For all his success as a sire, reflected in a stud fee that reached $500,000, Storm Cat had never featured in a Kentucky Derby winner’s pedigree, while he had had some disappointments in the 2000 Guineas too. But two years after his death aged thirty in 2013, his legacy was evident in the pedigrees of the winners of both those classics this year.
Broodmare Your’esothrilling’s son succeeded at Newmarket where, fifteen years earlier, her brother had failed. Gleneagles became the Cherry Hinton Stakes winner Your’esothrilling’s second classic winner from as many foals after his sister Marvellous (both are by Galileo) won last year’s Irish 1000 Guineas. Your’esothrilling’s brother Giant’s Causeway started favourite for the 2000 Guineas in the millennium year, and while he proved too good for twenty-five of his rivals, King’s Best was the one he couldn’t beat.
The 2000 Guineas wasn’t to be for Giant’s Causeway but five other Group 1 races went his way later that year; the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. On his final start, Giant’s Causeway lost out by a neck to Tiznow in a memorable battle for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Giant’s Causeway and Your’esothrilling were two results of repeat matings between Storm Cat and Mariah’s Storm. Another was Tumblebrutus who also contested a 2000 Guineas, in 2004, though in the capacity of pacemaker for another Ballydoyle favourite. That was One Cool Cat who finished well beaten, just like another son of Storm Cat who started favourite for the same stable in the previous year’s 2000 Guineas, Hold That Tiger. Mariah’s Storm beat only one home in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff won by Inside Information, but she had an excellent record in lesser graded stakes, winning six such races; she also finished third of four to the future Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes. It was Giant’s Causeway whom she turned out to be carrying when Mariah’s Storm was bought in foal by the Coolmore partners at Keeneland in 1996 for $2.6m.
Giant’s Causeway went on to sire a 2000 Guineas winner for his owners when Footstepsinthesand won the classic in 2005.
Meanwhile at Churchill Downs, Storm Cat crops up in the pedigree of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria. Her sire, the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap winner Majesticperfection, is a son of the Florida Derby winner and Dubai World Cup runner-up Harlan’s Holiday, himself a son of Storm Cat’s son Harlan whose Grade 1 win came in the Vosburgh Stakes.
Harlan’s Holiday was the beaten favourite for the 2002 Kentucky Derby, and until Saturday, Storm Cat, leading US sire in 1999 and 2000, was notable by his absence from the pedigree of any Kentucky Derby winner. More recent beaten favourites in the Kentucky Derby, Dialed In (in 2011) and Bodemeister (in 2012) were both out of Storm Cat mares.
However, American Pharoah finally bucked that trend this year as his dam, Littleprincessemma, is by the Storm Cat stallion Yankee Gentleman. For good measure, Storm Cat appears in the pedigrees of the placed horses in the Kentucky Derby as well. Runner-up Firing Line is by the Arkansas Derby winner Line of David who was well beaten in the Kentucky Derby himself but is a son of the Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart, a grandson of Storm Cat. Third-placed Dortmund is out of a mare by Storm Cat’s son Tale of The Cat (Line of David’s grandsire), winner of the Grade 2 King’s Bishop Stakes.
[Image of Churchill Downs courtesy of Richard Hurt]