004 and the winning Green Desert gelding Media Stars in 2005.
One of two stakes winners by her sire, the Theatrical horse Mendocino, Starine was the only top-class performer for either of her parents, and that bright spark was snuffed out too early with the mare's death in late 2005.
Iridessa, however, is the sixth foal out of Senta's Dream and the third winner. A winner on her debut, and the first winner in England or Ireland for her classic-winning sire, Iridessa has now won two of her four starts and was third in the Ingabelle Stakes at Leopardstown in Ireland.
The big, powerfully made bay relished the distance of the Fillies Mile and was the most powerful of the competitors in the race out of the Dip at Newmarket and up the rising ground to the wire.
It may not be a coincidence that both winners of Newmarket's premier juvenile events followed a similar path to victory. Each was covered up through much of the race, then let loose nearing the Dip and won their G1s by having the pace to get to the front, then stay on strongly to the wire.
Nobody would argue that Too Darn Hot has the most speed of the two, and the colt's jockey was at some pains to throttle him back after a neat start so that Too Darn Hot would have cover through the early part of the race.
Nor would anyone argue that the dark brown colt has the better pedigree. In fact, he has one of the best in the world. His sire Dubawi was the best racing son of the Godolphin hero Dubai Millennium (Seeking the Gold), and Dubawi has proven not only the best stallion son of Dubai Millennium but also one of the leading stallions in the world.
In the 2018 crop of juveniles, two sons of Dubawi – Too Darn Hot and Quorto – are widely regarded as the two best colts in England, and Dubawi has challenged Galileo as the leading sire of sales yearlings with premier offerings at Arqana and most recently at Tattersalls.
The highest-priced colt at Tattersalls, and the most expensive colt in Europe or America, is a full brother to Too Darn Hot. Both are out of the splendid racemare Dar Re Mi (Singspiel), who won the G1 Pretty Polly, Yorkshire Oaks, and Dubai Sheema Classic, as well as taking second in the G1 Prix Vermeille.
At stud, Dar Re Mi has been just as impressive. From five foals to race, four are winners, including the full siblings Too Darn Hot (G1 Dewhurst and unbeaten in four starts); listed stakes winner Lah Ti Dar, most recently second in the G1 St Leger against colts; and So Mi Dar, winner of the G3 Musidora Stakes and third in the G1 Prix de l'Opera. The mare's other winner is De Treville (Oasis Dream), who is four times placed in G3 sprints.
In turn, Dar Re Mi is one of four G1 winners from five stakes winners out of Prix Vermeille winner Darara (Top Ville). The mare's other winners at the top level are Diaghilev (Sadler's Wells), winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong; Darazari (Sadler's Wells), winner of the Ranvet Stakes in Australia; and Rewilding (Tiger Hill), winner of Dubai Sheema Classic, Prince of Wales's Stakes, and third in the English Derby.
In addition to her racing and producing class, Darara is also a half-sister to French Derby winner Darshaan (Shirley Heights), a top sire and broodmare sire. They are out of the Abdos mare Delsy, bred in the Boussac stud that the Aga Khan IV acquired in 1978.
The Aga Khan bred Darara, kept her in the stud, and then sent her to auction in 1994, where she was purchased by the Watership Down Stud of Madeleine and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. For Watership Down, Darara confirmed the excellence of her heritage, and the stud has retained members of the family ever since.
Getting into this family is like hoeing in tall cotton, and mares of this quality require a breeder with plenty of cash liquidity and the willingness to use it. Darara more than repaid the faith that Watership Down showed in her. She produced multiple seven-figure yearlings for the stud, which has a policy of selling its colts and keeping its fillies.
That has worked wonders with this family because it has allowed the stud to maintain profitability while retaining some of the quality stock bred there from generation to generation.
Like his sale-topping full brother, Too Darn Hot was expected to go to the sales, but “he had x-ray issues when he was a yearling,” Lloyd-Webber noted cheerfully after the Dewhurst.
Due to the pressures of the commercial market, they have kept a colt who may prove the best horse Watership Down has yet bred.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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