Recent months have been particularly successful for two-year-olds trained by Aidan O’Brien for the Coolmore partners and/or their associates. Five have struck at the highest level, winning a total of seven major prizes in Ireland, Britain, France and the United States. Listed below are Ballydoyle’s G1 two-year-old winners over seven furlongs or further for the years 2010-2015, showing their sires and their G1 victories (fillies shown in pink).
- Misty For Me (Galileo) Moyglare Stud Stakes/Prix Marcel Boussac
- Roderic O’Connor (Galileo) Criterium International
- Recital (Montjeu) Criterium de Saint-Cloud
- Maybe (Galileo) Moyglare Stud Stakes
- Camelot (Montjeu) Racing Post Trophy
- Power (Oasis Dream) National Stakes
- Wrote (High Chaparral) BC Juvenile Turf
- Kingsbarns (Galileo) Racing Post Trophy
- George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator) BC Juvenile Turf
- War Command (War Front) Dewhurst Stakes
- Together Forever (Galileo) Fillies’ Mile
- Found (Galileo) Prix Marcel Boussac
- Gleneagles (Galileo) National Stakes
- Minding (Galileo) Moyglare Stud Stakes/Fillies’ Mile
- Air Force Blue (War Front) National Stakes/Dewhurst Stakes
- Ballydoyle (Galileo) Prix Marcel Boussac
- Johannes Vermeer (Galileo) Criterium International
- Hit It A Bomb (War Front) BC Juvenile Turf
As in previous years, much of that success in the latest season was again down to Galileo (highlighted in bold above). Galileo’s 2013 crop of two-year-olds might not have gained a Group 1 success for Ballydoyle, but they proved well up to standard at three, comprising the likes of Australia, Marvellous and Tapestry. Galileo is responsible for ten of the eighteen winners and for all six fillies listed above. That sort of dominance, of course, is proof of Galileo’s excellence as a stallion, something which has made him such a natural successor to his own outstanding sire Sadler’s Wells.
That’s fine in the short term, resulting in regular top-level success on the track, but in the long run, dominance by one sire or blood-line for a major operation like Coolmore creates its own problems when breeding future generations. Who do you send all those Galileo mares to? In Japan, the Yoshidas have been faced with a similar conundrum, hence their considerable investment in European mares to offset the prevalence of Sunday Silence in Japanese pedigrees.
Coolmore could do with an alternative, and unrelated, source of top-class performers to go with Galileo. Which brings us to the other sire who contributed much to Ballydoyle’s excellent autumn with its two-year-olds: War Front.
War Front was retired to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky in 2007 at a fee of $12,500. That reflected his racing record of only four wins from thirteen starts, with his biggest win coming at Grade 2 level in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap over six furlongs at Saratoga. He was subsequently runner-up in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes and Vosburgh Stakes and finished his career in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, finishing seventh.
War Front was an immediate success at stud, with three Grade 1 winners in his first crop. It’s a measure of his success since then that he stood the latest season at a fee of $150,000 which will rise again to $200,000 in 2016 after the emergence of Air Force Blue and Hit It A Bomb for Coolmore this autumn.
War Front was bred by Joseph Allen who is also the breeder of the very successful US turf sire Dynaformer and is now closely associated with the Coolmore partners.
In 2006, Allen had a very promising two-year-old in France with Jean-Claude Rouget, by War Front’s sire Danzig and out of a close relative to Dynaformer. US Ranger raced in Michael Tabor’s colours after his two-year-old season, ultimately joining Aidan O’Brien, but he didn’t really live up to early promise for Ballydoyle, although beaten only a head in the July Cup at Newmarket.
However, US Ranger paved the way for a more successful collaboration between Allen and the Coolmore partners when War Front’s son Declaration of War came along. He too started out in France with Rouget but enjoyed his best season with Aidan O’Brien at four, winning the Queen Anne Stakes and Juddmonte International (in Sue Magnier’s colours) and finishing a very close third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when carrying the green and white checks of his breeder.
That year – 2013 – was a breakthrough season for War Front at Ballydoyle, supplying the stable with its only two-year-old Group 1 winner of the autumn, War Command – he too carried Allen’s colours when winning the Coventry Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes. Allen also bred that year’s UAE Derby winner Lines of Battle who was later sold to Hong Kong where he won the Group 1 Champions & Chater Cup in May under the name of Helene Super Star. Lines of Battle was out of Black Speck, a sibling of both Dynaformer and US Ranger’s dam My Annette.
Dynaformer’s family is still producing good horses, and in May Black Speck’s grandson War Dispatch, also by War Front, finished third for Allen and Rouget in the Prix du Jockey Club. Black Speck was by Roberto’s grandson Arch, My Annette by his son Red Ransom (as was War Command’s dam, the E P Taylor Stakes winner Wandering Star), while Dynaformer was by Roberto himself.
Besides Declaration of War, Ballydoyle was also represented at the Breeders’ Cup in 2013 by Giovanni Boldini, a $675,000 yearling by War Front who finished second in the Juvenile Turf. It was the latter race which Hit It A Bomb won at Keeneland last month, that colt owned and bred by John Magnier’s mother Mrs Evie Stockwell.
The latest Dewhurst winner, Air Force Blue, on the other hand, was another Keeneland yearling purchase, bought for $490,000, though there was already a Coolmore connection in his family. His dam is out of a sister to the 1994 champion US two-year-old filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filllies winner Flanders who was bought by John Magnier on the dispersal of Overbrook Farm’s stock in 2009.
Other expensive Coolmore purchases of sons of War Front include Treaty of Rome ($2.5m) who has raced three times without success to date, and a $2.6m foal bought at Keeneland earlier this month who is a half-brother to recent Breeders’ Cup Classic third Honor Code. There was also the 850,000 guineas purchase at the Craven Breeze-Up Sale in April, the second-highest price ever paid for a two-year-old at such a sale in Europe. Speaking of records, a War Front half-sister to Grade 1 winners Take Charge Indy and Will Take Charge became the most expensive foal ever sold in North America when fetching $3.2m, again at Keeneland this month, further underlining War Front’s current surge in popularity.