Bloodlines: Round Table Makes A Return With Iselin Winner

by | 06.25.2019 | 6:18am
Monongahela #7 with Jose Lezcano aboard wins the $150,000 Grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, NJ on Saturday June 22,2019. Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Have you wondered whatever happened to Round Table in pedigrees, especially in the male line? He all but disappeared; so it is all the more interesting to note that the winner of the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth on June 22 was won by Monongahela, a male-line heir of Round Table.

The near-disappearance of Round Table in the sire line is remarkable because here was a wonderfully talented racehorse of iron constitution, who was a top-class winner every season on the track from 2 through 5. He won 43 of 66 starts, earning $1.7 million, and was the third Thoroughbred to pass $1 million in earnings, following Citation and Nashua.

Round Table won the Breeders' Futurity at 2; the Blue Grass, American Derby, United Nations Handicap, and Hollywood Gold Cup at 3; the Strub and Santa Anita Handicap, plus major handicaps at Gulfstream, Agua Caliente, Arlington, and elsewhere at 4, when he was elected Horse of the Year; and then a further spate of handicaps at 5, when he was champion older horse and turf horse.

At stud, Round Table was the leading sire in North America in 1972, and among his best offspring were English 2,000 Guineas winner Baldric, the top-class and highweighted European 2-year-old Apalachee, and G1 winners Artaius (Eclipse Stakes, Sussex Stakes), Flirting Around (King's Stand Stakes), Royal Glint (Santa Anita Handicap, Haskell, United Nations), King Pellinore (Oak Tree Invitational), Banquet Table (Hopeful), Cellini (Dewhurst), and Upper Case (Florida Derby and Wood Memorial before there was a graded stakes program).

Those are not the only high-class sons of Round Table, but only Royal Glint (gelding) and Cellini (sterile) had a reason to leave nothing behind as a sire. A handful of sons had a handful of high-class winners, but only one came close to emulating the stallion success of his famous father.

That was Apalachee, a ruggedly made bay out of champion 2-year-old filly Moccasin. The latter was unbeaten as a 2-year-old and was so impressive in her eight victories that many careful judges thought she was even better than the champion juvenile colt of 1965, Buckpasser.

Well, they were wrong about that.


As events proved, Moccasin failed to train on at 3; her margin of superiority over her contemporaries faded but did not entirely disappear. She did become a major producer as the dam of seven stakes winners when retired to her birthplace at Claiborne Farm. The farm had bred and raced and then sold Round Table as a juvenile, returned him to the fold as a stallion and bred Apalachee also.

John Mulcahy acquired the colt and sent him to race in Europe, where Apalachee was unbeaten as a 2-year-old, won the Gladness Stakes on his reappearance at 3, then was third in the 2,000 Guineas behind Nonoalco and never raced again. Retired to stand at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Apalachee became the most prolific and noteworthy of the sons of Round Table.

His progeny earned $27 milliion, and Apalachee sired 56 stakes winners. Four won at the G1 level: Up the Apalachee (Alabama), Apalachee Honey (Sorority), High Counsel (Norfolk), and K One King (Oaklawn Handicap). Even better known than these were a trio of speeding fillies: Clocks Secret (11 wins, including two G3s), Lazer Show (14 wins, including the G2 Sorority), and Pine Tree Lane (19 wins, including four G2s such as the Carter against colts, along with a second in the G1 Breeders' Cup Sprint).

K One King, foaled the year his sire died in 1996, was the last major winner by Apalachee and the big chestnut is still at stud in 2019, listed as “fee private” at Millennium Farms outside Lexington.

Monongahela is one of seven stakes winners by K One King, and the Iselin winner is the only graded stakes winner for the sire. Bred in Pennsylvania by Gunpowder Farms, Monogahela has been a steady performer, winning 6 of 24 starts and $381,043, with 11 seconds and 2 thirds.

The bay 5-year-old is one of two stakes winners out of Record High, a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) who earned $150,180 in her racing career. These two stakes winners are the only two black-type horses among the produce of the first four dams.

Isn't horse breeding wonderful?

If our beloved steeds didn't throw a puzzler like this at us, we'd come to think that breeding horses was easy or, worse, predictable.

There is, however, a good bit of ability hiding in the pedigree without showing black type. The first three dams each produced two horses who won more than $100,000, including one in each generation that earned more than $200,000. Money isn't always an accurate measure of a horse, but to earn money, a horse has to race and win. And soundness counts.

Further, each mare in the first four generations is by a fairly serious stallion. The dam is by Touch Gold; the second dam is by North American leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector); the third dam is by Belmont Stakes winner and champion 3-year-old Stage Door Johnny (Prince John); the fourth dam is by champion juvenile and leading sire Hail to Reason (Turn-to).

Although I cannot tell you how the genetics of the dam Record High aligned to produce two stakes winners from three foals of racing age, the daughter of Touch Gold is doing her part and has a 2-year-old full sister to the Iselin winner who may add more to this story.

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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