Depending on where you are in the world, Medaglia d’Oro will probably conjure up different images as a sire. His profile in North America is a very different one from his profile in Australia, which differs again from his European profile, whilst he has enjoyed top-level success in all three continents.
If he’s a hard stallion to pigeon-hole, it’s due in no small part to his own cosmopolitan background. As a racehorse he was a classic American dirt performer, yet hailed from the classic European turf sire line of Sadler’s Wells. His sire was Sadler’s Wells’ grey son El Prado who raced uniquely in Europe, gaining his Group 1 success in the National Stakes at The Curragh, though whose stallion career went from strength to strength in Kentucky. Besides Medaglia d’Oro, El Prado’s other noteworthy sire son is Kitten’s Joy who had his first European Group 1 winner recently when Hawkbill won the Eclipse Stakes.
Whereas Kitten’s Joy was a champion on turf, Medaglia d’Oro took after the dirt influences in his female family. Not that his dam Cappucino Bay was a true dirt horse either – she gained her first win on that surface but her four remaining victories in allowance and claiming company all came on turf. She was, however, by Bailjumper, a dual Grade 2 winner on dirt (Saranac Stakes and Dwyer Handicap) out of a mare by Silent Screen, the champion US two-year-old colt of 1969.
Medagalia d’Oro was a Grade 1 winner at three, four and five thanks to victories in the Travers Stakes, the Whitney Handicap and the Donn Handicap. At least as impressive, though, was his collection of second places. They came in the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic (to Volponi, whom he beat in the following year’s Whitney) at three, and the Pacific Classic and Breeders’ Cup Classic again at four, this time behind Pleasantly Perfect who also denied him victory in the following season’s Dubai World Cup.
In the States, Medaglia d’Oro is known principally for his champion fillies Rachel Alexander and Songbird, the two main catalysts for his rising stud fee. After Rachel Alexander became Horse of the Year in 2009 his fee jumped from $40,000 to $100,000 (which coincided with Darley buying a majority interest in him and his subsequent move to Jonabell Farm), while Songbird’s emergence as the top two-year-old filly of 2015 means he stood the latest covering season at a fee of $150,000.
His impressive book of mares this year included Rachel Alexander’s great rival for Horse of the Year honours Zenyatta. Rachel Alexander and Songbird, incidentally are both out of granddaughters of Forty Niner.
Another of Medagalia d’Oro’s recent US Grade 1 winners is Mshawish who emulated his sire by winning the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream early in the year. The originally French-trained Mshawish is a good illustration of his sire’s dual turf and dirt identity, though, because twelve months earlier on the same card he had won the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
As a result of shuttling to Australia, Medaglia d’Oro has made his mark down under principally through Vancouver, winner of the 2015 Golden Slipper, who is out of a Danehill mare. He joined Aidan O’Brien with a European sprinting campaign planned for him this year but he failed to reach the track after some unsatisfactory blood results and has been returned to Australia to began his stud career.
Through his Darley connection, Medaglia d’Oro owes much of his success in Europe to the Godolphin operation. Saeed bin Suroor trained Passion For Gold (who was out of a Thunder Gulch mare, like Mshawish) to win the 2009 Criterium de Saint-Cloud but this season it is the success of four three-year-old sons of Medaglia d’Oro, all of them trained in France for Godolphin by Andre Fabre, that catches the eye.
Talismanic finished fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club (spot his big white face in the video below) after winning a listed race at Saint-Cloud, while the Jockey Club was also contested by the Prix de Guiche runner-up Floodlight. The other two colts have not contested stakes races at the time of writing but could easily earn black type themselves in due course. Interlocuter made a winning debut on Deauville’s all-weather track, while Spectroscope has won his last two races, giving a five-length beating to a Group 3 runner-up at Saint-Cloud last time.
Medaglia d’Oro is an easy sire to mate in America given the lack of ubiquitous stallions such as Mr Prospector, Storm Cat and A P Indy in his pedigree. What is striking about the four Godolphin colts mentioned above is that they are all out of high-class racemares, either on dirt or turf. Talismanic is out of Magic Mission (by Machiavellian) whom Fabre also trained before she went on to Grade 3 success in the States where she finished third in the Matriarch Stakes. Spectroscope’s dam Diamondrella (by Rock of Gibraltar) was a dual Grade 1 winner on turf in the Just A Game Stakes and First Lady Stakes. Floodlight is also the son of a dual Grade 1 winner, his dam Flashing (by A P Indy) winning the Test Stakes and Gazelle Stakes on dirt. Interlocuter’s dam Satin Kiss (by Seeking The Gold) was also a dirt performer, though in Dubai, where she won the UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks.
According to France Galop, Fabre’s Godolphin two-year-olds by Medaglia d’Oro include a daughter of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff runner-up Hystericalady named Lady Montdore and a sister to the Cash Call Futurity Stakes winner Violence named Wild Mint. He’s therefore being given every chance to succeed in a very different environment from the one he excelled in himself.
[Rachel Alexandra image: Eclipse Sportswire]