May 27, 2012

While it may not have the prestige associated with some other filly & mare races, the 11-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes over the Belmont turf—won this year by Aruna—has proven to be a tremendous race when it comes to showcasing great race mares who go on to produce Grade/Group 1 horses as broodmares. Sure, it may just be that top runners get bred to the best stallions, but we know that breeding the best-to-the-best doesn’t always produce a winner. That’s why it’s so interesting that so many top three finishers in this race since 1970 have produced not just black-type horses, but specifically G1 progeny or mares that have produced G1-quality horses. Here’s a breakdown by decade of those I could readily dig up:

The 1970s:

In 1970 and 1971, Princess Pout captured consecutive runnings of the Sheepshead Bay; her hot-headed son Alleged won back-to-back editions of the FR-G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Another two- time Sheepshead Bay winner (in 1976 and 1977), Glowing Tribute gave us G1 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero. Other Sheepshead Bay winners of significance that decade: 1978 winner Late Bloomer, dam of G1 United Nations winner Ends Well; and 1979 winner Terpsichorist, granddam of both G1 Champagne winner Union Rags and VEN-G1 winner Cheiron; her daughter Dancing Devlette ran third in the 1992 edition of the race—and as a broodmare, Dancing Devlette produced G1 Beldame third-place finisher Satans Quick Chick.

Other top three Sheepshead Bay mares that decade likewise turned out to be solid G1 producers. 1970 third-place finisher Klassy Poppy produced G1 Monmouth (now Haskell) Invitational winner Special Honor, while 1973 runner-up Inca Rose birthed G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Hail Bold King. 1975 runner-up Hinterland is the dam of G1 Ballerina victress Feel The Beat, while 1978 runner-up Waya is the granddam of ENG-G1 Golden Jubilee runner-up Crystal Castle, FR-G1 Prix Morny runner-up Secrage and G1 Test runner-up Pretty Prolific. In 1979, Waya’s half sister Warfever finished third in the Sheepshead Bay; as a broodmare, she produced G1 Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Luthier Fever.

The 1980s:

The aforementioned trend continued in the ‘80s. In 1983 and 1984, Sabin took consecutive runnings of the Sheepshead Bay; she is the granddam of two-time GER-G1 Preis von Europa runner-up Poseidon Adventure. 1986 winner Possible Mate (whose daughter Fairy Garden placed third in this race in 1994) is the granddam of G1 Suburban Handicap runner-up Tap Day. There’s also a notable Japanese flavor: 1987 winner Steal a Kiss is the granddam of JPN-G1 Tenno Sho victress Name Value, while 1988 winner Nastique produced JPN-G1 winner Nobo True.

While the winners turned out well as broodmares, the placegetters were arguably even better. Take 1981 runner-up Rokeby Rose as an example; all she did was produce G1 Kentucky Oaks winner and Hall of Fame mare Silverbulletday. A terrific race mare, 1988 third-place finisher Anka Germania gave us G1 Travers winner Deputy Commander, while 1984 third-place finisher Thirty Flags is the dam of G1 Acorn runner-up Dixie Flag, and 1986 third-place finisher Dawn’s Curtsey produced G1 Top Flight runner-up Triumph at Dawn. Others of note: 1983 runner-up First Approach, dam of G1 Beverly D runner-up Alice Springs; 1984 third-place finisher Double Jeux, dam of G1-placed Clark Cottage; 1980 third-place finisher Baby Sister, granddam of VEN-G1 winner Guaraira; and 1987 runner-up Videogenic, granddam of JPN-G1 NHK Mile runner-up Eishin Tsurugizan.

The 1990s:

This decade began well, with 1990 winner Destiny Dance giving us G1 Frizette winner Balletto. 1992 victress Ratings is the granddam of G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap victor Smart Bid, while 1996 winner Chelsey Flower birthed FR-G1 Prix Jean Prat runner-up  (and now sire) Kentucky Dynamite.

The dam of ENG-G1Nunthorpe runner-up Bertolini, Aquilegia finished second in the 1993 running of the Sheepshead Bay, while 1999 runner-up Starry Dreamer produced both G1 Alabama runner-up Teammate and G1 Vosburgh runner-up (and sire) War Front. Since we’ve already mentioned Dancing Devlette, the only other third-place finisher of interest is 1998’s Colonial Play, dam of G1 Canadian International winner Marsh Side.

The 2000s:

Obviously, given that many of these Sheepshead Bay contestants (like two-time winner Honey Ryder, not to mention placegetters Hostess and Mauralakana) have yet to see their first progeny run, the G1 broodmare accomplishments for this decade are sparse—but what a record it is! How about 2000 third-place finisher La Ville Rouge producing G1 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro? Also, 2003 runner-up Owsley is the dam of G1 Wood Memorial runner-up Arthur’s Tale, while 2004 runner-up Spice Island has given us G1 Florida Derby victor Ice Box.

And, as if you need yet another factoid to absorb on this matter, the dam of 2012 Sheepshead Bay runner-up Hit It Rich is a half sister to Honey Ryder. Not sure when he will make his debut, but Honey Ryder’s brilliantly-named 3-year-old Giant’s Causeway son Oddjob has posted three workouts at Saratoga this May—watch for him later this summer perhaps.
Honey Ryder headed home


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