Unbridled Joy At American Pharoah’s ‘Grand Slam’


The thirteen winners of the Breeders’ Cup races were by thirteen different sires, while another thirteen different sires were responsible for those winners’ dams. But this apparent diversity conceals the fact that, within their first three generations, few of the Breeders’ Cup winners lack one of these three sires in their pedigrees: Sadler’s Wells, Storm Cat and Unbridled.

First of all the exceptions. Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Catch A Glimpse has none from that trio in her pedigree, being by City Zip (a grandson of Mr Prospector) out of an Irish River mare. Turf Sprint winner Mongolian Saturday is also from the Mr Prospector male line, by Any Given Saturday. Like the Sprint winner Runhappy (by Super Saver), Mongolian Saturday is by a sire whose dam was by A P Indy – strange to find A P Indy figuring only in the pedigrees of these two sprint winners at the Breeders’ Cup.

Less surprising is that Sadler’s Wells crops up in the pedigrees of three of the turf winners. He’s the grandsire of the Turf winner Found, a daughter of Galileo, and the damsire of that filly’s stable-companion, the Juvenile Turf winner Hit It A Bomb. Sadler’s Wells’ influence in North America depends largely on his son El Prado who boasted two winners as grandsire at the Breeders’ Cup, namely Filly & Mare Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten (by Kitten’s Joy) and Juvenile Fillies winner Songbird (by Medaglia d’Oro, the best dirt performer, and dirt sire, from the Sadler’s Wells line).

Stephanie’s Kitten is also one of three winners at the latest Breeders’ Cup out of granddaughters of Storm Cat, the others being American Pharoah, who we will return to, and Juvenile winner Nyquist. Storm Cat is also grandsire of the Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria (by Tale of The Cat) and the Mile winner Tepin (by Bernstein, like the previous year’s winner Karakontie).

Besides El Prado and Storm Cat, Unbridled was the other grandsire of two Breeders’ Cup winners, with his sons Unbridled’s Song and Harlington responsible for the Dirt Mile and Filly & Mare Sprint winners Liam’s Map and Wavell Avenue respectively. Unbridled also crops up as the grandsire of Runhappy’s dam and as the great grandsire of the Breeders’ Cup’s headline act American Pharoah.

American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner of the Breeders’ Cup era and his seven-length win, breaking the Keeneland track record in the process, in the meeting’s highlight sealed a unique ‘grand slam’ composed of the three classics plus the Classic.

It’s interesting to recall that American Pharoah’s great grandsire contested the same four races in 1990, winning the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the Preakness, Unbridled was beaten by A P Indy’s half-brother Summer Squall who had finished second to him at Churchill Downs, while in the Belmont Stakes, Unbridled had managed only fourth behind Dermot Weld’s Irish raider Go And Go. Unbridled finished third when bidding to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic for a second time in 1991.

Unbridled, by Mr Prospector’s son Fappiano, was the second colt to complete the Kentucky Derby/Breeders’ Cup Classic double after Sunday Silence the year before. Sunday Silence went even closer to completing the ‘grand slam’, winning the Preakness as well but finishing second in the Belmont. No horse emulated that pair until American Pharoah in the latest season, while A P Indy (1992 Belmont winner) and Curlin (2007 Preakness winner) are the only other winners of a triple crown race to have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at three.

Unbridled went on to sire three Breeders’ Cup winners of his own, all of them in the two-year-old contests; Unbridled’s Song and Anees in the Juvenile and Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies. In turn, Unbridled’s Song also sired three Breeders’ Cup winners. Midshipman emulated Unbridled’s Song by winning the Juvenile in 2008, while Unbridled Elaine and Unrivaled Belle both won the Distaff. Unbridled Elaine is the dam of the Godolphin two-year-old Emotionless who made such a good impression when winning the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster before disappointing in the Dewhurst last month.

There will be plenty of expectation that American Pharoah, whose fee at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud next year has been set at $200,000, will sire his own Breeders’ Cup winners in due course and thus maintain the success of the Unbridled sire line at the meeting.  Besides this male line stemming from his now repatriated son Empire Maker, Unbridled also features as the damsire of top US stallion Tapit who notched a fifth Breeders’ Cup winner when his daughter Untapable won the Distaff in 2014. Illness prevented Untapable defending her title at Keeneland, while Tapit drew a blank at the meeting where his two runners in the Classic, Tonalist and Frosted, could finish only fifth and seventh respectively behind American Pharoah.

[Image of  American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza completing the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes courtesy of Diana Robinson]