Drop of Lemon benefiting bottom half of pedigrees

A look through the pedigrees of North America’s Grade 1 winners in 2016 revealed a name recurring more often than any other as broodmare sire. This was Lemon Drop Kid whose daughters were responsible for five different Grade 1 winners last year. That was a sudden and significant improvement on his record as a broodmare sire until then (two US Grade 1 winners, plus a Group 1 winner in Europe) and indicates that he could make more of an impact still.

Additionally, Lemon Drop Kid recorded his eighth North American Grade 1 winner as a sire when Beach Patrol won the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. His first Grade 1 winner had been his second-crop daughter Lemons Forever in the 2006 Kentucky Oaks – as we’ll see, she has since played an important part in her sire’s success as a broodmare sire. She was followed by subsequent Grade 1 winners Citronnade, Christmas Kid, Santa Teresita and Richard’s Kid, the last-named dual winner of the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010.

None of those first five Grade 1 winners gained their big wins on turf, but Lemon Drop Kid’s three most recent Grade 1 winners have all been grass winners; prior to Beach Patrol, British-trained Cannock Chase won the 2015 Canadian International and Somali Lemonade the 2014 Diana Stakes.

Lemon Drop Kid is by Mr Prospector’s son Kingmambo, a top turf miler in Europe out of the dual Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Miesque, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his Grade 1 winners have come on both dirt and turf. Kingmambo, incidentally, has proved an excellent broodmare sire himself, chiefly in Europe, where his daughters include the dams of Derby winners Ruler of The World and Camelot.

Also, Lemon Drop Kid’s Storm Cat half-brother Statue of Liberty did well on turf, winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and finishing second in the Sussex Stakes.

Lemon Drop Kid himself, though, raced exclusively on dirt, winning ten of his 24 races, including Grade 1 events at two, three and four. At two he won the Futurity at Belmont, at three the Belmont (in which Charismatic’s triple crown bid ended in injury in third) and the Travers, and at four the Whitney Handicap and the Woodward Stakes, wins which helped him become champion older male that season. His win in the 1999 Belmont came seven years after that of his near relative (their dams are half-sisters) A P Indy.

However, Lemon Drop Kid’s leading earner in 2016 was a turf performer and, unofficially at least, as no such award exists, five-year-old entire Da Big Hoss was also America’s top stayer, winning the American St Leger at Arlington and the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. Lemon Drop Kid was eighth by North American earnings on turf in 2016 which accounted for 56% of his total prize money.

But, as we said, it was as a broodmare sire that Lemon Drop Kid made the most impact in 2016, with two winners at the Breeders’ Cup among the Grade 1 winners out of his daughters. Those five were: Divisidero (Turf Classic), Finest City (BC Filly & Mare Sprint), Forever Unbridled (Apple Blossom Handicap and Beldame Stakes), Tamarkuz (BC Dirt Mile) and Yellow Agate (Frizette Stakes).

Dirt Mile winner Tamarkuz was one of two winners at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup out of mares by Lemon Drop Kid

Forever Unbridled is a daughter of the aforementioned Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever and a sister to the 2015 Ballerina Stakes winner Unbridled Forever who was herself runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks.

Divisidero is by Kitten’s Joy (himself by El Prado), while Lochte, who was Lemon Drop Kid’s first US Grade 1 winner as a broodmare sire (2014 Gulstream Park Turf Handicap) is by another of El Prado’s sons, Medaglia d’Oro.

More strikingly, of the eight Group or Grade 1 winners out of Lemon Drop Kid mares to date, the other six are all by sires who bring a second ‘dose’ of Mr Prospector to their pedigrees.

Sisters Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever are by Unbridled’s Song, a great grandson of Mr Prospector. Yellow Agate is by the Wood Memorial winner Gemologist whose dam was by Mr Prospector. Finest City, Tamarkuz and Elusive Kate (whose European Group 1 wins included two editions of the Prix Rothschild at Deauville) are respectively by City Zip, Speightstown and Elusive Quality, each of them grandsons of Mr P (the latter two both by Gone West).

How significant this is (if at all) depends, of course, on how many daughters of Lemon Drop Kid are sent to stallions descending from Mr Prospector. At one time, at least, inbreeding to Mr Prospector was something breeders would avoid, fearing soundness issues. Nowadays, Mr Prospector is so prevalent in American pedigrees that inbreeding to him is harder to circumvent. Besides, with the nation’s best horses and its top sire all inbred to Mr Prospector, the likes of California Chrome, Arrogate and Tapit are unlikely to have breeders thinking twice about doubling up with him.

It will be interesting to see if Lemon Drop Kid’s success as a broodmare sire in 2016 is sustained in years to come. One filly who looks worth keeping an eye on in Britain is Horseplay who is out of Lemon Drop Kid’s listed-winning daughter Mischief Making. She won a maiden at Nottingham by thirteen lengths last October for Andrew Balding and could become an Oaks contender.

[Tamarkuz image: Jlvsclrk]