If spring turns one's thoughts to love, surely frozen winter turns them to prospects for the classics. The past weekend presented a set of fillies with the potential to become serious milers, and with that accomplishment, one of this group of 3-year-old fillies could have the ability to stay the distance of the Kentucky Oaks, which will be run on the first Friday in May.
At Santa Anita, Seduire won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs, and at Gulfstream Park, Ekati's Phaeton picked up the G3 Old Hat Stakes, going 6 furlongs in 1:10. Now that these fillies have some claims to class, they have to make the step up in distance.
The Ontario-bred Seduire is owned by Nat Rae's Regis Farms, but in addition to considerable speed, she possesses a pedigree that waffles on the question of stamina. Speed in spades, with a pedigree that begins with the important sire Elusive Quality (Gone West). Elusive Quality showed a freakish turn of foot when conditions suited him, and he set records at seven and eight furlongs. As a stallion, however, he has been more varied, with Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones and Raven's Pass (Breeders' Cup Classic) as the stallion's leading performers among the classic types.
Elusive Quality's other stock has included leading juveniles like highweights Elusive City and Certify, as well as the highweighted Elusive Kate and Maryfield, the 2007 Eclipse champion filly sprinter.
That would seem to tip the balance toward speed in the makeup of Seduire, and certainly the filly's fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 1/5 down the hill at Santa Anita did nothing to discourage that impression. Seduire did win nicely by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:15 1/5, and her broodmare sire, Horse of the Year Holy Bull, preferred to lead in his races, including those G1 stakes at nine and 10 furlongs that proved him the best of his year.
Furthermore, the Holy Bull stock tend to get a mile or more with some frequency, and Holy Éclair, the dam of Seduire, is a full sister to Saintliness, a winner of the Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct at 8 ½ furlongs.
Across the country, Ekati's Phaeton became the first stakes winner and graded winner for her sire Tale of Ekati (Tale of the Cat). The dark bay is from the stallion's first crop and was stakes-placed last season.
Tale of Ekati was a powerful and nicely balanced performer who scored his most important victories in the G1 Wood Memorial and Cigar Mile, and he was an honorable fourth in the 2008 Kentucky Derby behind Big Brown.
From his crop of juveniles, Tale of Ekati had 14 winners last season, including this filly and A Shin Carat, a well-regarded racer in Japan.
The presence of a Tale of Ekati runner in Japan is not entirely surprising because the stallion is out of a Japan-bred daughter of Sunday Silence. That mare is Silence Beauty, and she is surely the best-pedigreed daughter of her sire outside of Japan.
The dam of Silence Beauty is the Nijinsky mare Maplejinsky, winner of the Alabama Stakes and dam of 1994 champion older mare Sky Beauty. Maplejinsky was acquired by Japanese interests at the dispersal of the estate of Georgia Hofmann, then was repatriated in a private transaction.
A mare of elegance and scope, Silence Beauty shows the influence of her great sire. She possesses good size and grand quality but is moderately light of substance. All the parts are there, but no excess.
Tale of Ekati, the mare's most accomplished racer, is of a notably different type. He is cast thoroughly in the muscular and typey mold of the Storm Cat tribe through Tale of the Cat. Tale of Ekati stands upwards of 16 hands but is more notable for the balance and proportion of his physique, rather than the excess of size.
With his Storm Cat type, however, it would be very intriguing if Tale of Ekati's stock shows increasing improvement at 3 or beyond, plus any affinity for racing on turf. There is some fascinating potential for improvement with this family that will keep observant breeders watching closely.
Bred in Kentucky, Ekati's Phaeton is out of the Capote mare Seventh Veil and sold to Phaedrus Flights LLC at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's August yearling sale for $50,000 out of the Select Sales consignment.
Brought to the OBS March auction last year by Gayle Woods, agent, Ekati's Phaeton worked a furlong in :10 1/5 but was bought back for $150,000. The filly won the Old Hat by a half-length from R Sassy Lass (Exclusive Quality), and both fillies pulled away from favorite Fashion Alert (Old Fashioned), who was 6 ¼ lengths farther back in third. R Sassy Lass was bred in Florida by Brent and Crystal Fernung and sold at the 2014 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds for $40,000. Like her competitor, R Sassy Lass zipped a furlong in :10 1/5 and scored a BreezeFig of 63, which was good enough to put her in the top group for fillies going an eighth.
These fillies have made step after step in the right direction, and they may find the class to go another quarter-mile and propel themselves into the picture at the upper level.
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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