Bloodlines: Lasting Influence Of Sadler’s Wells Shines Through Top Fillies Songbird, Enable

by | 07.18.2017 | 12:37am

The European supersire Sadler's Wells had a great weekend, both in Europe and in the States. Much of that success comes through the grand old stallion's most influential son Galileo. Galileo's son Gustav Klimt and daughter Clemmie won the Group 2 Superlative and G2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. Both are 2-year-olds with promise for greater accomplishments this season and the next. At the Curragh, the strongly inbred G1 English Oaks winner Enable added the G1 Irish Oaks to her list of successes this year.

The best middle-distance 3-year-old filly in England and Ireland, Enable is by Galileo's G1-winning son Nathaniel, whose first crop are 3-year-olds, and is out of stakes winner Concentric, a daughter of Sadler's Wells himself. Therefore, Enable is inbred to Sadler's Wells 3×2.

The degree of inbreeding, the closeness of Sadler's Wells, would be objectionable to many breeders or pedigree theorists. So why is she so good?

One reason is that Sadler's Wells was the best English- or Irish-based stallion since his ancestors Nearco and Hyperion. Further, the conduits for Sadler's Wells are both high-class animals. Galileo was a classic winner on the racetrack and is a stallion of such magnitude that only his fabled sire stands beside him in the European firmament.

One of Galileo's very high-class sons proved to be Nathaniel, a G1 winner at 10 furlongs (Eclipse Stakes) and 12 furlongs (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes). As Enable suggests through her own accomplishments on the racecourse, her sire Nathaniel is a strong factor for middle-distance performance.

The stallion has sired only two stakes winners to date, but two others have been highly tried and done well. Enjoy Vijay ran second in the G1 German Derby, and Back on Board was second in the G2 Italian Derby. Both those jurisdictions have a racing program that places emphasis on stamina, particularly in their classics. And Nathaniel appears very well-suited to sharing that quality with his offspring.

Enable, the best-performing Nathaniel to date, has plenty of classic stamina in the rest of her pedigree. In addition to her broodmare sire Sadler's Wells, the Irish Oaks winner is out of stakes winner Concentric, who won her debut as a 3-year-old over 10 furlongs and progressed to win twice more that season, both victories coming at 10 furlongs and including the listed Prix Charles Laffitte at Chantilly.

Concentric is a full sister to Dance Routine, who did her best racing at 2,000 and 2,100 meters, which is approximately 10 furlongs. At 3, Dance Routine won the G3 Prix de Royaumont in her third start, then ran a good second in the G1 Prix de Diane of 2002 behind Bright Sky. Then later that season, Dance Routine won the G2 Prix de Royallieu. At stud, Dance Routine has produced Flintshire, Eclipse Award winner as leading turf horse and now at stud in Kentucky at Hill 'n' Dale.

Concentric and Dance Routine, as well as their stakes-winning siblings Apsis (Barathea) and Space Quest (Rainbow Quest), are out of the exceptional producer Apogee, a daughter of classic winner Shirley Heights (Mill Reef).

Winner of the 1978 English Derby and Irish Derby, Shirley Heights proved the best stallion son of his sire, 1971 English Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Mill Reef. In addition to all this classic concentration, Apogee is out of the Ile de Bourbon (Nijinsky) mare Bourbon Girl, who was second in both the English Oaks and Irish Oaks, as well as third in the Yorkshire Oaks, all G1.

A half-sister to Apogee, the winning Rainbow Quest mare Shining Bright, produced two stakes winners: Spanish Moon (G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud) and Spanish Sun (G2 Ribblesdale Stakes). Both are by El Prado.

This son of Sadler's Wells was a G1 winner in Ireland at 2, then came to stand at stud in Kentucky. El Prado was also the first major indicator that sons of Sadler's Wells might become world powers because the early sons sent to stud in Europe bred right off the charts for stamina, even by European standards.

But El Prado became a leading sire in America over all surfaces, all distances, and allied with all pedigree types. And his sons, principally Medaglia d'Oro and Kitten's Joy, are carrying on admirably.

Their positive results for El Prado showed up again over the weekend, both in Europe and the States. At Newmarket, Hawkbill (Kitten's Joy) won the G2 Princess of Wales's Stakes. At Saint-Cloud in France, Talismanic (Medaglia d'Oro) won the G2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil, and at Delaware Park, champion Songbird (Medaglia d'Oro) won the G1 Delaware Handicap.

Rated second only behind Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra among the offspring of Medaglia d'Oro, Songbird was champion of her division at 2 and 3, and she now has won 13 of her 14 starts, including 9 G1 races.

For speed, versatility, consistency, and the ability to produce her form time after time, Songbird gets high marks, and these same traits apply also to this sire line, which has engendered champions and leading sires, outstanding performers on the turf and in the paddocks.

In Songbird and Enable, we have two outstanding performers, and their connections to Sadler's Wells and his sire Northern Dancer allow the legacy of those great horses to live on with us today.

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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