As we see once more in the winner of the Grade 3 Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream, better racemares make better broodmares. This was proven nearly a century ago through the august researches of Joe Estes, the first editor of The Blood-Horse magazine when it became a weekly publication, and one of the first undertakings of Estes in his early years with the magazine was to investigate what breeders could learn about breeding better horses.
The overarching results were the work of decades and many hands at the publication, but Estes introduced the analytical use of statistics as a method of selection and prediction in breeding Thoroughbred racehorses. From more than four decades of service to the industry, Estes was the force that produced the first significant investigations of how breeding and racing are intertwined with the quality of horses involved.
Estes showed that the better a horse's racing class, the greater chance it had of producing a stakes performer in turn.
This seems so simply true that none could deny it, but a hundred years ago, many people treated breeding racehorses as if it were nothing more understandable or quantifiable than pure luck. Estes proved that wasn't so. And the results held up in study after study across the intervening decades.
Every way a researcher sliced the data, the statistics showed that the better class of racemare made a more successful producer of the next generation of racehorses. In the Marshua's River, the winner Magic Star is out of Grade 1 winner Meadow Breeze (Meadowlake), who won the Matron Stakes as a juvenile and has produced three six-figure winners from six foals to race.
In the Marshua's River, the 4-year-old Magic Star became the latest graded stakes winner for the late and lamented Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg), the sire of Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Justify and Il Campione, Horse of the Year and classic winner in Chile, along with 125 other stakes winners.
A G1 winner at 2 in the Champagne and also second in the G1 Hopeful, Scat Daddy reached the peak of his racing career with victory in the G1 Florida Derby early in his 3-year-old season but did not race after the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the dark brown son of champion juvenile Johannesburg became his sire's first important son at stud and progressed strongly through that career until his death in 2015 at age 11.
Magic Star's dam also won a G1 in 2006, when the chestnut filly's sire and dam were among the top tier of juvenile performers in the country. Exactly a decade later, Meadow Breeze's sixth foal, the Bodemeister colt Royal Copy, was second in the G1 Hopeful in a brief racing career of four starts. The mare's seventh foal is Magic Star, who was a $500,000 Keeneland September yearling.
Despite looking the part as a yearling and having top-tier juveniles for parents, Magic Star did not race until late in her 3-year-old season. At Saratoga last year, Magic Star won her debut, a maiden special on Aug. 24, by 2 ¼ lengths, then was unplaced in an allowance at Belmont on Oct. 26.
The Marshua's River was the filly's third start and second victory. Magic Star has progressed so well that she is going to be an interesting contender to watch in the turf filly division.
Meadow Breeze has a 2-year-old filly of 2020 by champion sprinter Runhappy (Super Saver) and was bred back to champion juvenile Uncle Mo for 2020.
Meadow Breeze is one of two G1 winners out of the unraced mare Unacloud (Unaccounted For), who failed the “racing test” for indicators of producing potential. The other is G1 Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze (Dixie Union), a young sire standing at WinStar Farm.
Nor is it a surprise for unraced mares to produce good racing stock. Although stakes winners produce the highest proportion of stakes winners in the next generation, they are also the smallest set of producers. Unraced mares are a large group, on the other hand, and some of those are inevitably going to be good broodmares.
Unacloud is clearly one of these, getting a pair of G1 winners and a pair of stakes-placed horses: Majesto (Tiznow), second in the G1 Florida Derby, and Mighty Monsoon (Forestry), third in the G2 Best Pal Stakes.
And a mare of what group is most likely to produce a graded stakes horse? One who has already produced a graded stakes horse.
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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