thebreedingshed Review of 2015: Part I


This is the first of a two-part review of the year, looking back at some of the topics covered by thebreedingshed over the last twelve months, with updates and any developments – there have been some interesting ones – since the articles were first written. Click on any of the links below to read the original pieces.

Let’s start with American Pharoah (above) who became the first US Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. It can be taken for granted that he will be America’s Horse of The Year and it’s also quite possible he will see off human competition to become Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year too. American Pharoah was not just a Triple Crown winner, though, as he completed a so-called ‘grand slam’ by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic as well. Triple Crown winners are rare, but it’s also some feat for a Kentucky Derby winner to win a Breeders’ Cup Classic. As we pointed out here, only American Pharoah’s great grandsire Unbridled and Sunday Silence (whose defeat in the Belmont Stakes deprived him of a grand slam as well as a Triple Crown) had completed the Kentucky Derby-Breeders’ Cup Classic prior to the latest season.

Unbridled’s success at the Breeders’ Cup (he was also grandsire of two winners at Keeneland) was the theme of that article, while Sunday Silence went on to have a sensational stallion career in Japan instead. Among those to follow him to the Far East was American Pharoah’s grandsire Empire Maker, Unbridled’s Belmont Stakes-winning son. Following American Pharoah’s Triple Crown, in July we reported here on the purchase of three Empire Maker colts (a foal and two yearlings) at the JRHA Select Sale in Japan earlier that month by WinStar Farm who stand Empire Maker’s Grade 1 winners Pioneerof The Nile (American Pharoah’s sire) and Bodemeister. The sale rarely attracts overseas buyers. Well, it turned out that instead of having to travel halfway round the world for his stock, Empire Maker was about to become much more accessible to American breeders again. In September it was announced that Empire Maker had been bought back from the Japan Bloodstock Breeders’ Association to stand in the USA, although, as bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux explained in Blood-Horse Daily, Empire Maker had never been for sale.

“The JBBA had been approached by various farms to purchase the horse and always said he was not on the market. But the more they received requests and offers, they decided they didn’t want to conduct a Dutch auction. They went back to the people that made offers and said “Put your best offer forward, and then we will decide if the best offer is something we want to consider.” They set a deadline of September 5th and at that time they would consider the best offer. Don Alberto and Gainesway was the group with the best offer, and the JBBA decided that they would accept it.”

Another stallion whose stock has risen considerably since being exported is Duke of Marmalade, the subject of this article. Now in South Africa, he left behind a particularly good crop of three-year-olds in Europe that included classic winners in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. His German classic winner was the Deutsches Derby winner Nutan whose family has a rich history of classic success as we recounted here. Nightflower didn’t quite complete a German Derby-Oaks double for the family (her dam and Nutan’s are out of the same mare) as she went on to finish second in the Preis der Diana, but she did land a Group 1 prize later in the season in the Preis von Europa.

Another of the year’s Derby winners to emanate from a particularly successful female line was the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Duramente. We covered his family of champions here. Also winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), Duramente unfortunately suffered injuries to both forelegs afterwards which ended any hopes of winning his own country’s version of the Triple Crown.

Duramente might also have been a potential rival to Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. In a year of one historic treble in the USA, Treve had huge support in her bid to become the first triple winner of the Arc. Only the second of her sex to win the race twice, she started her 2015 campaign in the Prix Corrida, a race named after the only other filly among the dual winners. Corrida was the subject of this article, though she also cropped up in Nutan’s story, as a rival to the German ‘wonderfilly’ Nereide who was from the same family as the latest German Derby winner.

We also looked back here fifty years to the 1965 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the greatest winner of the race Sea-Bird. A post-script to Sea-Bird’s survival in modern-day pedigrees came when Robin of Navan won the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in November. He’s by American Post who is in turn a son of Sea-Bird’s grandson Bering – both American Post and Bering were trained by Treve’s trainer Criquette Head-Maarek. Treve’s bid for a third Arc was ultimately foiled by Golden Horn (below) who became a second son of Cape Cross to complete the Derby-Arc double after Sea The Stars in 2009.


Whereas Sea The Stars had been a half-brother to a Derby winner (Galileo) out of an Arc winner (Urban Sea), Golden Horn was apparently less obviously bred to stay a mile and a half and had to be supplemented to take his chance at both Epsom and Longchamp. However, back in May we identified Dubai Destination (see here), the sire of Golden Horn’s dam, as a potential source of stamina. Interestingly, Dubai Destination cropped up later in the season in the same position in the pedigree of another of the season’s best mile and a half performers Postponed, winner – in Golden Horn’s absence due to soft ground – of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Postponed also helped to make 2015 a superb year for his sire, but more of that in Part II.

[Images courtesy of Diana Robinson (American Pharoah) and monkeywing (Golden Horn)]