Left of Centre today, Mainstream tomorrow

It is an interesting, but generally overlooked fact that last season the two best two-year-olds Vancouver, by Medaglia D’Oro (Golden Slipper) and Pride of Dubai, by Street Cry (Blue Diamond) are both by shuttle sires, neither of whom ever raced on turf.

This seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom that only locally grown sires, proven in Australian conditions will succeed Down Under. Of course, perennial leaders such as Redoute’s Choice, Fastnet Rock, Snitzel and Lonhro are all outstanding home grown products.

But the continued racetrack success of the progeny of Street Cry, and the recent rise of Medaglia D’Oro, indicate that stallion success might be the combined result of many factors – not just where they were born or raced, or even the specific surface.

Successful stallions clearly need to be very good racehorses, they also need to have a prepotent x-factor and, most importantly, suit the gene pool here in Australia.

Therefore it is likely no coincidence that both Vancouver and Pride of Dubai are both out of Danehill mares.

Consider this, if Street Cry and Medaglia D’Oro were retiring to stud in Australia today a brief CV for them might read:

Street Cry, son of Machiavellian from a Troy mare, raced solely on dirt, won the Gr 1 Dubai World Cup 2000m as an older horse as well as the Gr 1 Stephen Foster over 1800m at Churchill Downs afterwards.

Medaglia D’Oro, son of El Prado from a Bailjumper mare, raced solely on dirt, ran in the US Triple Crown without winning, top older horse winning the Whitney and the Donn Handicaps both at 1800m and placing 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup over 2000m

So on paper both would be considered in the marketplace today very left of centre on pedigree, performance and profile. But they are both resounding successes. Why?

Firstly both are obviously prepotent, i.e they have that certain something, an X factor, which enables them to reproduce speed and class into their offspring at an above average rate. This is confirmed by the fact they have been major successes in both hemispheres.

But significantly, both also suit predominate female bloodlines available here in Australia – namely Danehill. In Street Cry’s case he has a whopping 23% SWs/Runners from Danehill mares including Pride Of Dubai and Melbourne Cup winner Shocking.

Medaglia D’Oro has an even more remarkable 33% SW/Runners from mares by Danehill or sons of Danehill including his two best horses Vancouver and Nostradamus.

But why do they suit the Danehill bloodlines?

Well, one opinion could be their outcross representation, and Danehill blood explodes when mixed with outcross blood, maybe because he was so inbred himself. (The converse is also true: inbreeding to Danehill has so far proved disappointing).

Secondly, they are a considerable physical variation that provides the size, scope and ultimately the stamina sometimes lacking with the typical Danehill type. Both were top class 2000m dirt horses, but bred to run on the turf and excel as older horses.

Street Cry emphatically won the Dubai World Cup – arguably the best 2000m race for older horses. The same race has been won by Singspiel and Dubai Millennium, and Medaglia D’Oro was a close second at the conclusion of a stellar career in 2004. Hence, the improving status of the Dubai World Cup as a “stallion-making” race.

Arrowfield bought Animal Kingdom to Australia, seemingly deviating from their previous well-trodden path to stallion success. Many breeders may ask, why? The answer lies in the nature of the stallion business: with such long lead times involved, one must be ahead of the curve and not following it. That is the reason Arrowfield bought Danehill in 1989, at a time when a son of Marscay may have been perceived a far more popular choice.

Arrowfield’s Jon Freyer says, “For some time it has been apparent to us the Australian market desperately needs an injection of new blood. So we began the search for a truly elite colt with a complete outcross pedigree, highly compatible with the very Danehill blood we introduced twenty five years ago. An outcross pedigree of its own was insufficient. World class racing ability was also necessary as the proof of the ‘genotype pudding’. In Animal Kingdom we believed we found that horse.”

Animal Kingdom has very similar credentials to both Street Cry and Medaglia D’Oro. His pedigree is an eclectic mix of the best bloodlines from all around the globe. His remarkable talent confirms the value of those bloodlines and his stunning versatility enhances the overall proposition. His bloodlines should also suit Danehill genetics admirably. His sire, the Champion miler Leroidesanimaux is from the immediate family of the leading European sire Dansili (by Danehill) who is himself a brother to no fewer than 4 major Group 1 winners, also by Danehill.

Animal Kingdom was a remarkable racehorse too. He won the Kentucky Derby at his first try on a dirt surface. This had never been done previously and in all likelihood will never happen again. In fact, his only starts on dirt were in the three Triple Crown races. He was unfortunate not to win the Triple Crown – with the unluckiest of Preakness runs, and injury struck during the Belmont.

After a nine month break Animal Kingdom ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf in world record time to the subsequent Horse of the Year, Wise Dan. He then went on to win the stallion-making race, the Dubai World Cup, in a breeze, beating a stellar field.

The success of Street Cry and now Medaglia D’Oro has convinced Arrowfield their strategy is correct.

Maybe Animal Kingdom is the next big thing in Australia.

Arrowfield is more than happy to bet on it.

Arrowfield bred their Champion mare Miss Finland to Street Cry and have produced the highly promising filly Stay With Me. Miss Finland has subsequently produced a lovely filly by Animal Kingdom.

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