Monday, March 12, 2012

Prospective: Backed Up by a Solid Family

The most exciting part of this time of year for horseracing fans and insiders alike is picking our Derby horse. The big question we will be asked countless times from now until the Kentucky Derby on May 5th is, “Who’s your Derby horse?”

The graded stakes races across the country help us muddle through forming an intelligible reply. Right now, my reply, of questionable intelligibility, is “Dullahan,” but it’s always wise to keep an eye on other developing three-year-olds.

In Florida on Saturday, Malibu Moon’s son Prospective eked out a nice win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, marking his fourth win in seven starts. John C. Oxley’s colt has only finished worse than second once -- in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he was 13th (which is a polite way of saying he was last). Off that lone effort at Churchill Downs, one would have to question his affinity for the track at Churchill, but I’m willing to give him a pass. After all, he performed much as you would expect a 40-1 shot to perform.

Perusing the pedigree of this colt, I find the name of an old friend. Well, three old friends, actually, two of whom -- Malibu Moon and his dam Macoumba -- will be the subject of a future post.

Bred by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm LLC, the dark bay or brown Prospective is the first foal out of Awesome Again’s daughter Spirited Away, winner of half her races, including the Truly Bound Handicap at Fair Grounds, running in the Hughes colors. The next dam, Cape North (by Capote), managed only to place twice in eight starts; she is dam of another stakes winner, Fufty Too, by Speightstown.

Cape North was produced from North Sider, one of the many Eclipse Award winners trained by D. Wayne Lukas in his heyday. She was a hardy Topsider mare who made 36 starts racing from three to five and earned in excess of $1.1-million. As a five-year-old in 1987 -- her championship year -- she started 17 times. Imagine that! She won only seven races that season, most notably the Santa Margarita and Apple Blossom Handicaps and the Maskette Stakes -- all Grade 1 events -- but it was enough to earn her the title of leading older female in the U.S.

Now, I feel rather dated in admitting that it was neither Spirited Away, nor Cape North, nor even North Sider, who I knew from this family. No. It was the next dam, Back Ack, a 1976 model by Ack Ack out of Square Generation. When I knew her, I was a high school kid and she was an older broodmare who would go on to produce just one more foal.

Prospective's great-great-granddam Back Ack in 1993.

In her racing days, Back Ack did not make much of an impact, winning twice (at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Keystone Race Track -- now Parx, and before that Philadelphia Park -- in Pennsylvania) and placing third in a minor black-type event at Atlantic City. As a broodmare, only two of her nine foals became stakes winners. Besides North Sider, there was the Mr. Prospector filly Shawnee Creek, a small-time stakes winner of $100,760.

Shawnee Creek has been the one to fly the flag, so to speak, for Back Ack’s female line, not so much through her three stakes winners -- of which Storm Creek-G3, a decent sire, was one -- but mostly through her unraced A.P. Indy daughter Checkered Flag. Checkered Flag is best known as the dam of multiple Grade 2 winner Zanjero (by Cherokee Run), a Kentucky-based freshman sire this year. He won the Indiana Derby-G2, Kentucky Cup Classic-G2, and West Virginia Derby-G3 on his way to amassing $1.6-million in earnings. Checkered Flag also produced multiple stakes winner Victory Flag (by Touch Gold).

Additionally, Shawnee Creek is granddam of the Tiger Ridge horse Storm in May, a black-type winner who was second in the Arkansas Derby-G1 and earned over $511,000, and who was 16th in the 2007 Kentucky Derby; Fircroft, an A.P. Indy filly who won the Listed Miss Grillo Stakes and was second in the Coaching Club American Oaks-G1; and great-granddam of the speedy European Group 1 winner Amadeus Wolf (by Mozart).

Prospective is the first Graded stakes winner to branch out from North Sider, but Oxley and trainer Mark Casse had him rightly pegged as a yearling with potential when they purchased him for $250,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale in 2010. He has now rewarded them with three Graded victories and a total of $441,317 in earnings.

One more family side note of interest is that Prospective’s dam Spirited Away is linebred 4x4 to Back Ack’s dam Square Generation -- the third dam of Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner Awesome Again (sire of Spirited Away) and his champion half-brother Macho Uno, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1.

While Prospective (who is inbred 3x4 to Seattle Slew) may not be my “Derby horse” at this stage, it’s nice to see him do well and bring some life back into a long-forgotten branch of this female family.

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