The Darley stallion Medaglia d'Oro sired the winners of both Grade 1 events in California on Saturday, Aug. 17: the Pacific Classic and the Del Mar Oaks. One of the consistent factors in American breeding for top-quality stock that race well at distances of a mile and beyond, Medaglia d'Oro is a leading son of the top sire El Prado, also the sire of Kitten's Joy, and El Prado was the best American-based son of perennial top European sire Sadler's Wells, who was best represented abroad by the great sires Galileo and Montjeu.
They all descend in the male line from the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, the great Canadian-bred with the boisterous personality who became an international bloodstock legend through the excellence and consistency of his offspring.
Sadler's Wells was a very good racehorse but wasn't the very best racing son of Northern Dancer; that accolade would have gone to Nijinsky or El Gran Senor, both sires of very high quality themselves. But, along with Danzig, Sadler's Wells shares the distinction of projecting the Northern Dancer line into the 21st century with greater success than any other son of the famous little bay from Windfields Farm.
As a result, we have Northern Dancer lines of various descriptions all around the world, and the ones here in the States tend toward the rugged and hardy form of their great progenitor.
Racing from 2 through 5, Medaglia d'Oro finished first or second in 15 of his 17 starts, earning $5.7 million. The near-black horse's most important successes came in the G1 Travers at 3, the G1 Whitney at 4, and the G1 Donn at 5. He was also second in a half-dozen G1s, including the Belmont Stakes, Breeders' Cup Classic, and Dubai World Cup.
With the success of his first crop that included champion Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia d'Oro has ascended into the elite cadre of sires who stand for six figures and was at $200,000 live foal for the 2019 season at Darley's Jonabell complex outside Lexington.
There he has been covering large books of superb broodmares, and we see the results among the winners of the Aug. 15 G1s. The Pacific Classic went to Higher Power, who was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Farm and raced by the breeder till sold at the 2019 Keeneland April sale of horses in training. There the 4-year-old brought $250,000 from Hronis Racing.
Since his transfer to California and trainer John Sadler, Higher Power won a mile allowance in 1:34.63, ran second in the Wickerr Stakes at a mile in 1:34.44, and earned his first stakes victory in the Pacific Classic with 10 furlongs in 2:02.43.
Higher Power is the third stakes winner out of his dam, the Seattle Slew mare Alternate. She is also the dam of multiple G2 stakes winner Alternation (Distorted Humor), a Pin Oak stallion whose second crop includes 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress.
Behind Alternate and her G1-winning son are Pin Oak foundation mares Strike a Balance (Green Dancer) and her dam Strike a Pose (Iron Ruler). There are more than 45 black type horses descending from them, including Pin Oak stallion Broken Vow (Unbridled), champion Forever Together (Belong to Me), and 2019 graded winner Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man). These mares have quite literally been the foundation of a very significant part of the racing success of Pin Oak and those who buy stock from them.
The other G1 winner for Medaglia d'Oro on Saturday was Cambier Parc, who was bred in Kentucky by Bonne Chance Farm and who sold for $1.25 million in 2017 as a Keeneland September yearling to OXO Equine. In a similar fashion to the Pin Oak Stud mares above, the dam of Cambier Parc appears well on her way to becoming a foundation mare.
Winner of the Del Mar Oaks, Cambier Parc is the fourth graded stakes winner out of Sealy Hill, a Horse of the Year in Canada. The daughter of U.S. Horse of the Year Point Given (Thunder Gulch) is also the dam of G2 winner Hillaby (Distorted Humor), champion sprinter in Canada; and the G3 winners Belle Hill (Sky Mesa) and Gale Force (Giant's Causeway).
The best racer out of stakes winner Boston Twist, a daughter of champion juvenile Boston Harbor, Sealy Hill will be aided in developing her foundation family by the fact that all her foals prior to 2018 were fillies, including all the graded stakes winners above.
The eldest of them is Hillaby, who has a 3-year-old colt by Malibu Moon named Fast Cash. And with Cambier Parc putting the G1 stamp of class on Sealy Hill's produce, greater opportunities will be waiting.
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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