Bloodlines: Living In Galileo’s World

by | 06.04.2019 | 10:54am
Anthony Van Dyck and Seamie Heffernan win the Investec Derby for trainer Aidan O'Brien

Another day, another Galileo classic winner.

With 12 of the 13 racers in the 2019 Derby Stakes at Epsom tracing to Galileo as a son, grandson, or great-grandson, there was little doubt that more good news was brewing for the sire in the English classic.

This year's Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck is by Coolmore's legendary bay son of Sadler's Wells and Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea (by Miswaki). That makes four winners of the English classic for the Coolmore sire and places Galileo in a tie with Blandford, Cyllene, Montjeu, Sir Peter Teazle, and Waxy for siring the most winners of the Derby.

The previous day, Galileo's great son Frankel the Unbeaten had his first European classic winner when his third-crop daughter Anapurna won the Oaks from the Coolmore fillies Pink Dogwood (Camelot) and Fleeting (Zoffany).

And on June 2 in France, the Prix du Jockey Club went to Sottsass (Siyouni). For the Galileo connection, the French Derby winner is out of a Galileo mare like 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia (Invincible Spirit).

Anthony Van Dyck, however, does represent one first for his sire. This year's winner of the Derby is the sire's first bay son to win the race. Galileo's three other winners – Australia, New Approach, and Ruler of the World – are all chestnuts.

A more significant first in the pedigree of Anthony Van Dyck is his place as the first classic winner for this female line descending from third dam November Snow. The latter was no average daughter of Storm Cat (Storm Bird). November Snow was the first G1 winner for her sire and came from his first crop.


Ric Waldman was adviser to Overbrook Farm for most of Storm Cat's breeding career, and regarding the crossing of Northern Dancer lines that produced the 2019 English Derby winner, Waldman observed that “Coolmore had immense regard for Storm Cat and likes crossing Galileo with his daughters. They have had a lot of success inbreeding back into Northern Dancer with Galileo. Pragmatically, with unlimited access to Galileo and a nearly unlimited broodmare band, they have a lot of room to explore and experiment” on what matings can produce the best racehorses and the most of them.

That sounds easy, almost. “In order to perform such an experiment,” Waldman said, “you need unlimited access to the best stallion in the world, or at least one of them. Otherwise, it's difficult to make a judgment on the results of your foals because a breeder wouldn't be able to quantify the influence of a lesser sire or an unproven sire for years.” With a stallion like Galileo, he's imminently proven, and he's much closer to a constant in the equation to produce top racers.

As a proven quantity, Storm Cat played a similar role with Overbrook's breeding program, and one of the horses who got Storm Cat's sire career off the ground was November Snow.

A winner of the G1 Test Stakes and the Alabama in 1992, November Snow was her sire's first G1 winner and was out of Princess Alydar (Alydar). As a broodmare, November Snow was not nearly as successful as she had been on the racetrack; only one of the mare's 15 foals earned black type, and that was G2-placed November Slew (Seattle Slew).

November Snow's daughters have done notably better as producers, however. November Slew produced Hiraboku Wild (Wild Rush) in Japan, and November Slew's daughter Eagle Island (Fusaichi Pegasus) foaled G3 Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh (Tizway). Also, November Snow's unraced daughter Indian Snow (A.P. Indy) is the dam of G1 Carter Handicap winner Morning Line (Tiznow).

Although she didn't produce a G1 winner, the most successful producing daughter of November Snow is the Gone West mare Arctic Drift, a $600,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2001, when she brought the second-highest price for any yearling by her sire.

Racing for Darley, Arctic Drift won a maiden special from six starts and was second three times. As a broodmare, Arctic Drift left that minimal assessment far behind and produced three stakes winners in Australia to the cover of the Danehill horse Exceed and Excel.

The two best were Kuroshio, winner of the G2 Ian McEwen Trophy and the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude, and Believe'n'succeed, also a winner of the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude.

Bred by Darley in Australia and sold for A$300,000 as a yearling, Believe'n'succeed has perpetuated the escalation of success with each generation since November Snow by producing the top New Zealand sprinter Bounding (Lohnro) as her first foal, then the 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck.

In between the two G1 winners, Believe'n'succeed came to auction in Australia and sold for A$1.1 million to Tom Magnier. The mare was then sent to Ireland, bred to Galileo, and foaled the Derby winner in 2016. Now a half-sister to an English Derby winner, G1 winner Bounding sold at the Magic Millions broodmare auction in 2016 for A$1.9 million to Stonestreet and produced her first foal in Kentucky, a 2018 colt by Curlin. She has a 2019 filly by War Front.

Bred in Ireland by the Coolmore entity Orpendale, Chelston, & Wynatt, Anthony Van Dyck races for Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

After the late foaling of Anthony Van Dyck in 2016, Believe'n'Succeed did not have another foal until January of this year, when she produced a filly by Galileo and was bred back to that stallion.

For what it's worth, the lasting prejudice against May foals has received another sharp rebuke this classic season. The 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House (Lookin at Lucky) was foaled on May 8; first-place finisher Maximum Security was foaled May 14; and English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck was foaled May 18.

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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